EP0070: Superman Action Comics: The Oz Effect

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At long last, one of the big questions of DC Rebirth is answered as the identity of Mr. Ozis revealed.


Graham: It’s time to learn who the man behind the curtain is. Join us as we take a look at Superman Action Comics: the Oz Effect, straight ahead.

[Intro Music]

Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise Idaho, here is your host Adam Graham.

Graham: Well throughout D.C. Rebirth and I think in Superman and also in Action Comics, the question of who Mr. Oz is, this mysterious mover behind the scenes, has been front and center and this volume of Action Comics answers that question. It collects Action Comics Number 985 to 992. It begins with a two-parter written by Rob Williams called Only Humans. Essentially, Machinist is using mind control to take people over and to make them do evil. When Superman disables this mind control, he finds Lex core Microchips are behind it and he confronts Lex, angry and thinking that Lex has returned to evil. Lex insists that he doesn’t do it and he makes a very persuasive argument because if he’d had done it, it would have worked. So, Luthor puts on his pseudo Superman battle suit and goes out and joins Superman to help him fight the Machinist. And essential the Machinist is able to take Luthor’s suit and activate it and turn it against Superman. And this is a good story for the Superman/Lex relationship and Lex does end up finding a way out, and we’re going to get into spoilers for the story in a second. The way that Luthor is able to do that is by overloading the power when the suit goes after Superman and Superman is then able to defeat the Machinist. However, at the end of the story, it’s revealed that Mr. Oz is behind the alterations in Lex’s microchips setting the stage for the Oz effect and essentially in the Oz effect, the world is growing crazy. There’s so much going on that is so bad that Superman can’t keep up with it.

The story opens with Superman saving the day and saving some medical supplies but there is so much that’s going on all at once. You have a guy with a red, white and blue bandana about to kill immigrants while others plan to steal medicine to buy guns and there’s an oil spill out to happen because the boat’s pilot is drinking figuring, hey we’re out this far working for Lex Luthor, we ought to have some fun. A black rhino’s about to be killed, there’s child labor in a foreign country, a prison break, an idiot is starting a fire thinking it’s justified because it’s in the neighborhood of one percenters and Superman does what he can. He prevents the guy with a bandana from killing the immigrants but he arrives too late to prevent the oil spill and he finds the black rhino killed and ends up in the midst of a civil war where the military are planning on destroying a village full of innocent people and saying to leave absolutely nothing to make sure they got the guerrillas and Superman just pops out of nowhere, from their perspective, and screams, “your own people, what’s wrong with you” and he is just furious at what’s going on and this is all to Mr. Oz’s plan as he appears with the purpose of convincing Superman that it is time to leave humanity, that they are not worth saving and here I really have to get into spoilers for this story and this is a big point but it’s in the first issue of the plot arc.
The identity of Mr. Oz is revealed to be, and this is the spoiler warning, it’s revealed to be Jor-El, who after Krypton was destroyed was transported to Earth. This is by a force that is rewriting and messing with the D.C. Universe and he arrived in the midst of a struggle that convinced him that humanity was dirt and this was totally a mistake to send humans there and while Oz has created an army of terrorists that are trying to do all sorts of dangerous things, including at one point holding Lois at gunpoint to object to media coverage, he insists that he is only giving them the means to do what is in their hearts anyway but Oz actually has his terrorists try to wipe out Metropolis before Superman stops him.
Jor-El is able to get to Jon, seeming to save him from some of the terrorist and getting him and Lois to safety despite the fact that the terrorists were actually people from Oz’s group and he convinces Jon that the only way is to leave Earth. I have to admit that Jon convince kind of easy, though kids can be persuadable. I just haven’t seen him that persuadable by this person he just met versus his dad because Superman is determined not to leave and in Jor-El’s mind, this is going to curse Superman and his whole family to death and so he does the last thing that he can do is that somehow Jor-El has gotten the ability to control green kryptonite and so he hits Superman with the green kryptonite to weaken him, to get him to buy into his way but Superman’s able to psych him out and it’s revealed he’s been influenced by a malevolent force and then that same force takes Jor-El away.
And after that he meets with Lois and Jon on top of the Daily Planet building and he explains about Jor-El and Lois ask, “what about the rest, about Earth mean doom from an outside threat as well as his own people?” and then there’s this great page where Superman’s looking downward and you see all of these balloon bubbles things like, police officers ambushed in their squad cars while responding to a call, unrestrained and corruption, scam, didn’t notice the man’s body as they walked past, in violation of child labor laws, directionless teen, social workers found dead and it’s an entire page just filled with these bubbles and it’s like he’s looking down and you know that Superman always has these, you know, his super senses but he can’t focus on everything but it’s as if for this moment he’s absorbing all of the evil going on and processing it and the question of what do you do in the face of all that and Lois ask if he’s OK and he says, “people are losing hope Lois” and he starts to fly away and John ask, “where are you going, dad” and he says, “back to work” and so his answer at the end of this is in the face of all this what he’s going to do is just be superman, to do the work that he can do and it’s profound and it’s a really good conclusion to the story.

Then we get the aftermath story, which sets up the next arc and it finds him trying to, first of all, verify was Oz really Jor-El and unfortunately for him, the fortress computer confirms that yeah he kind of was which causes him to really revolt and break the thing just about the time that Batman shows up and talks about meeting a version of his father from another universe, something that happened in the… but this is all leading towards the series’ Doomsday Clock. And Superman is just working out what he is going to do and researching it and not only does he meet Batman in the story, he meets Hal Jordan’s Green Lanterns and they find that the history of Krypton’s destruction has been corrupted and Superman’s firm conclusion is that someone’s been messing with time and so he prepares to go back to correct it. It’s a really good fast paced story, ends on a great cliffhanger that really makes me eager to read the next volume of the series.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. I think the first two-parter was strong. I think it does kind of point back to Lex heading towards villainy and I think that’s probably the direction of the character despite the rehabilitation that Jurgens did towards the end of the New 52 and in D.C. Rebirth. I think there have just been way too many hints of him tending back towards villainy and you see that sort of attitude of arrogance and over confidence in his own abilities and egotism that could very well point him back that way and I think there does tend to be a gravity with these characters who have been villainous for a long time to remain so. So, I think that’s what’s happened but I thought the story itself was fairly good.
The Oz effects story was good. It was a character exploration of Superman and it was some interesting thoughts for the times in which we live and the challenge of trying to do good and make a difference in these times and I think, definitely a Superman story for our times. I do wonder if it was a bit overlong or over complicated in a few places but I think other than that, it worked fine. The Aftermath story was great. It was nicely paced, it raised a lot of questions and it got me curious for the next story line with some nice guest appearances and again just a fantastic cliff hanger. So, I will give this book a rating of classy.

Alright, that’s all for now. If you do have a comment, email to me classycomicsguy@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy. From Boise Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.

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