Action Comics #989
Written By: Dan Jurgens
Art By: Viktor Bogdanovic, Trevor Scott, and Mike Spicer
In a stroke of storytelling brilliance, DC Comics has subverted their usual narrative formula as “The Oz Effect” continues on. The dramatic build up to Mr. Oz’s identity, sprawling through nearly every Rebirth title, along with the pending sunrise of Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock, gave readers the distinct sensation that we were spiraling towards some sort of resolve. However, finding out that the infamous Mr. Oz was Kal-El’s own biological father- Jor-El of Krypton- has unveiled that this is far from a conclusion. This is only the beginning.
Issue # 989 opens with an ominous conversation. Two civilians are clearly plotting to commit yet another travesty. This is just one more in a string of unending violent acts erupting across the country with almost reckless fervor beneath it. More fuel for Mr. Oz’s argument to Kal-El that Earth is a lost cause and doesn’t deserve him. Moments later, he is sadly proven right. The panel explodes with gun shots and quickly morphs into a hostage situation.
But wait. This isn’t just any location.
It’s the Daily Planet.
And these aren’t just any hostages.
Two of them are Lois Lane and her son Jonathan Kent.
This arc is a beautiful chapter in the current iteration of the Superman saga, because it rings authentically with the unmistakable sound of nobility. Even though Superman is surrounded on all sides with terrible truths and the everyday horrors of humanity, he doesn’t cave to it. For the particularly astute, you may have noticed what an interesting choice the name “Mr. Oz” is; it can be no coincidence that his goal is to take Superman and his family off to a faraway land. However, our Kal-El is no one’s Dorothy. He was never looking to escape.
Only to heal.
It’s refreshing to have a Superman who understands what it means to be Superman and gives himself wholly over to it.
This is the chief source of Mr. Oz’s frustration. Superman is genuinely good. This is why he won’t accept Mr. Oz’s insistence that he and his family leave Earth for another planet that would be easier to live on. It’s why Mr. Oz’s twisted version of tenderness and sympathetic love don’t move Kal-El in the slightest- Kal-El is already overflowing with the real thing. It’s why Superman cuts the conversation short, because a strange haze of chaos is afflicting the planet and they need him. He doesn’t have time to entertain a conversation about running away, especially from someone he’s still not fully convinced is actually his father.
Not when the greater good calls to him.
We can only hope that his son Jonathan has been ingrained with the same selflessly hopeful, moral fiber… because Jon and Jor El have a heart to heart conversation that could change everything.
The imagery is deliciously detailed on every panel. It is worth the experience to just go back and look at the story the illustrations tell, once you’ve read the dialogue and captions. Note how the scars pop on the sightless side of Mr. Oz’s face. See Lois’ trademarked resilient expression in the face of danger. But before you do any of that, go and look at the cover! It’s so poetic! The solemn gaze of Superman juxtaposed with Mr. Oz’s blind eye, while Superman holds an Earth unbroken, opposite Mr. Oz’s fractured one. It’s such a rich picture; it shimmers with a thousand unspoken words. There are also a lot of blue tones throughout this particular issue, ranging from the color popping to the muted. For those who may not know- blue is the color that represents spirituality and spiritual presence.
Really makes you think doesn’t it? Plus, the whole issue is very bright. You can feel the hope just by turning to the first page. Pictures, just like story, are always best when felt.
Part 3 of this story continues to be just as strong as part 1.
5 Yellow Suns out of 5.