After more than a year of furious speculation by fans as to the identity of the mysterious Mr. Oz, today's issue of Action Comics revealed the hooded stranger's identity.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Action Comics #987, on sale now.
It turns out that Mr. Oz is in fact... Jor-El of Krypton, Superman's biological father.
For more than a year, up until very recently, DC fans have been fairly certain that the enigmatic Mr. Oz, a hooded figure appearing in the Superman titles, was likely Ozymandias, principal antagonist of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen, widely regarded as one of the best superhero stories ever created.
That certainty came primarily out of the fact that Mr. Oz was hanging around, being enigmatic, in DC Universe: Rebirth last May. In that same issue, lines of Watchmen dialogue were repeated, indicating that Doctor Manhattan and Ozymandias had played a key role in the 2011 reboot following the events of Flashpoint.
Mr. Oz, though, had been introduced before that: in an issue of Superman during Geoff Johns' run in 2015. He presented himself as someone who had been watching Superman's story from the beginning, and who had "taught" Superman at some point. That has never been borne out by the Man of Steel himself, who had encountered Mr. Oz a couple of times and did not seem to recognize him.
In Action Comics #984, Superman's son Jonathan helped his father battle supervillains by jumping into a Kryptonian warsuit (a giant purple humanoid robot) and tearing after the Superman Revenge Squad. He was assisted by a mysterious voice -- apparently Mr. Oz's -- who knew the details of the suit intimately, seemingly implying that he was Kryptonian or had spent a lot of time around Kryptonian technology.
The theory that Jor-El could be Mr. Oz gained traction in recent months, particularly after the lenticular cover to Action Comics #988 appeared to depict Jor-El disappearing in a flash of blue light during Krypton's explosion.
That blue light, long associated with the teleportation powers of Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan, has been appearing at or near the site of various mysteries since Rebirth began.
It does not look like Jor-El controls the blue energy: it appears as though he is being, essentially, "taken." That might account for some of the ambivalence that Mr. Oz seems to have about Doctor Manhattan, if the two are not truly partners but one is essentially a hostage or, at best, conscripted into whatever it is they are doing.
That said, Superman's biological father is no downy innocent; throughout Action Comics #987, he manipulates people and events in order to persuade Superman that mankind is unworthy of his protection, culminating with a declaration that he had sent baby Kal-El to the wrong world, and that humanity would "prove" to him that it does not deserve Superman or his son.
This seems likely to tie into the solicitation for Action Comics #992, which seems to show Superman having a crisis of faith. "Crippled by the events of 'The Oz Effect,' Superman struggles to regain a sense of hope for humanity." It seems from this issue that Jor-El got just what he wanted, then... even if the cover of #992 seems to imply that he died to get it.
You can get a copy of Action Comics #987 at your local comic shop, or buy a digital copy here.