What is this all about?
In this issue, Superman comes to grips with the fact that his father, Jor-El, escaped Krypton and has been living on earth. Jor-El tries to convince Superman that he is trustworthy and his motives are pure. We are also introduced to a mysterious being who possesses the power to change time and history. In this story, Superman must decide whether he will leave with Jor-El or stay and save humanity.
The issue begins with a conversation between Superman and Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Jor-El shares that the crystals in the Fortress of Solitude store information about Superman and about him. Jor-El pulls out a crystal that shows Lor-Van, his scientific benefactor, and Superman’s maternal grandfather, discussing a program created to save Krypton, but would instead be used to evacuate the planet. Lor-Van is urging Jor-El to give up on his illegal plan to evacuate even though Jor-El’s plan could save lives. “I will not have my grandson grow up with his father exiled to the Phantom Zone!” insists Lor-Van. However, he rebuilds a single ship, inside of which Superman escapes to earth. This part of the story is heavy on dialogue and the art is ok.
The next sequence shows Jor-El and Lara engulfed in orange and red flames, which looks horrific. Jor-El explains, “In a moment far more horrifying and painful than anything I could imagine, I watched your mother die, while I lived.” Jor-El muses though that something powerful, with the ability to bend reality to his every whim, intervened, saving him. He laments, “Though I didn’t want it, I wanted to be with Lara.” Jor-El attempts to create meaning for the experience by sharing, “I think I was saved to bear witness to the truth.” Superman asks, “What truth?” Jor-El responds, “Earth’s. The nature of its people and what they really are.”
Jor-El goes on, “The light that saved me carried me to a very different place, the most lawless, dangerous city earth had to offer.” Panels depict strangers as they find the mangled, but alive, the body of Jor-El. A family cleans his wounds and nurses him back to health. Once he becomes health, Jor-El steals food from Kassam, a tyrannical leader. Kassam forces the family’s son, Azim, to kill his entire family. Jor-El, angered by Kassam’s tyranny, uses his powers to destroy Kassam and all his troops. Jor-El uses the story to convince Superman that the people of earth are evil. Superman questions Jor-El’s logic stating that he cannot use one person’s evil to justify killing all people. All attempts to appeal to the reader’s sympathy on Jor-El’s behalf fall short. Jor-El’s suffering feels contrived and inauthentic. However, Superman’s confrontation of Jor-El feels moving and genuine.
As the issue ends, Jor-El’s attempts to win over Superman intensify. He shares that earth is filled with “a never-ending cascade of heinous atrocities, one after another.” Jor-El concludes that these people are hopeless and that they don’t deserve Superman. Superman objects, “You’re wrong. I always have hope that…” Jor-El responds, “Of course you do. Just as I had hope for Krypton. Look where it got me?” “Why now?” asks Superman.
Superman sympathizes with Jor-El’s suffering having lost his home planet of Krypton, watched his wife die, and suffered while on earth. However, Superman is aware of Jor-El’s contradicting behaviors. In the previous issue of Action (#987), Jor-El contributed to chaos and mayhem that occurred across the globe. Yet in this issue, Jor-El risked everything to save Krypton, he saved a small village from a tyrant on earth, and yet he also believes that humanity is evil. The contradiction exposes his false belief, “These lost souls don’t deserve another second of your life [Superman].”
Superman faces a quandary; accepting Jor-El’s logic requires him to leave earth putting the planet at risk. Ultimately, he resists, because Jor-El could have been in his life earlier but chose not to. Superman asks Jor-El the important question, “Why now?” I’m dying to see the answer to this question revealed as this story unfolds.
Reviewed by Tom Zimm
Action #988 The OZ Effect, Part II
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by: Ryan Sook; Colors by, Hi-Fi Color; Letters by, Rob Leigh
Published by DC
Release Date: 9/27/2017