“The Oz Effect” is a five-part story which reveals the origins (kinda) of the mysterious Mr. Oz who has been appearing in DC Comics for quite a while now, in different titles. He’s a dangerous guy, and, like any powerful, godlike being, his followers might be even more dangerous. In the course of this story, in Oz’s name, one of his followers detonates a bomb (and himself) in an attempt to kill the staff of The Daily Planet. His motivation seems to be little more than because Mr. Oz told him to, and because he wants everyone to know how horrible life on Earth is.
I was predisposed to want to read this story, since Mr. Oz is, apparently, Superman’s father Jor-El. Jor-El has long been one of my favorite characters. Revealed in the last issue of this arc is the fact that Jor-El survived the destruction of Krypton, and then was trapped for years on Earth in a windowless tower—one that looks a lot like the one Dr. Fate used to live in. Coincidence? It’s not really explained how he got there or why he was trapped, which is why I say this story is only “kinda” an origin. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It does say that he “was saved” because of Kal-El. The phrasing implies someone saved him. Who?
In the end, it’s a sad story. Jor-El, unlike his son, has been twisted by kryptonite poisoning, by his experiences. He’s lost hope in the benevolence of the universe, and it’s resulted in his causing Kal-El and everyone else a lot of grief. And, in the end, Kal-El can’t save his father. It’s an important growing up lesson for young Jon Kent, Superboy. “But… you save people.” He can’t understand why his grandfather couldn’t be saved.
Now, I should make it clear that Jor-El is not dead. He’s dying at the end of the story, yes, and he’s missing. But not dead. Clearly, there will be more to follow.