Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Rebirth Antagonist

Some of the comics that came out on August 10 had a familiar feel. They had a familiar sound in the dialogue, too. Compare the following passages:

Action #962, Lex Luthor, speaking of the mysterious craft that brought Doomsday to Metropolis: "This tech is foreign to me. I've worked with nearly every alloy known to man, and I've never seen anything like this before."
Action #962, Superman, speaking of the mysterious men who arrive to take Doomsday away: "With capabilities I haven't seen before. People I haven't seen before."

Superwoman #1, Lois and Lana, speaking of a mysterious laboratory where they encountered a something akin to a female Bizarro: "It's a lab of some kind." "But I've never seen technology like this before."

Flash #4, Meena, speaking of the mysterious lab where they encounter Joseph Carter / Godspeed: "This isn't S.T.A.R. Labs equipment. This is like… no technology I've ever seen."

Not only is the same idea articulated in all of these cases, even the words generally match.

The specific technologies look similar, too. The labs from Superwoman and Flash appear at right, rendered by two different art teams. In both panels, we see a clear cylinder that descends from a metal cylinder and goes down into the floor. There are also incapacitated workers/guards lying on the floor in both cases. This is an eerily similar pair of panels in two comic books released the same week.

Additionally, each of these situations introduces different antagonists who wear generally circular symbols on their chests and have their eyes obscured. They also involve enemies (Doomsday, a Bizarro, and the speed-stealing Godspeed) who duplicate the various heroes' powers. This is time for an obligatory, "Coincidence? I think not."
It is moreover worth noting that, as the lackeys in Action are working for Mr. Oz, that those circles may be the letter 'O' rather than an arbitrary design.

We already know that Action and Superwoman are linked – a cameo tied them together. If all of these similarities are not coincidental but design, then Flash is drawn into the intrigue as well. And if Flash is being attacked by the master plan as Superman, we are seeing the beginning of something that has to turn into a major crossover with Mr. Oz as one of the central players. As Superman says as he watches Doomsday being taken away, "Whatever this is, there's something bigger at play."

And what is that something? Early in the Superman-Doomsday battle, Mr. Oz, looking on from afar, says, "Rarely do the pieces fall into place so quickly. Much will be learned. Much will be gained." Later, he says to his telescreens, "Think, Kal-El – What will you do next? Only then can I make my move." What does 'Kal-El' do? He tries many battle tactics, and pursues Doomsday outside of the city, helping to protect his wife and family. None of this stands out as terribly surprising, but it seems to serve Mr. Oz's purpose, who later orders his team to "isolate" Doomsday. Why?

One of the stories in the Action arc is titled, "The Doomsday Protocol." That's a phrase that was used way back in 2005's Action #825. The term referred to a plan to vanquish a Doomsday-level threat by sending such a foe to the Phantom Zone. That appears to be what Mr. Oz is about to do. Why? Did he desire that this battle take place for a while but then end with the villain beaten? Is the plot of Flash showing another facet of the same master design?

It has been much speculated that Mr. Oz is really Ozymandias from Watchmen. There are also subtle hints that he could be Kryptonian: He has access to remarkable technology, he sent New 52 Superman a notebook bearing the 'S' symbols, which is Kryptonian in origin, refers to the current Superman as "Kal-El" and is, perhaps, about to access the Phantom Zone. Regardless of his origins, what is his plan? He has now overseen the destruction of a Lois and a Superman, reducing this universe's number of each from two back to the normal one. Looking like the similarly-robed character Destiny, he seems to be trying to orchestrate things on a grand level. Perhaps he really is Ozymandias and is playing against his erstwhile antagonist Dr. Manhattan as the two of them warp reality in the current DC Universe – That would certainly be, as Superman says, "something bigger."


  1. I was speculating that Mr. Oz was Ozymandias, but I am intrigued to find out the answer. I also assumed the O on the soldiers chest referred to Mr. Oz. Really good catch on the similarities between what the happenings in Flash and Superman. I didn't notice that before.

  2. I find it interesting that something like teleportation, which we often take for granted in comic fiction and being a key element of Watchmen, serves as potential plot indicator. Of course it takes a keen eye such as Rikdad's to not take it as granted and spot this.

  3. Jonny, it seems obvious that Mr. Oz is Ozymandias… and perhaps he is, but the Krypton-leaning clues struck me as interesting. Still, I'd bet on Ozymandias.

    I often read scenes from seemingly-unrelated comic books and notice an uncomfortable similarity; this time, though, it seems like a good possibility of an overarching pattern.

  4. Thanks, David! It was Luthor's line that raised my curiosity and left it raised until I'd thought about all of this a while. It's not often that Luthor displays humility, and when it does, it ought to mean something. In this case, not so much about Luthor as about the thing he's commenting on.

    I also wonder a bit if New Super-Man is part of this pattern: He was in a lab, too, but we never got a good look at it in issue #1.

  5. I was worried it was presumptive of me to assume it was teleportation tech. I guess I just had a synergistic moment where I realised that was the main bit of sci fi tech in Watchmen.

    I was looking for a site where it pointed out Mr. Oz first turned up in Convergence, in a blink and you miss it fashion ala Pandora in all the New 52 #1's.

    I did find this however which expands on this theory to include the whole cast.

  6. Here it is.

    Hmm, apparently he showed up before even then in the Superman title. Well let's see how this all pans out.

  7. Revisiting this post a year and a half later, the smart money was on the Kryptonian clues being trenchant! However, even though Oz had Kryptonian tech, the "why" is still an outstanding mystery.