This story began way back in the Rebirth #1 one shot and has been slowly boiling on the back burners of Action Comics ever since, the implications teased and the status quo changing events alluded to for over 30 issues. Now they are finally pulled into sharp focus and the DCU will never be the same. Those are some pretty large claims, the kind usually exaggerated as “senses shattering” or “mind-blowing” however, this time those terms are not only justified, they may not be strong enough in describing the impact of this issue.
In part one of “The Oz Effect” we see the mysterious Mr. Oz’s minions begin to carry out the first phases of his plan to unleash chaos on the world beginning with Metropolis. Superman is stretched to his breaking point trying to deal with each of these catastrophic events, but nothing could prepare him for the shock of learning Mr. Oz’s true identity. The entire issue is paced so well that by the time you get to that final page mind blower you will have to catch your breath.
If you have been reading DC Comics since the hugely successful Rebirth you most likely have speculated, formulated perhaps even triangulated theories concerning the true identity of the shadowy Mr. Oz; many made connections to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic Watchmen series, the most obvious being that Mr. Oz and Ozymandias are in fact one and the same. I am not going to spoil that for you here, suffice to say all theories are in play until you feast your eyes on the last page of this issue. The Watchman connection is one that has been firmly established since Batman held the iconic blood spattered smiley face button in his hand at the end of the Rebirth one shot and then again when that thread was more fully explored in the Batman/Flash crossover entitled “The Button”. This fall we can once more dig deeper into this mysterious narrative when The Doomsday Clock hits the stands.
Dan Jurgens has been one of my favorite Superman scribes for quite some time now; it seems that whenever DC has a major change in store for Big Blue they turn to Jurgens. This time around he weaves elements of noir and mystery into the story that result in a darker and more complex narrative than any of his previous work on Superman. He does a remarkable job in bringing Kal El’s role as a father to the forefront of this story, we get to see perhaps the most human version of Superman to date. Of course with the stakes as high as they are in Mr. Oz’s diabolical plan for humanity, Jurgen’s gets to show us lots of super heroics as well. There is very little set up in this issue, in fact it dives straight into the action, to be fair this story has been being set up for months now and this issue is all payoff.
Bogdonavic captures the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet pace of Jurgen’s narrative perfectly. His Superman is all square chin and chiseled muscles, as if Henry Cavill was cursed with Jay Leno’s jaw. I know it sounds like a Frankenstein experiment gone horribly wrong, but somehow it looks so right when Bogdonavic draws it. He has an extremely cinematic approach to his page layouts giving the story an energy of its own that is purely visual. His irregular shaped panels and border breaking images only add to that energy leading the eye around the page like a pinball.
Dan Jurgen’s finally pulls back the curtain enough to reveal just who the man called Mr. Oz is and in that one answer a thousand new questions arise. This is truly the biggest story to hit the DCU since Rebirth opened the door to these new possibilities. Geoff Johns has set the stage for the entire DCU to be forever changed in the twinkling of an eye and Dan Jurgen’s has proven himself more than up for the task with this first part of The Oz Effect arc. He is able to satisfy and excite all at once as the huge revelation sets the stage for huge things to come. The artwork is imaginative and innovative if on the brink of visual overload at times, Bogdonavic does a sloid job of keeping pace with Jurgens’ kinetic tale of chaos. Overall this is a fantastic start to one of the biggest Superman arcs since Rebirth began. 4/5
Writer- Dan Jurgens
Artist- Viktor Bogdonavic
Inkers- Jonathan Glapion, Jay Leisten, Viktor Bogdonavic
Colors- Mike Spicer
Lettterer- Rob Leigh