Action Comics #991 Review
Story and Breakdown Art by Dan Jurgens
Pencils by Viktor Bogdanovic
Inks by Bogdanovic, Trevor Scott and Scott Hanna
Colors by Mike Spicer
Cover by Nick Bradshaw and Brad Anderson
Previously: Mr. OZ has revealed himself to be Superman’s father, Jor-El. He has manipulated people across Earth to turn on each other in an attempt to sow Superman that they are not worthy of his protection. After explaining his plan to Superboy, the two of them try to convince Lois and Clark together. .
What happened: On the roof of the Daily Planet, Jon Kent pleads with his parents, begging them to listen to Jor-El for fear that they will die otherwise. His pleas fall on deaf ears, however, because Superman just can’t bring himself to believe what Jor-El has told him. Jor-El responds by using the only tactic he seems to know: an expositional monologue. He uses his staff to teleport himself and Superman into the tower that he has been using as his headquarters, originally his prison fashioned by the mysterious figure who is likely to be Dr. Manhattan. Jor-El continues to explain that he’s not trying to destroy Earth, in fact he claims that Earth is already doomed. He merely wanted to make it easier for the Kents to leave Earth behind, so that once again Jor-El could save his family from a dying planet. He insists that if Superman won’t save them, he will, and an obligatory fight breaks out.
Superman and his alleged father duke it out throughout the tower, debating as they fight each other. They crash from room to room, allowing Superman to see a little of what Oz has been up to. They find Mr. Mxyzptlk’s cell, where he has scratched Superman Symbols all over the wall. Superman gets angry that Jor-El was Mxy’ jailer, and before he can strike again Jor-El plays his trump card. Out of one eye he shoots a Kryptonite laser, telling his son that he has been evolved to control Green Kryptonite. Superman flies back into another cells, this one containing Doomsday. Jor-El had no problem taking him from the Phantom Zone, since he was the one who found it in the first place. Superman is beginning to believe that maybe Jor-El isn’t lying about his identity when he grabs Jor-El’s staff and breaks it in two. Immediately Jor-El changes from megalomaniac to frightened old man. The staff was corrupting him, but also keeping him protected from Kryptonite poisoning. The two are able to have a brief moment as father and son before Jor-El vanishes in a blue flash. Before Superman can do more than cry out, a similar blue flash takes him back to the Daily Planet. Superman looks out over his city, hears their cries, and flies off to get to work.
Thoughts on the issue: The great climax to the story of Mr. Oz fits with the rest of the arc in that it was long winded, boring, and ultimately just a prequel to a larger story. By and large nothing has changed except that the Kents now know slightly more than they used to. And while story arcs aren’t to be judged on their aftermath but on their content, the content of this arc was all about the potential aftermath of some great attack. So essentially what we’re left with is the memory of what might be the longest villain monologue Superman as ever had to endure, and then two pages of Superman and Jor-El having an emotional exchange.
One last thing: Lois didn’t even get to weigh in on Jor-El’s plan, and Jon got a whole issue of brainwashing.
Final score: 5/10
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