The past year of Rebirth has represented a lot of dramatic change for just about every character in the DC Universe, but maybe none more so than Superman. This, of course, pretty much goes to follow. After all, he’s the character who is really at the center of it all, even before the tectonic shifts of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1.
Clark’s connection to the ominous Mr. Oz and the strange multiversal circumstances of the Kent family’s collision with the Prime Earth we know and love have been one of the most pressing mysteries of Rebirth as a whole…and something you might want to brush up on for the days to come. After all, the tick-tock-ticking of the Doomsday Clock is only getting louder.
Thankfully, it’s easier to brush up on the multifaceted story of the Kents in Rebirth than ever with SUPERMAN REBORN, the new collected edition of the SUPERMAN/ACTION COMICS crossover event.
But before you jump in, there’s a few background things you should know.
Who are the Kents?
The Clark, Lois and Jon Kent who came to exist in the Rebirth DC Universe are actually holdovers from the pre-FLASHPOINT continuity.
Don’t worry, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds.
Essentially, the events of Flashpoint sparked what we consider the alternate New 52 timeline where all-new versions of DC characters exist, but simultaneously caused some time and space anomalies (specifically, something called CONVERGENCE) which allowed some of the pre-Flashpoint characters who exist outside of the prime continuity to be pulled back into the fray.
For a long time, the Kent family’s story was sequestered into SUPERMAN: LOIS AND CLARK (above), where this earlier version of Clark and Lois raised their half Kryptonian son, Jon, in secret. That is, until the events of the pre-Rebirth event THE FINAL DAYS OF SUPERMAN killed the Superman of the post-Flashpoint, New 52 continuity.
After seeing his alternate timeline doppelganger die, Clark decided to retake the mantle of Superman and work as a hero for the world he and his family had made home. But going public as Superman once more had its own set of complications. For one, the post-Flashpoint Superman had his own relationships with friends and colleagues, most of whom saw him die, so you can imagine it was just a little bit awkward to suddenly have a brand new Clark Kent on the scene. For another? There was still another Lois Lane running around—one who had never married Clark and had never had a son.
That particular issue got pretty brutally sorted out in SUPERWOMAN VOL. 1: WHO KILLED SUPERWOMAN? (You can probably guess by that title that it wasn’t exactly a peaceful resolution.)
The problem then became the voids post-Flashpoint Lois and Clark left behind them—voids that the pre-Flashpoint Clark and Lois were not able to entirely fill. Time and space in the Superman corner of the world were still pretty broken, and no one was quite sure who they could trust or where they fit into the puzzle.
Fortunately, things have a way of knitting themselves back together, even at the hands of people you might not expect.
Who is Mr. Mxyzptlk?
In the simplest possible terms, Mxyzptlk is an imp from the 5th Dimension and a perpetual mischief making thorn in Superman’s side. He’s technically a villain, but not in the way that someone like Lex Luthor is a villain. Mxy’s motivations are usually a lot less megalomaniacal. He’s usually only around to have fun, but his definition of “fun” is usually pretty inconvenient at best, and incredibly destructive at worst.
The thing is, Mxy hasn’t been around for a while. Not since Flashpoint, actually, which is pretty unusual. See, Mxy may not be a completely evil guy, but he really, really doesn’t like to be ignored. So the fact that he’s been missing in action for so long and no one has really seemed to notice or care? Well that just can’t stand.
And to make matters even worse? Mxy’s absence wasn’t even his choice. It turns out he was caught up in the same incongruous, time-space anomaly that can be blamed for the simultaneous existence of the pre and post-Flashpoint versions of Clark and Lois. But in Mxy’s case, rather than being transported to a different timeline, he was literally plucked from existence by an outside force.
No one remembered Mxyzptlk in the post-Flashpoint world because he, quite literally, had never been introduced to them. The history he had with Superman? It had been all but overwritten.
But Mxy is nothing if not clever, so he set to work hatching a scheme to escape from his captor and set about making things right. Or, well, maybe not right but certainly setting things back to the way that most benefited himself. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. What he didn’t realize he was doing by springing his clever trap on Superman and his family was sparking a change that would start a domino effect for everyone involved.
Who is Mr. Oz?
The ominous, looming shadow of Mr. Oz has hung over Superman for years now, dating all the way back to stories from the days before Rebirth took hold. His motivations have been suspect—kidnapping both heroes and monsters like Tim Drake and Doomsday, hiring maniacs like the Key to try and torture the friends of Wally West, always watching from the distance, just out of sight. His connections to the events of Rebirth and single-minded interest in Clark Kent has been undeniable, if mysterious.
Answers about Mr. Oz have been a long time coming…and the wait is nearly over. “The Oz Effect” is kicking off right now in Action Comics. But if you’re a Superman completionist, or a fan of super heroic mysteries, you’ll definitely want to catch up and finish out Mxyzptlk’s story in Superman Reborn before you pick it up.
Lucky for you, it’s available now.
SUPERMAN REBORN by Peter J. Tomasi, Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke is now available in comic shops. Look for it digitally and at bookstores on September 19th!