"Action Comics" #962 wraps up "Path of Doom," the title's first Rebirth storyline that brought the original incarnation of Doomsday into the modern DC Universe. But while some motivations are deliberately obscured, Dan Jurgens, Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert's comic definitely rolls out some new information.
As we saw in both "Superman: Rebirth" #1 and current issues of "Superman," the post-"Crisis" Superman is able to access and use the Fortress of Solitude originally belonging to the New 52 version of the character. It was that Fortress of Solitude that failed to have the technology needed to (perhaps) bring back the New 52 Superman from death, and which also been visited by the Kryptonian Eradicator. When you add in the fact that the post-"Crisis" Superman was hiding out in the New 52 universe for years, though, it makes the next piece of information make much more sense. Namely, that our refugee Superman created his own Fortress of Solitude.
This version of the Fortress uses "jerry-rigged technology that approximates what [Superman] remembered." Considering that it contains (among other things) an artificial intelligence robot named Kelex and a working Phantom Zone projector, does this mean that Superman's personal power structure once more includes a super-brain? Superman has been many things over the years, but a massive technological genius of this nature hasn't been in the cards since DC's first big reboot back in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" in the mid-'80s. Whatever the explanation, it's certainly impressive, and this second Fortress of Solitaire ultimately helped save the day from Doomsday continuing to smash through Earth.
The Wonderful Wizard of Mr. Oz
As has been made increasingly clear over the past few months, Mr. Oz (who first appeared in the Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. run on "Superman") has big plans for Superman, offering cryptic hints while forever watching the Man of Steel on large video screens. And while there's yet to be any sort of official confirmation, current fan thinking is that he may be Ozymandias (aka Adrian Veidt) from "Watchmen," who certainly had a penchant for big plans and watching people on video screens. Whoever he is, one thing is certain -- his hand is most definitely stirring the pot.
First, as we saw in the previous issue, Mr. Oz has sent in a squad to capture/teleport away Doomsday from the battle. Doomsday's presence in Metropolis was not designed to kill Superman, but rather to test the post-"Crisis" hero and to determine his upper limits. Considering that this Superman had once been killed by Doomsday, it was certainly a risky test. When you add in that Mr. Oz's squad was unable to actually get Doomsday through the entrance to their device, it certainly calls into question just how good Mr. Oz's schemes really are.
Second, Mr. Oz has much more in mind than merely using Doomsday as a method of testing Superman. Despite dialog earlier in the issue claiming otherwise ("I'm merely trying to determine what this Superman is truly capable of"), Mr. Oz has many schemes up his voluminous sleeves. His ability to intercept a transmission to the Phantom Zone is impressive, doubly so since he apparently had no prior warning that Superman had that plan in mind. More important is how gleeful Mr. Oz is that he has finally captured Doomsday. This bodes poorly for both Superman's continued health and also any claims Mr. Oz has for being a good guy. It also partially answers one question; we mat not know where Doomsday was before Mr. Oz dropped him onto Metropolis, but we can rule out that the location was Mr. Oz's lair.
Old and New Allies
Superman ultimately has two allies in the conclusion of "Path of Doom," one by choice and one whose allegiance Superman still finds a bit dubious. Wonder Woman is the obvious ally, and her ability to work with this new-to-her Superman is well-proven by the end of "Action Comics" #962. Not only has she repeatedly helped save Lois and Jon Kent, but it was her presence that ultimately gave Superman the time needed to teleport Doomsday away. She also interacts well with Lois, ultimately taking well-timed advice from her to jump into the fray just in time to save Superman.
Lex Luthor is Superman's other ally, and considering that this Superman hasn't been around Lex for his slow path towards redemption that began in "Forever Evil" and continued in "Justice League," his worried response to Metropolis's craftiest businessman comes across as believable. Jurgens is giving us a Lex Luthor whom on the surface is saying everything correct as to why he's going to be a hero. But can we really trust a man who's been proven to hand out some of the smoothest, most bold-faced lies in comics?
With Mr. Oz still lurking in the wings, though, Superman may need all the allies he can get. Only time -- and future issues of "Action Comics" -- will tell! For the moment, though, fans have a lot of new information to chew on, and even as the mystery of the new Clark Kent waits around the corner, "Action Comics" isn't wasting any time in giving readers results.