WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Superman #15 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Brandon Peterson, Evan "Doc" Shaner, Alex Sinclair and Dave Sharpe, in stores now.
In Superman #15, DC finally brings resolution to a storyline that began shortly before its 2016 Rebirth relaunch: A mysterious, hooded figure named Mr. Oz began appearing in the Superman comics. He was later revealed to be a time-displaced Jor-El, the Man of Steel's father, who had been pulled from the time stream an instance before the destruction of Krypton, and dropped into the present-day DC Universe.
Mr. Oz was initially perceived as a sinister presence who manipulated events, and even time itself -- so much so that he was viewed as Superman's latest enemy. Over time, however, Jor-El tried to make amends, but it wouldn't be enough. In Superman #15, in stores this week, Jor-El stands trial for his actions, in a scene that pays an ironic and tragic homage to 1978's Superman: The Movie.
As we learned more about his involvement with a secret cosmic cabal known as The Circle, Jor-El's crimes were deemed too great for the universe. Worse still, his actions led to the creation of Rogol Zaar, a dangerous monster responsible for the destruction of Krypton. Therefore, the leaders of the newly established United Planets form a council to judge Jor-El for these crimes. There, surrounded by the faces of his judges, Jor-El is held prisoner by two spinning rings.
Fans will instantly recognize that as a nod to Richard Donner's Superman. As viewers may recall, at the start of the film, we spend some time on Krypton, where we see Jor-El and members of the Kryptonian elite sentence General Zod, Ursa and Non for their crimes. The trio of criminals is famously held in place by spinning rings just before banishment to the Phantom Zone.
The use of these rings in Superman #15 is ironic, given a similar device was used in the film to restrain criminals being prosecuted by Jor-El. Here, however, Jor-El is the one being sentenced, and he is the one within the stasis rings.
But while Zod, Ursa and Non were banished to the Phantom Zone, Jor-El receives a different sentence: Rather than a life of imprisonment, he is returned to his original place in the time stream, seconds before the destruction of Krypton, where he dies the way he was supposed to.