Brainiac (comics)

This article is about the comic book character. For the Legion of Super-Heroes member, see Brainiac 5. For the Action Comics story arc, see Brainiac (story arc).

Brainiac battling Superman during the Infinite Crisis event. Cover art for Superman vol. 2, #219, by Ed Benes.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Action Comics #242 (July 1958)
Created by Otto Binder (writer)
Al Plastino (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Vril Dox
Species Coluan
Place of origin Colu
Team affiliations Anti-Justice League
Partnerships Lex Luthor
Notable aliases Dr. Milton Fine, Pulsar Stargrave, The Terror of Kandor, Collector of Worlds
  • "Twelfth level" intelligence
  • Superhuman strength and durability
  • Discharge of energy blasts from hands
  • Projection of tendrils from limbs that channel electricity
  • Flight
  • Ability to mimic Kryptonian superpowers
  • Technopathy

Brainiac is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly as an adversary of Superman. The character first appeared in Action Comics #242 (July 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

Brainiac is typically depicted as an extraterrestrial android. He is one of Superman's primary enemies, and is responsible for shrinking and stealing Kandor, the capital city of Superman's home planet Krypton. Due to multiple revisions of DC's continuity, several variations of Brainiac have appeared. Most incarnations of Brainiac depict him as a green-skinned being in humanoid form. He is bald, with a set of linked electrode-like objects (sometimes glowing) protruding from his skull.

The character's name appears to be a portmanteau of the word brain and the initialism ENIAC, the name of an early computer.[1] In 2009, Brainiac was ranked as IGN's 17th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[2]

Fictional character biography

Silver Age

Brainiac's first appearance, in Action Comics vol. 1 #242 (July 1958). Art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

First appearing in Action Comics #242 (July 1958), Brainiac is a bald, green-skinned humanoid who arrived on Earth and shrank various cities, including Metropolis, storing them in bottles with the intent of using them to restore the then-unnamed planet he ruled. He is originally notable only for his having shrunk the bottle city of Kandor, for having a shrinking ray, and for using a force-shield.

In subsequent appearances in this early period, Brainiac is used mostly as a plot device rather than as a featured villain of the month. Brainiac's next appearance is mostly behind the scenes, when he tries to kill Lois Lane and Lana Lang, prompting Superman to give Lois and Lana super-powers. But the villain remains unseen except as a plot twist at the end of the story. Brainiac's next appearance in "Superman's Return to Krypton" in Superman #141 (November 1960) displays how the villain stole the bottle city of Kandor, which is ironically and tragically the only city on Krypton that believes Jor-El's warning of doom for the planet, and had already built a space-ark within the city to save the population. Brainiac's next present-day appearance is in Action Comics #275 (April 1961), which shows the villain planning to defeat Superman by exposing him to both Red and Green Kryptonite, giving Superman a third eye on the back of his head, forcing him to wear various hats to hide it. Superman soon defeats Brainiac and sends him off into the distant past. This is the first in-story appearance of Brainiac's iconic red diode/electrode-like objects atop his head, which had previously appeared on the cover of his first appearance in Action Comics #242 (July 1958), but were not shown in the actual story. In "Superboy" #106 (July 1963), Superman as a baby meets Brainiac and it is explained that Brainiac looks the same as he has a 200-year life span. It is revealed that he came from a planet called Bryak and after a voyage in space, he returns to find everybody dead from a plague. He intends to get people from other planets (in shrunken cities, and he has a growth ray) to repopulate Bryak, and he will rule them.

Brainiac's legacy was revealed in Action Comics #276 (May 1961), in a Legion of Super-Heroes back-up story. This story introduced a green-skinned, blond-haired teenager named Querl Dox, or Brainiac 5, who claimed to be Brainiac's 30th century descendant. Unlike his ancestor, Brainiac 5 used his "twelfth-level intellect" for the forces of good and joined the Legion alongside Supergirl, with whom he fell in love. His home planet was given variously as Bryak,[3] Yod or Colu.

In Superman #167 (February 1964), it was retconned that Brainiac was a machine created by the Computer Tyrants of Colu as a spy for them to invade other worlds, for which he was given a non-computer appearance. Brainiac's distinctive gridwork of red diodes across his head are also explained. He was created with visible "electric terminals of his sensory 'nerves'" that he cannot function without. Luthor discovers that the Computers could have given him a twelfth-level intellect, but gave him a tenth-level, the same as them, so he would not try to dominate them. Luthor frees Brainiac from a prison on another world and increases his intelligence, however implants a timer that will make Brainiac black out so the computer doesn't betray him, as only Luthor can reset the timer and if Brainiac tries to tamper with it, one touch will cause an explosion. However Brainiac tricks Luthor by making a device that hypnotizes Luthor, who removes the timer and forgets Brainiac is a computer. Explaining the 1961 introduction of Brainiac's descendant Brainiac 5, his biological disguise included an adopted "son", a young Coluan boy who was given the name "Brainiac 2". In the same issue, the letter column contained a "special announcement" explaining that the change in the characterization of Brainiac was being made "in deference" to the "Brainiac Computer Kit", a toy computer created by Edmund Berkeley and based on the Geniac that predated the creation of the comic book character.[4][5]

The boy, whose name was Vril Dox, went on to lead a revolt against the Computer Tyrants, eventually destroying them. Brainiac sees a monument to this when he returns to Colu.

30th century (Pre-Crisis)

At some indeterminate point in time, Brainiac fled into the 30th century. Developing the ability to absorb and manipulate massive amounts of stellar energy, he remade himself as "Pulsar Stargrave".[6] He became a powerful enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and once masqueraded as Brainiac 5's biological father.[7] In current continuity, Brainiac's connection to Pulsar Stargrave remains an open question, one even Brainiac 5 has yet to resolve.[8]

Bronze Age

Brainiac's robotic incarnation, from Action Comics #544. Art by Ed Hannigan.

In the 1980s, DC Comics attempted to re-define several aspects of its Superman series in order to boost sagging sales. At the same time as Lex Luthor acquired his green-and-purple battlesuit, Brainiac was re-envisioned (under the auspices of writer Marv Wolfman). In Action Comics #544 (June 1983), Brainiac had constructed a giant, artificial, computer-controlled planet and used it in his latest attempt to destroy Superman. His defeat at the hands of the Man of Steel left him trapped at the center of the planet, unable to escape. He was forced to make a nearby star explode in a nova in order to destroy the machine-world. It, however, also dissolved Brainiac's humanoid body into a stream of sentient molecules that, after a fantastic voyage through time & space, returned to the present and regestated as a living metal being. His new body (designed by Ed Hannigan) had the appearance of a skeleton of living metal with a grey (sometimes iridescent), honeycomb-patterned "braincase."[9] He also created a starship to house his new body which was actually an extension of himself; the ship was shaped like his own skull, with metal tentacles dangling from it that he could manipulate at will. Brainiac retained this appearance until after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The Silver/Bronze Age Brainiac met his end in the "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" story line that closed out Pre-Crisis Superman chronology. Lex Luthor found Brainiac's robotic head and was fused with it. Brainiac took control of Luthor's body and sought to destroy Superman once and for all, teaming up with the Legion of Super-Villains. Fighting Brainiac's control, Luthor begged a super-powered Lana Lang to kill him; she complied by breaking his neck. Though Luthor died, Brainiac was able to retain control of the body for a little while before rigor mortis set in and his brain was forced to leave it. "Propelled by sheer malice," the skull crawled a few inches before finally dying.

Modern Age

In the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe, Brainiac's history was completely rewritten. The post-Crisis version of Brainiac was now a radical Coluan scientist called Vril Dox who, having attempted to overthrow the Computer Tyrants of Colu, was sentenced to death. In his last moments before disintegration, his consciousness was attracted light years away to Milton Fine, a human sideshow mentalist who worked under the alias "Brainiac".[10] Needing cranial fluid to maintain his possession of Fine, Dox went on a murder spree. He discovered that Fine had genuine psychic powers, which he frequently wielded against Superman.[11]

Panic in the Sky

In the early 1990s, Brainiac returned in the "Panic in the Sky" storyline. He seized control of Warworld and manipulated Maxima into assisting him. Then he brainwashed Supergirl and the alien warrior Draaga before capturing Metron and setting off for Earth.[12][13] Orion and Lightray of New Genesis attacked Warworld, but they were quickly taken down by Maxima and Supergirl. Brainiac sent the mental image of the New Gods captured to Superman in order to taunt him, and he also sent his "headship" (a green-hued variant of the pre-Crisis skull-like ship) to Earth in a punitive expedition.[14]

These acts prompted Superman to go on the offense rather than wait for the inevitable invasion. He gathered a coalition of most of the world's superheroes and launched a preemptive strike at Warworld before it could arrive on Earth.[14] A small, elite force was left behind for any scouting forces that would be sent ahead. Superman led the attack on Warworld, where Supergirl and Draaga managed to shrug off their brainwashing and rally to Superman (although Draaga was killed in the fighting).[15][16] Brainiac briefly took control of some of Earth's heroes, but it was not enough to turn the tide.[17] Maxima would shortly switch sides in the fighting too, perceiving Brainiac as the true villain at last. Flash, Maxima, and the Metal Men attacked him in his lair, where Maxima managed to lobotomize him (but was stopped short of killing him).[18] His vegetative body was taken back to New Genesis for observation.[19]

Dead again

Brainiac would next emerge about a year after the death and return of Superman. After a dead body appeared in Superman's tomb, prompting the world to wonder if the Superman who was flying around was the original or a fake,[20] Superman began to track down all of his foes who might be capable of such a hoax.[21] While Brainiac was initially eliminated as a suspect,[22] he soon turned out to be the true culprit, creating the illusion even in his comatose state on New Genesis. He managed to revive himself there and returned to Earth in secret. While hidden, he created even more delusions, causing Superman to question his very sanity before realizing who was really at fault.[23][24] Superman and Brainiac squared off in Metropolis, where Superman taunted the evil villain, claiming that at heart he was really just Milton Fine, a cheap entertainer. This caused some break in Brainiac's mind where Fine's personality reasserted himself, burying Brainiac's. Fine was then escorted off to a psychiatric facility.[25]

The Doomsday Wars

During a later skirmish with Superman in Metropolis, Milton Fine's body was irreparably damaged, leaving Brainiac with only a short time to live. In order to preserve his life, he concocted an elaborate scheme by having an agent of his, a Coluan named Prin Vnok, use a time machine to travel to the End of Time itself and retrieve Doomsday, who had been left there by Superman and Waverider to ensure that he would never be a threat again, and use Doomsday as a new host body.[26]

Seconds before the forces of entropy destroyed him forever, Doomsday was taken to safety by Vnok and returned to Colu. There, a terminally-wounded Brainiac transferred his consciousness into Doomsday's body, temporarily becoming the most powerful being in the universe; a genius psychic mind inside an unstoppable, indestructible titan. However, Doomsday's own raging mind would eventually overwhelm Brainiac's will, and he reacted too quickly for Brainiac and Vnok to erase his mind using chemical or psionic treatments, forcing Brainiac to find another body. While still lodged in Doomsday's head, Brainiac decided to acquire a sample of human DNA that he could modify with Doomsday's DNA to create a new version of Doomsday that did not possess the creature's mind. Brainiac chose to use Pete Ross and Lana Lang's newborn baby, born eight weeks premature - and at that moment being transported by Superman to the best Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit in the country - as the template for his new body. He intercepted Superman during the trip to the hospital and stole the baby to hurt his long-time foe, correctly deducing that it was the child of someone close to Superman.[26] Superman thwarted Brainiac's plot by driving him out of Doomsday's body with the use of a telepathy-blocking 'psi-blocker' that he had used in his last battle, forcing Brainiac out of Doomsday and leaving him with no other option but to adopt a recently designed robotic body, dubbed Brainiac 2.5, where he would be forever trapped as he could not abandon it.[27]

Brainiac 13

Brainiac 13

At the turn of the millennium, Brainiac revealed that he had placed a sleeper virus in LexCorp's Y2K bug safeguards. This virus was intended to dramatically boost his abilities. However, the virus instead allowed his upgraded future self, Brainiac 13 (or "B-13"), to travel from the 64th century to the present day and take control of Brainiac 2.5's body.

Brainiac 13 then began transforming Metropolis into the 64th century version of the city, which he controlled, and also began upgrading Metallo into a giant-sized version of himself. Brainiac 13 then took control of several android superheroes, such as the Red Tornado and Hourman, and used them against Superman. The Metal Men's responsometers were able to protect them from his programming, and allowed them to help defeat Metallo.

Incidentally, during a fight with the Eradicator (who was attempting to 'hi-jack' the B13 virus and use it for its own ends), Superman discovered that Brainiac 13 could not cope with Kryptonian technology due to incompatibility issues. This gave Superman a plan to stop Brainiac's scheme. With the aid of the rebuilt Kelex, Superman tricked Luthor into connecting a Kryptonian battlesuit to one of Brainiac's power conduits. Kelex then reactivated the Red Tornado to help Superman break Brainiac 13 down into his respective nanobots and trap him in the suit.

Brainiac 13 was able to work with Brainiac 2.5—now transferred into the aged body of Lena Luthor—and prepared a tactic against Imperiex for the upcoming Imperiex War. They planned for Brainiac to absorb Imperiex's power and use it to reshape the universe in his image. Superman was able to destroy Brainiac and Imperiex by sending them through a temporal Boom tube where they were destroyed in the Big Bang.

After the death of Brainiac 13, Superman discovered that the version of Krypton he previously visited via the Phantom Zone was in fact a trap created by Brainiac 13. Having been defeated by Kryptonian technology, Brainiac 13 had traveled back in time to the real Krypton prior to its destruction. There, he stole the Eradicator matrix and Jor-El's diaries, and created a false Krypton based on Jor-El's favorite period in history.[28]

Sometime later, Superman traveled into the future and battled Brainiac 12. He learned that everything Brainiac 13 did in the past was designed to ensure things reached the point where Brainiac 13 would be created. Brainiac 12's defeat before his upgrade apparently reversed the advances Brainiac 13 had made to Metropolis.[29]

The Insiders

Main article: Indigo (comics)
Brainiac with his descendant Brainiac 8, as they discuss his use of organics. Art by Matthew Clark.

Around the time of the Graduation Day event, a future version of Brainiac, called Brainiac 6, used his "granddaughter", Brainiac 8 (also known as Indigo), to kill Donna Troy in order to ensure the fate of Colu. Indigo then infiltrated the Outsiders until she attacked the team, along with Brainiac 6 and his allies, Lex Luthor, and a brainwashed Superboy, who had attacked the Teen Titans. In the ensuing battle, Indigo died and Superboy broke away from the brainwashing, while Luthor escaped. While his ship was destroyed, Brainiac's condition and whereabouts after the battle are unknown.[30][31]

Silver Age Brainiac in the post-Crisis universe

Later stories revealed that elements of Brainiac's pre-Crisis history occurred in the post-Crisis character's history prior to his possession of Milton Fine and his first encounter with Superman. The citizens of Kandor recall that Brainiac stole their city from Krypton, and not the alien wizard Tolos.[29]

History of the DC Universe mentions his defeat by the Omega Men, although not seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths itself, and noted a second Brainiac was created in a laboratory on Earth two years later. In the Silver Age: JLA one-shot, the Injustice League discovered numerous shrunken alien cities found in Brainiac's abandoned spaceship.

Brainiac's updated mechanical form

Brainiac later reappeared as a swarm of interlinked nanotechnological units. Its operation was to sabotage a Waynetech research facility accomplished by infecting Metallo with a computer virus and controlling him from orbit. Superman and Batman tracked Brainiac's signal to an orbital facility and attacked. Brainiac's nanoswarm body was destroyed, though he had infected the Metal Men during their previous encounter with Metallo. Brainiac proceeded to use them to acquire a prototype OMAC unit, which Bruce Wayne had developed through the use of Brainiac 13 nanotechnology. Superman and Batman destroyed the OMAC body with the aid of the Metal Men, after the Metal Men overcame Brainiac's control.[32]


Main article: Brainiac (story arc)

Following revisions to Superman's continuity in "Infinite Crisis" and Action Comics #850, Brainiac reappeared in a self-titled five part story-arc in Action Comics. In Action Comics #866 (Aug. 2008), A Brainiac robot probe arrives on Earth and battles Superman. After the probe is defeated, information about Superman's blood is sent to the original Brainiac. As Brainiac wakes up, his computer announces "Attempt #242 in progress", a reference to Brainiac's first appearance in Action Comics #242, and to the many encounters between Brainiac and Superman. In the following issue, Supergirl reveals to Superman that Brainiac shrunk the Kryptonian city of Kandor and placed it in a bottle, and that all previous incarnations of Brainiac that Superman has encountered, were just probes and nanite-controlled bodies. She notes that no one has ever actually seen Brainiac. Inspired by Supergirl's story, Superman attempts to find Brainiac and stop him. In the process, he is caught and brought onto Brainiac's ship.

Superman escapes from his imprisonment and sees Brainiac emerging from his "bio-shell". This version of Brainiac resembles a much larger and more muscular version of the original, pre-Crisis Brainiac, and has motives similar to the Superman: The Animated Series incarnation of the character in that he travels the universe and steals the knowledge of various alien cultures, abducting and shrinking cities from each planet as samples, and then destroys the planet so that the value of the destroyed civilization's knowledge is increased. Brainiac's ship then travels to Earth and prepares to abduct the city of Metropolis.

Brainiac successfully steals Metropolis, and prepares to fire a missile that will destroy the sun and the Earth itself. Supergirl stops the missile while Superman battles Brainiac. Superman knocks Brainiac out of his ship and into a swamp, where Brainiac is overwhelmed by the microscopic organisms covering his body. Superman uses this distraction to defeat Brainiac. While Superman frees the cities of Metropolis and Kandor, the villain launches a missile to the Kent farm in an act of spite. The farm is destroyed, and Jonathan Kent suffers a fatal heart attack because of it.[33] Brainiac is brought to a top-secret military base, where the imprisoned Lex Luthor is assigned to discover his secrets. Luthor eventually manages to use Brainiac's connection to his ship to kill the soldiers assigned to watch him. Brainiac manages to free himself from Luthor's control, forcing him on board the ship, and the two make their escape.[34]

Following this Brainiac unleashes his robot army against the newly created planet of New Krypton, and the Kryptonian citizens rise up to fight the drones. Superman manages to enter Brainiac's ship after penetrating its force field. Supergirl leads the Kryptonians against the drones, but is attacked by an anti-Kryptonian Brainiac probe. Superboy, Mon-El, and the Legion of Super-Heroes join the fight and save Supergirl. The Legion explains to Zod that, just as Krypton's city of Kandor was held in a bottle onboard Brainiac's ship, other planets' cities are also imprisoned, and, therefore, Zod cannot destroy Brainiac's ship until the cities can be rescued. Zod sends Supergirl off and then arrests the Legionnaires, branding them terrorists. Meanwhile, Superman is about to face off against Brainiac when he is knocked down by a Kryptonite energy blast fired by Lex Luthor and subsequently captured.

A city that Luthor expanded is still growing, now putting Kandor at risk. As Brainiac 5 works on the problem, Supergirl is shocked to discover Superman impaled by pieces of Brainiac's ship as a result of the explosion. Superman appears to have been fatally stricken. Luthor, though reeling from the explosion, is pleased with all the destruction he has caused. Brainiac confronts Luthor and is furious that Lex sabotaged his ship. Luthor mocks him and spits in his eye before Brainiac angrily snaps Luthor's neck, killing him. Meanwhile, Zod is eager for a final showdown with Brainiac, who calls Zod a coward for confronting Brainiac with his powers intact and an army of super-powered Kryptonians at his back. In response, Zod fires the red sun radiation from an Archer rifle at himself, to remove his powers and thus supposedly level the playing field as he prepares to take Brainiac down. Brainiac 5 gives Superman a transfusion of Conner's blood and exposes him to a very large dose of concentrated synthesized yellow sun rays. Using these techniques, Brainiac 5 is able to revive Superman.

Despite the loss of his powers, Zod is able to get the upper hand and force Brainiac to his knees. Zod is about to shoot Brainiac when Superman intervenes. This causes a heated argument between Superman and Zod. Zod commands his soldiers to restrain Kal-El so Zod can proceed with the execution of Brainiac. Brainiac 5, sensing that this is his moment of destiny, steps in and teleports himself and Brainiac off of New Krypton.

It is revealed that Lex used a Luthor robot, supplied by Toyman, to accomplish his mission on New Krypton, and that Brainiac killed the robot instead. Lex is very much alive and discussing with General Lane how his objective, to bring chaos to New Krypton, was achieved. Lex has been working as an agent of General Lane all along. The disarray that Lex caused provides Lane with a window of opportunity as he prepares for the impending war with New Krypton. Lex receives a Presidential pardon for his efforts. The story ends with Zod rallying his people as he declares war on the planet Earth. The story concludes in the next mini-series, Superman: War of the Supermen.

Mon-El plants the many bottled cities that Brainiac has captured over the years on various planets across the galaxy. These cities will one day become the United Planets by the 31st century, the same planets that will produce the members of the Legion of Super-heroes.

Brainiac 5 takes Brainiac to their homeworld of Colu where he hands him over to Vril Dox aka Brainiac 2. Vril Dox happily turns his "father" over to his people for his crimes. However Lyrl Dox aka Brainiac 3 releases his "grandfather" with a weapon called Pulsar Stargrave. What then occurs is an all out battle for Colu between all 3 present day Brainiacs. Vril Dox even calls in Lobo for help. Brainac however escapes with Pulsar Stargrave in tow for parts unknown.[35]

The New 52

Brainiac's origin in The New 52 is revealed in Superman #23.2. Vril Dox was acknowledged as the greatest scientist on his homeworld, Yod-Colu, given his advances in force field technology and miniaturization. He developed an artificial intelligence, C.O.M.P.U.T.O., allowing him to discover the fifth dimension. Dox discovered the fifth dimension was in a state of war, and a group of its inhabitants, the Multitude, had entered their dimension and destroyed over a hundred planets. Realizing Yod-Colu was next in the Multitude's path, Dox tried to find a way to save his planet, even performing experiments on his son. The magistrates of Yod-Colu sentenced Dox to exile, but Dox used C.O.M.P.U.T.O. to take control of Yod-Colu's computer networks. Copying the planet's database, Dox constructed an army of robot servants called Terminauts and miniaturized the city his wife and son lived on and bottled it in a force field, while the rest of Yod-Colu was destroyed by the Multitude.

After the destruction of Yod-Colu, Dox constructed an army of starships and distributed his consciousness across a series of robots that would each travel the universe in order to preserve planets from the Multitude, becoming known as the Collector of Worlds. One of these robots attacked Krypton. Dox became fascinated by Jor-El, a Kryptonian scientist who actually saved his homeworld from the Multitude. Upon returning to Krypton, however, Brainiac discovered Krypton had been destroyed.[36]

Referred to at first as 'The Collector of Worlds', Brainiac is first seen as the mysterious informant that supplies Lex Luthor information of Superman and his alien nature.[37] Clark is having a dream of Krypton's final moments in which an artificial intelligence that controls the planet wakes up robots in an attempt to preserve the Kryptonian culture. Later, while Clark conducts an interview in a robotic factory, the same harvester robots appear.

John Corben (soon-to-be supervillain Metallo) is suddenly possessed by the artificial intelligence. It demands Superman.[38] The robots create havoc throughout Metropolis but Superman soon realizes that they are really after him. Superman fights the possessed Corben with the help of John Henry Irons.

Although they managed to defeat him, the alien sentience had already miniaturized and bottled the city of Metropolis and took it to his ship in space.[39] Superman travels to the ship to find many alien bottled cities, Kandor included. The alien identifies himself as a being from the planet Colu where he was known as C.O.M.P.U.T.O and on Krypton he was called Brainiac 1.0. He claims that without Superman and the ship that brought him to Earth, his Kryptonian collection is incomplete. The alien intelligence demands Superman make a choice: the intelligence will disable life support in both the Kandor and Metropolis bottles, and Superman must choose which city to save using indestructible Kryptonian armor found on the ship.

Superman decides on neither and wears the armor (which changes instantly into the current Superman costume design). Brainiac sends Metallo to attack Superman, but due to Superman reasoning with him over his feelings for Lois Lane, he breaks free of Brainiac's control and joins Superman in his attack. Superman then uses his rocket from Krypton that had also been miniaturized with Metropolis to attack Brainiac's mind, which the rocket was able to do since its primary mission was to protect Kal-El. In doing so, Metropolis was returned to Earth and Superman took possession of Brianiac's ship and made it his new super citadel.[40]

Notably, the ship Clark was placed into as a child was described as having "Brainiac AI", leaving the identity of the Collector of Worlds in doubt.[41] The Colony of the Collector of Worlds told Superman that its AI technology went by different names, beginning on Yod-Colu as C.O.M.P.U.T.O. On Noma, he was called Pneumenoid; on Bryak it was Mind2; on Krypton he was called Brainiac 1.0; and, finally on Earth, he is the Internet.[42]

After this defeat, Brainiac retreated to deeper parts of the cosmos, and eventually came across the planet Tolerance, the setting of a bounty hunting glimmernet game show called The Hunted. Striking a deal with Lady Styx, overlord of the Tenebrian Dominion. he bottles a portion of the Sh'diki Borough of Tolerance, to add to his collection. He encounters Jediah Caul, a former member of the Green Lantern Corps, who combats and infects Brainiac's ship. Ultimately, Brainiac abandons his plans with the Sh'diki Borough and ejects Caul and the bottled city before leaving for parts unknown.[43]

Back on Earth, during an investigation of 20 kidnapped people who developed metahuman powers after being kidnapped by Brainiac, one of these 20 infects Lois Lane, thereby giving Brainiac control over a close ally of Superman.[44] Brainiac plots his return to Earth, using Lane to infiltrate Earth's defense systems to allow an easier path for his physical return.[45] and even upgrading her body to contain his 12th level intelligence. His minion Cyborg-Superman (a reconstructed Zor-El, father of Supergirl)[46] constructs a portal to allow Brainiac's command ship and "daughterships" to travel to Earth from throughout the galaxy.[47]

Superman, whom Brainiac had conspired to 'infect' with the monster Doomsday in order to drive him away from Earth, uses his augmented power to attack Brainiac's gigantic mothership and break through to its core and, finally, Vril Dox himself. The Coluan appears still-humanoid, and explains his reasoning for stealing minds from throughout the universe: he has concluded that if he can 'unite' the minds of a certain critical amount of people, he will be able to change reality itself. His motivation for this appears a desire to right the wrongs he feels responsible for: the loss of his wife and child back on Colu. His plan is undone when Superman drags him, mothership and all, into a black hole. But then, Vril Dox is snatched away to safety, it seems, by a being who appears to be the true Brainiac: an immensely powerful entity from outside the universe itself.[48]

This version of Brainiac, a composite of Brainiac from around the Multiverse, is revealed to be the pre-Flashpoint era Brainiac who, having found his way into the Source Wall and into the Multiverse, was thrown back in the timestream and mutated by the effects of "crisis" events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, and 52, creating a godlike being.[49] He then uncovered the location of Vanishing Point from nearly killing New 52 Earth-0's Michelle Carter, from which he could roam the complete history of the Multiverse, collecting doomed cities from defunct timelines, alternative futures, and parallel worlds to add to his collection, in Convergence, leaving behind an agent, Telos, to rule a planet of the same name containing the cities. Brainiac's attempt to do this to a future timeline of Earth-0 was narrowly averted by the heroes in the story The New 52: Futures End; Brainiac was contained in a T-sphere, leaving Telos stranded without his master, prompting the events of Convergence in which the planets are bid to fight each other. When the events of Convergence nearly end in an irreversible destruction of the Multiverse, the time traveller Waverider, formerly the pre-Flashpoint Booster Gold, frees Brainiac, who reveals he is sick from his mutations and only wishes to return to normal, to being Brainiac of Colu. He sends most of the heroes home, and with help from Zero Hour Parallax and pre-Flashpoint Superman, averts the collapse of the Multiverse from Crisis on Infinite Earths, and is returned to the normal Brainiac.[50]

Powers and abilities

Brainiac has a "12th-level intellect", allowing calculation abilities, enhanced memory and advanced understanding of mechanical engineering, bio-engineering, physics, and other theoretical and applied sciences, as well as extensive knowledge of various alien technologies. For comparison, the population of 20th century Earth as a whole constitutes a 6th-Level intelligence and the population of 31st century Earth as a whole is a 9th-Level intelligence. The character has created devices such as a force field belt[51] and a shrinking ray capable of reducing cities.[51] Brainiac's advanced mental powers have shown him capable of possessing others, absorbing information from other beings, transferring his consciousness,[52] creating and manipulating computer systems, replicating multiple versions of himself, and exerting powers to traverse or control space and time. John Byrne's re-imagining of the character possessed telepathy and telekinesis that were further augmented by an implanted electrode head-piece.

The most recent version of Brainiac (a living Coluan who utilizes android "probes") is connected to his ship in such a way that he can be disabled for a short period if separated without warning. While inside his ship he is capable of fighting evenly with and overpowering the likes of Superman. He heals from injuries at incredible speed. After being separated from the ship he physically starts to deteriorate and is far less powerful. He is a biological creature that has altered his body to acquire more knowledge to become "better." With his ship, vast knowledge, and powerful technology, Brainiac has captured thousands of cities and has assimilated and destroyed just as many civilizations. He is considered one of the most powerful villains Superman has faced.

Alternative versions

The character has been depicted in various out-of-continuity stories, such as the JLA: Earth 2 one-shot, where he is an organic—but still villainous—lifeform, having tricked the Justice League of America and the Crime Syndicate of Amerika into switching worlds so that they are each trapped in realities where they cannot win, only to be defeated when the League deliberately walk away so that the Syndicate can return in time to stop him. In the Amalgam Comics line, which was a joint venture between DC and Marvel Comics, readers are introduced to Galactiac, a combination of Brainiac and Marvel Comics antagonist Galactus. Brainiac also appears in The Dark Knight Strikes Again where he is allied with Lex Luthor and blackmailing various superheroes to obey them before he is destroyed by Lara, the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman and the population of Kandor,[53] as well as Superman: Red Son,[54] JLA: Shogun of Steel,[55] and The Last Days of Krypton novel by author Kevin J. Anderson.[56]

Bizarro Brainiac

Bizarro #1 created this doppelganger of Brainiac to live on Bizarro World. Since Brainiac shrank the city of Kandor, his Bizarro counterpart felt compelled to do the opposite, and expanded a city in Antarctica, creating Big City.[57]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, Brainiac is the ruler of 31st century Earth, and has captured Kid Flash, whom he then placed in stasis, but Hot Pursuit managed to rescue the young speedster.[58] Escaping from Brainiac's base, Kid Flash and Hot Pursuit formulate a plan to return to the 21st century. Kid Flash then allows himself to be recaptured by Brainiac and put into stasis. Kid Flash uses his super-speed in the virtual reality access port to shut down the security program and Hot Pursuit then blasts Brainiac from behind. While they used his orb energy to return to the past, Brainiac impaled Hot Pursuit and attacked Kid Flash. Hot Pursuit breaks the orb energy projector to allow Kid Flash's super-speed to return. Kid Flash then returns to the 21st century, promising to rescue Hot Pursuit from Brainiac.[59]

Adventures of Supergirl

In the Adventures of Supergirl comic, which takes place in the universe of the Supergirl TV series, a very different version of Vril Dox appears as a recurring villain. In this series he is a greedy, green-skinned alien hacker from the planet Yod who was hired by an as-yet unknown individual to frame Supergirl's ally Winn Schott for funding and aiding terrorism. When Supergirl accesses Winn's computer, he presents himself falsely as an A.I. system called V.R.I.L., and pretends to be a creation of Schott's. He figures out Supergirl's real identity and plans to expose her, then he electrocutes her ally James Olsen from through Winn's computer. Eventually, Vril is tracked down by Supergirl with the aid of Winn and an expert hacker he knew, and Supergirl easily defeated him, after which he was arrested.[60]

In other media



Video games

Web series

Brainiac appears in the second episode of Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles (a companion to Justice League: Gods and Monsters), voiced by Tara Strong. This version is depicted as contingency plan set by Doctor Sivana to take down Superman. Brainiac is shown to have lost control over his immeasurable psychic powers, creating an energy dome around himself in Metropolis. The effects are shown to take down attack helicopters and send cars flying. As stated by his creator, only a small nuclear warhead could stop him, or Superman. Superman shows up and penetrates the dome seeing Brainiac for who he is: a crying, blue skinned child with three diodes on his head, missing his left arm. Despite his attempts to reason with him and talk Brainiac into controlling his powers, Superman reluctantly kills Brainiac with his heat vision to put him out of his misery much to his sadness and regret.



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