Superman Comic Books

Superman: Special Reports

Brainiac - Part 3 (of 3)

Author: Sean Hogan (

Last updated: October 7, 2004

Trading Places

Brainiac gets better treatment in Tom Peyer and Mark Waid's four issue run (Adventures of Superman #536, Action Comics #723, Superman: The Man Of Steel #58 and Superman #114). Not to mention that it has art by the late, lamented Curt Swan. We learn that Brainiac is in the Lovelace Psychiatric Hospital. Yah, that'll hold him.

Brainiac's personality re-emerges and takes control of the hospital. When he learns that one of the patients is a boy who believes he is Superman, Brainiac lures Superman to the hospital. He transfers Superman's mind into young Chas Cassidy's body and takes control of Superman's body.

It's lots of fun seeing Superman cope in the powerless, young body (one scene in particular, where "Chas" disguises himself by slicking back his hair and borrowing some eye-glasses, is hilarious).

Just as fun is seeing Brainiac explore Superman's body and powers. We learn that Brainiac is suffering because Fine's brain has no further storage. However, Superman's Kryptonian physiology prevents Brainiac from using his mental powers. Through use of a television broadcast, he gains control over the people of Metropolis, turning them into mindless data storage units. In the end, Chas manages to save the day -- proving you don't need super powers to be a hero. Brainiac is left drooling and gibbering, but if you're interested in how Chas succeeded, get the issues and find out. They're well worth the read.

The Brainiac Family Reunion

Brainiac's next appearance was a family affair in Showcase '96 #11-12, courtesy of Tom Peyer. Brainiac's descendant, Brainiac 5, and other members of the Legion of Super-Heroes are stranded in the present. B5 (trust me, it's less confusing if I use B5) stumbles across the comatose Brainiac in a STAR Labs facility. Saturn Girl's mental probe awakens Brainiac, who mentally rearranges the lab into his "head-ship". He has no difficulty controlling the six heroes, and so he heads off to Colu, to conquer it again and use it for his power base.

The family reunion continues as Vril Dox II also returns to Colu (we also briefly see Dox's son, Lyrl). Together, Dox and B5 defeat Brainiac. The method of Brainiac's defeat is ironic and certainly not the "battle of wits" as Dox tells everyone later.

Brainiac is placed in a spaceship, which is sent into space (whether into orbit or to deepest space is not revealed). Unlike Brainiac's previous appearance, we don't have Brainiac defeated merely because someone stands up to him mentally. And, at least no one here pretends that 'Brainiac will never trouble anyone ever again!'

The Brainiac/Doomsday Team

Brainiac makes an unannounced return in the three issue prestige format series, Superman: The Doomsday Wars, written and pencilled by Dan Jurgens with inks by Norm Rapmund. It's an enjoyable story with eye-catching art. The tale starts in the middle of a battle between Superman and Brainiac on the streets of Metropolis. Brainiac is taken out, not by Superman, but by a pizza delivery car. Brainiac's broken body is then whisked away by a robotic device.

Other plots weave into the story, including a tale of childhood loss involving Clark, Lana and Pete as well as a present day look at both Cat Grant's mourning for her son (killed by the Toyman) and the troubled birth of Lana and Pete Ross' child. While Clark is distracted by Lana's demand to save her child, Doomsday devastates the JLA.

At the end of issue 1, it seems Doomsday made some giant steps up the evolutionary chain when he stops grunting and begins waxing eloquent as he announces to the defeated JLA, "the reports of my stupidity were greatly exaggerated!"

The truth comes out in the second issue when we learn that Brainiac's dying pizza-smashed body had been rescued by a previously unknown flunky on the planet Colu (presumably the flunky earlier rescued Brainiac from his exiled spaceship). We learn the flunky had also retrieved Doomsday from his apparent death during the Final Night series to allow Brainiac to possess the monster as he had done with Milton Fine.

Doomsday breaks free, destroying Brainiac's body and the apparatus intended to allow Brainiac to dominate the beast. Despite the setback, Brainiac manages to transfer his consciousness and take temporary mental control. Brainiac/Doomsday returns to Earth to finish Superman and find a new host for his mind before Doomsday is able to reject him.

When Superman thwarts Brainiac's attempt to use the Ross child, the disembodied intelligence is forced to rely on a backup plan - a robotic body which Brainiac describes as, "... a fail safe solution with a most severe limitation. This construct of steel and circuits is forever my home as I can never abandon it!"

Despite the theatrical declaration (there being no reason given why he can't just mind switch again), Jurgens is of course, making a tribute to the Silver Age Brainiac - a computerized intelligence. Brainiac is dashingly garbed in a purple and silver outfit with thick cables at his neck and sternum and a green face set amidst the metallic cranium.

The story then deals with Superman and the JLA figuring out how to defeat the no-longer-controlled Doomsday while Brainiac and his lackey simply disappear.

Brainiac reappears briefly in Dan Jurgen's last issues of Superman (offscreen in #148 and finally appearing in #150), blackmailing three superpowered aliens to help him in another attempt to destroy Superman (Jurgens also throws a treat in for Silver Age fans by introducing the post-Crisis version of that Superman's ally and friend, Vartox). Brainiac again flees when his plot is thwarted.

Superman: Y2K Brainiac Upgraded

Mechanized Brainiac decides to crash Luthor's millennial party in the special, Superman: Y2K (written by Joe Kelly). Calling himself Brainiac 2.5, he announces that he is responsible for the Y2K crash (which was much hyped in the real world, but only occurred in the DC Universe) by inserting himself into the Lexcorp Y2Kompliance software. Using the worldwide chaos as a means to destroy Superman, Brainiac's plan backfires when an entity from the future uses the disruption to download itself into Brainiac and into Metropolis, upgrading both with future technology.

While Brainiac searches for a safer vessel for his consciousness, his body continues to announce it's upgrading from Brainiac 3.1 until achieving its final form - in Brainiac 13.

The Y2K story continues in Superman #154, Adventures of Superman #576, Superman: The Man of Steel #98 and Action Comics #763. While Superman battles Brainiac 13 for control of the new Metropolis, we learn that the original Brainiac has downloaded himself and taken control over Luthor's infant daughter, Lena.

Luthor teams up with Brainiac/Lena in a Kryptonian Battlesuit, reasoning that B13 will only be familiar with Earth technology. Superman cleverly persuades the deadly duo to team up with him against B13. Expecting betrayal, Superman outwits all three villains and saves the day. Almost.

Luthor, in desperation to maintain control of his city, makes a last minute deal with B13 to sacrifice Brainiac/Lena and allow B13 to escape and disappear. Luthor is left with the technology to control his futuristic city, but with a great price as Lena and the Brainiacs disappear.

Adventures of Superman #595 Our Brainiac At War

Brainiac 13 and an apprentice return in the "Our Worlds At War" storyline which ran through the Superman titles and other titles in summer 2001. Starting with Superman #171, President Luthor is awoken by a green skinned female wearing a Brainiac purple and black outfit - an adult Lena.

Lena warns Luthor about the coming of Imperiex, who plans to recreate the universe after destroying the current one. Lena reappears in Adventures of Superman #595, after Imperiex' apparent defeat, to announce that she serves Brainiac 13, who has taken the power of Imperiex. Luthor, undaunted, sees Lena as his link to B13 and his key to victory.

In Superman: The Man of Steel #117, while Superman battles B13, Luthor confronts Lena. He convinces her to betray B13, arguing "Your father will beat your master again ... but this time I will do it with my daughter at my side. I can see it in your eyes, girl ... you're a Luthor. You value power in a way a soulless machine never could! You understand why we must sometimes eat our young. The time has come, Lena. Move past what was done ... join your blood. Learn from your father. Learn from the best."

In Action Comics #782, the father/daughter team join the fray in a final battle against B13 and Imperiex. By issue's end, Superman has defeated and disposed of both villains and victoriously returns an infant Lena back to her father. As Luthor stares at his child, her forehead displays the faded Brainiac circuitry.

While there is no indication of the original Brainiac during "Our Worlds At War", the epilogue in Superman: The Man of Steel #118 has Luthor hiring a new nanny for Lena - with the traditional double L name which usually spells trouble for Superman. The nanny, Liesel Largo, glows with eagerness to begin - as do her Brainiac green eyes.

Brainiac 13 Minus 1

A mystery Supergirl, using the name of Cir-el, first appeared on the final page of Superman: The Ten Cent Adventure. She is awoken and welcomed to the past by the mystery villains known as the Timesmiths. The Cir-el Supergirl has short, dark hair and wears a black bodysuit, with a large red S slashed across the front, and accessorized with a blue cape. Her story is written by Steven Seagle and continues in Superman #192 (with art by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens). Over the course of various issues, the mystery deepens as the reader learns that Lois was not Cir-el's mother and that Cir-el transforms from and into an ordinary female named Mia.

Mia's story concludes in Superman #200 with the revelation that Mia's body had been used as a refuge by Brainiac 13, following his failed takeover in the Y2K storyline. The computer tyrant's consciousness transformed Mia, using a hair from Superman for a genetic graft, and kept Brainiac's essence hidden until it could emerge again as Brainiac 12 - ready for an upgrade back to Brainiac 13. The last we see of Mia, she sacrifices herself by leaping into the time stream to change the past. Superman follows, carrying Brainiac and leaving him stuck in an anomaly in the time stream.

A digital Brainiac appears in the Bat-world in Birds of Prey. Barbara Gordon (now Oracle and formerly the original Batgirl), has been the subject of internet and electronic attacks. In issues #72 & 73, the villain is revealed as Brainiac (although the story doesn't clarify which "version" of Brainiac this might be). Much like Superman regularly defeated the Milton Fine humanoid Brainiac through sheer mind and will-power, Barbara does the same. The victory is not complete however, as she is infected with Brainiac technology.

Relevant Links:
  • Brainiac: Part 1 (of 3)
  • Brainiac: Part 2 (of 3)