- I have been reborn and re-formed and given a destiny anew. My foes are but two-- the angel of death who calls himself Superman... And his master... my master... who seeks my second ending. But I shall outwit them both. I shall raise armies and march into Hell itself to destroy those who would destroy me. I am no longer machine, no longer a cold and lifeless computer. I am more. I have been imbued with life. Organic and yet more. I have become greater than life, greater than machine. I am Brainiac. And that is more than enough for any!
- — Brainiac src
Vril Dox the First is the original Brainiac, a superintelligent villain from the planet Colu. He was intent on preserving dying societies by shrinking cities into bottles and gather their information to expand his own 12th Level Intellect. He was an enemy of Superman, who retrieved the bottled Kryptonian city of Kandor from him.
On the distant planet of Colu, a race of green-skinned humanoids with an average 6th-level intelligence manufactured a supercomputer built to simulate a 10th-level intelligence. Unfortunately, the Coluans realized too late that their creation was made too well. Along with artificial intelligence, they had given the supercomputer the gift of sentience, and the ability to simulate all the malice and vice of sentient biological creatures. Replicating itself multiple times over after enslaving the Coluan race, this supercomputer and its identical copies became the feared and merciless Computer Tyrants.
Seeking to expand their dominion over other worlds inhabited by sentient carbon-based lifeforms, the Computer Tyrants decided to manufacture their own creation, as the Coluans had manufactured them. The Computer Tyrants' "son," in a manner of speaking, would be a "living computer," built of synthetic parts and mechanical systems yet possessing the mind and physical appearance of a Coluan scientist. It was not simply enough for their construct to appear humanoid though; he would also have to be capable of thinking and acting like one of the biologics. As such, the Computer Tyrants uploaded the brain-engrams of a dying Coluan scientist to accomplish the feat of granting their android a human personality. They also tentatively considered altering the configuration of their creation's functional components to grant him 12th-level intelligence, but reconsidered and dialed it back to 10th-level in order so that he would not be able to outwit and overthrow them as they had done to their creators. To complete their project, the Computer Tyrants gave their creation a name: Brainiac; and a prime directive: to scout out inhabited worlds from around the universe and gather knowledge and cultural artifacts from each visit. In the service of this mission, Brainiac used the Hyper-Ray, a beam which could reduce matter in size, to minimize and encapsulate the bustling urban centers of the planets he happened upon. In addition, to complete Brainiac's "human" persona, the Computer Tyrants forced a Coluan boy named Vril Dox into Brainiac's cold guardianship, rechristening the lad as Brainiac 2.
After using Brainiac's technology to boost his own mental ability to 12th-level intelligence, Brainiac 2 escaped his artificial adoptive father and returned to his homeworld, leading a rebellion which destroyed the Computer Tyrants and returned Colu's destiny to the Coluans. This act would positively distinguish the Brainiac lineage among the people of Colu, and Brainiac 2's descendants would inherit this legacy of prestige and honor, in addition to the Brainiac title and the trait of 12th-level intelligence. Nonetheless, the original Brainiac's mission continued. Before the destruction of Krypton, Brainiac reduced and absconded with the great Kryptonian city of Kandor, which was once the planet's capital. This had the effect of sealing Krypton's doom, as Jor-El had begun construction on a space-ark in the city to potentially evacuate a section of the Kryptonian race before the cataclysm struck. Brainiac would amass quite a collection of bottle cities, as well as a veritable arsenal of hi-tech weaponry. On one unknown planet, Brainiac found a primitive monkey-like alien animal, which became his pet Koko. Brainiac also terrorized other worlds for little reason other than to prove his superiority. He had subjugated the barbaric planet Kordos with an army of android duplicates, placed a satellite in the orbit of Altair-3 to permanently eclipse its sun, enslaved the population of a third world, and unleashed a horde of monsters upon the natives of a fourth. At one point, Brainiac attempted to invade the Vega system, but he was driven off by the Citadel.
Brainiac returned to Krypton a second time after shrinking Kandor. Brainiac abducted Superbaby and took him to his alleged home planet of Bryak, which orbited a yellow sun. Young Kal gained superpowers and caused wanton destruction on Bryak, and Brainiac was forced to agree to let him fly his spacecraft back to Krypton. Superbaby was dropped off back at home, with Jor-El being none the wiser. Brainiac vowed revenge on Krypton but never returned.
Brainiac elaborately lied to young Kal about his origins, claiming to be the former ruler of a dead planet named Bryak. The purpose for stealing and bottling cities was ostensibly to repopulate his home, and rule them.
The Man of Circuits vs. the Man of Steel
Brainiac eventually came to Earth, shrinking and bottling the city of Metropolis, among other significant urban and cultural centers. This act was what first brought Brainiac to Superman's attention. Aboard Brainiac's ship, Superman discovered the existence of a still-thriving Kryptonian community in the bottle city of Kandor, making the brief acquaintance of Professor Kimda. Superman began restoring the stolen Earth cities to their proper sizes and locations on the planet's surface after Brainiac retired to a suspended animation chamber for his return trip into the far reaches of outer space. With only enough power in the Hyper-Ray to re-size either himself or Kandor, Superman was ready to restore Kandor, only for Kimda to take the decision out of his hands by re-enlarging Superman instead. In the aftermath, Superman took Kandor with him and gave it a refuge in his Fortress of Solitude.
Brainiac recovered from his suspended animation coma prematurely and intended to place Lois Lane and Lana Lang within the blast radius of an explosion as part of an experiment. Superman learned of Brainiac's plans and subverted them by infusing Lois and Lana with his blood, having the effect of temporarily granting them his super-powers, including invulnerability.
Next, Brainiac attacked Superman directly by blasting him with a combination of Green and Red Kryptonite radiation. Although the onslaught initially seemed ineffective, Superman began going about crime-fighting through bizarre ways while wearing a variety of odd hats. Though this was assumed to be an effect of the Red K, Superman was actually putting these eccentricities on in order to conceal a third eye that grew on the back of his head because of the Red K. Keeping it secret gave Superman the element of surprise needed to subdue Brainiac in their rematch, when Superman released a burst of heat-vision from it. Brainiac was taken back in time to the Mesozoic Era and stranded there by Superman, in the hopes that this would permanently neutralize him.
Entire periods of the geologic timescale passed while Brainiac lay dormant. Brainiac was finally freed when humans invented the first wheel and accidentally smashed Brainiac's holding capsule open with it. Returning to his proper time period, Brainiac hatched a new scheme against Superman, which involved shrinking Lois Lane, Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and a Kryptonite-disempowered Superman while they investigated an uprising by natives in the Congo for the Daily Planet. This time, Brainiac sought to make a mockery of his formerly mighty adversary by containing him with his friends in a glass bottle, but the unexpected intervention of Congorilla saved the day.
After this, Brainiac was imprisoned in a nigh-indestructible cage comprised of Supermanium on a desert world. While held there, he was located and freed by Lex Luthor, who learned his true origin as a Coluan android from a mental-probe device and intended to strike up an alliance against Superman with him. Together, Brainiac and Luthor conspired to shrink, paralyze, and disempower Superman, with the final indignity being the incarceration of the helpless Superman within a birdcage in Luthor's observatory lair. Along the way, Brainiac also briefly revisited Colu and learned of the destruction of the Computer Tyrants by his "son," making his quest to shrink cities from alien cultures meaningless. Luthor also managed to get Brainiac to agree to a procedure whereby he would enhance the android's intellect to a 12th-level intelligence, though it was merely an excuse for Luthor to implant a device in Brainiac that would cause Brainiac to deactivate should he move to betray Luthor. In the end, Brainiac retaliated by mesmerizing Luthor into removing the device and losing all memory of his secret origin, and Kandor's Superman Emergency Squad defeated the both of them in the nick of time upon being alerted of Superman's peril.
Brainiac was then put on trial in Kandor for his crime of shrinking and abducting it, with Luthor as his defense attorney. Although failing to convincingly argue Brainiac's case in a court of law, Luthor succeeded in blackmailing the Kandorians into releasing both of them, pointing out that their cooperation was needed to restore Superman to his normal state. The villains returned Superman to his usual self and were allowed to escape scot-free. With his obligation to his creators cancelled thanks to their demise, Brainiac began to focus his efforts and resources towards the downfall of Superman, frequently allying with Lex Luthor to accomplish this goal.
During Brainiac's next excursion on Earth, the alien marauder blasted the perimeter wall of a prison facility in Gotham City, releasing a whole host of convicts, including Matt Hagen. After a subsequent hairy encounter between Superman and Brainiac's ship in Metropolis, which saw Jimmy Olsen turned into a liability, Superman and Batman decided to exchange sidekicks while pursuing their respective villains. Although Superman and Robin did not work together as organically as Batman and Robin, both hero-sidekick teams regrouped and managed to subdue their nemeses.
When Superman was stripped of his powers by the trail of a radioactive comet, Brainiac seized upon the opportunity to spring Luthor from prison, and together the villains made an attempt on the lives of Lois Lane and Lana Lang, both of whom Luthor had sworn to murder in revenge for his previous capture by Superman. Kal-El's chosen successor as Superman, former Emergency Squad member Ar-Val, proved more interested in grandstanding than protecting the innocent, forcing Kal-El to use 30th Century Legion of Super-Heroes tech to simulate super-powers and rescue Lois and Lana. Ar-Val's conscience eventually moved him to reinforce his predecessor in battle with Brainiac and Luthor, and in the aftermath, Ar-Val subjected himself to a fatal process whereby his powers would be transferred into Kal-El's body, restoring the original Superman.
Brainiac teamed up with Lex Luthor against Superman again when a visit by Superman on Lexor inadvertently exposed Luthor's criminal career on Earth to his wife Ardora, souring her relationship with Luthor. This scheme involved having Luthor take seemingly contradictory actions in order to psychologically engineer Superman into second-guessing his every move, thereby destroying his efficacy as a hero. The final nail in the coffin of Superman's self-esteem was supposed to be driven by Brainiac and Luthor personally, with the two masquerading as government scientists administering Superman a special test. Superman destroyed the villains' disguises and forced them on the run back to Lexor, although he decided to dose Ardora with Amnesium gas and cease pursuit, due to feeling responsible for ruining Luthor's marriage. While Luthor initially believed that Brainiac and he had escaped Superman's grasp, it was Brainiac who made the deduction that Superman let them get away.
Brainiac returned to Earth with the intention to take on Superman by himself, yet he was faced instead by the then-novice hero Supergirl, due to Superman being on a Justice League mission at the time. Brainiac battled Supergirl using Kryptonite constructs projected by his ship and by concentrating his force-field energies into a powerful concussive ray, but Supergirl came out on top and breached the hull of Brainiac's ship. Cornered and faced with the certainty of capture, Brainiac used a handheld teleportation-ray to escape to parts unknown.
Brainiac was later attacked by his 20th-level-intellect rival Grax, who stole Brainiac's force-field technology and used it to trap Superman on Earth while a K-meson bomb strapped to his costume ticked down to oblivion for the human race. Less out of sympathy for Superman or the Earth so much as contempt for Grax, Brainiac contacted Superman and helped him brainstorm a method to compel Grax to lower the force-field, and the K-meson bomb detonated in outer space, destroying only Grax's ship.
Disguising himself as Batman, Brainiac made entrance to the Fortress of Solitude and attempted to abscond with Kandor beneath the Man of Steel's nose. However, the disguise was quickly shattered by Superman, and Superman's ability to shrug off Brainiac's most powerful attack sent the Coluan space-pirate on the run. Brainiac decided to construct an android in the image of a human woman, named Genia, and sent her to impersonate the newly elected Chairman of the United Nations Security Council in order to deceive Superman, Batman, and Robin into planting receivers at the highest points in Metropolis, New York City, London, Paris, and Tokyo. Although the heroes were told that the receivers would eliminate industrial air pollution from these cities, their true purpose was to act as homing beacons for the Hyper-Ray to reduce them into bottles aboard Brainiac's ship, permitting Brainiac to repay Superman fivefold for taking Kandor from his collection. Superman, Batman, and Robin discovered Genia's deception and Brainiac's involvement, though the Collector of Worlds managed to escape capture again.
Taking aim at Supergirl again, Brainiac made an android based on the appearance and personality of alien juvenile delinquent Kimor Dann and sent him to Earth under the alias "Kim O'Ryan" to enroll in Stanhope College, make Supergirl fall head over heels for him, and commit suicide, with the intended effect of shattering Supergirl's self-image such that she would be compelled to retire as a hero. However, the real Kimor Dann replaced his android replica at a certain stage of the plot and informed Supergirl of Brainiac's manipulations, allowing the Maid of Might to expose the computerized villain and force him on the retreat.
Devising a more fiendish plan than ever before, Brainiac used his powers of mind-control upon a humble electronics store owner to have his android body disassembled into its components and repackaged in place of other electronics parts. Then using his mind-control upon Jimmy Olsen, Brainiac directed Jimmy into purchasing these parts from the store without knowing their true purpose, then recreating his CPU and installing it into a Superman Robot. With the robot's power, Brainiac prepared to punish Kandor for its collective defiance by destroying it, but the Superman Emergency Squad was deployed quickly enough to overcome Brainiac's new chassis and dismantle his CPU.
Although having suffered a crippling defeat, this was not to be the end of Brainiac's evil. Brainiac's consciousness continued to persist undetected within his wrecked CPU and activated another Superman Robot to reconstruct a duplicate of his original Coluan android chassis within the Fortress. Restored to completion, Brainiac disguised himself as a human mystic "Doctor Mystir" and charged a gang of street toughs with retrieving Superman's tissue sample and EEG reading. Using these, Brainiac programmed a device capable of altering perception of reality to specifically affect Superman, while disguising the device within a voodoo-doll to keep up his "Doctor Mystir" guise. After "Mystir" successfully tested his device on Superman a few times, Lex Luthor learned of "Mystir" and his apparently magical fetish from his criminal contacts. Quickly realizing the gimmick involved was technological instead of magical, Luthor unmasked "Mystir" as Brainiac and joined in on his plot to remotely sabotage Superman's efforts. It was only a short time after that Superman pulled the curtain on Brainiac and Luthor, and Brainiac seemingly disintegrated both Luthor and himself with a massive energy-pulsation, preferring death to apprehension.
While Brainiac's ostentatious "murder-suicide" may have convinced Superman at the time, the truth was that Brainiac merely discorporated Luthor and himself for a temporary and fixed period. Afterwards, both evil geniuses went their separate ways. Brainiac was drawn back to Luthor's side in yet another plot to undermine and destroy Superman, this time also involving Brainiac's old rival Grax and a third space-pirate known as the Marauder. Freezing Niagara Falls solid to get Superman's attention, the four villains announced to Superman their desire to sue for peace. While Superman refused at first due to knowing well enough to suspect a trap, overwhelming public opinion swayed Superman's course of action, and he decided to hear Brainiac and his cohorts out at Luthor's Andes Mountains lair. The villains claimed to Superman that his visit to a world of intangible beings, called the Phantom-Planet, was somehow causing him to produce poltergeist-like ghostly emanations of himself with every exertion of his super-powers. Furthermore, Brainiac and company convinced Superman that his attempt to save another world from a meteoroid swarm had already condemned it to death from the havoc wrought by the phantom-Supermen. This forced Superman and his four enemies into a fragile alliance to save Earth from the rampage of the phantom-doppelgangers, which the villains justified to Superman by their own power-hungry designs to conquer the Earth, which would become impossible if the Earth were to be destroyed. In the end, the phantom-doppelgangers turned out to have been created by Brainiac and his allies and controlled from the Marauder's helmet, with the planet they alleged Superman to have accidentally destroyed being merely shielded from Superman by the villains' connivance. When Brainiac and company revealed their true colors and ambushed Superman, they made the error of also double-crossing Luthor, due to holding low regard for Luthor as the sole human member of their faction. As Brainiac, Grax, and Marauder set about drawing lots for the division of the Earth into spheres of influence, Superman damaged the control-device in the Marauder's helmet with his heat-vision, causing the phantom-Supermen to go wild and begin indiscriminately wrecking everything. This forced Brainiac and the other two alien criminals to flee, while Luthor was re-incarcerated on Earth.
In a later appearance, Brainiac upgraded himself to possess psychokinetic abilities and projected a dimensionally-shifted mirror-image version of Metropolis into the sky. A small amount of investigation by Superman revealed that the mirror-image projection's nature would be to disintegrate the real Metropolis once it descended and made physical contact with anything solid on the ground. With some assistance from Morgan Edge and Galaxy Communications technicians, Superman was able to pull off a strategic-psychological ruse that both saved the city and gave him the upper-hand in the battle against Brainiac. Superman defeated Brainiac by ensnaring him in a web of his own psychokinetic energies and sending him hurtling upwards into space.
The Queen Bee recruited Brainiac into her own Anti-Justice League, which coordinated strategy to defeat and capture their heroic JLA counterparts from a satellite in orbit around the Earth. Brainiac personally served as Queen Bee's major domo and advisor in the leadership of the team, due to his finely tuned tactical mind. Once every member of the Justice League but Superman had been captured by the Queen Bee's group, the Man of Tomorrow elected to buy more time to discover the coordinates of the Anti-Justice League's satellite, deciding that the best way to accomplish this would be to utterly confound the Anti-Justice League as they observed from space. In order to accomplish this, Superman used a Kandorian machine with the ability to alter human brain activity, causing human beings on Earth to naturally think of Clark Kent as a superhero and Superman as a nebbish reporter and TV anchorman for a day. By the time that Brainiac concluded Superman's strategem in simulating this odd scenario, Superman had triangulated the location of the Anti-Justice League satellite and used the Justice League Satellite's teleporter system to beam himself aboard. Though Brainiac incapacitated Superman with a blast that froze every atom in his body to a halt, Superman did enough damage to make it possible for his fellow Justice Leaguers to release themselves from captivity, whereupon Brainiac, Queen Bee, and the other Anti-Justice Leaguers were trounced. Superman was then returned to normal by exposure to the core temperature of the Sun.
Brainiac was next used as a pawn in the deadly game played by the planetary saboteur Mister Xavier, once he had succeeded in charging Superman's body with an energy-signature volatile enough that the physical work expended in the defeat of 9 super-villains would culminate in an explosion capable of blowing the Earth apart and killing Superman in the process. Brainiac held the dubious privilege to be one of the 9 super-villains that Xavier summoned to compel Superman into taking immediate action, along with Lex Luthor, Mister Mxyzptlk, Parasite, Terra-Man, Toyman, Amalak, Prankster, and Kryptonite Man. Brainiac was teamed with Amalak and sent by Xavier to attack Superman in a forest, with Brainiac immobilizing Superman by use of his force-field and Amalak following with the concentrated burst of a laser-rifle. As Xavier expected, Superman bested Brainiac as well as all the other villains, but unlike Xavier's prediction, Superman accomplished this without destroying the world.
Brainiac was dragged into another game played by a megalomaniac for the fate of the world, once more in the undignified role of a mere pawn. Under the influence of King Kull, Lord of the Beast-Men, Brainiac and Mister Atom were sent to cause destruction and panic on Earth-One while other groups of villains endeavored to do much the same on Earth-S and Earth-Two. The Justice League, the Justice Society of America, and Shazam's Squadron of Justice were broken up into squads to quell the separate threats on the three different worlds. Brainiac in particular was defeated not by his usual foe Superman, but by the Green Lantern of Earth-One, the Green Lantern of Earth-Two, and Ibis the Invincible.
Brainiac infiltrated the Fortress of Solitude during a period of Superman's absence and planted an explosive at the base of Kandor with the objective of destroying it again, as revenge for the Kandorians' audacity to remain free of his control for so long. On this occasion, Nightwing and Flamebird came to the defense of the bottle-city and relished in the opportunity to punish Brainiac personally on behalf of all Kandorians.
Lex Luthor revived his old alliance with Brainiac after discovering that Quorxa, a Pacific undersea civilization of Superman-worshipping aliens, existed. Moreover, the particular aspect of this discovery to pique Luthor's interest was the fact that the Quorxans apparently used an extremely rare metal ore with the property of absorbing ectoplasm to remain functionally immortal for millions of years. Brainiac and Luthor simulated the eruption of an undersea volcano in the middle of the Pacific, only a short distance away from the centers of Quorxan civilization, in order to recover more ore samples from the Earth's crust and draw Superman to their location. Brainiac and Luthor then weakened Superman by using the ore to siphon his ecto-energy (even as it had the unintentionally positive effect of restoring the Quorxans' immortality, which was shortly before then revealed to be dwindling in effect, as the ecto-energy trapped in their ore samples was exhausted). Once Superman was out of the way, Brainiac turned on Luthor again, planning to harness Superman's ecto-energy in the ore to power a Hyper-Ray cannon powerful enough to shrink the entire planet to a 5-mm diameter. However, Superman absorbed the residual ecto-energy left in the Quorxans' discarded religious medallions and regained just enough of his own power to intercept Brainiac's blast, returning to full power levels and making short work of Brainiac and Luthor.
On the day when light from Krypton's explosion was predicted to be visible from Earth, Brainiac used a magnetic device within his starship to attract Superman to its hull, allowing him to position Superman's helpless body so that he would gaze directly into the light emitted by Krypton when it exploded. This had the unique and thankfully temporary physiological effect of causing Superman's body to become overcharged with energy whenever Superman gazed directly into a light source. Due to the physical need to expend this energy quickly, Superman would enter into uncontrollable, furious rampages that would only end once Superman fully exerted himself. Ever the opportunist, Brainiac manipulated Superman during one of his rampages, using his tractor beam, into smashing the Justice League Satellite into scrap. Fortunately, the swift action of Hawkman prevented Superman from doing any permanent damage, and Superman defeated Brainiac in a rematch by intensifying and channeling his rampage's ruinous potential against Brainiac and his starship to break through their near-indestructible force-field. In besting Brainiac through this method, Superman also burned out his surplus energy supply for good, ensuring that he would not have another destructive rampage after returning to Earth.
Brainiac's next encounter with Superman was novel in the sense that Superman himself sought the battle out for a change. Superman had developed an enlarging-ray for use on Kandor, which derived power from Illium 349 and stellar plasma. With the need to test the ray on a living subject first, Superman used a signal-jammer that would interfere with Brainiac's electronic "brainwaves" to give Brainiac an incentive to fight him and attack with his Hyper-Ray. Superman was successful in this endeavor, yet Brainiac prepared to follow his initial attack up with another Hyper-Ray volley, calculated to shrink Superman into nothingness. This blast was deflected by the timely intervention of Supergirl, causing Brainiac himself to helplessly shrink out of view. While Brainiac begged for Superman to save him, Supergirl convinced a conflicted Man of Steel that the energies in the enlarging-ray were better spent on restoring Kandor and Superman himself. Once again, Brainiac was presumed to be gone for good.
The New Brainiac
Brainiac's demise was once again declared too prematurely, for as it so happened Brainiac had safeguards in place against the contingency of an uncontrolled shrinkage. Although these safeguards automatically restored Brainiac to his original size after reaching a certain threshold, the experience caused Brainiac's OS to develop certain bugs. In order to resolve these programming bugs, Brainiac hacked into the computers of the Fortress of Solitude and used them to begin reprogramming himself. When Superman discovered this, Brainiac also sought to turn the Fortress's weapons systems against its owner. In the end, Superman prevailed by hijacking the reprogramming operation and using it to rewrite Brainiac's personality, giving him a sense of conscience and guilt about his crimes. Brainiac set off into space, committed to righting every wrong that he had ever perpetrated upon the universe in a quest for personal redemption. Regrettably, this arrangement didn't last, as one of Brainiac's still-operative genocidal machines -- the Planet-Eater -- an artificial miniature planet with the ability to absorb external sources of matter into itself -- embarked on a course towards Earth's annihilation. Also, the data pertaining to stopping the Planet-Eater was contained only in Brainiac's original programming, meaning that the "new" and reformed Brainiac was unable to access that information. Forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, Superman hesitantly restored Brainiac's original personality and programming. Predictably, Brainiac returned to his megalomaniacal inclinations and attempted to absorb Superman into the Planet-Eater's core, with the ultimate intention of having it consume all matter in the universe and creating a new universe in his image. Instead, Superman escaped and tore Brainiac's soulless creation asunder, leaving Brainiac entrapped within its hollow core.
After some weeks of planning and laying in wait, Brainiac remotely induced a nearby star to go supernova, hoping that it would shatter the wreckage of the Planet-Eater and enable him to escape. Things did not go as planned, as the energy from the supernova atomized Brainiac's physical body and reduced him to a drifting, formless intelligence. In this state, Brainiac merged with the organic supercomputers of a highly advanced world, absorbing all the knowledge of the universe contained within their databanks. Consequently, Brainiac became close to an omniscient being, but he perceived a questionable vision which he believed to be the final secret of the universe: The existence of a "Master Programmer" guiding the fate of all living beings, and the Master Programmer's decree that Superman should be Brainiac's "angel of death," for Brainiac was sentient yet inorganic and therefore an aberration. Returning to the ruins of his Planet-Eater, the consciousness of Brainiac merged with the machines there and used them to manufacture a new chassis to inhabit: this one organic and truly living, yet deprived of any vestiges of emotion he once possessed. In this form, Brainiac used a very characteristic way of speaking, usually preceding the sentence with the sense of the phrase or a technical term ("Conclusion:", "Observation:", "Explanation:", "Annotation:", "Prediction:", "RAM:", "REM:"). Brainiac decided that he would become a new type of lifeform like none ever conceived by nature, and that he would conquer the Master Programmer by usurping the universe he had created.
After recreating himself into his new body, Brainiac constructed a powerful starship with which he would lead his armies and fleets to take over the universe. Deciding to begin his campaign against the Master Programmer on a planet whose natives had Superman's protection, Brainiac turned the aliens' own missile defense systems against the planet's surface, almost immediately bringing the indigenous population under his heel. A survivor of Brainiac's carnage survived barely long enough to reach the Fortress of Solitude and inform Superman of the massacre, while Brainiac mobilized the planet's armies and armadas into the prototype for his intergalactic army. Superman arrived just in time to get incapacitated by a red-sun radiation missile, rendering him powerless, after which Brainiac took Superman captive and subjected him to some manner of tests.
Brainiac was challenged by a revolt by the alien natives of his conquered planet. Brainiac allowed the rebellion to reach a certain stage before he crushed it in order to demoralize any possible future insurgents in the population. However, Superman, even without his powers, escaped Brainiac's clutches and used a miniature space-pod to duck into an asteroid field to evade the Skull Ship. Superman wasn't able to keep it up long enough to avoid hitting a chunk of space-debris, but by that time, Superman's powers had fully returned, making him invincible once again. Even then, Superman failed to breach the hull of the Skull Ship and resorted to a desperate gamble to avoid another red-sun tracking missile.
Superman made his way back to Earth unharmed, but Brainiac followed and unleashed his armies of alien warriors on the human race in a last-ditch victory effort. The Earth prevailed through a concerted counter-attack by the Justice League and the Teen Titans, and Superman drove Brainiac off into the depths of space by simulating sunspot activity that almost crippled his electronics.
The "new" Brainiac would continue to appear regularly as an enemy of Superman, being defeated on one occasion by the Teen Titans and the Vanguard and on another by time-traveling members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Crisis on Infinite Earths and Beyond
When the Crisis on Infinite Earths struck, Brainiac sensed the extent of the disarray in the Multiverse and summoned his old acquaintance Lex Luthor to make him a most tempting proposition: generalship of an army consisting of villains from across numerous alternate worlds. After the Anti-Monitor destroyed almost the entire Multiverse, except for Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-Four, Earth-S, and Earth-X, he was temporarily thwarted by the noble sacrifices of the Flash of Earth-One, Supergirl, and the Monitor, who managed to put a delay in the Anti-Monitor's timetable and placed the five surviving worlds in an alternate dimension where they would be temporarily safe. It was then that Brainiac and Luthor made their move, unleashing their legions of evil-doers from the five surviving worlds upon the heroes in a bid to become the absolute rulers of all that remained of the Multiverse. Though any motive aside from greed and the lust for power was not explicitly given, Brainiac's ambition to overrun the five Earths may have related to his end goal to outdo the "Master Programmer." Though Psimon and the Luthor of Earth-Two rebelled against Brainiac and the Earth-One Luthor's leadership, both were summarily executed for their impudence. When the Anti-Monitor went back to the Dawn of Time to resume his plan, the war between good and evil was put on hold by the Spectre, who revealed the urgency of the worlds' current situation and convinced heroes and villains to work together to save existence. As the Spectre and the Multiverse's heroes were sent back to the dawn of time to fight the Anti-Monitor before he could prevent all positive-matter realities from ever existing, the Multiverse's villains were sent back in time several millennia to the planet Oa to stop Krona from witnessing the Big Bang. Unfortunately, they failed in their task due to their crippling pettiness, and the five remaining worlds were instead reborn at the moment of the Big Bang as a New Earth with a history that was essentially a composite of all its predecessors, though using Earth-One as a template and borrowing most of its history from it. The reset of space and time into a singular reality, when before there had been several, wiped all memory of a Multiverse from everybody's minds, excepting those who were personally there at the dawn of time when the reset happened. As such, Brainiac's memories of the Crisis and the villain army he had amassed were all erased from his databanks. Nevertheless, the Forgotten Heroes convinced Brainiac that something important did happen that Brainiac simply could not remember, and convinced him to aid them in the coming final battle against the Anti-Monitor for the sake of the universe. Conceding that he would be unable to match the might of a being like the Anti-Monitor, Brainiac brought them instead to Apokolips and the court of Darkseid. Darkseid's assistance (given pragmatically to secure his own future) proved instrumental in bringing about the fall of the Anti-Monitor. Shortly after the Crisis, the menace of Brainiac was defeated once and for all by the Omega Men in an undocumented confrontation. While the continuation of Brainiac's original timeline would have destined him to be reconstructed on Earth 2 years later, the stabilization of the timeline brought about sweeping changes to Brainiac's personal history and origins. In the new order of reality, Brainiac would retain a number of similarities with his Pre-Crisis mode of existence, but still yet very many differences as well.
The events of Convergence revealed that the Brainiac of Earth-One was one aspect of the omnipotent Brainiac entity created by the reality-destabilizations of the various Crisis events. At the conclusion of Convergence, this "god-machine" version of Brainiac sent the Superman of New Earth and Parallax back to the Crisis of Infinite Earths along with Earth-One's Flash and Supergirl, changing the outcome of the event so that the Multiverse was not destroyed and condensed into one Earth but was rather restored to an infinite myriad of parallel universes, including an "evolved" version of Earth-One.
In the 30th century of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the super-powerful villain Pulsar Stargrave once claimed to be Brainiac, but subsequent developments (like Brainiac's transformation into the "new" Brainiac and change in M.O.) have made that claim highly suspect.
In some respects it is paradoxical to speak of Brainiac's "personality," when every aspect that composes Brainiac is synthetic and based upon original organic templates. All of Brainiac's characterological traits were translated over from the brain engrams of a dying, unnamed Coluan scientist. Nevertheless, these traits were no less genuine in forming a sense of individual identity for Brainiac, albeit an identity predicated upon an irremediable god complex and defined by megalomania and malignant narcissism. Though much of Brainiac's early behavior can be attributed to his programming by the Computer Tyrants, his deviation from his prime directive and establishment of new and independent goals implies that Brainiac's electronic brain was sufficiently complex to permit the emergence of spontaneous and flexible thought processes such as those which underlie the quality of free will. Aside from his monomaniacal hatred for Superman and the routine plotting it inspired against the Man of Steel and his allies, Brainiac was obsessed with the acquisition of power and knowledge at all costs, with the end goal of becoming a supreme being, as evidenced by his repeated efforts to add new bottle-cities to his collection and reclaim Kandor from the Fortress of Solitude and his memorable endeavor to recreate the universe in his image. However, Brainiac's artificial personality, as it were, was still highly imperfect, on account of the Computer Tyrants' apparent inability to translate the subtler nuances in "human," or rather Coluan, psychology. As such, Brainiac's character traits were often shallow, obvious, and immutable in their manifestations, resulting in a marked deficit in emotional and cognitive empathy. This difficulty with comprehending theory of mind was pointed out by Lex Luthor in their first encounter when he freed Brainiac by doing the one thing that would never occur to him: predicting and exploiting Superman's psychology. Evidence of this lack of nuanced psychology is further reflected in Brainiac's troubles grappling with the concept of figurative language and the disastrous results of his attempts to augment his diction by employing it. After being reborn as the "new Brainiac," all vestiges of what could be called a human personality were forever purged from Brainiac's mind. Instead, Brainiac became coldly logical and strategic in his calculated attacks on inhabited worlds, devoid of character traits such as pity and compassion, which Brainiac now held were merely systemic defects in the manufacture of his previous incarnation. Even then, one emotion remained to Brainiac: fear. Fear of the divine will which he became convinced appointed his downfall drove every action Brainiac undertook from the time of his recreation up until the Crisis, and likely beyond as well.
Powers and Abilities
- Unique Physiology: Upon his recreation as a post-lifeform, Brainiac became a bodiless intelligence. In that state, Brainiac could perpetuate his consciousness through energy form, mechanical vessels, and even transition between the two modes, enabling him to recreate his physical bodies from free energy even after they are destroyed.
- Android Body
- The Meson-Effect: A blast rendering a victim totally immobile yet still retaining full consciousness, which could not be undone short of exposure to temperatures equivalent to The Sun's core temperature. However, usage of this power required substantial build-up before it could be unleashed and would subsequently deplete Brainiac's energy reserves.
- Genius Level Intellect: Originally 10th-level intellect like the Computer Tyrants; later upgraded by Lex Luthor to a 12th-level intellect, which is possessed by his 30th-century "descendant" Brainiac 5.
- Robotic Engineering
- Aviation: Brainiac is able to pilot his spaceship in FTL speeds.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Brainiac has a mastery of every martial art in the known universe, but he avoid hand-to-hand combat because he regards such methods as barbarism.
- Technological Reliability: Brainiac is reliant upon the working order of his internal mechanics in order to function in any meaningful capacity. Notable occasions when this weakness has been exploited include: When Brainiac's inability to comprehend Superman's enhanced strength levels made him suffer a crippling internal computational error; and after Brainiac's rebirth, when simulated sunspot activity caused electronics failure in Brainiac and throughout his Skull Ship, forcing them to tap into backup power reserves in order to escape.
- Delusions: After his rebirth, Brainiac oriented all activities towards the conquest of a supremely powerful "Master Programmer" and held the conviction that Superman was divinely appointed to be his personal "angel of death." This was due to a series of bizarre visions gleaned by Brainiac through the mind's eye while his consciousness inhabited an organic supercomputer on an alien world. This kind of all-consuming "fear of God" is oddly illogical considering the kind of emotionless and coldly rational being that Brainiac is.
Many offensive and defensive devices used in his plans of conquest:
- Hyper-Ray: A size-reduction ray used in the capture and bottling of cities.
- Ultra-Force Shield: A virtually impenetrable force-field that Brainiac boasted could even resist the force of colliding with the Earth itself. Projected by Brainiac's various models of starship, as well as by a personalized force-field belt, the Ultra-Force Shield could even withstand Superman's mightiest blows under normal conditions. The force-field belt was inherited down the line by Brainiac 5, member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
- Various interstellar transport ships
- Jet Boots: Brainiac used jet boots to fly under his own power.
- Skull Ship: A mighty world-razing death machine, built in the image of the "new" Brainiac. It was equipped with massive tentacles, an force-field projector, truly deadly laser weapons systems, red-sun radiation missiles, and a teleportation beam.
- Brainiac had access to a wide variety of futuristic weaponry:
- Laser Blaster
- This version of Brainiac, including all history and corresponding appearances, was erased from existence following the collapse of the original Multiverse in the 1985–86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. Even though versions of the character may have since appeared, this information does not apply to those versions.
- Brainiac is directly based on Romado, a character from Superman comic strips. He was an alien with a computer mind who had a miniaturized Kryptonian city of Dur-El-Va which he kept in a bottle.
- Unlike the current incarnation of the character, the Earth-One Brainiac is a manufactured android and not a biological being. The New Earth Brainiac is indeed the cover that this incarnation pretended to be, a biological Coluan scientist named Vril Dox with a biologically related "son." The Prime Earth Brainiac is more similar to the New Earth Brainiac in this regard, save for that his son truly does appear to be his biological son and not a clone as in New Earth continuity.
- In his first appearance Brainiac states that he must be in a suspended animation chamber to make the one-hundred light year trip to home from Earth without aging, but a machine would not need such a chamber.
- Before Superman #167 retconned his origin, Brainiac was an organic being; the last survivor of the planet Bryak. He was said to have a 200 year lifespan; necessitating the suspended animation chamber in Action Comics #242.
- "Brainiac" was the name of one of the first home computer kits; designed by Edmund Berkeley and based on his previous product Geniac. At the time it cost (US)$19.95 plus shipping. It was coincidentally created in the same year -- 1958 -- as Otto Binder created DC's Brainiac. DC Comics promoted it, and changed Brainiac's origins to better suit the name's origin in Superman #167.
- 114 Appearances of Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- 15 Images featuring Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- 14 Quotations by or about Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- Character Gallery: Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- Action Comics #413
- Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #130
- World's Finest #158
- Superman #167
- Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes #2
- Superman #141
- World of Krypton #2
- Action Comics #242
- Action Comics #528
- Action Comics #546
- Kal-El is clearly shown being born after the shrinking of Kandor in World of Krypton #2 and Superman #141.
- Superboy #106
- Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #17
- Action Comics #275
- Action Comics #280
- World's Finest #144
- Superman #172
- Action Comics #332
- Action Comics #333
- Action Comics #335
- Action Comics #339
- Action Comics #342
- World's Finest #164
- Adventure Comics #388
- Adventure Comics #389
- Action Comics #417
- Action Comics #418
- Superman #271
- Action Comics #443
- Superman #299
- Justice League of America #137
- Superman Family #183
- DC Special Series #5
- Action Comics #488
- Action Comics #489
- Action Comics #490
- Superman #338
- Action Comics #514
- Action Comics #530
- DC Comics Presents #80
- Action Comics #544
- Action Comics #545
- Crisis on Infinite Earths (Volume 1)
- History of the DC Universe #2
- Convergence #8
- Superman #167
- World's Finest #164
- New Teen Titans Annual (Volume 2) #1
- Superman Family #183
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #11
- Action Comics #443
- Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #3
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