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- 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
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 vices and egotism 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. 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 Brainiac 2 into Brainiac's cold guardianship. At some point, 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. Nonetheless, 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. 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.
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. During this first appearance, Brainiac lied about his origins, claiming to be the former ruler of a dead planet named Byrak. The purpose for stealing and bottling cities was ostensibly to repopulate Byrak.
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 HQ. 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 12-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 the 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. To that end, Brainiac would team up with other members of Superman's rogues' gallery on a regular basis, including the Superman Revenge Squad, the Marauder, the Legion of Super-Villains, and naturally, Lex Luthor. On one occasion, Brainiac even forged an unusual alliance with Clayface against the World's Finest duo of Superman and Batman.
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.
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.
The New Brainiac
Next, Brainiac hacked into the computers of the Fortress of Solitude and sought to turn its weapons systems against its owner. After Superman prevailed over the threat at hand, he also reprogrammed Brainiac for good instead of evil, changing his personality from that of a homicidal space-marauder to that of a friend and ally. Regrettably, this arrangement didn't last, as Brainiac had a contingency plan in store for anything that might constitute a final or permanent defeat. He had built the Planet-Eater, an artificial miniature planet with the ability to absorb external sources of matter into itself, and set it to embark 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. 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.
- 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
- Psychokinesis 
- 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
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Brainiac has a mastery of every martial art in the known universe.
- 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 Vril Dox (Earth-One), 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.
- 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 a suspended animation chamber to make the one-hundred light year trip from Earth to Colu without aging, but a machine would not need such a chamber.
- 99 Appearances of Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- 9 Images featuring Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- 4 Quotations by or about Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- Character Gallery: Vril Dox (Earth-One)
- ↑ Superman #167
- ↑ Superman #167
- ↑ Action Comics #242
- ↑ Action Comics #242
- ↑ Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #17
- ↑ Action Comics #275
- ↑ Action Comics #280
- ↑ Superman #167
- ↑ World's Finest #144
- ↑ Superman #271
- ↑ Action Comics #443
- ↑ Action Comics #489
- ↑ Action Comics #490
- ↑ Action Comics #514
- ↑ Action Comics #528
- ↑ Action Comics #530
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Action Comics #544
- ↑ Action Comics #545
- ↑ Action Comics #546
- ↑ Crisis on Infinite Earths #
- ↑ History of the DC Universe #2
- ↑ Convergence #8
- ↑ New Teen Titans Annual (Volume 2) #1
- ↑ Crisis on Infinite Earths #11
- ↑ Superman #271
- ↑ Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #3
- ↑ Action Comics #490
- ↑ Action Comics #546
- ↑ Action Comics #544
- ↑ Action Comics #545
- ↑ Action Comics #546
- ↑ New Teen Titans Annual (Volume 2) #1
|Superman Villain(s) |
This character is or was primarily an enemy of Superman in any of his various incarnations, or members of the Superman Family. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Superman Villains category."