With the publication of Action Comics #866, Brainiac part I, I thought it would be the perfect time to dedicate an episode to Superman's other major villain, Brainiac.
Brainiac first appeared in Action Comics #242 (July 1958, first published around May 29, 1958). The cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. The editor at this time was Mort Weisinger. Otto Binder created Brainiac for the story Super Duel In Space. The artist was Al Plastino. This story was reprinted in the following reprint collections:
Superman In The Fifties
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow ARchives vol. I
Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor
Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I
Clark and Lois are covering the launch of the first manned rocket launch as passengers. In Earth orbit the rocket is attacked by an alien spaceship. Clark dons a spacesuit and exits through an emrgency exit hatch to change to Superman. He is unable to penetrate a force field surrounding the spaceship. Superman pushes the Earth rocket to safety. Brainiac proceeds to shrink Earth's cities and place them in glass bottles, about the size and shape of water cooler bottles. His purpose is to repopulate his homeworld because the population was wiped out by a plague. Superman unsuccessfully battles Brainiac, who is protected by a similar force field. When the rocket returns to Earth, Clark meets Lois at the Daily Planet, just as Brainiac shrinks Metropolis. Superman escapes, and hides from Brainiac by flying into another bottle. It turns out to be the Kryptonian city of Kandor. Superman happens to find a scientist who was Jor-El's college roommate. He takes Superman on a tour of Kandor, and uses a telescope to study Brainiac. Brainiac goes into suspended animation to begin the long journey to his home world. Superman uses a Kandorian rocket to escape Krypton's bottle and restore Earth's cities. Kandor is the only city left, but there is only enough energy to restore either Superman or Kandor, not both. Before he can act, another miniature rocket flies out of Kandor's bottle and activates the enlarging ray, restoring Superman. Superman takes Kandor from Brainiac's ship and places it in his Fortress of Solitude.
In Superman #167, The Team of Luthor and Brainiac, it is revealed that Brainiac is actually a robot, built by the computer tyrants of Colu as a human spy to find human worlds for Colu's tyrants to conquer. The reason for this change is explained in the Metropolis Mailbag letters page. A Brainiac Computer Kit for home experimenters in the 1950's was invented in 1955 by Edmund C. Berkeley, an early computer expert.
Kandor was finally enlarged in Superman #338, August 1979. This issue was discussed in Superman Fan Podcast Episode #1: My Top 10 Favorite Superman Stories.
Brainiac met his demise in the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, discussed in the same episode.
Post-crisis, Brainiac first appeared in Adventures of Superman #438 ( March 1988). Vril Dox was executed by the computer tyrants of Colu for treason. Somehow his mind drited through space until it inhabited the body of Milton Fine, a carnival mentalist who operated under the showname Brainiac. Dox murders to gather cranial fluid to maintain his control of Fine.
In the storyline Panic In The Sky, Brainiac takes control of Warworld, and Superman leads a group of super heroes to attack Warworld before it reaches Earth. Dead Again tells of Brainiac succeeding to inhabit Superman's body and exile Superman's mind in the body of a thirteen year old mental patient. In The Doomsday Wars Brainiac gains control of Doomsday to defeat Superman. All of these trade paperbacks are out of print but can be found from various vendors on Amazon.com, ebay or your local comic book store.
Brainiac aws also featured in the trade paperback Our Worlds At War, which should still be in print.
In the 1990's cartoon Superman: The Animated Series Brainiac was the computer network of Krypton, which thwarted Jor-El and fooled the population of Krypton to keep them from learning of their planet's doom. Brainiac created a vessel to contain his program to escape at the same time as Kal-El's rocket.
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