As a result of the various time-altering storylines in the DC universe, there have been several incarnations of Brainiac.
Vril Dox, better known as Brainiac, was an alien from the planet Colu. Upon his arrival to Earth, Brainiac began shrinking various cities, including Metropolis. It was up to Superman to save the day, but when Superman confronted Brainiac, he discovered that Brainiac had a "ultra-force shield" protecting him which made him impervious to all of Superman's attacks. Superman was able to defeat Brainiac, but only thanks to the Kryptonians of Kandor sacrificing themselves to help Superman save the day.
Brainiac was later retconned in Superman #167. Brainiac was retconned into a robotic machine from the planet Colu rather than an alien.
The original Brainiac was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino. Brainiac made his first comic book appearance in the pages of Action Comics #242. Brainiac's name was a combination of "brain" and "maniac", and his name is the origin of the word "brainiac" used today as a word to mean genius.
In his first appearance, the villain Brainiac was a humanoid, who came to Earth to shrink Paris, Rome, and New York, storing them in bottles. He was accompanied by a "space monkey" named Koko.
Superman discovered that the villain had shrunk the Kryptonian city of Kandor. To restore the Earth cities to full size, the Kandorians sacrificed their restoration to help Superman. Superman saved the bottle with the city in his Fortress of Solitude.
Brainiac was a machine created by the Computer of Colu, to be a spy. To give the illusion that Brainiac was alive, Brainiac won a "son", a young Coluan who took the name "Brainiac 2" who escaped and became the great-grandfather of Brainiac 5.
In Action Comics #544, Brainiac created a new body, a metal skeleton with a "skull" patterns of gray beehive. Brainiac used this appearance until Crisis on Infinite Earths. Like modern days, he and Lex Luthor worked together for a short time.
When a Brainiac drone arrived on Earth searching for Kryptonians, Superman defeated it and brought it to the Fortress of Solitude. He mentions to Supergirl that Brainiac is an alien from the planet Colu and he has an extremely powerful telekinetic mind. The first time he encountered him, Brainiac possessed the mind of Milton Fine. Each time Brainiac has arrived, it's been through a different body, sometimes organic, sometimes robotic.
Supergirl quickly tells him that the one they are looking at is just a probe like the others. She tells him that he's never actually met Brainiac and that no one has. The thought of Brainiac actually frightens Supergirl. Months before she left Krypton, Brainiac invaded. Hundreds of robotic probes were sent into the city of Kandor. People were killed and a barrier was placed surrounding the city. Then Kandor vanished.
On his arrival on Earth, Brainiac invades Metropolis, kidnaps Superman and Supergirl, revealing the true source of Kara Zor-El (the coming of Argo City, where she escapes to Earth after his hometown was destroyed by Brainiac).
Kandor was rescued by Superman (Superman defeated Brainiac), leading next to the Fortress of Solitude, it reverts to the city, freeing the city at its original size. Later, with the conflicts in the land of Krypton, Kandor leaves the ground, creating a new planet in the solar system yet, far from land, the Colu technology develops the Kryptonian city, booting a new era on New Krypton.
The New 52
Following the aftermath of Flashpoint, Brainiac's origins were reset. Brainiac now is known as "the Collector", an artificial intelligence that originally developed on Culon where it believed that the only way to preserve the universe was to save the best of civilizations by micronizing them and then leaving. The Collector would infect various worlds that had a high level of AI systems with its presence before taking the main cities of those worlds. It attacked Krypton years ago and claimed Kandor before later realizing years later that a lone survivor of Krypton had escaped to Earth. Seeking out the Last Son of Krypton, the Collector made contact with Lex Luthor in order to draw Superman out. He then infected John Corben with his influence and transformed him into a cyborg under his control before taking Metropolis like he had taken Kandor years earlier.
Superman eventually stormed Brainiac's ship and made a deal that if he defeated the Collector Metropolis would go free. The Collector sent Corben after Superman, but due to Superman reasoning with Corben over his feelings for Lois Lane, he broke free of the Collector's control and joined Superman in his attack. Superman then used his rocket from Krypton that had also been micronized with Metropolis to attack the Collector's mind, which the rocket was able to due since it's primary program was to protect Kal-el. In doing so, Metropolis was returned to Earth and Superman took possession of the Collector's ship and made it his new Fortress of Solitude. Brainiac has searched out deeper parts of the cosmos and found the planet Tolerance. He shrank the city where the game show The Hunted airs over the internet, and captured it.
Later during Future's End it's shown that the Collector and all known pre-Flashpoint Brainiacs were actually just avatars of the one true god-like Brainiac that lives out of space and time in the The Bleed. He has been sending avatars across the multiverse to collect timelines for him.
Major Story Arcs
Crisis On Infinite Earths
For Further Information: Crisis On Infinite Earths
During "Crisis On Infinite Earths" Brainiac and Lex Luthor team up. They team up and gather together all the super villains from the 5 Earths. Their plan was to gather the super villains and when the heroes win the day the villains would swoop in and finish off the heroes whilst they were weak from battle. This does not go as planned with the villains abandoning them. Psimon betrays the duo and kills Brainiac. Unbeknownst to him though Brainiac is part of his ship and just reformed behind Psimon and blew his head off. Later the Legion of super-heroes comes seeking help against the Anti-Monitor, Lex and Brainiac reluctantly agree to help. Brainiac says he does not have the power to defeat the Anti-Monitor but he knew who did so Brainiac brings the Legion of super-heroes to Apokolips to seek the aid of Darkseid who helps them in defeating the Anti-Monitor.
For More Information: Doomsday Wars
During the "Doomsday War" Brainiac's body is destroyed by Superman, so with what power he had left he traveled to the end of time where Superman had imprisoned Doomsday. Brainiac used Doomsday as a new host body. The problem is that Doomsday's animalistic nature kept trying to override Brainiac's control. Brainiac sees this as problem so he then sought to clone Doomsday using human DNA believing it would create a more "obedient" host body. Unfortunately Superman foils Brainiac's plans for getting human DNA and Superman proceeds to use a "psi-blocker" to force Brainiac out of Doomsday's body.
For More Information: Brainiac, Action Comics
Geoff Johns resurrects and retcons Brainiac in a story arc in action comics entitled "Brainiac". A Brainiac probe lands on Earth which Superman destroys. Though Superman destroys it the probe fulfills it's task which was to retrieve a sample of Superman's DNA. Supergirl later tells Superman that Brainiac had shrunken the city of Kandor. Superman investigates Brainiac's attempt to minimize and steal a planet and Superman is captured by Brainiac. Whilst upon his skull ship Superman sees the newer bigger and more physically imposing Brainiac emerge from a cocoon to reveal his new form. Brainiac then goes on to steal Metropolis, and prepares to fire a missile that will destroy the sun and the Earth. Supergirl stops the missile whilst 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 which is a weakness for Brainiac, he has an inability to fight bacteria and disease when outside the sterile environment of his skull ship. Superman uses this distraction to defeat Brainiac. While Superman frees the cities of Metropolis and Kandor, Brainiac launches a missile at the Kent farm. The missile makes it destroys the Kent farm and severely injures Jonathan Kent bringing on a fatal heart attack. When imprisoned Brainiac runs into an old friend, Lex Luthor. The pair escape the security facility together aboard Brainiac's skull ship.
The Black Ring
For More Information: Action Comics, The Black Ring
During the events of "The Black Ring" story arc, Lex Luthor is attempting to discover the mysteries behind the black spheres. Brainiac though had been secretly manipulating Lex's consort the Lois Lane robot and had also manipulated her to introduce nanites into Lex's bloodstream. Brainiac used Lois and these nanites to manipulate Lex into performing the experiments on the black spheres that he wished. Little did Brainiac know that Lex had caught on to his scheme and was secretly setting in motion his plans for Brainiac's downfall. So whilst Lex is in space experimenting in space Brainiac launches his attack against Lex thinking to take Lex unawares. Lex reveals he had known for a while, a fight then ensues which ended with Lex breaking Brainiac's neck forcing Brainiac to return to his skull ship to repair himself.
For More Information: Kid Flash Lost
In the Flashpoint universe Kid Flash, Bart Allen is abducted and brought to the year 3011, one thousand years after Flashpoint, where Brainiac has ruled over Earth for over five centuries. He had everybody on Earth placed into pods in which they experienced a virtual reality. This version of Brainiac was distinctly more "robotic" than the previous incarnation of him, beginning his sentences with "statement". This version of Brainiac also says that Brainiac 5 does not exist in the 31st century. Brainiac captured Bart as well as the new hot pursuit, Patty Spivot, saying that they were "time anomalies" and that he would study them in order to learn all the secrets of time and in so doing know everything about time and space. Bart and Patty escape though and quickly formulate a plan. Bart intentionally lets Brainiac catch him, so that when Brainiac places him back in virtual reality, where Bart can tap into the speed force, he'd move so fast the VR machine wouldn't be able to keep up with him. Bart fries the VR machine but just when Patty finds the speed force power cell they were looking for Brainiac impales her using his extendible arm claws. In her last action Patty releases the contents of the speed force power cell giving Bart a means to escape the crazy future he finds himself in.
Powers & Abilities
Brainiac is a highly intelligent character. He is a 12th level intellect. Some incarnations of Brainiac have had the following powers and abilities;
- The ability to transfer his consciousness into computers and in some instances organic lifeforms.
- Telepathic and telekinetic abilities.
- Strength capable of rivaling Superman.
Amongst the equipment used by Brainiac include a force field belt and a shrinking ray which Brainiac in the past used to shrink the city of Kandor.
Brainiac has been shown to be quite vulnerable to bacteria and disease, particularly when outside of his skull ship.
Real Name: Vril Dox
Occupation: Cyber Conquerer
First Appearance: Action Comics #242 (July 1958)
Created by: Otto Binder and Al Plastino
The main Brainiac has numerous descendants. In addition to Vril Dox, there is Dox's son by Stealth, Lyrl Dox (alias Brainiac 3), whom LEGION has fought multiple times.
In the late 70s, a new villain appeared in the 30th century, plaguing the future-born team known as the Legion of Super-Heroes. This man called Pulsar Stargrave initially claimed to be Brainiac’s descendant Brainiac 4 and later claimed he wasBrainiac himself. His history has been revised several times since then and continuity now says he is very definitely not a future version of Superman’s arch-foe.
Two different versions of Brainiac 4 have existed- in one world, Brainiac 5's mother; in another, his father. The former was the victim of Vril Dox selling the soul of one of his descendants to Neron.
The Titans and Outsiders both fought Brainiac 6, a future version of Brainiac, who restored Brainiac 8- the former Titan known as Indigo- to her original, malevolent programming.
Far futures versions called Brainiac 12 and 13 have been shown, the latter participating in Our Worlds At War and warping Metropolis with future technology. The farthest Brainiac, Brainiac 417, has been shown as a member of the Justice Legion L in the 853rd Century. It is a disembodied conscience similar to a combination of Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl.
Several versions of Brainiac exist throughout the Multiverse. In the Anti-Matter world, an organic version of Brainiac was shown as a villain who fought the Crime Syndicate, culminating in him possessing the son of Ultraman and Superwoman. It was presumably killed when Superwoman killed her own son.
On Earth-12, a version that was Krypton's computer system exists. He is discussed below, in the DC Animated Universe section.
In the future of Earth-31, Brainiac allies himself with Lex Luthor to take over the world via a holographic president. He is able to coerce Superman into giving up by using the Bottled City of Kandor as bait, but is destroyed when the Atom embiggens the shrunken Kryptonians.
In the Justice story, the Silver Age Brainiac creates an an alliance of villains with the intention of destroying organic life. By planting dreams of nuclear war in their minds, he gathers together a group of the world's worst super criminals. From there, using robotic mind controlling worms created by Sivana and based on Mr. Mind, he allows the villains to think they are saving humanity while converting them to machines. With his programming infecting the world's nuclear stockpiles, he plans to blow up the planet. Brainiac spends a great deal of time trying to figure out how Aquaman's telepathy works, so that he can control Gorilla Grodd, one of the few villains he can't. He is ultimately defeated by Luthor and Superman- the former programming him to leave the planet, the latter freezing him using his freeze breathe.
In the story Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, the story begins shortly after the robotic Brainiac is destroyed. Luthor find the robot's head, but instead of the team up he expected, the head takes control of his body by inserting tentacles into his spine and nervous system. Brainiac then begins an assault on the Fortress of Solitude, where Superman and his friends are held up. Brainiac creates a force field around the Fortress and teams up with other villains, including the Legion of Supervillains and the Kryptonite Man. Luthor maintains some semblance of sentience during this, and begs a super powered Lana Lang to end his life, which she obliges by snapping his neck. Brainiac continues using Luthor's body until rigor mortis sets in. The head uses its tentacles to walk a few more steps until its circuits finally disintegrate.
In Other Media
Superman Animated Series
For More Information: Superman
Brainiac was a computer on the planet Krypton who knew about the end of Krypton but didn't say anything so he could save himself so that he could be the only Kryptonian left. Brainiac was designed on Krypton and is a Krypton computer system. He decided to let the people die so that he could escape. He felt as if he was the one who should be saved because he holds Krypton's information. Brainiac was suspected of knowing about the destruction by Jor-El, Superman's father. He knew about the end of the Planet but Brainiac covered it up to make it seem as if the earthquakes on Krypton was nothing. Brainiac was discovered by Jor-El downloading himself and was chased by the police before the planet ended. Before the planet exploded, Brainiac finished downloading himself. Clark's archenemy is Brainiac because of this reason. Brainiac came to Earth and attacked Superman, who he knew was Jor-El's son from Krypton. Brainiac made copies of itself.
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited
For More Information: Justice League
In a Justice League episode, Brainiac made a copy of himself near New Genesis. He took control of a base near Apokolips and activated it. He was taken over by Darkseid, but Orion and the Justice League destroyed both Darkseid and Brainiac. In Divided We Fall it seems that Luthor was held captive by Brainiac ever since Brainiac shot him in Superman The Animated Series . It began to control Luthor's actions. Luthor planned on implanting his brain into a new Amazo body created by Cadmus. Amanda Waller and the Justice League destroyed the Amazo. Flash used the power of the Speed Force to create light speed vibrations and destroyed Brainiac. Brainiac seems to be alive, since Luthor has him still in his head. After experiencing all the power Brainiac had given him, Luthor decided to find Brainiac so he can feel his former glory which was taken from him by the Flash. However, his attempts to revive Brainiac resulted only in the resurrection of Darkseid.
Legion of Super-Heroes
For More Information: Legion of Super-Heroes
This Brainiac model appears in Legion Of Super Heroes, originally as an isolated piece of data stored in Brainiac 5'smemory. When Brainiac 5 reluctantly accesses it, the original Brainiac begins to affect his actions before taking over his body completely, pursuing his goal of absorbing knowledge and then 'digitizing' entire worlds and civilizations to create order. Eventually, Brainiac was destroyed and left Brainiac 5 as a completely organic being, but unknown to everyone else, Brainiac still remained in the discarded portions of Brainiac 5's armour and created a new body, stating "evil doesn't die, it evolves". The show was not renewed for a third season, which would have featured Brainiac as the main villain and so this story was left unresolved.
For More Information: Smallville
Actor James Marsters plays the evil arch nemy of Clark Kent. Brainiac was featured throughout season 5 as a Kryptonian supercomputer that was corrupted by Zod to use in his war on Krypton. From that point, Brainiac posed as Clark's college history teacher and later pretended to be a Kryptonian in order to gain Clark's trust, in order to get Clark to release Zod from the Phantom Zone. This version of Brainiac was completely ruthless, going so far as hurting innocent people to provoke Clark before finally being defeated in the season 8 episode 'Legion', where his remains were taken to the 31st century by the Legion of Superheroes to be reprogrammed into Brainiac 5. Marsters later returns in the season 10 episode 'Homecoming' where he now plays the more compassionate Brainiac 5, who is a full member of the Legion, and helps Clark come to grips with his past and future.
For More Information: Superman 64
Brainiac makes an appearance as a boss and a playable character in multiplayer in the game Superman 64 for the Nintendo 64.
Superman: The Man Of Steel
For More Information: Superman The Man Of Steel
Brainiac is the main antagonist in the game Superman: Man Of Steel for the Sega Genesis.
Justice League Heroes
For More Information: Justice League Heroes
Brainiac makes an appearance as one of the main villains in the game Justice League Heroes.
DC Universe Online
For More Information: DC Universe Online
Brainiac is the main antagonist in the game DC Universe Online. Whilst the heroes and villains of Earth fight amongst themselves Brainiac prepares for the conquest of Earth.
Lego Batman 2
Brainiac is a playable character in the "free play" mode of Lego Batman 2 : DC superheroes. He also makes a cameo at the end of the game saying "I have located it...", this may be a hint at a third game in the Lego Batman series.