A scientist in the 1940s, Werner Schmidt was accidentally crushed by crashing aliens. They attempted to reconstruct him, but, unfamiliar with humans, they reconstructed him as a brain in a vat with a humanoid robot body. As he was carrying a Hydra book at the time of the crash, its tenets were programmed into him, and he became a Hydra member who was unable to change course or better himself, despite his human brain slowly becoming disillusioned with Hydra. Following several conflicts with heroes, he spent 20 years trapped in the Canadian tundra before managing to escape.
Brain Drain was created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins. He made his first appearance in The Invaders #2. He was significantly updated by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.
The Bronze Age introduced the majority of Brain Drain's origins and powers, which have gone largely unchanged. His death following his first appearance was retconned. During this period, he was able to hypnotize or mesmerize people into obeying him.
What happened to him following the war has been occasionally retconned; at one point, he was frozen in Switzerland; later, he was still active as late as 1959. In 2015, the character's origin was altered slightly to include the detail that he was forcibly programmed with Hydra rhetoric by the aliens.
Major Story Arcs
The Ring of the Nebulas
Working for the Nazis, Brain Drain takes control of the aliens who rebuilt him and forces his attention on the female alien, who escapes, taking with her the ring he used to control the aliens. Confronted by Captain America and the alien, he recovers the ring and almost destroys the aliens. At the last moment, it is snatched and destroyed by the female alien, who then kills herself. Mad with grief, Brain Drain also apparently kills himself, jumping into radioactive water.
Having lost his robot body, Brain Drain gathers several other Nazis to form the Super-Axis. He attacks New York City, but is opposed by a time-traveling Thing and members of the Liberty Legion. When the Super-Axis is defeated, Brain Drain flees.
Having been preserved in a snow drift in Switzerland for five decades, Brain Drain finally escapes and makes his way to the Pan-European Conference on Super-Human Affairs. There, he takes control of Alpha Flight and reveals that he has planted psychic suggestions into the minds of Europe's heroes to force them to kill their own heads of state. He is attacked and thrown out into the mountains by Aurora, where he is recovered by the Master of the World and recruited into Omega Flight. Given a new robot body, he joins the team in attacking Talisman and, using his powers, is able to extract the Ska'r from where they are trapped. He joins the team in opposing, and being defeated by, Gamma Flight, and later Alpha Flight
Working with Baron Blood, Brain Drain is attacked by members of the Avengers. They are both apparently rescued, teleported away mid-fight by Geoffrey Sydenham who aims to force them to work for him. Brain Drain is directed against the Avengers, and in the ensuing fight, his brain jar is smashed.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
A disoriented and decrepit Brain Drain teleports into the home of Squirrel Girl and Nancy Whitehead. He is attacked by them and is quickly defeated by Tippy-Toe, but they soon realize he was malfunctioning and repair him. Free of the Hydra programming, he agrees to become a hero and enrolls at Empire State University under the name Brian Drayne. During Enigmo's attempt to take over the world, Brain Drain kidnaps Ant-Man and steals a jet to transport them both to Canada to join forces with Squirrel Girl. He accompanies the team to Toronto, and joins in the brawl in front of City Hall there, leading the distraction effort while Squirrel Girl defeats Enigmo.
Powers and Abilities
Brain Drain is a human brain in a vat which controls a robot body. He is fairly intelligent, but occasionally crippled by his extreme nihilism. His robot body is superhumanly strong, bulletproof, and resistant to fatigue and injury.