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Lex Luthor and Brainiac
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Fred Hembeck

Wanted - The World's Most Dangerous Villains!
Lex Luthor and Brainiac
Uploaded December 18, 1999

Live from Cabbagetown, it's the Brain & Luthor Show!

No, wait, I'm thinking of Wayne & Shuster, aren't I? It's that darn Comedy Channel that's got me confused, with all those old CBC reruns. Next thing you know, I'll be morphing Carol Burnett & Friends into The Inferior Five.

Hold on, I might be onto something. Carol Burnett as Merryman; Vicki Lawrence as Dumb Bunny; Harvey Korman as The White Feather; Tim Conway as Awkwardman….good lord, just imagine the comic possibilities.

Okay, Lex Luther and Brainiac.

Here's the skinny on Lex. He grew up in Smallville as a friend of Clark Kent, and an ally of Superboy. He frequently used his scientific smarts to help Superboy, until that fateful day one summer.

What happened, you ask?

Lex screwed up, that's what happened. One of his experiment's bubbled over, or exploded, or something, and his lab went up in flames. Superboy used his super-breath (halitosis, indeed) to extinguish the flames, but the chemical fumes caused Lex's hair to fall out. Naturally, Lex blamed Superboy, and swore that he would someday revenge himself.

You'd think that with all of Superboy's resources, on this planet and others, he might have been able to find some kind of procedure for hair restoration. At the very least, Superboy could have taken Lex through the time barrier ahead to the 1990s, to show that, if nothing else, baldness would one day be considered a pretty nifty fashion statement.

Much more so than that garish purple-and-green body suit. Where's Mr. Blackwell when you need him?

This, of course, was the genesis of the original Earth-1 Lex Luthor, the earlier Earth-2 version being little more than a run-of-the-mill evil scientist. Following the events shown in 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' (gosh, there's that series again), Marv Wolfman reinvented Lex to be both a criminal scientist AND a ruthless corporate powerhouse. The hair thing, in this case? Nothing more than male pattern baldness. Nope, this Luthor's villainy is just corruption for the sake of corruption, no gimmick required.

The original Brainiac was a ruthless, super-intelligent android created by a race of computer tyrants to, well, wreak general havoc, apparently. In the pre-Crisis Superman mythos, Brainiac was the villain who stole the Kryptonian city of Kandor prior to the destruction of Krypton, shrinking the city and its inhabitants to microscopic proportions inside a large glass bottle. This act of villainy ended up saving the lives of millions of Superman's people, which really should count for something in the Grand Karma Sweepstakes.

Brainiac continued to attack Superman and Earth at various times over the years. One such plot involved adopting a small white monkey named 'Koko'. At least, I assume it was part of a plot; I can't imagine why a super-intelligent android would need a pet.

As part of the 45th anniversary celebrations for Superman, Marv Wolfman reinvented Brainiac to be this weird biomechanical thing intent on destroying the so-called 'Master Creator' and his 'Angel of Death', Superman. You could say that Brainiac had been, um, born again, but not in a good way.

It was all moot, though, when that Crisis series came charging through just a couple of years after.

Now Brainiac's origin has him as the chief scientist for the aforementioned computer tyrants, killed by them and left to exist as a powerful-but-disembodied intellect. This intellect managed to combine itself with the mental powers of a circus mentalist on Earth, allowing Brainiac to take over the man's body.

For good or bad, this one was also Marv's idea. You be the judge.

- NP

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