Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Who's Who: Brainiac 5

Brainiac 5
by Russell & Siskoid & Anj

Real Name: Querl Dox
Super-Power(s): Super-intelligence 
Planet of Origin: Colu
Legion Seniority: Brainiac 5 joined at the same time as Supergirl. Although there is some disagreement on what order this occurred, according to DC Role Playing Reference: LSH (co-authored by long-time LSH author Paul Levitz) he is Legionnaire #10. He served as Legion Leader in Year Five.

Legion Log 
Brainiac 5 made his debut in Action Comics #276 along with several other applicants, all of whom ended up joining the Legion later. He is chosen "for (his) noble courage in helping Supergirl" by lending her his force-field belt when a Green Kryptonite meteor suddenly fell towards her. It was later rumored that he had paid Cosmic Boy to magnetically pull the rocks towards her.

Brainiac 5 admitted that he wanted to join the Legion to help atone for all the terrible things that his ancestor, the 20th-century Brainiac, had done. It was later revealed that he had also come to Earth to study at the Time Institute. In spite of, or perhaps because of, his namesake, he had an obsessive interest in the 20th Century in general, and in Supergirl in particular. He was instrumental in calibrating the Time Bubble with which the Legion used to visit Supergirl, and more often, Superboy (although ironically, these adventures were published in reverse chronological order).

Brainiac 5 enjoyed a long, checkered tenure as a Legionnaire. After learning of Mon-El's imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, he created a serum that would cure his lead poisoning, allowing Mon-El to join the Legion. At about this time Brainiac 5 also created the Legion Flight Ring, which replaced the cumbersome Flight Packs the members had been using. Later, after he was elected leader, he inadvertently created the robot menace, Computo. It managed to murder one of Triplicate Girl's three selves before being destroyed. Brainiac 5, in an act of contrition, offered to resign, but his friends stood by him and with their vote of confidence, decided to stay. Also during his term as leader he prosecuted Star Boy for murder, proving that Star Boy could have stopped his assailant without actually killing him.

Brainiac 5 was the man everyone wanted on their mission, but he was not the friend you would grab a kono with on Friday night. Particularly, he was not thought of kindly by Duo Damsel, Star Boy, Shadow Lass, or Wildfire, as each had issues with him over the years. The others tended to think that he was eccentric, or intimidating, but useful. His closest friends in the Legion tended to be the more cerebral, such as Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Mon-El, Sun Boy, and of course, Superboy and Supergirl. Brainiac 5 was one of the few Legionnaires who had several friends outside the Legion, most notably Rond Vidar and Circadia Senius.   

Gradually, Brainiac 5's sense of superiority and loneliness began to overwhelm him, and he plotted to destroy the universe with Omega, the embodiment of hate. He was brought back to sanity with the help of his friends, and was eventually found innocent of the murder he had been accused of. He refused to give up on the idea of Computo as a force for good, finally managing to make it the servant of the Legion. After the Time Trapper proved that the Legion had never broken the time barrier, he joined several other Legionnaires to swear vengeance against him. In their attack on the Trapper, they released the Infinite Man, and because he did not return when the Legionnaires did, Brainiac 5 was (again) charged with murder. He was acquitted, but left the Legion immediately thereafter to return to Colu. His studies there were mundane, and when The Magic War began he returned to action to stand with his friends.

In the Five Year Later era, Brainiac 5 again joins the Legion. Here he used his intelligence to not only act on missions, but also to serve as engineer and medical officer for the team. In the time line established by Glorith, he was briefly involved with Laurel Gand instead of Supergirl. As this version of reality approached an end, Brainiac 5 was rapidly aged into a weathered, enfeebled older man by Glorith/an unstable time stream. He wore a high-tech combat suit to protect his ravaged new body, and went by the simpler moniker of "5".

Brainiac 5 was also one of the members of the SW6 Legionnaires, and appeared in Legionnaires when it was spun-off into its own series.

After the Reboot, Brainiac 5 is extremely antisocial and disrespectful. He barely interacted with the other Legionnaires, although he was still attracted to Laurel Gand (now Andromeda). It was later revealed that, even amongst Coluans, Querl Dox had been something of a loner, due to his even higher intelligence, interest in practical experiments rather than "pure" thought, and lack of concern about the consequences of his experiments. It was also revealed that his mother, Brainiac 4, had abandoned him at birth, having no emotional attachment whatsoever to her newborn child. He was more or less raised by robots and developed no social skills. Having created a method of traveling back to the 20th century, leading to the Legion's rescue of Valor, Brainiac 5 was arrested for unauthorized time travel and later pardoned when R.J. Brande became President of the United Planets.

Brainiac 5 was one of a number of Legionnaires who were trapped in the 20th century. He spent his efforts then trying to find a way back to his own time using 20th century equipment. He finally produced a computer capable of doing this, utilizing a 30th Century Omnicom, a New Gods Mother Box loaned to him by Metron and the responsometer of Veridium of the Metal Men. Unfortunately, this became the Reboot C.O.M.P.U.T.O. The Legion had to defeat it and separate it into its component pieces before returning to their own time. While in the 20th century, he also encountered his ancestors, Brainiac and Vril Dox II, and the post-Crisis Supergirl.

Upon his return, Brainiac 5 was part of a team that investigated a mysterious space anomaly. The anomaly "upgraded" him: he was now more considerate of others, and had vastly improved people skills. He also internalized his force shield apparatus. Following his return from the space anomaly, a friendship was formed with his teammate Gates, who dubbed the improved Querl Dox "Brainiac 5.1". Following these events, he would discover that his mother was the leader of the Dark Circle, and he almost reverted to his old self.

Brainiac 5.1 was amongst the Legionnaires who were cast into a distant "Lost Galaxy". In inability to get them home, one of his greatest failures. Now resentful of his name upgrade, he dropped the .1 from it. Upon their return, Brainiac 5 began developing a replacement for the Stargates, based on the "threshold" doorway they had used to return from the Lost Galaxy. Restoring the connection to the planet Xanthu, they learned that it had been at war with Robotica, the "robot homeworld", until they mysteriously disappeared. Robotica's leader was revealed as C.O.M.P.U.T.O. A strike team was launched against it, but Brainiac 5 tricked it into upgrading itself, so it no longer sought vengeance. It was revealed that the Coluans disapproved of artificial intelligence, however, and he was made a pariah on his home world for saving machine-life from destruction.

After the Threeboot, Brainiac 5 carries himself with some arrogance, thinking his intelligence makes him the obvious leader. This often led to some tension between him and Cosmic Boy. He unnerved when Dream Girl told him that they would one day marry, and when she was killed during Terror Firma's attack on the Legion HQ, he became obsessed with "out-thinking death." In a botched experiment to restore her to life, he however managed to store her consciousness in his own subconscious mind, enabling her to interact with him in his dreams, and keep using her precognition on his behalf. Following Cosmic Boy's disappearance, Brainiac 5 has become the advisor to Legion leader Supergirl and later to Lightning Lad. He eventually proposed to Dream Girl and presumably married her cloned body imprinted with her mind (the time line collapsed just before the wedding).

After Infinite Crisis, Brainiac 5's original history has more or less been reestablished, including a romance with Supergirl when she was temporarily stranded in the future. He was, among other things, responsible for the Legion visiting the young Clark Kent, and having Star Boy put the body of Superboy (Kon-El) in stasis so he could be saved in the future. It is now understood that "Brainiac" is an honorific title rather than a code name. After Earth Man caused a wave of xenophobia to spread on Earth, Brainiac 5 was deported and took over leadership of Colu to deter the United Planets from going to war with Earth. He would later make a special flight ring to keep Earth-Man under control.

Brainiac 5 was one of main characters of the cartoon series, The Legion of Super-Heroes, voiced by Adam Wylie. He also appeared in Justice League Unlimited's "Far From Home", voiced by Matt Czuchry. On Smallville, he was played by James Marsters. In the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Brainiac 5 is said to be responsible for the time loop that starts the game all over again when one finishes it.

Important Brainiac 5 Stories: 

Adventure Comics #247
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
In this reprinted version, one of the cameo members is colored to be Brainiac 5

Action Comics #276
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Brainiac 5 joins the Legion at the same time as Supergirl

Adventure Comics #305
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 1)
Brainiac 5 cures Mon-El of his lead poisoning

Adventure Comics #323
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 3)
Brainiac 5 is shown to already be a member when Superboy joins

Adventure Comics #329
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 4)
Brainiac 5 creates the Legion Flight Ring

Adventure Comics #337
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 4)
Brainiac 5 is elected Leader in Year 5
Adeventure Comics #340-341
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 5)
Brainiac 5 inadvertently creates Computo, the mechanical menace! 

Adventure Comics #342
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 5)
Brainiac 5 tries Star Boy for murder, expelling him from the Legion

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes  #205
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11)
 Brainiac 5 is infatuated with Supergirl

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #217
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 12)
Legionnaires charge on a suicide mission because they think Brainy ordered it

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #224, 226, 227
Pulsar Stargrave appears, claiming to be Brainiac 5's father

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #250-251
Brainiac 5 goes insane...

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #256
...but gets better. 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #273
Brainiac 5 is accused of murder while insane

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1
Brainiac 5 accidentally awakens Computo

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #300
Brainiac 5 helps cure Douglas Nolan

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #311
Brainiac 5 creates Computo III, destroying the Legion HQ

Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #321-323
Brainiac 5 faces a conflict of conscience on a technically-backwards world

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #16
Brainiac 5 faces the reality of Supergirl's death

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #30
Brainiac 5 has a good day....and a great shock!
Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #46-50
Brainiac 5 is part of the conspiracy to kill the Time Trapper

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #51
Brainiac 5 is acquitted of murder, but still leaves the Legion

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) Annual #1
Brainiac 5 gets a foreshadowing of Glorith's ultimate plans for the time line

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #38
Even working together, the two Brainiac 5s can't save Earth from the Dominators' scorched planet contingency

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #50
Brainiac 5 dreams of himself as a hero; another chapter is published in #100

Legionnaires #8

SW6 Brainiac 5 thinks of leaving the team, but is brought
back into the fold by Andromeda

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #53
Glorith ages Brainiac 5

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #56
Brainiac 5's new look as he takes on the simpler code name "5"

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #70
Reboot Brainiac 5 cures Andromeda's lead poisoning, but is a real jerk about it

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #77
The secret origin of Reboot Brainy

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #98
Trapped in the 20th century, Brainiac 5 creates Computo

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #104
Brainiac 5 is upgraded to 5.1 by a space anomaly

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #108
Brainiac 5.1 discovers his mother, Brainiac 4, is the leader of the Black Circle

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #113-114
Brainiac 5.1 inadvertently creates a Bizarro Legion

Legion Lost (v1) #12
Brainiac 5 (having dropped the .1) returns the lost Legionnaires to known space

The Legion #13-15
Brainiac 5 defeats Computo on his home planet of Colu, but is exiled

Legion of Super-Heroes (v5) #13
After Dream Girl's death, Threeboot Brainiac 5 starts communicating with her in his dreams

Legion of Super-Heroes (v5) #47
Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl are engaged to be married; now all she needs is a body

Adventure Comics (v2) #8-11
Post-Infinite Crisis, these issues explore Brainiac 5's youth on Colu

Adventure Comics (v2) #12
Brainiac 5 brings Superboy into the fold

Legion of Super-Heroes (v6) #1
Brainiac 5 keeps tabs on Earth-Man after the team is saddled with the racist member

 Supergirl (v4) Annual #2
Brainiac and Supergirl meet and fall in love (again)

Justice League Unlimited
Brainiac 5, voiced by Matt Czuchry

A not-so-green Brainiac 5, played by James Marsters
  Legion of Super-Heroes (2006-2008)
Brainiac 5, voiced by Adam Wylie


  1. Most important entry on this blog.

  2. Keep the love coming! I think we need to prove something to well-known Brainy denigrator Russell Burbage. #thrownunderthebus

  3. James Marsters was Brainiac, the villain, not Brainy the hero...wasn't he? I admit I stopped watching that show in Season 9

  4. It's not that I hate Brainiac 5, but I just don't find him interesting. "Smart" characters are dull characters for me. Similar to Superman or the Flash, if they are portrayed accurately the other heroes become superfluous. It's a fine line, and I think Brainy is just waaaay over-used.

  5. A lot of it comes down to Brainy being used a motor for stories - creating some danger the Legion must overcome. He's like this bumbling, accidental villain. I do think it's interesting when low-powered characters - and the Legion is full of them; huge gap between power levels - are given a lot to do.

    Smart character can be dull, just like bricks, or telepaths, or whatever, but perhaps they're harder to write in an entertaining way. And Brainy hasn't always been the best example. I have a huge amount of affection for his ancestor Vril Dox, however, and love other brainy heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.

  6. In the Legion specifically I much preferred Dream Girl, who was smart AND dry-witted and (okay, I'll admit it) sexy. Brainy too often was portrayed as smart and the others as stupid (for my tastes). Some of my favorites stories had he, Dreamy, Mon-El, Sensor Girl, or Saturn Girl talking as pseudo-equals, rather than those with Brainy ordering the others around.
    As for your examples, I like Doctor Who but he doesn't team up with "equals" very often. And Sherlock Holmes (and Hercules Poirot and all those other smarty pants) are similar; they are awesome but best when on their own. They diminish the people around them.

  7. Ah I see. As members of a team. Granted.

    How about Mr. Spock or Data?

    1. I liked Spock because he had Kirk and McCoy to help balance him out. And there was so much depth to him. old pretty quickly. Not a fan of all of the Data-centric episodes, for sure.

    2. In other words, Spock works best AS a member of a team? ;-)

    3. Sure, if you want to think of it that way. Spock was used as a comment on humanity and masculinity (when is it ok to show your feelings, etc). That is a role that Brainy never filled. If he had been used more as a commentator on human nature and less as a manipulator (sorta) I would have liked him more. My favorite scenes were when he went out to prove his innocence, and when he came to grips with Supergirl's death. He was the most interesting (sympathetic?) to me then. Not so much during the post death of Time Trapper stuff.

  8. I don't mind Brainy, although I never would list him as a favorite.

    I am glad that the writers never used him as a crutch. I don't recall to often having them have Brainy use his intelligence to create a device that would save the day. Instead his brains seemed to be more about strategy. The tech stuff is always on the side and often disastrous.

    I do think he was one of the more dynamic Legionnaires from a characterization point of view. He is aloof at times but also shy. He has a superiority complex. He goes insane. He has obsessions.

    Compare all those personality quirks to other Legion members who were pretty static over time.

    Still, his bouts with destruction should have made the team wary of him at all times.

  9. Replies
    1. Not often enough for my tastes. However, I would say some of my favorite Brainy stories were those with Supergirl around.

  10. Am I the only person who likes the whole Dox family? I mean people love Vril Dox because he's like this guy who does thing because nobody else can do them (or are not smart enough) but he has a lot of problems (being aged up, never having a childhood, his father is Brainiac, etc.)

    The problem with Brainiac 5 is that there are too many writers. There's tons of versions of him and none of them are the same or with the same love interests. Threeboot is like Vril Dox. Reboot is smarty/anti social and full of problems. New 52 is like a combination of Reboot and the old Silver age Brainy.

    I think that's the biggest issue. I personally liked Reboot the most because his character grew as a person. He wasn't Vril Dox or another Brainiac but a teammate that did his best. He was smart but it wasn't his crutch. Lyle and several others had moments to shine (like Garth.)

  11. You're not alone! I like the Doxes too!