Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reboot: Showcase '96 #11

Showcase '96 #11 (December 1996)
title: "Brain in Vain"
writer: Tom Peyer
penciller: Derec Aucoin

inker: Jason Martin
lettering: Ken Bruzenak
colorist: David Grafe
associate editor: Chris Duffy
editor: Frank Pittarese
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Saturn Girl, Spark, Ultra Boy

Captain Comet, Director Thompson, Inferno, Shvaughn Erin, Vril Dox, S.T.A.R. Labs guards (one called Duffy)


Part of the Legion of Super-Heroes has been stranded in the 20th Century with no way to go back...

Brainiac 5, frustrated with what little means he's found at their new S.T.A.R. Labs HQ has gone walkabout, entering another, more secure S.T.A.R. facility, easily defeating its security. There he finds the original Brainiac, currently imprisoned there, catatonic after his last bout with Superman.
When his team mates find out he's gone "shopping", they track his ring to that facility - Ultra Boy stays home when something happens to Apparition's ghost, see last week's review - and let themselves be convinced that telepathically mining Brainiac's mind might be the key to getting home. Unfortunately, Saturn Girl's probe kickstarts the mutated, psionic Brainiac of this era who immediately knocks out all the Legionnaires but Brainy, and turns his cell into a spaceship that then flies to Colu with the intention of taking it over.
The L.E.G.I.O.N. is called in and its current leader Captain Comet is forced to ask the exiled Vril Dox for help. After all, Colu is his homeworld and Brainiac is his father!
Oh, what a surprise. Brainiac 5 thought he was in control and was once again proven wrong. Honestly, will he ever become likable? Will he ever accept that intellect isn’t everything and that he lacks a lot of knowledge and aptitude when it comes to teamwork and, especially, common sense?! There was NO WAY this plan would work the way he planned it. He acts like a child that’s full of himself and thinks he knows better than anyone. Man, it’s bringing me back to my days as a teacher. I’d like to smack some sense into him… I mean… I’ve never done that to a student… hahaha… no way… not me… nope!

*cough cough*
Well Brainiac the first and/or second might be able to teach Brainiac 5 what humility is and how incredibly helpful it can be. Especially when there’s more than just your life on the line!

The “next issue” bubble could’ve been written by me. The “10 000 Brainiacs” made me laugh out loud as I just LOVE exaggeration! Bravo!

Well they certainly won't teach him humility by example! I'm afraid arrogance is part of the Brainiac DNA! Can't wait for the next issue given that Vril Dox is one of my absolute favorite DC characters. Hold up, Shotgun! You don't like arrogant Brainiac 5, but you're a huge Sherlock fan? Well, what if Brainy were played by Benedict Cumberbatch?

As for myself, who'd have thunk it, I like arrogant super-intelligent characters. Transference? ;-) For example, I love his entry into the prison complex where nothing phases him. I also like that they clearly underestimated the older Brainiac's mental powers, though less strong is his ability to apparently turn a prison cell into a skull-ship. No matter how much I like that design, it doesn't really make sense, does it? Still, the story doesn't waste time getting us to Colu and making things desperate enough that a third Brainiac has to be summoned. The one I especially like. Bring it on!
Oh, and lovely to see Steve Lightle do a Legion cover again.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This story happens about the same time as Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #87, and even shares some scenes with it (on page 7).
  • Though the Legion has appeared in both Showcase '95 and Showcase '96 before, this is the first time it gets the lead feature and the cover. There are two other stories in the issue, one featuring Scare Tactics (this is their first appearance), the other, Wildcat.
  • Brainiac was rendered catatonic and last seen in Superman (v2) #114.
  • Spark is seen reading Kyle Baker's graphic novel Why I Hate Saturn, amusing given she currently resents Saturn Girl for cheating on her brother with Cosmic Boy.
  • The guard called Duffy might be a reference to associate editor Chris Duffy.

First post-Crisis meeting of Brainiac and Brainiac 5.


  1. Siskoid:

    Brainiac's skull-ship is, obviously, a wink-and-a-nod to the Silver Age android Brainiac's ship when he was in his more robotic, chrome incarnation. This Brainiac told Superman the design "came to him in a dream", which was true - he was rendered catatonic (that happens a LOT with this one, doesn't it?) in his human form. Then, he had a dream where he was nearly consumed by a demon in that form, before fighting to free his mind and remake himself into his advanced green form.

    As to why he kept the design, I kind of agree with you that it doesn't make sense, unless the image of a skull is a DC Universal symbol of death. That was never really established, then or now, but it's a possibility.

  2. The revamped skull ship premiered much earlier than this, in Panic in the Sky I think, and I think I like it better than the original. Lovely glowy color and more streamlined.

  3. Actually, it debuted in Action Comics #649, at the end of "The Brainiac Trilogy" when that version of Brainiac went from human to alien. It was modeled almost exactly on the Silver Age skull-ship, except for that lovely glowy green color. "Panic in the Sky" artists later introduced the streamlined version. Here's a link so you can see the cover for yourself:

    If you can, find and read the book. It has some great Terry Gammill art and that B-U-Tee-Ful George Perez cover.