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Brainiac 5

Please note that this entry is focused on scenes and events in specific issues written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning involving this one particular rebooted version of Brainiac 5. The following comments whether speculative or based upon story content do not invalidate or supercede other versions of the character, especially the original which debuted in Action #276. It remains to be seem what the outcomes of Legion of Three Worlds will have for this version of Brainiac 5.

Writers Abnett and Lanning, often referred to as “DnA”, put the Legion through some serious events with their opening “Legion of the Damned” and “Widening Rift” stories that sent a group of Legionnaires into an unknown territory of the Legion Lost 12 part series. Brainiac 5 was one of the lost members. The missing members return to Earth after their yearlong ordeal (Legion #1, Oct. 2002) and are formally reunited with the team on Legion World headquarters in issue 3. It’s a joyous event for everyone, including Brainiac 5 and Invisible Kid, both grinning, who are interacting. Brainy remarks, “This is certainly a convivial reunion, Invisible Kid. You’re well, I take it?” Lyle replies, “Same old Brainy. We missed you.” Their renewed friendship continues to develop with subsequent appearances.

Sharn Nux, a Coluan special theorist, is sent as a technical advisor to the Legion in the advent of a threat from a new threat referred to as Robotica. Invisible Kid greets her in Brainiac 5’s absence, and is coolly greeted. Her jabs at Brainiac do not make a good impression with Lyle who likewise tries his best to disparage her with comments. The situation all around deteriorates and Earth becomes assimilated by Robotica. A bound Brainiac 5 learns that his captor’s true self is really his own creation Computo, and is the driving force behind Robotica in his driving quest to achieve hypertaxis (accelerated evolution) for artificial intelligence.

Sharn Nux and Invisible Kid are part of the team to rescue Brainy, who has devised a plan to deal with Computo. He persuades Lyle with his idea to let Computo evolve as their only recourse. Nux is dead set against the idea, and surprises the Legion members when she rushes toward Computo hoping to stop it with a craftily disguised weapons implant. It’s Lyle who attempts to stop her though she manages to wound Brainy and is engulfed in an explosion when she attacks Computo. Brainy is last seen in #14 recuperating in sick bay.

The next story arc of relevance is “Foundations” (part 2, #26). A new threat has arisen, and its nature becomes apparent with a trio of villains escape a fight with Legionnaires by teleporting with a Boom Tube. Brainy and Lyle conduct an experiment at the Time Institute hoping to learn why there were time anomalies associated with the attack when they in turn are assaulted (issue #27) by similarly appearing villains. The pair fights to the best of their abilities, but Brainy is caught off guard and thrown despite his force shield, causing Lyle to shout in concern. Lyle becomes invisible hoping to gain an advantage against his Thanagarian assailant. He then reappears right before a Boom Tube materializes. Lyle brashly jumps into it to track them, reassuring a concerned Brainy that he trusts his friend will find him again.

Back on Legion World, Brainy is dismayed to learn that space is shrinking rather than expanding. While he and others contemplate the ramifications a very weak communication signal from Invisible Kid is picked up. He and the other beings were teleported to a disused Stargate where he is watching unseen and using the Stargate’s communication system to alert his teammates. Unfortunately, Lyle is discovered and attacked. However, he’s given sufficient info for a rescue team, including Brainy, transported by Shikari and her navigational powers to come to his aid. The villains resort to escape by yet another Boom Tube when pressed by the Legion. With the imminent threat gone, Brainy rushes to Lyle’s side, throwing his arms around his neck and kissing a surprised Lyle on the cheek. Brainy just as quickly becomes embarrassed and awkwardly regains his composure. While they appear in the rest of the story arc, which ends with #30, their interaction is minimal at most.

One scene in issue #31 is significant. It’s a comedic farce stand-alone story in contrast to the Darkseid story. Chuck Taine (Bouncing Boy) and Gear have had enough feeling like they’re the janitorial crew that has to clean up all of the messes on Legion World. They sneak into Brainy’s lab to program a nanite tech experiment of Brainy’s. Chuck finds Brainy’s secret stash of holo-vids while rummaging, and decides to use it as “insurance” if needed. Two of the three pics are clearly of Andromeda, while it’s unclear who is in the third one. Hijinks and hilarity ensue when the nanite tech gets out of their control. They resolve the matter by the skin of their teeth. Later, Brainy returns to his lab and discovers the nanobots are missing. He then looks around to find Chuck’s blackmail note which reads: “Dear Brainy, YOU don’t say anything about the missing nanites, and WE don’t say anything about your private holo-collection featuring Dreamer, Spark, Andromeda, In—“ Brainy shouts an agonizing “nooo!” in the story’s last panel.

Art by Keith Giffen
Art by Keith Giffen

Brainy and Lyle continue to appear though separately or in group shots throughout the rest of the series until its conclusion with #38. There are no other scenes in which dialog or action can be construed to show a romantic interest on Brainy’s part for Lyle. The following rebooted version created by Mark Waid did not build on this for personal dynamics for the pair. It should be noted that a romantic relationship between Lyle and Condo Arlik (who was Chemical King in the pre-Crisis Legion) was hinted at, most conspicuously with a note. Arlik was documented as gay in the DCU Encyclopedia.

Brainiac 5’s primary skill is his twelfth-level intellect that he uses in his capacity as scientist and inventor to create technology for the Legion. His scientific genius is most associated with the Legion’s flight rings though Invisible Kid is also credited with this development in some Legion versions, and also his personal force shield belt. Other notable inventions include the super computer Computo and various space and time travel technologies.

Art by Chris Batista (first image) and Keith Giffen.

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July 2, 2021
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