Brain (comics)

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Brain
Brainmallah.png
Monsieur Mallah with the Brain, from the cover to Outsiders #37.
Art by Daniel Acuña
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Doom Patrol #86 (May 1964)
Created by Arnold Drake (writer)
Bruno Premiani (artist)
In-story information
Team affiliations Brotherhood of Evil
Secret Society of Super Villains
Partnerships Monsieur Mallah
Notable aliases Ultimax
Abilities Genius-level intellect
Enhanced durability

The Brain is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics commonly as a frequent enemy of the Doom Patrol. He is a French mastermind and criminal genius.[1]

Publication history[edit]

Brain first appeared in Doom Patrol #86 and was created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. Drake later commented, "I used that same concept in a Jerry Lewis comic book, and in a Bob Hope comic I had a totem pole that talked to him. Often times, I wrote the same storylines for the comedy stuff that I wrote for the serious stuff. I just turned it on its head."[2]

Fictional character biography[edit]

As a scientist, the Brain performs experiments on animals to raise their intelligence. One of these is on a gorilla, who he names Monsieur Mallah and educates for almost a decade before making him his personal assistant. His colleague, Niles Caulder grows jealous of his work and arranges for the Brain to get caught in an explosion, which destroys his body. Only the brain survives, which Caulder plans on putting into a robotic body. Mallah rescues the Brain, transferring him to a computer network that keeps him functioning.

The Brain and Mallah form the Brotherhood of Evil in hopes of conquering the world and getting revenge on Caulder. Caulder, now known as the "Chief", through a series of other accidents that he manipulated, forms the Doom Patrol. (Caulder's involvement in the events which transformed the Doom Patrol, and the Brain, was a retcon decades after the creation of the Doom Patrol and the Brain; originally the incidents were genuine accidents.) The Brain, Mallah, and their Brotherhood's criminal activities also pit them against the Teen Titans. The Brotherhood go against the newly formed Justice League, with the Brain using a genetic splicer to take the Flash's legs, Green Lantern's ring, Black Canary's vocal chords, and the Martian Manhunter's eyes.[3] The Brain is defeated by the League and the Doom Patrol, the League using cybernetic implants created by Niles Caulder to compensate for their lost powers. Aquaman is thrown to the Brain, overpowers his control of the ring, and separates the Brain from his makeshift body.[4]

During Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, Mallah places the Brain in Robotman's new body (Robotman's brain had been removed from it due to it malfunctioning). In his new body, the Brain confesses to Mallah he is in love with him. When Mallah reveals he feels the same way, the two kiss. However, Robotman's body, having developed sentience and vowed never to be enslaved by a brain again, triggers a self-destruct mechanism, and explodes as they kiss.[1]

The two later resurface (the Brain back to floating in a jar), with no explanation of how they survived the explosion. The Brotherhood begin raiding genetic research facilities to unlock the secrets of cloning and create a new body for the Brain, so he and Monsieur Mallah can resume their romance.[5][6][7] After a short while the Brain's new clone body begins to break down, so he has Mallah rip off his head and put his brain back into another jar.[8]

In the Salvation Run storyline, Brain and Monsieur Mallah appear amongst the villains that were sent to the planet Cygnus 4019. An altercation between Monsieur Mallah and Gorilla Grodd ends with Grodd killing both Brain and Monsieur Mallah.[9]

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Brain and Monsieur Mallah assist Gorilla Grodd in taking over the remains of Central City at the time when The Black had taken over most of the world. They capture Animal Man and the heroes that are with him. Animal Man's group is saved by Frankenstein and his Patchwork Army.[10]

Powers and abilities[edit]

One of the most formidable villains ever encountered by the Doom Patrol, or even in DC Comics, The Brain is more of a cerebral opponent but all the more dangerous for it. A former polymath, The Brain has a genius level IQ which he puts to use as a criminal mastermind and is more than capable of plotting out perfect crimes. The Brain is completely single-minded, and motivated almost entirely towards domination of others, the committing of even more perfect crimes, and ultimate revenge against Niles Caulder.

Adept in psychology, he is also a master of coercion, deceit and manipulation, being able to persuade almost anybody to do his dirty work for him, even to the point where his agents are under the illusion that they are not actually committing evil or immoral acts. This has however on occasion been hinted to be a result of mind control by the use of telepathy on the part of The Brain. It was through these vast cerebral abilities that The Brain was able to unite various villains under his leadership, and form the Brotherhood of Evil.

Although others often act as brawn to his brain, most notably his assistant–partner Monsieur Mallah, The Brain has occasionally used agile robotic bodies to give him mobility. The different contraptions which have been seen to hold his brain were designed by The Brain himself (also a master in biology and robotics) and have proved time and time again to be durable and even nigh-indestructible. On the rare occasion when The Brain has been caught vulnerable without robotic protection or assistance from other villains, he has protected himself by attacking opponents through telekinesis.

Except for the times when he has possessed robot bodies as mentioned above, the Brain is normally portrayed as an ordinary human brain, albeit housed within what could be described as a life-sized chess piece which contains the equipment required to keep him alive; it is this portrayal that was adapted in the animated versions of the Brain as mentioned in this article. In the original Doom Patrol series, he was regularly portrayed as a disembodied brain, bobbing inside a sealed dome filled with a nutrient bath, hooked up with numerous machines, including a loudspeaker to convey his voice.

During a confrontation with the newly-formed Justice League and the Doom Patrol, the Brain used genetics equipment provided by the mysterious Locus organization to 'steal' the Martian Manhunter's eyes, Black Canary's vocal chords, the Flash's legs and Green Lantern's right arm, granting him access to the Manhunter's vision abilities, Canary's sonic scream, the Flash's speed, and Green Lantern's power ring. However, during this time he was only ever shown using the ring, and was caught off-guard by its vulnerability to yellow, with Aquaman eventually managing to overpower the Brain's will and use the ring to sever him from his makeshift body.

Other characters named Brain[edit]

DC Comics previously had another villain named the Brain during the Golden Age of Comics. He was an ordinary criminal who earned his nickname for his cleverness, and was not literally just a brain. He alongside Captain Bigg, Hopper, False-Face and Rattler were one of five small-time villains hired by Black Star to commit a bank robbery. They were all foiled by the Seven Soldiers of Victory.[11]

Other versions[edit]

Smallville[edit]

In Smallville season 11, The Brain appears on the back of Monsieur Mallah, robbing the Musée du Louvre. They are both taken down by Superman, and Impulse. In this version, Brain and Mallah are revealed to be lovers.[12]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Brain appears as the main antagonist of the fifth and final season of the Teen Titans animated series, voiced by Glenn Shadix in a computer-altered voice. His appearance is very similar to a Dalek, major antagonists in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who , and indeed the producers of Teen Titans mentioned the British show in interviews about Season Five. When interviewed at the unofficial Transformers convention TFCon, Derrick J. Wyatt stated that the Brain was a "Total Dalek", claiming that he even talked like one, and the resemblance was intentional. Like Mallah, his sexuality was not mentioned due to the targeted young audience. Considered the leader of the Brotherhood of Evil, he (like his comic counterpart) is a brain preserved in a robotic jar. The Brain seems to do very little during the series, and acts behind the scenes coordinating the villain attacks. When he appears in his secret base, he is frequently seen playing chess with Mallah and comparing it to the game of wits he considers himself to be playing against Robin. In the rare instances where he himself fights, he appears to possess limited telekinetic and telepathic abilities. He is otherwise defenseless and an easy target several times in the series, not even able to defend against a slap on the back from Beast Boy. As a result of his defenselessness from a physical standpoint, he relies almost entirely on his evil subordinates to carry out his plans. With himself providing the strategy and intelligence, this reliance proves mostly justified in the episode "Calling All Titans." In this episode, the Brain uses a stolen Teen Titans communicator (Robin's, to be precise, who gave it to Madame Rouge thinking she was Hot Spot) to track down and capture every honorary Teen Titan by sending villains to capture them. In most cases, the Brain is able to provide exactly the evil opponent (or more than one opponent) needed to capture any hero (e.g. overpowering the hero Speedy with the villain Cheshire, who can block all of Speedy's arrows with her superior reflexes, and sending the shape-shifting Madame Rouge to capture the physical fighter Robin.) However, the Brain's over-reliance on his subordinates also eventually proves to be his undoing due to several key mistakes belying his usual intelligence; he sends the Kardiak monster to capture Beast Boy, but Beast Boy wins the fight; he sends both Atlas and Adonis to overpower Pantha, but Pantha defeats them both; he sends Cinderblock and Johnny Rancid to capture Mas y Menos, but the two villains only manage to capture Menos, and Mas escapes; he sends Fang and Private H.I.V.E. to take down Jericho, but Jericho is victorious; he sends Warp and See-More to capture Herald, but Herald successfully fights off both of them. The Brain seems unable to adapt to any possible holes in his plan, and this flaw costs him dearly in the very next episode "Titans Together" as the remaining heroes (plus Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven, who while not victorious in their respective ambushes still managed to escape capture) infiltrate his base to free the captured heroes. In a last-ditch effort to escape when the tables turn, he detaches the skull jar from the rest of his body, simultaneously turning it into a fusion device to blow up his base so he could escape (saying that sometimes the best strategy is to "clear the field"), which he immediately activates. As he gets alarmingly close to leaving the now-ravaged Brotherhood base, the Brain is knocked off the scafford by Beast Boy, which Robin retrieves seconds before the jar smashes onto the ground, and is subsequently flash-frozen by a smirking Beast Boy (who jokes about "brain freeze", to everyone's disgust).
  • Brain appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Journey to the Center of the Bat!" voiced by Dee Bradley Baker in a French accent. He controls Chemo and uses him to attack a Bialyan city. Brain later has a cameo in the episode of "Deep Cover for Batman!". He joins Owlman and other villains in the following episode, but is defeated in a psychic battle against an alternate universe version of Batman. Unlike in his Teen Titans appearance, the Brain shows emotion, and openly mocks Batman as he attempts to fight him. Besides his psychic powers, he displays a variety of weapons mounted on extendable robot arms. In "The Last Patrol!", he and Monsieur Mallah target the Chief, noting his old rivalry with him, only to end up fighting Batman. He and Monsieur Mallah are later defeated on General Zahl's ship.
  • Brain appears in Young Justice voiced by Nolan North in the first appearance and by Corey Burton in all subsequent appearances with both voice actors using a French accent. In "Revelation", it is revealed that Brain is L-6 of The Light (Project Cadmus' Board of Directors). In "Summit", Brain and Monsieur Mallah join the Light in a summit with the Reach within the caves of Santa Prisca. During a three-way fight between the Team, the Light, and the Reach, Impulse defeats Brain by disarming him of his weapons.
  • Brain appears in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Brian" voiced by Scott Menville. He captures the Teen Titans in order to steal their powers and fuel his Project B.R.I.A.N. (Brain's Robotic Indestructible Armor Nexus). A recurring gag in that episode is that the Teen Titans thought that Brain's name is Brian. This causes the little buddies of the Teen Titans to end up saving the Teen Titans and defeating Brain. The Brain returns in the episode “40%40%20%”, wielding a new four-armed spider mech body. In the episode, he captures the other Titans while Cyborg is trying to break his addiction/dependence on his favorite song, “The Night Begins to Shine.” During Cyborg’s song-induced fantasy, the Brain tries to stop him using a giant stone mech and an army of flying punk zombies. With Monsieur Mallah’s help, the Brain is able to destroy Cyborg’s tape, rendering him powerless, but the other Titans sing the song for Cyborg to give him his strength back, allowing him to defeat Mallah and the Brain.
  • Brain appears in the Justice League Action episode "The Brain Buster," voiced by Jim Ward.[13] He alongside Batman, Mister Terrific, Lex Luthor, and Calculator are abducted by Mister Mind posing as a cosmic being to see who is the more intellectual of the group by having them partake in three challenges.

Video games[edit]

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • Brain made an appearance in issue #29 and a cameo in the Teen Titans Go! comic book series.
  • Although he never appeared in Justice League himself, a version of the Brain from this continuity appeared in a comic story based on the series, where the League faked an elaborate 'auction' to lure all of their villains into one place. When the Brain realizes what is happening, he attempts to deduce which members of the auction are actually League members in disguise, but his deductions are thwarted by the assumption that Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were not among the League members (being seemingly frozen in time by Chronos) and he only had to track down Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter, when in reality even Chronos's role was faked (Chronos being a disguised Batman) and the League capture the villains.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jimenez, Phil (2008), "Brain", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, p. 60, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  2. ^ Browning, Michael (July 2013). "The Doom Patrol Interviews: Arnold Drake". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (65): 41. 
  3. ^ JLA: Year One #5
  4. ^ JLA: Year One #6
  5. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #34 (May 2006)
  6. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #35 (June 2006)
  7. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #36 (July 2006)
  8. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #37 (August 2006)
  9. ^ Salvation Run #1-7 (January–July 2008)
  10. ^ Animal Man Vol. 2 #15
  11. ^ Leading Comics #2 (Spring 1942)
  12. ^ Smallville Season 11 #9
  13. ^ "The Brain Buster". Justice League Action. 

External links[edit]