Superman Animated main Man
The first episode this week, “Stolen Memories”, ties the final few threads left over from the pilot neatly together by bringing Brainiac back for the first time since abandoning the people of Krypton to die. Lex Luthor has established contact with extraterrestrial being Brainiac and plans on meeting with him knowing this alien has a desire to learn a great deal about Earth. Luthor, ever the opportunist, decides to give him access to a vast array of human knowledge in exchange for alien technology.
Luthor is enthusiastic about all the possibilities of the new technology (including a possible cure for cancer, foreshadowing the ultimate fate Luthor and Brainiac would share), but Supes is much more apprehensive about the new alien on the block. Brainiac decides to invite Superman aboard his ship as well to show him the last remaining memories of the planet Krypton and extend the invitation to travel with him from planet to planet. He strongly considers the offer, thinking of all he can learn from Brainiac about his home planet. Before deciding Superman has a nightmare wherein it is revealed to him that Brainiac might not be the benevolent inquisitor he seems to be, and let the people of Krypton die.
Of all the major villains introduced these past few weeks, I have always disliked Brainiac the most. His cold and emotionless demeanor just doesn’t work for me, especially compared to how most of the other rogues are rounded out with a robust personality. Prolific voice actor Corey Burton does do a fine job of emulating what a soulless and unyielding robot would sound like, but Brainiac episodes were always the ones I remember having to slog through as a kid. Despite my reservations about Brainiac as a villain, there is no doubt there are still effectively creepy elements to the character, notably when he abandons his robot form to reveal the skeletal mess of wires and microchips within him.
Luthor’s biggest advantage is his uncanny ability to always be one step ahead of everyone else, always out-cunning those around him. Despite his agreement with Brainiac, he also has several megatons worth of missiles aimed directly at Brainiac’s ship in case anything went wrong. Of course something does go wrong as Brainiac is able to override Luthor’s systems to try and take control of all of Earth’s defense systems. Of course Lex would have backdoor access to every major defense system on Earth in his computer system, as good a sign as any that he always has a backup plan, even for when entire countries are gunning for him.
Meanwhile, Superman decides to check out some of the other planetary memories on Brainiac’s ship. He discovers that Brainiac has been harvesting the collective memories and knowledge of planets before destroying them to keep their knowledge for himself. Thankfully Superman alleviates this situation by punching a hole directly through Brainiac’s chest just before Luthor’s missiles take out the rest of the ship. After an episode’s worth of focusing on the past we finally do get our first look at the Fortress of Solitude when Supes decides the memories of Krypton are best kept where no human hands can reach.