DCAU #132: Stolen Memories

IN THIS ONE... Luthor makes contact with Brainiac, who only wants to steal Earth's knowledge and destroy the planet.

CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel (staff writer, a veteran of The Smurfs, Gummy Bears and Muppet Babies); directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: Tack this one onto The Last One of Krypton, and you have a damn fine template for a Superman movie. After aking Brainiac a major player in Krypton's final days, he comes to Earth, tricks Luthor into helping him destroy Earth (and Lex, of course, thinks HE'S got the upper hand), and Superman is confronted with a darker element from his home planet, and gains the Fortress of Solitude to boot. And somehow, live action studios have never been able to come up with a viable Brainiac script?! Pffft.

The DCAU's Brainiac is an awesome (re)creation, with a great look that somehow evokes the character's other visuals while being its own thing, and a retooled fascination with "stealing worlds"; instead of shrinking cities - admittedly silly - he absorbs all their knowledge and puts them into sense spheres, then destroys the planets to make his collection more valuable. From such a sphere, Superman will be able to forge a link to Krypton, but we see a few other worlds as well.

I'll admit to a twinge of disappointment that his plan for Earth, even with Kal-El in play, didn't deviate from that basic scheme. Having the hero and villain so intimately linked should have provided more than yet another punch-up. The new Brainiac's thematic link to the comics' Eradicator led me to make the wrong assumptions, I guess. And indeed, there was time to develop this relationship. The opening bit with Superman out in space is largely padding, though it does tie into a certain wanderlust Brainiac tried to exploit. Superman the Explorer. Similarly, the alliance between Lex and Superman in this episode doesn't quite take us anywhere. They each do their things. Strange bedfellows should have more interaction than this. Ah well. Still a good episode, and Brainiac will be back.

IN THE COMICS: In the original comics, Brainiac would "save" worlds by shrinking down one of their cities; this he did to the Kryptonian city of Kandor, which became a mainstay of the Superman stories in the Silver Age. There is a wink at the skull-faced mechanical Brainiac of the 80s under Brainiac's face (see pic above). Notably, the Fortress first appeared in 1958's Action Comics #241 (even though the Golden Age Superman had a similar sanctuary in a mountain near Metropolis), just one issue before Brainiac made his first appearance in #242, so putting them in the same story makes some kind of sense. The post-Crisis Fortress resonates as well, because it was centered on the Eradicator device, while this one is now centered on Brainiac's Kryptonian sphere. Finally, there's a mention of Vega as a possible destination for Superman's space travels; there he would find the busiest corner of the cosmic DCU, with lots of inhabited worlds and the Omega Men.

SOUNDS LIKE: Lex's programmer is played by Townsend Coleman, the voice of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Michelangelo.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - While it didn't live up to its potential, Stolen Memories nevertheless presents us with the culmination of what was started in the pilot, and a lot can be built on it.


snell said...

My only problem with this incarnation of Brainiac, like the Eradicator, started the long process of everything in Superman's Earth life being linked back to Krypton. Eventually, we get to stuff like H'El and "Vandal Savage's meteor was a chunk of Krypton," and we end up de-emphasizing Clark's Earth roots, to the characters detriment.

Not that any of it is this story's fault, of course, or even the series. But the slide towards "everything bad from Krypton follows Kal-El to Earth" starts here...

Siskoid said...

I do like that Kal's ship created a wormhole straight to Earth, and that you saw kryptonite and possibly other debris going through to our corner of the universe. That gives a pretty good justification for why Krypton stuff ends up on or near Earth.

Andrew said...

To answer the question in the mouseover text--no, Kenner's design team were more concerned with giving him a "space sled" he could fly around on. The Metallo toy, on the other hand, had a button on his back one could push to make his chest pop open and have a chunk of kryptonite poke out.


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