Who's the Brain?

Who's This? A villain in a jar.

The facts: Where's Pinky?! But seriously, folks... the Brain first appeared in Doom Patrol #86 (March 1964) and was created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani, already partnered with Monsieur Mallah whose intelligent he had "jumped up", and indeed, the whole Brotherhood of Evil. A team needs a team to fight, and he was a more extreme version of Niles Caulder, having lost his whole body in a science accident and holding the Chief responsible. His look evolved over several appearances, from a simple brain under glass to a chrome Castle Grayskull. With the Brotherhood across some 17 issues of the original DP series, he returned with Mallah in Grant Morrison's revamp, by which point he and his faithful companion could admit their love for one another. Though seemingly destroyed there, he resurfaces in some Teen Titans comics of the mid-2000s, then in Salvation Run.
How you could have heard of him: The Brain returns in the New52 as a Titans villain (with Mallah, but also Grodd). Or you may know him from television appearances, like robbing the Louvre on Mallah's back in Smallville, as an important villain in the Teen Titans animated series, in episodes of Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, Teen Titans Go! and Justice League Action, and referenced on the Doom Patrol TV series.
Example story: Doom Patrol #110 (March 1967) "Trial by Terror" by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani
When choosing a story to cover, I could have gone for the cheese plate Brain or the cool Grayskull Brain, but the interstitial Brain, with an electric body and cute transistor-teeth, well THAT'S a story that demands to be told!

Quick game of catch-up: The Brotherhood thinks the Doom Patrol is dead, but they're in for a rude awakening. Now, at this point, the Brotherhood also includes Garguax, another brainy innovator, so how do these two "bosses" get along? Well, they're totally the kind of creeps who stay behind after a meeting to have it out.
BRAIN DOMINANCE ASSURED! Whatever the plan is, the Brain is preparing it inside a rocket, and when the rocket lands on the deserted grounds of the World's Fair, we find out what it is.
Yes, a body of light! Now he's more of a PHYSICAL match for the Doom Patrol who turn out to be very much alive after all. Proof of concept: The Brain sends that OTHER brain in a jar reeling!
Can Negative Man do better? Energy vs. energy?
Doesn't look like it, but then Larry rallies!
And still no! Meanwhile, Robotman is protecting Larry's body and fighting Mallah, so Cliff turns the tide by using the Brain's (as yet unacknowledged) love for Mallah against him.
I think Morrison was reading this moment JUST RIGHT. Cue lovers' tiff.
It drives me NUTS that Madame Rouge never wears red (didn't Drake know what her name MEANT?), but I like her in this comic. She's a no-nonsense realist and you can practically see her rolling her eyes at all the idiot men around her. Anyway the rest of the issue is about the Brotherhood's disabled giant in the DP's basement waking up, and Beast Boy's custody battle. Doom Patrol was a remarkably serialized book for 1960s DC.

Did you miss the Brain being more "to type"? Don't worry, we'll certainly see him again because we'll need to cover the Brotherhood soon, and then all its members. We're sure to glimpse the ol' brain in a jar when we do. And if you're wondering, I do not believe the energy body ever reappears. Why did the Brain give up on it? Electric bill?

Who's Next?
The big bad who just can't seem to get into a live action movie.


Drinkplentyofmalk said...

I read through all of Doom Patrol a bit back, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the original run's serialization (and weirdness) held up to a modern pair of eyes. A surprisingly natural choice for a tv show adaption, honestly.

Huh, I never actually thought to read the original run through the lens of the Brain/Mallah ship! I do love retroactive reveals that, if anything, add depth to the already existing relationships/stories.

joecab said...

Maybe the rouge is just her makeup? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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