I find myself with more questions than answers as I perused Superman #167.
First, and foremost....
Why in the world do prisons keep giving Luthor access to labs and workshops where he can get the materials to make these inventions? It's not like this doesn't happen all the time. This man will pull a Shawshank using nothing more than gum wrapper and an apple core.
Ruh-roh. Check it out:
You can call Sigmund Freud on me all you want. We all know what that looks like.
This wasn't Brainiac's first appearance, but they certainly went a new direction with his origin:
Okay, first? If you want him to be a human spy, consider making him some color other than green. I'm not saying that the galaxy wasn't disproportionately filled with Caucasian-populated planets back in the Silver Age of Comics, but they should have at least gone with a color that humans actually are. This is like building a.... well, I was going to come up with a metaphor, but this is really the penultimate example: It's like building a synthetic human being with artificial intelligence and making his skin green.
So, why the change? I think it was to avoid a lawsuit:
See? They turned the character into an ad for the Berkeley Enterprises product! It's a clever way to avoid a trademark-infringement lawsuit.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a big secret:
I don't know why it would be such a big secret. I mean, if you make Brainiac green, he's probably going to be met with a certain amount of suspicion. People would probably be more receptive to him if they knew he was a living computer, because that's kinda cool.
Random Gas Usage! (tm!)
If he perfected that gas, I'm not sure why Luthor doesn't use it every time he runs across Superman. I mean, if I were fighting Superman, that would be my first form of attack.
So, what happens when Superman doesn't have the advantage of incredible powers? He gets his ass kicked by Luthor. Again:
And he gets beaten up by the computer, too:
Random Ray Usage! (tm!)
Random Ray Usage Again! (tm!)
Just like with Luthor's gas, the coma ray works like a charm. It actually takes the people of Kandor defeating Brainiac and coercing him into reversing the process to set things right:
So, once again... Why doesn't Brainiac use that coma ray all the time?
Seriously, geniuses. You have two things that totally work against Superham, neither of which depends on Kryptonite or magic. But I don't think we ever see either of these devices again. Either they are terrible at being evil geniuses, or I am surprisingly good at it.
See you tomorrow!