During DC's Villains Month, Brainiac is among the villains taking over Superman, as writer Tony Bedard reveals an untold story from the villain's world collecting past.
Superman #23.2: Brainiac will feature a story by Bedard with art by Pascal Alixe. According to DC, the issue will examine, "Who is Brainiac?" The issue is only a third of the writer's presence in September, as he also co-writes Aquaman #23.1: Black Manta and Aquaman #23.2: Ocean Master with Forever Evil scribe Geoff Johns.
Bedard helped launch the current New 52 universe back in September 2011 as the writer on two of the publisher's new #1 issues. Most recently, he wrote Green Lantern: New Guardians — being involved with the Green Lantern universe since 2010 — but isn't currently working on any DC ongoing.
However, his Superman #23.2: Brainiac will help lay down the villain's foundation in the New 52, following in the footsteps of groundwork by Grant Morrison in Action Comics. In this Part Two of our discussion with Bedard (see our Aquaman-centered discussion here), we now talk to the writer about his take on Brainiac in September and his thoughts on Forever Evil.
Newsarama: Tony, when we talked about your Black Manta and Ocean Masters issues, which you're writing from Geoff Johns' plots, you indicated that you're very familiar with the story that readers will see in Forever Evil. What do you think of the premise of Forever Evil and what it offers to other writers in September?
Tony Bedard: I've lost count of how many times Geoff Johns has rolled out a storyline and my reaction was "I wish I'd thought of that!" Forever Evil is another one that gives me that reaction. Without giving too much away, I got to read the script for Forever Evil #1 and there's a couple of places in there where I stopped and thought, "Can they really do that?!" It's a game-changer and I'm pretty excited to see how it plays out.
Nrama: Besides your co-writing issues with Geoff, you've also got a gig on your own: Superman #23.2: Brainiac. What's the story behind your gig on the Brainiac issue?
Bedard: In all the years I've worked for DC Comics, one of my most creatively satisfying projects was the R.E.B.E.L.S. series I did with Andy Clarke and Claude St. Aubin. The star of that series was Brainiac 2, and I did a fun storyline with three generations of Brainiacs battling each other. I think that might be the reason why I was offered the Brainiac issue, and I couldn't be happier. The artist they have lined up for it is Pascal Alixe, whose design chops are extraordinary. I got to work with him when I was helping finish Team 7, and I've seen his design work for the three planets we'll visit in the Brainiac issue. Phenomenal.
Nrama: I remember that Brainiac issue in R.E.B.E.L.S.. You clearly had a good handle on the history of the character. When did you first come across Brainiac, and what interests you most about the New 52 incarnation of him?
Bedard: My first exposure to Brainiac was in the 1960s Adventures of Superman cartoon. He was more humanoid back then, but I found him fascinating. He's certainly changed over the years and one thing I loved was how Geoff pulled together the various incarnations in his Brainiac storyline in Action Comics. I'm taking a similar approach in the Brainiac issue, but ratcheting up the creepy factor. The Collector of Worlds is one dark dude — a cosmic sociopath capable of worse things than you'd imagine.
Nrama: So when does this Villains Month issue take place in Brainiac's story?
Bedard: As Brainiac is preparing to shrink and steal a city from a distant planet, its main super-hero is trying to stop him. Through their confrontation we end up getting Brainiac's origin and a deeper understanding of why he does what he does. And while in ACTION he seemed to have a noble, if misguided, reason for collecting cities and cultures, there's a darker side to Brainiac's m.o. that isn't so much about preserving doomed worlds.
Nrama: Is this meant to be a set-up for any specific upcoming stories? Or is it more like a stand-alone issue that serves as the official origin of a popular character?
Bedard: Some of the Villains Month books tie into storylines more closely. This issue is more of a stand-alone in-depth look at Brainiac. And for that reason, I think it was even more fun to write. I'm really, really pleased with the tale we're telling.
Nrama: Does Superman show up in this comic? Or any other Kryptonians?
Bedard: We have a brief cameo from Jor-El as Brainiac's origin recounts the shrinking of Kandor. The focus really stays on Brainiac, though.
Nrama: Any other familiar characters?
Bedard: This is really all-Brainiac. The other characters and worlds we see are new, since I wanted the story to bring something fresh to readers.
Nrama: Since this is a Superman villain, how do you think Brainiac comments on — or reflects — Superman as a character? And does this issue tie into that?
Bedard: There are a lot of things that make Brainiac a perfect foil for the Man of Steel. Superman is so physical where Brainiac is more cerebral. Superman cares about everyone. Brainiac is cold and heartless. They're both the sons of doomed worlds, but they went down very different paths. And Brainiac knows all about Superman, his people, his vulnerabilities. There's a very good reason that Brainiac persists as one of the great archenemies of the greatest superhero in comics.
Nrama: I know I asked something similar of you when we were talking about how you're writing Aquaman-related villains, but since we're talking about a Superman villain.... any chance you're writing a Superman comic soon?
Bedard: Sorry, but I have no new projects to announce at this time. The crystal ball says "ask again later."
Nrama: So are you writing any new comics for DC this fall?
Bedard: Again, I must demure. I love being part of the DC creative family, but I've learned over the years to let them spill the beans on news stuff. They're better at it, anyway.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about your Brainiac issue?
Bedard: It's one of my favorite things I've written recently, and with Pascal Alixe breathing life into this story it's going to be a real stand-out in a month of great villain stories!