Spoilers ahead for this week's Justice League: No Justice #2.
Just when you thought Brainiac was dead…
Enter Brainiac 2.0.
The end of this week's Justice League: No Justice #2 brought Vril Dox into DC's "Rebirth" continuity, continuing to resurrect post-Crisis characters. In DC history, the first appearance of Vril Dox was way back in 1967, when he was introduced as a clone of Brainiac, meant to be the villain's "son" of sorts.
In previous continuity, Brainiac 2.0 ended up being a force for good, and the ending of Justice League: No Justice #2 implies that he might be fighting alongside the heroes in this event.
And perhaps even more encouraging for fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes, that team's central characters Brainiac 5 is a descendent of Brainiac 2.0, meaning this new "Rebirth" continuity could be paving the way for a relaunch of the 31st Century team.
Brainiac 2.0 also has a symbol on his armband that appears to be the one used by his former space-policing team, L.E.G.I.O.N.
And given that, it’s fair to speculate that team will return as well (and might even be the team Scott Snyder has said will have a portal to the Hall of Justice.)
How did the second issue of No Justice bring the heroes right back to working with a version of Brainiac? Let's take a look and find out.
What Brought Us Here
To review, in Justice League: No Justice #1, Brainiac came to Earth and basically kidnapped a bunch of DC heroes and divided them into teams, complete with Brainiac-constructed costume.
The villain told them about how the destruction of the Source Wall (in Dark Nights: Metal) basically released these four ancient monstrosities called the Omega Titans who are on their way to destroy a bunch of worlds.
The Titans each represent the energies of sentient life: entropy, wisdom, wonder and mystery. And Brainiac has divided the DC heroes and villains into four teams, each matching one of those energies.
Why does Brainiac care so much? The Omega Titans are starting their planet annihilation tour with Brainiac's homeworld of Colu.
To convince the DC characters to follow his plan, Brainiac manipulated things so that after the Omega Titans consume Colu, they'll head to Earth.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Amanda Waller wants to know why Brainiac just attacked Earth. What's he up to? She begins to harvest the information in his mind by using the power of Earth's greatest psychics.
But just as Brainiac's ship arrives at Colu and the villain begins explaining his plan to the DC characters, Waller's psychics break through his mind and…
Well, Brainiac's brain explodes.
No, really. When Waller's psychic began ripping the data from his mind, he fought so hard that his head exploded. End issue #1.
This Ain't Happenin' Man
After freaking out a bit (and predictably not getting along, since they're heroes and villains), the teams recruited by Brainiac realize they're supposed to restart the dying energies contained in the "four cosmic trees" Brainiac mentioned right before his brain exploded.
The teams head out of Brainiac's ship, into four areas of Colu, one team to the Tree of Entropy, one to the Tree of Wonder, one to the Tree of Mystery, and the last to the Tree of Wisdom.
At the Tree of Entropy, the team led by Batman discovers a prison. To re-power the tree, they begin to free its prisoners.
At the Tree of Wonder, the team led by Wonder Woman finds a graveyard where Colu's last magic users are buried (because the people have turned to science instead of magic). To restart that tree's energy, the team tries to resurrect the ghosts of magic past.
At the Tree of Mystery, the team led by Superman discovers a slew of planets encased in containers like Brainiac's bottled cities. They decide to free the planets.
And at the Tree of Wisdom, the team led by Cyborg and Flash try to de-power the planet's core data bank within.
And because more than one tree is protected by Coluan guards, lots of battling ensues…
Wallie and Ollie
Meanwhile, on Earth, Amanda Waller is on her way to the Arctic Circle when she's met by Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. He says she's got some 'splaining to do, not only because most of the DC heroes have disappeared, but because the remaining heroes are almost all in a coma.
Waller spells out the last issue's events to Ollie, explaining that she's now heading to dig up Earth's "dormant seed."
This seed is apparently the one that was planted by the Omega Titans sometime long ago. Waller learned about its importance by mining the contents of Brainiac's mind.
But when the two arrive at the location of Earth's cosmic seed, they discover it's no longer dormant. It has been activated.
Waller realizes that her destruction of Brainiac's mind must have triggered some type of failsafe on the villain's part.
In the meantime, at the Tree of Entropy, the Entropy team (made up of Batman, Lex Luthor, Lobo, Deathstroke, and Beast Boy) realize that even though they've free all the prisoners, their suits are telling them to go deeper into the prison to find the "true source" of entropy.
"There must be somebody locked in the center of the prison," Batman says. "Somebody worse than all the rest…"
When the team finally arrives at the find prison cell, they break in.
Behind the door is Vril Dox.
Batman appears to know him, and he introduces Vril Dox to the rest of the team.
Calling himself "Brainiac 2.0," he tells the team that Brainiac's plan required him at every step of the way. And because Brainiac is no longer alive (remember? Head exploded…), the plan is doomed.
But what's the next best thing to having Brainiac there to explain his plan? Well, although the comic book didn't spell it out, it's got to be having his son. And there's no doubt the belligerent know-it-all will be a big part of what comes next.
Justice League: No Justice #3 comes out May 23.