Superman Faces the Iconic Foe Behind His First Villain’s Return
As Superman squares off against Ultra-Humanite in the Superman and the Authority finale, a far more devious supervillain is pulling the strings.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Superman and the Authority #4, on sale now from DC Comics.
While forming the latest version of the Authority to more proactively change the world and save humanity from itself, Superman has faced no shortage of classic enemies all resurfacing to take advantage of his noticeably advancing age and diminishing superpowers. The most prominent of them all in the comic book miniseries Superman and the Authority was the Golden Age villain the Ultra-Humanite, a recurring antagonist and the first supervillain Superman ever faced. And while Superman inevitably triumphs over his upgraded nemesis, it is revealed that the whole showdown has actually been orchestrated by a classic villain that is far more sinister and calculated: Brainiac.
Ultra-Humanite revealed that he had significantly upgraded himself since his last encounter with Superman, now no longer a single brain but an entire network of interlinked consciousness, each with its own brain and a whole array of host bodies to choose from. Ultra-Humanite had chosen the undead Solomon Grundy to implant one of his brains into, using the powerful zombie to attack Superman directly in his Alaskan headquarters Fort Superman. However, when the Man of Steel turns the tables in Superman and the Authority #4 (by Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire and Tom Napolitano) Brainiac reveals his role in the entire affair.
Revealing that he retained his powers inside of Kandor and that the entire incident was a trap he had lured the overconfident Ultra-Humanite into, Superman and Lois Lane quickly subdue the Golden Age supervillain before Superman forcibly removes Grundy’s head to isolate Ultra-Humanite’s implanted brain. Interfacing the severed brain with his own tech, Superman is able to communicate with the implants to Ultra-Humanite’s true benefactor, Brainiac, who has quietly been observing the proceedings from his spaceship, with the prime Ultra-Humanite by his side. And as the two old foes carry on a tense conversation, Brainiac lays out his intentions behind his latest plot to defeat Superman and add Earth to his growing collection of subjugated worlds.
Brainiac reveals that while Superman has been trying to inspire humanity and save it from itself, the powerful robot sees the species as one that is destroying the planet and its abundant natural resources. Brainiac has upgraded Ultra-Humanite and assembled an entire supervillain team to strategically counter the Authority while he proceeds with his own plan to add Earth to his extensive catalog of planets to preserve and monitor. However, with the Authority overpowering Brainiac and Ultra-Humanite’s assembled supervillains on the ground in Dubai, even the two antagonists’ combined genius intellect is not enough to outsmart Superman.
Brainiac and Ultra-Humanite are among Superman’s most infamous, enduring foes but they barely pose a lasting concern to the Man of Steel as he turns his attention beyond Earth to the furthest corners of the DC Universe. Superman believes his son Jon Kent is capable of dealing with whatever antics the two supervillains have concocted next and is more interested in overthrowing Mongul from his tyrannical rule over Warworld.
With Superman now off-world, the frustrated Brainiac and Ultra-Humanite now set their sights on the son of the Man of Tomorrow for their next fiendish plot.
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