It’s raining Lobos! For years, Brainiac has been collecting civilizations, but what happens when he starts collecting power? “House of Brainiac” is DC’s next big crossover event, and it kicks off today with Action Comics #1064. Brainiac’s looming invasion has been a long time coming, so to help us prepare for it, we sat down with Superman scribe Joshua Williamson, who gave us some exciting teases about what’s ahead. What is Brainiac really planning and what does it mean for the future of the DC Universe? Let’s dive in…

How long have you been planting the seeds for “House of Brainiac”?

Since Superman #1. We had been talking about doing some stuff with Brainiac for a while.

Brainiac was a character we kind of wanted to let rest after Death Metal. Really, the last time we saw him in full force was in No Justice, and then he was in Justice League a little bit, and then he was there for a little bit in Death Metal. Actually, one of the things that I did, one of my roles in Death Metal was bringing Brainiac back.

After that, we knew we wanted him to rest for a bit. We weren't using him too much. We always knew that he was a big villain who we had big plans for, and who we wanted to do more with. When we started developing our plans for the next year, we knew Brainiac was going to have a role. I made a list of every Superman character—every supporting character, every villain, and started looking at who had been used recently, who hadn't been used in a while, and who was I interested in.

Brainiac has always been one of my favorite Superman villains. He and Lex are probably my top two. When we started working out what the whole first year of Superman was going to be, we knew we would end the first year with a Brainiac story. We would end with a big crossover. That's why we teased Brainiac on the last page of issue #1. We wanted people to know this is the direction we're going in. We're building to something, and all these pieces will come together.

Without giving too much away, what is Brainiac up to?

One of the things that I've always been really interested in with Brainiac is the end game. He's going out there and he's gathering up these cities from these planets. So much of it was about knowledge. He wanted to have all the knowledge, but he also wanted to make sure that he was the only one that had it. He would go to a planet, he would steal a city and then he’d destroy the planet. Brainiac has seen and done it all at this point, but he recognizes something is missing.

There's a piece of his knowledge that is missing. He feels like something must have been kept secret from him and he starts realizing something. He believes that if knowledge equals power, then power also equals knowledge. And so, on top of collecting things that are the knowledge of the universe, he starts collecting the power of the universe as well.

Something I find interesting is how much Superman is about his connections with people. It's not just that he's big and strong. He is a person who connects with people. It's more than just saving them from a burning building—he actually helps them. I started thinking about that a lot.

When you start putting together these stories, and you're looking at your villains, you always kind of see how your villain is a mirror or an opposite. How do they contrast with your hero? I started looking at Brainiac and realized that's the thing that he's actually missing. Brainiac doesn't have that connection with people or with anybody. Superman has this family he's built. He has all these relationships and all his friendships. Even when it comes to his villains, he still has some kind of connection. 

And Brainiac has no connection to anything. I wanted to touch on that. Is that the thing that Brainiac is missing? Is he missing that kind of connection, and what would he go through to get it? All of this has been about getting to the Brainiac Queen and him thinking of this as the solution. He thinks if he creates the Queen and builds her, that it will fill the hole in him.

I was also looking at each character in the Superman mythology and wondering how I could move these characters and give them something new. I started looking at Lobo and it was funny because he's the last son of a dead world like Superman…but Lobo killed his world, so there's a big difference. But then I started thinking, if Brainiac has been collecting all this, wouldn't he want to have something from Czarnia? And if he had a bottled city of Lobos this whole time, that would be fun to play with.

Superman Annual #1 was a game-changer because it revealed that Lobo did not kill as many Czarnians as he thought he did. You've been given this interesting opportunity here, where you can explore the Czarnians in a way that many other writers haven't. How will that play into this?

In the Brainiac special that comes out the last week of April, we have a story showing a little bit of what was going on in Czarnia, and how at some point there was a war. The war ended because of General Chacal. He and his people took over a city, and they were called the Bad Blood. This is all getting really into spoiler stuff, but a deal was made with Brainiac, so he would take that city away, which is why Czarnia had no more war and had no more criminals. One of the things we establish is this idea that Lobo had heard myths about it. He had heard childhood scary stories about this city that was stolen and he always thought it was a myth. He never put it together until now.

You get to see him interacting with his people, and you find out they're just like him. He’s sort of conflicted—do I join my people, or do I fight against them? There's a scene in one of the issues where Superman and Lobo are talking, and Lobo talks about the fact that they both were last sons at one point and their families have grown. What does that mean to them? How does Superman feel about it and how does Lobo feel about it? We get to show all that.

I'm here for the Czarnian lore. Would it be accurate to describe House of Brainiac as a Superman/Lobo buddy cop story?

There's definitely some buddy cop stuff. They go to a space club together.

The first issue is fairly chaotic. I wrote it like a disaster movie. I spend a bit of time with Lois, a bit of time with Clark, and get to introduce the cast before suddenly it's raining Lobos and Brainiacs. But then after that, it splits up because you have Brainiac over here with the Superman family, and you have Superman and Lobo over here trying to chase them down. I get to tell both sides of that story, and then it'll obviously collide when Superman and Lobo get to Brainiac. There is a bit of a buddy cop feel to it. There is a little bit of 48 Hours kind of action going on. You get to have that back and forth of…are they going to try to fight each other, or can they actually work together?

It's funny because if you go back and read a lot of those old Lobo stories, even some of the issues that took place in Superman, there are times where Lobo will be like, "Oh, Superman is my sidekick." There are issues of Superman where he calls him that. I got to explore some more of that relationship and how they sort of have this like weird...I wouldn't even call it friendship. It's a weird antagonistic friendship.

Brainiac and Lex Luthor have a very complicated on-again, off-again history, which I know is going to come into play here, particularly with the Lena Luthor of it all. How is that going to play into this storyline?

That was something that goes back to the Brainiac-13 storyline and the Our Worlds at War stuff where Brainiac took Lex's daughter Lena. She was given to Lex, and then was sort of turned into Brainiac's avatar for a while. At the end of Our Worlds at War, when Superman brought Lena back and gave her back to Lex, he was like, "Do better. Be a better father. Show me you could be something else."

That storyline never got picked up after that. Lena kind of got erased from time and it always bugged me. Where did she go? What happened to this kid? And so, I was like, "Oh, I'm going to bring her back and put her in the book, and I'll explain it."

One of the Action Comics’ “House of Brainiac” backups actually explores a lot more about Lena—who she is, why she's important, and why Brainiac would want her again. What is it about Lena that he needs her for this? Lex recognizes that Brainiac wants her again, and now that she's back, he can't really do anything about it because he's locked up. But he constantly says, "You should not be here. You can't be in Metropolis." And we get to see why he was saying that in this story.

How does this play into the larger “Trinity of Evil” plans?

We're going to touch on some of the Waller stuff, but I think the biggest component is that the creation of the Queen is part of what leads to Absolute Power. Without getting too much into spoilers, it's called Absolute Power and Brainiac is gathering power... I think you could put all this stuff together to see where some of this is heading. The stuff with the Brainiac Queen, she's going to be on the cover of our Free Comic Book Day issue. Her creation here does go on and become a huge component for what's coming next with Absolute Power.

You're in an elevator with a potential reader, and you have thirty seconds to convince them to read “House of Brainiac.” What do you tell them?

It's Superman and Lobo hanging out!

I would just say it's a crossover between Superman and Action Comics where we get to see Superman and Lobo hunt down Brainiac. We get to have a cool House of El versus the House of Brainiac storyline.

“House of Brainiac” kicks off today in Action Comics #1064 by Joshua Williamson, Rafa Sandoval and Alejandro Sánchez. Look for part two on April 16th in Superman #13.