"Stolen Memories" is the eighth episode of the first season of Superman: The Animated Series, and the eighth of the overall series. It depicts the coming of Brainiac to Earth. At first, Superman considers going with him into space, but soon learns Brainiac's true intentions.
A lone truck drives down a winding road out in the middle of the desert. It arrives at communications site where many members of LexCorp are busy getting their apparatus set up. Amongst the employees are Lois and Jimmy, who only know that Luthor is meeting with someone important. While the reporters ponder over who it is that Luthor is meeting, he arrives, and a few seconds later a spaceship appears in the sky. Luthor approaches and is greeted by a hologram of the robot form of Brainiac. As a show of good faith, Luthor gives Brainiac a disk containing basic information about Earth and is allowed onto the ship.
Meanwhile, Superman returns from an experimental flight of his space ship which was newly modified for space travel and is asked to attend a meeting between Luthor and the Pentagon. Luthor is unconcerned about the security implications of his rendezvous, and informs the military that they can't meet up with Brainiac, who is, however, willing and eager to meet with Superman.
Superman flies out to the desert and enters into Brainiac's ship. Things seem to be peaceful at first, and Superman even finds words written in the Kryptonian language. Before Superman can explore the ship further, a troop of robots appears and attacks. Superman manages to beat them, and Brainiac shows himself and apologizes for the attack, claiming it was his way of gauging Superman's powers. Brainiac goes on to explain that he too is from Krypton and claims that Superman's father Jor-El saved him from Krypton's explosion as well. Since Krypton's destruction, Brainiac had explored the universe and collected the knowledge of countless worlds, storing the information in glowing orbs. Superman is allowed to touch the orb containing Krypton's information and Brainiac invites him to join in his quest across the universe.
Later, Superman considers Brainiac's offer and decides to sleep on it. As he sleeps, more memories from the orb appear to him in the form of a dream. He sees Brainiac's betrayal of Jor-El and his abandonment of Krypton. He wakes up with newfound distrust of the computer.
Out at LexCorp, Luthor has his men set up an apparatus to trade information with Brainiac. Superman shows up and warns Luthor not to trust Brainiac, but Luthor is unconcerned, as he has set up several missile launchers to destroy Brainiac's ship if he gets out of line. Realizing that he won't get anywhere with Luthor, Superman goes to see Brainiac.
While Superman is in Brainiac's ship, he touches more of the orbs as the transaction begins. He discovers that Brainiac destroys every planet that he visits. When confronted, Brainiac is unsympathetic, claiming that only the knowledge of the planets was important, and that it becomes more valuable when fewer beings have it. Superman attacks Brainiac, but is restrained.
Meanwhile, Luthor discovers that Brainiac has betrayed him. The upload is no longer in his control and even the missiles have been disabled. Luthor mentions that with his computer systems, Brainiac can shut down every defense computer on the planet and thereby destroy it with relative ease.
Fortunately, Superman manages to break free of his bonds and manages to overcome Brainiac's defenses. He cuts off Brainiac's control of the upload and Luthor fires his missiles. However, Brainiac still manages to weaken Superman and destroys the missiles heading for his ship. In one last effort, Superman manages to damage Brainiac, cutting off his defenses and allowing the missiles to strike his ship.
Brainiac requests that Superman leave him behind and save the orbs instead. Superman manages to get a single orb before the ship is completely destroyed.
Luthor is both relieved and angry about what has just transpired and refuses to hear about some "alien code" that is left on his computers.
Up in the Arctic Ocean, Superman places the memory orb in a holding spot in the middle of a hollow iceberg. He leaves, but claims he'll be back, as the place has "possibilities".
- Lex Luthor states to the government about the possibilities that Brainiac could offer, one of them being a cure for cancer. This turns out to be true when it is revealed that Brainiac was the one who cured Luthor's cancer in the Justice League Unlimited episodes "Question Authority" and "Divided We Fall".
- Superman's visions of Krypton included his mother and father, referring to "The Last Son of Krypton".
- Brainiac uses a space sled for the first time in the DCAU.
- The 'alien code' left behind within LexCorp's computers is revealed in "Ghost in the Machine" to be Brainiac's programming.
- Brainiac attempting to pull Superman to his side by saying the statement "I am Krypton" is repeated in the Justice League episode "Twilight".
Home video releases
- Superman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Superman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Superman: Bumper Collection (VHS)
- Superman Super-Villains: Brainiac (DVD)
- Brainiac is one of the most common recurring villains in the DC Animated Universe, having been in episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Static Shock, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons.
- The debut of the Fortress of Solitude in the DC Animated Universe.
- Despite the lack of any distinguishing features between the data orbs, Superman somehow managed to grab Krypton's when he escaped Brainiac's exploding ship.
- The truck in the beginning of the episode is patterned after the Batmobile from Batman: The Animated Series. It can also be seen in "Solar Power" and "Monkey Fun".
- This episode pays homage to the 1940s Max Fleischer Superman short "The Mad Scientist" when Superman punches Brainiac's beams in a very similar way to when he punched the Mad Scientist's beams.
|Tim Daly||Superman/Clark Kent|
|Dana Delany||Lois Lane|
|David Kaufman||Jimmy Olsen|
|Clancy Brown||Lex Luthor|
|Victor Brandt||Professor Hamilton|
|Lauren Tom||Angela Chen|
Councilman: So, Mr. Luthor, how long did you intend to keep your rendezvous a secret? In case you haven't heard, there's a thing known as "national security."
Brainiac: I apologize for any discomfort, but it was important that I accurately gauged your powers.
Superman: It was several hours after I touched the orb that I saw the images. It's too soon to trust him completely.
Superman: You destroyed those planets, didn't you? And every living soul on them!
Brainiac: You are your father's son, Kal-El. Headstrong, foolish, easily defeated and ultimately forgotten.
Programmer: It'll take years to rebuild these systems.