There are many AI beings in the DCU, but which is the most advanced? Contenders include Superman’s enemy Brainiac and the New Gods’ Mother Box tech.
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The DC Universe is full of amazing and strange beings: aliens, demigods, demons and time travelers. Artificial intelligences – sentient consciousnesses made by non-biological means – are another, and they can take many forms. They range from traditional robots such as Amazo or the Metal Men to devices such as the Mother Box. They also can have a variety of motivations – such as the conqueror Brainiac. But which is the most advanced?
AI, in some form, has been a part of DC Comics since the Golden Age. Robotman first appeared in 1942, but he was simply a human brain in a robot body. As our understanding of AI and robotics changed over time, so have their depictions in comics and media. Twenty years after Robotman, the Metal Men debuted. The villainous Amazo appeared around this time as well, and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Saga explored heavier sci-fi ideas of AI as tools, bringing DC its mighty Mother Box device.
Mother Boxes are strong contenders for DC’s most advanced AI. Forged out of Element X by Himon on New Genesis, not even their inventor or the other residents of New Genesis are sure how exactly they work. These machines, usually the size of a brick in most depictions, are believed to harness the Source, a mysterious energy in the DC Universe. Their powers are numerous, including teleportation (by creating Boom Tubes) and healing wounds. They can also bequeath super powers to their users. Mother Boxes are sentient and can form bonds with their users; Mister Miracle’s Mother Box is even woven into the fabric of his costume.
In contrast to the benevolent Mother Boxes is Brainiac. A long-time Superman adversary, there have been different versions of the character over the years; no matter what version however, he is one of the Man of Steel’s most dangerous foes. Possessed of a “twelfth-level intellect,” Brainiac travels through existence capturing and enslaving whole planets. While his physical body is regularly updated to clash with Superman, it is his computer brain that gives him the edge. The Pre-Crisis Brainiac even survived that reality-warping event and morphed into a god-like being!