WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
The Brain Wave
Occupation: Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): All-Star Comics #15 (February/March 1943)
First Appearance (Silver Age): All-Star Comics #58 (January/February 1976)
Henry King was
born in the early 1910's under unknown circumstances. King was born a mutant, a
human being somehow different than the average Homo Sapiens, most notably in presentation of his large misshapen skull. Ostracized by other children, he was an introspective
and lonely child, spendingt a large amount of time in the company of books.
One day while relaxing a local fishing hole, young Henry was lost in a
particularly vivid daydream about Sir Lancelot of the Round Table. To Henry's
surprise, the Arthurian hero appeared and spoke to him. Henry soon realized he
had the ability to construct realistic images by projecting his own thoughts.
With practice, he improved his skills and eventually developed broader powers.
While he had few friends, King was acquainted with two other neighborhood kids,
Edwin Ackerman and girlfriend Lucy. Henry had a secret crush on Lucy and when
she and Edwin married later on, King burned with jealousy .
As he grew older, King's
ability to control his powers increased. He improved in both the size and
detail of object he could create, the range at which he could create them and
the extent to which others perceived them. Eventually, King completed college
and medical school, obtaining a degree in psychiatry. Not content to live the
life of an ordinary man, Henry King established a nom du crime for himself, the
Brain Wave, and set about to amass wealth and power. His first act was to
generate thought-constructs to steal enough money for him to engage in research
and purchase several bases. He then determined to set himself up a crime lord
(Revealed in All-Star Comics #15).
In early 1942, Brain Wave
contacted several criminals and offered his services in exchange for loyalty
and proceeds from their activities. One of his earliest contacts was Professor
Elba, who developed an "insanity serum", the effects of which were
actually assisted by the Brain Wave's mental powers. Professor Elba was
eventually defeated by the Justice Society without their discovery of his true
backer (All-Star Comics #8, revealed in All-Star Squadron #19).
Intrigued by the arrival of costumed interference in Elba's plans, the Brain Wave approached the JSA in his role as psychiatrist Dr. Henry King. Planting a post-hypnotic suggestion in the minds of the heroes, he lured them to the former World's Fair perisphere. There he attached the heroes (minus Green Lantern) and new arrival Wonder Woman to a mental device and bombarded them with images of wartime conflict (derived originally from tales in All-Star Comics #11). Not satisfied with the Justice Society, the Brain Wave baited the All-Star Squadron by using the lights of the World's Fair's trylon tower to send an ultimatum in Morse Code. When the heroes arrived, the Brain Wave insisted they join the JSA in his device or the more familiar heroes would die. Brain Wave's plans were ultimately thwarted by the arrival of the Green Lantern. When pulled into the criminal's nightmare scenario, Green Lantern willed his power ring to destroy what he perceived as the nation of Japan. The use of the full power of his ring elicited a powerful feedback from Brain Wave's machine, destroying it. The Brain Wave retreated to fight another day (All-Star Squadron #19-20).
By 1943, the Brain Wave was
again prepared to attack the Justice Society. His second foray occurred quite
by happenstance as the individual members stumbled across various operations
headed by the Brain Wave. King had contacted several criminals to conduct
operations in the home cities of various JSAers. He also took revenge on Edwin
Ackerman, his childhood neighbor who had married the woman King had been
infatuated with as a youth. Starman thwarted his scheme and actually tracked
King down in his office of psychiatry. Lacking evidence, Starman could only
watch the criminal rebuke his ideas and leave. As each case was solved by the
individual JSAers, they converged on Sharktooth Bay, where King had established
an tower base. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman, believing the JSA in dire straits,
organized a rescue team of herself, Hawkgirl, Peachy Pet Thunder, Inza Cramer,
Doris Lee and Dian Belmont. Disguised as their male counterparts, they
assaulted the tower at Sharktooth Bay but were captured by the Brain Wave's
projected images of the JSA. The JSA arrived presently en force, rescued the
heroines and turned the battle to the Brain Wave, who seemingly plunged to his
death (All-Star Comics #15).
Unbeknownst to the departing heroes,
the limb of a tree had snagging the falling villain, saving Brain Wave's life.
Seeking revenge, Brain Wave invented a shrinking ray and shrank the male JSAers
to 8 inches in height. Taking them leisurely back to his tower at Sharktooth
Bay, the Brain Wave placed his captives on a shelf while he held a meeting with
his lieutenants to plan his next crime wave. Summoning his bird friends,
Hawkman liberated the JSA who, still at 8 inches, set out to thwart the crimes
planned at the Brain Wave's meeting. As was often the case, Johnny Thunder
decided much after the fact that the his Thunderbolt could probably restore the
shrunken heroes, and when summoned, the T-bolt did precisely that. The crime
wave thwarted, the JSA assembled and moved on the tower at Sharktooth Bay.
Prepared for this eventuality, the Brain Wave had mined the road leading to the
tower and planned to detonate them as soon as the JSA arrived. The aggressive
Thunderbolt, however, moved the mined to the beneath the tower so when King
pressed the plunger, it was the tower, not the road which exploded. Presuming
the villain dead, the JSA again departed (All-Star Comics #17).
Though probably severely
injured, the Brain Wave survived. In the intervening years, he manufactured an
identity for himself as Dr. Forest Malone, an expert in dream psychology. In
1946, he solicited the JSA to volunteer in a test of his new dream analyzer.
The JSA, as was their habit in that day, agreed and submitted unwittingly to
the Brain Wave's device. Instead of a dream analyzer, the device was a dream
inducer which instead of recording the JSA dreams, slowly drove each of them
mad with the exception of Johnny Thunder. Confronted with his now-dysfunctional
team mates and the victorious Brain Wave, Thunder summoned again his magical
Thunderbolt to restore his comrades and capture the Brain Wave. This time there
was no escape and Henry King got his first taste of jail (All-Star Comics
He didn't remain there long
however and in 1947, he joined the newly formed team of super-villains, the
Injustice Society of the World. Along with the other villains, Brain Wave was
assigned a hero to capture or kill for the group, in King's case, the Green
Lantern. Unlike the remaining villains who captured their target, Brain Wave left
Green Lantern for dead in a ravine, an act which ultimately led to the rescue
of the captured heroes and the villains' defeat. (All-Star #36).
The Brain Wave's activities
after the capture of the original Injustice Society remain unknown. After the
HUAC hearings of 1951 drove the JSA out of the national spotlight, the Brain
Wave apparently returned to his identity as Henry King. At some point, he
encountered and seduced Merry Pemberton, a heroine from the late 1940's
code-named Merry, the Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks. The two wed and at some point in
the late 1950's or early 1960's, produced an heir, Henry King, Jr. Merry
Pemberton later died under unrevealed circumstances when the Brain Wave
abandoned his family and returned to a live of crime. The Brain Wave had no
other children that he was ever aware of (revealed in Infinity Inc. #3, 10).
Over the intervening years,
Henry King spent long sentences in high-tech isolation facilities which served
as his prison. Lonely throughout his life, the intense isolation required to
prevent the criminal from using his telepathy drove him insane and instilled in
him an obsession with beauty. He developed a hatred for his own dwarfen frame
and began to project an image of male perfection over it that he might appear
young and attractive to others. By the mid-1970's, he had amassed enough wealth
to build a small space station as a new base. From there he staged a series of
catastrophes across the globe in a bid for world domination. Ever seeking
companionship, he freed Per Degaton, a former Injustice Society member, from
prison to aid him in his conquests. Their activities captured the eventual
attention of the Justice Society and in a few days time, Brain Wave and Degaton
were again in jail (All-Star Comics #58-59).
King was not imprisoned long
however and soon was free to join his Injustice Society colleagues in an
assault on the Justice Society. Teamed with the Wizard, he confronted new
members Power Girl and the Star-Spangled Kid in Alaska only to be met with a
swift defeat (All-Star Comics #66). Enraged, he was free from prison
within months with a new plot to send each city inhabited by a JSA member into
limbo. In the process he captured Green Lantern and the Flash and did manage to
send Keystone City to Limbo before being intercepted by Power Girl. Freeing
herself and her colleagues from King's holding cells, Power Girl led the
capture of Brain Wave once more (Showcase #99).
Shortly after 1980, the Brain
Wave was contacted by the Ultra-Humanite, another long-time foe of the
Injustice Society to become a member of a new Secret Society of Super-Villains
with other Earth-2 and Earth-1 villains. Each member was assigned to capture a
hero in the Ultra-Humanite's plan and the Brain Wave fulfilled his obligation
by capturing Johnny Thunder. When the Earth-2 chapter of the Society betrayed
the Earth-1 Chapter, the latter villains freed the heroes from their trap in
Limbo and all the villains were then imprisoned in that other-dimensional realm
(Justice League of America #195-197). In an effort to free themselves,
The Brain Wave and the Ultra-Humanite attempted to communicate with the outside
world by combining their considerable powers. When the Ultra-Humanite succeeded
in contacting a previous version of himself in 1942, he arranged for the escape
of his comrades back through time to help him achieve his objectives in the
past. When the 1980's heroes, Infinity Inc., followed the villains to the 40's,
the Brain Wave ambushed and defeated his father, who abandoned the Humanite's
forces and returned to Limbo (All-Star Squadron #26-27, Annual #2).
Soon thereafter, the Ultra-Humanite was defeated and returned to Limbo. In short order, however, he escaped and launched a new attack against the Justice Society. After capturing several of the more powerful members and exposing them to the river of Koehaha, the heroes became ruthless megalomaniacs. To stop the Ultra-Humanite and rescue the elder heroes, a group of second generation super-heroes of Earth-2 formed a group known as Infinity Inc. Among it's membership was Henry King Jr., son of the aging criminal who took the name Brainwave Jr. In the climactic battle in Limbo, the Ultra-Humanite turned his formidable mental powers against the junior King prompting the elder to intervene and rescue in his son. In the ensuing telepathic struggle, the Ultra-Humanite was severely mentally impaired and the Brain Wave was mortally wounded. As he died, he made a final peace with his son and used his awesome mutant mind to imbue his son with the bulk of his own mental powers. With that effort, the greatest individual foe of the Justice Society expired. (Infinity Inc. #1-10). He was buried in an unknown location.
Powers and Abilities
Henry King possessed a broad range of advanced mental powers. Initially, these were primarily limited to the projection of realistic "thought images" but his powers eventually evolved to telepathy, telekinesis and the ability to produce bolts of raw mental force. Most of his powers were passed to his son, Henry King Jr., just prior to his death.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Physically, Henry King represented a sub-standard member of the human species. If cornered, he could be easily overcome by the average human. Psychologically, the Brain Wave was driven primarily by his extreme loneliness, a condition exacerbated by years of solitary confinement in federal penitentiaries.
Henry King is largely thought to have had a similar career as his Earth-2 counterpart, up to and including his death at the hands of the Ultra-Humanite. His son developed a variety of mental instabilities from the power transfer alternating between heroic behaviors as a member of Infinity Inc (Infinity Inc #30-52) and criminal behaviors as a member of the Legion of Doom (Extreme Justice #14-18). The Elder Brain Wave was resurrected as a member of the Black Lantern Corps (Blackest Night #4).
A weapons dealer called "Henri Roi", he has no major powers though his son has the ability to control minds (Earth-2: World's End)
A Brain Wave is thought to have existed on this world in a similar manner as Earth-2, with a case against Green Lantern appearing in a post-war newspaper clipping (The Golden Age #1). His ultimate fate is unknown.
Prequel to his first appearance, vs. the All-Star Squadron
1st Appearance and Origin, vs. The Justice Society
All-Star Comics Archives #4
vs. The Justice Society
All-Star Comics Archives #4
vs. The Justice Society
All-Star Comics Archives #7
Joins the Injustice Society, vs. The Justice Society
All-Star Comics Archives #8, DC Comics 100-Page Spectacular #DC-17, The Greatest Golden Age Stories Every Told, Justice Society of America:A Celebration of 75 Years
Uses new body projection, with Per Degaton, vs. The Justice Society
DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest Vol 1 3
with the Injustice Society, vs. the Justice Society
Justice Society TPB Vol. 1, Showcase Presents All-Star Comics #1, All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever HC
vs. Power Girl, Flash and Green Lantern
Power Girl TPB
joins the Ultra-Humanite's Secret Society of Super-Villains, vs. the Justice League and the Justice Society
Crisis on Multiple Earths TPB Vol. 6, DC Classic Library
with the Secret Society of Super-Villains, vs. the All-Star Squadron
vs. the Ultra-Humanite, dies in this story