Brain Wave Brainwave II

Original created by Gardner Fox and Joe Gallagher
Brainwave Junior created by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway

Dr. Henry King

Henry King Jr. (Brainwave II, son), Meredith "Merry" Pemberton (ex-wife)

All-Star Comics #15 (Feb.-March 1943)


  • All-Star Comics #15, 17, 30, 37
  • All-Star Squadron #19-20, 25-26, Annual #2
  • Infinity Inc. #9-10
  • JSA 80-Page Giant 2011 #1
  • Justice League of America #195-197
  • Showcase #99

Henry "Hank" King, Jr.

Henry King (father, deceased), Meredith "Merry" Pemberton (mother), Sylvester Pemberton (Skyman, uncle, deceased), Jacqueline Pemberton (Gimmix, sister, deceased)

Infinity, Inc., the Legion of Doom

All-Star Squadron #25 (Sept. 1983)


  • Extreme Justice #16-18
  • Green Lantern vol. 3 #152
  • Green Lantern: Hearts of Darkness #1-3
  • Infinity, Inc. #1-
  • JSA #34, 40, 63-64
  • JSA All-Stars #8-11


In the summer of 1912, the young Henry King discovered he possessed the ability to create three dimensional illusions. He pursued psychological science in college, which helped him hone the use of his powers. King chose to use his powers to nefarious ends, and he took control of henchmen who made him rich. (All-Star Comics #15) King had come up during the first age of super-heroes, and like them he adopted a colorful code name: Brain Wave. His main adversaries were the heroes of the Justice Society of America, in whose members he planted a posthypnotic suggestion that would later enable him to capture them. (All-Star Squadron #20)

Brain Wave captures the JSA but remains unseen when the All-Star Squadron arrives on the scene. From All-Star Squadron #19 (1983); art by Jerry Ordway.
How Brain Wave survived his first encounter with the JSA. From All-Star Comics #17 (1943); art by Joe Gallagher.
The founding members of the Injustice Society. Clockwise from Brain Wave: the Gambler, Vandal Savage, the Wizard, Per Degaton, and the Thinker. From All-Star Comics #37 (1947); art by Irwin Hasen.
Brain Wave's new look. From All-Star Comics #59 (1976); art by Ric Estrada and Wally Wood.

Early in 1942, Dr. King set his grand plot in motion. He attacked the JSA unseen, triggering his posthypnotic suggestion and trapping them inside the Perisphere on the grounds of the New York World's Fair. The Brain Wave used his mental powers to broadcast a hallucination that the heroes were going into war with Japan, only to be slain in battle. (All-Star Comics #11, All-Star Squadron #19) The captive All-Stars were rescued by Green Lantern, who managed to shake his own terrifying vision. The feedback from it destroyed the machinery that had enhanced Brain Wave's abilities. (All-Star Squadron #20) NOTES: The events of All-Star Comics #11 were not originally presented as a dream; it was explained as such in All-Star Squadron #19.

When Brain Wave returned, he kidnapped the JSA again, and Wonder Woman enlisted the members' girlfriends to rescue them. The ladies donned the mens' costumes to track down villain. (All-Star Comics #15) (NOTE: This story was updated in Starman vol. 2 #69) It was again believed that Brain Wave had perished, but he returned very soon for a rematch. Not satisfied with his own powers, he invented an electrical ray machine to shrink the JSAers to a height of eight inches. The Thunderbolt rescued all of them and restored them to normal size. The genie also rewired the Brain Wave's bomb, which instead of destroying his enemies, blew up right under his feet. (All-Star Comics #17)

In one attack, it was war veteran Howard Lorenzen who distracted Brain Wave long enough for the JSA to shake his mind control and cart him off. (JSA 80-Page Giant 2011 #1)

He tricked the JSA into submitting to having their dreams studied, and while under his control, Brain Wave attempted to drive them insane. (#30) He was a founding member of the Injustice Society of the World, a group of villains assembled by the Wizard. King fought off the Green Lantern while stealing a precious mineral. Brain Wave protected himself from Green Lantern's power by encasing himself in another one of his inventions, a special glass which reflected energies at double their strength. (#37)


The Justice Society retreated from public view in 1951, and so did their adversaries. King met Merry Pemberton, who was the heroine called the Gimmick Girl and the two somehow fell in love. They married and bore a son, Henry King, Jr. (Infinity Inc. #3) Little is known about this period but Merry was the only woman who had ever loved Henry King, and her support kept him away from a life of crime. She took their son and disappeared when King fell back into his old habits. Merry reportedly had a second child as well, Jacqueline Pemberton. Brain Wave once said that Henry Jr. was his only child. Perhaps Merry was pregnant again when she left him, or she met Jacqueline's father after this. (Infinity, Inc. #9)

When he reappeared, it was after spending years in prison. King's mind had cracked; he adopted the illusion of a tall, young man and launched an insane crusade. (All-Star Comics #58) He paired pu with a former ally, the the withered Per Degaton, whose vitality was restored on Brain Wave's satellite by siphoning off will power from the JSA. King's powers had grown and he now had telekinetic abilities which were formidable even against Power Girl. With the help of her colleagues, she moved Brain Wave's satellite close enough to the sun for the intense heat to cause Brain Wave to collapse. (#59) King took revenge on Power Girl by kidnapping the Flash and Green Lantern as a trap. Her brute force and guile prevailed. (Showcase #99)

Brain Wave continued using his illusional new form when he joined the Ultra-Humanite's Secret Society of Super-Villains. Its assembly included adversaries of both the Justice League and Justice Society. (Justice League of America #195-197) The older members of the Secret Society were imprisoned by the heroes in Limbo, where they languished until the Ultra-Humanite made contact with his own self in the year 1942. They were released in the past. (All-Star Squadron #26)

For all his faults, King was always true to his family. When his son, Hank, took the mantle of Brainwave in order to fight crime, Henry King made every effort to aid his son. (Infinity, Inc. #9-10)

Brainwave Junior

Henry "Hank" King inherited his father's mental abilities. He was conceived during the brief time when the Brain Wave had united with Merry Pemberton and reformed his criminal ways. Upon the elder King's relapse however, Hank's mother left with the boy and disappeared. Hank eventually learned the identity of his father and Merry left her son as well. Hank was told the lie that she had committed suicide. Her true motivation and course of action are still a mystery. Hank was also ignorant of Merry's maiden name, Pemberton, until he discovered that the Star-Spangled Kid (Sylvester Pemberton) was his uncle! All Sylvester knew was that she had forsaken the Pemberton fortune and disappeared. (Infinity, Inc. #1-3)

The Star Spangled Kid formed a new group of young heroes, Infinity, Inc., which Hank joined as Brainwave Jr. In the team's first case, they fought the Justice Society, whose members were being controlled by the Ultra-Humanite. Brainwave Jr. and Star-Spangled Kid were drawn into Limbo by the elder Brain Wave, who was the only one capable of stopping Ultra. King was willing to do this in order to save his son's life. (#9) The battle took all Brain Wave's power and strength. Just before dying, he passed a lifetime of knowledge and mental skills onto his son. Hank used these new powers to stop the Ultra-Humanite. With his father dead, Brainwave Jr. became simply, Brainwave (the second, he had always bristled at the "junior" appellation anyway). (#10)

The father passes his gifts—and his madness?—on to his son. From Infinity, Inc. #10 (1985); art by Jerry Ordway.

When Infinity Inc. went public, reporters attacked Hank over his father's legacy of crime. He lashed out at them and was removed by his teammate, Jade. Hank realized that he was still processing the effects of his father's death and that Infinity would have to wait. (#12) It was Jade whom he missed most during his time away. When he returned to the group, Brainwave reconnected first with her. (#21)

The power transfer from his father had chaotic side effects. All his abilities were greatly increased, and Jade bore witness when Hank's mind manifested illusions of his parents. And in regards to those to whom he was emotionally connected—in this case Jade—his powers grew in intensity and were difficult to control. When the two found themselves stranded in a remote place, he admitted that he loved her, and their relationship became physical. (#23)

He pushed his mental powers to max to aid of his teammate, Fury. She was the daughter of the original Wonder Woman, but the great Crisis had reordered the universe so that Fury's parents never existed. The paradox drove Fury to the brink of madness and Hank took it upon himself to soothe her mind by completely removing the memories of her real parents. (#27) As an effect of the Crisis, all people would soon forget everything about the multiverse. Hank even noted how it was odd that he remembered having used his powers on Fury, but couldn't recall the details. (#29)

Hank and Jen (Jade) began living together but their relationship was tested when they were attacked by the Psycho Pirate. The villain incited them to nearly killing one another. (#32) Brainwave got payback against the Psycho Pirate when he combined his powers with Looker (of the Outsiders). (Infinity, Inc. Special #1)

Brainwave's Legion of Doom. From Extreme Justice #18 (1996); art by Tom Morgan and Ken Branch.
Clues that there's something amiss with Brainwave. From JSA #57 (2004); art by Don Kramer and Keith Champagne.
Merry is reunited with her son, Hank. From Hawkman vol. 4 #18 (2004); art by Rags Morales and Michael Bair.
Hank King in Parador. From JSA All-Stars #9 (2010); art by Freddie Williams II.

Sylvester Pemberton (by then calling himself Skyman) was killed in action by the cyanide touch of Mr. Bones. (#51) The real culprits, Injustice, Unlimited, escalated their attack and Hank was immobilized by the Icicle. Brainwave reached out and brought Jade into his mind, but she found him battling against the will of his father, the elder Brain Wave, who cast her out. Jade's brother, Obsidian made another attempt and separated Hank from his father's influence. The team managed to mop up Sylvester's killers and without him, Infinity, Inc. disbanded. (#53)

Brain Wave's "gift" to his son became Hank's undoing as the lines began to blur between good and evil. Hank went so far as to shave his head to resemble his father, and he recruited a band of villains to form the Legion of Doom. (Extreme Justice #14-16) The Legion lured Captain Atom's Justice League team to the Florida swamps. (#17) They nearly succeeded in defeating the heroes but their mentalist, Maxima, discovered that Brainwave was being driven by guilt over the possession of his father's powers. (#18)

While Hank was in treatment, Jade became involved with Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern V). When Jade disappeared, Kyle and her father suspected Hank of kidnapping. They visited him in an institution and found that Hank was completely delusional and non-functioning. The mention of Jenny's name sparked a mental attack, which was stopped by Obsidian. (Green Lantern/Sentinel: Heart of Darkness #1) Through his madness, Hank tried to warn them of the true culprit: the Starheart entity that empowered Jade and her father. (#2)

King's anti-social behavior might also have been due to his infection by the Venusian worm called Mister Mind. While serving as Mind's host, Brainwave joined Black Adam, Atom-Smasher and Northwind in a team to rival the JSA. (JSA #40) This group executed the terrorist Kobra. (#51) Ultimately the Atom helped the JSA free Brainwave from Mr. Mind's influence and Hank was reunited him with his mother, Merry (who had resurfaced as a member of the so-called Old Justice). (Hawkman #25) Brainwave was back on his feet soon, helping Dr. Fate to help free Sand from his earthly imprisonment. (JSA #63) 

During Eclipso's reign in the nation called Parador, the mad god spliced DNA from the original Brain Wave into genetic experiments. The results exceeded his expectations, and the "offspring" had great powers. After Eclipso was deposed, the nation fell into chaos and Hank King eschewed the costumed life to help the young victims control their abilities. What Hank didn't know was that Parador's new ruler, Montez, had extrapolated from those experiments and created a drug called Izapa. In Los Angeles, Izapa caused hallucinations, death, and turned people into animals, all of which drew the attentions of the JSA All-Stars. The trail led to Parador where the JSA met up with Hank. He introduced them to the children in his care, four young people bioengineered to be gods (Ah-Kin, Ix-Chel, Nacon and Yum-Kimil). King helped them control their powers. Montez turned on Hank and used a mystical catalyst to turns the children into great monster/gods. (JSA All-Stars #8-9)

The new gods abandon Parador for Los Angeles where they bound themselves to the psyche of its people. (#10) Brainwave realized that the way bring them back under control was to sever their hold on the people's psychic pain. He cast a wide net and asked everyone to identify their greatest sorrows and regrets, then let them go. The mass grief curtailed the gods' powers. In this temporary moment of sanity, the new gods asserted that this was their new natural state. They departed for Parador and vowed to live in seclusion. Brainwave declined to join the JSA. (JSA All-Stars #11)

Earth-2, Version Two

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the original Earth Two was merged into all other surviving Earths. After the Infinite Crisis, the multiverse of the DC Universe was restored, there was again an Earth-2. Their history seemed to have unfolded as if the first Crisis had never happened (picking up approximately after Infinity, Inc. #24). On it, Infinity Inc. and the Justice Society merged to form Justice Society Infinity, and Brainwave was a member. (JSA Kingdom Come Special: The Kingdom #1)


The original Brain Wave was more of a powerful illusionist than a full-strength telepath. His mental abilities allowed him limited control over people's thoughts and actions. What made him more formidable was the fact that his powers also enhanced his human intellect. He was a first rate inventor and used his inventions to nefarious ends.

Brainwave II was born with his father's mental skills. He could read minds and also had telekinesis that allowed him to fly. When his father died, he inherited all the elder's knowledge and some of his powers. This made Brainwave II an even more powerful telepath.