Kenny Braverman was a childhood friend and rival of Clark Kent. Born on the same day, they played together in Smallville High School sports; baseball, football, and track were all dominated by Clark with Kenny usually coming in second. He became increasingly jealous of Clark, which came to a peak after Lana Lang rejected his offer to the prom, in favor of Clark.
While Clark was in college, Kenny had volunteered to be experimented upon by the CIA. He was unofficially ordered to out a terrorist group in Paris. Clark, coincidentally, was in Paris studying reporting. A bomb was planted on a tour bus, but before it went off, Clark tossed it into the water. The bomb was still traced to the terrorist group and Kenny completed the mission. He was experimented on more by the CIA, and given a powered-up suit of armor. Some time later, he started an intelligence/special operations corporation called Pipeline.
Years later, he launched a mission to kill Clark Kent, planting bombs at a theater Clark was speaking at. Conduit and his team failed, but he attempted a second time to kill Clark while he and Lois Lane were painting their apartment, with a Kryptonite rifle. He had the specialty rifle with him to deal with Superman, just in case the Man of Steel appeared on the scene. Conduit did not know that Clark and Superman were one and the same. He missed, and Clark had time to leave his apartment as Superman.
The CIA, believing that Conduit was too powerful and would most likely turn on them one day, ordered him to be killed. He resisted, too powerful for the small teams sent for him. Yet again, he attempted to kill Clark, and they fought throughout Metropolis. Conduit was defeated by Superman, captured by the Metropolis SCU and imprisoned.
Conduit was created as a villain for Superman as part of DC Comics’ 1994 crossover event Zero Hour. As part of the event, each DC title would feature an issue zero, in a sub-event called Zero Month. For established characters, the zero issue would retell the origin story of the character. For Superman, this proved a challenge, since A) Superman’s origin has been told many times in the past, and B) Superman was starring in four separate series, and each would have its own zero issue.
To handle this complication, the Superman creative team (which included writers Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, David Michelinie, Louise Simonson, and editors Frank Pittarese and Mike Carlin) created Conduit. They created a new character from Clark Kent’s history in Smallville, Kenny Braverman, and highlighted Superman’s origin through this new character: someone who was not Clark Kent’s friend, but rather his rival. The Superman of today would face Conduit, while the Clark Kent of the past would face Kenny Braverman in parallel story development. This also served to introduce a character who was actually after Clark Kent, not Superman, though Braverman would discover Kent’s secret identity later on.
Conduit would remain a villain in the Superman books for the next two years, until the Death of Clark Kent story arc. Conduit dies at the end of that story arc, and has only since appeared in random flashbacks to Clark Kent’s time in Smallville.
Key Story Arcs
Attack on Superman and meeting Shadowdragon
After his imprisonment following his attempts on Clark Kent, Conduit escaped from the S.T.A.R. Labs
cell that imprisoned him. He went after Superman first this time, attacking him high above Metropolis. When Superman covered Conduit in molten lead, preventing him from using his Kryptonite blasters, Conduit distracted Superman and went after Clark Kent instead. Conduit found his father waiting for him at Clark’s apartment. Mr. Braverman, Lois Lane, and Superman convinced Conduit to surrender, and he begrudgingly agreed. S.T.A.R. Labs calls in expert Carl Draper
to create a new cell for Conduit, and Conduit was imprisoned at Stryker’s Island
In his new cell, Conduit was approached by Shadowdragon
, an information broker who had discovered Superman’s secret identity. Shadowdragon passed along this information to Conduit in order to throw off the train on himself. Conduit, who now knew Superman and Clark Kent were the same person, set his sights on revenge.
The Death of Clark Kent
Ironically, a battle between Superman and Carl Draper, under the identity Deathtrap, allowed Conduit to escape. Conduit, with the information given to him by Shadowdragon, began a campaign of fear against Superman by targeting his friends. Conduit’s first targets included Clark Kent’s book publisher, and Perry
and Keith White
. Superman figured out that Conduit is behind the scheme, but not quick enough to prevent Jimmy Olsen
from being kidnapped. Conduit tried to kill Pete Ross
and Lana Lang
, but Superman saved them. Superman confronted Conduit, but Conduit already had the Kent farm
surrounded. Conduit thinks he’s won when the Kent farm is destroyed, but in reality, the Kent family went underground.
After the destruction of the Kent farm, Conduit destroys his next target: Lois Lane’s apartment. With Superman, the Kents, and Lois all on the run, Conduit hired hunters: Warp
, and Metallo
. Superman stops them all, but they soften him up for Conduit. After Conduit’s initial assault, Superman is convinced Conduit has killed Lois and the Kents. Superman discovered the Kents still alive, and the three adopted new identities for themselves. Superman buried himself as a logger under “Mac” McGivney. But Conduit discovered Superman, killed McGivney, and captured the man of steel.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen escaped from Conduit’s clutches, and hacked Conduit’s system, transmitting his location to the world. Shadowdragon, feeling guilty for his role, broke into Pipeline. Conduit discovered Shadowdragon, forcing him to flee. Shadowdragon hunted down Lois Lane, and fed her all the information he had. While Lois was on the hunt, Conduit had brought a weakened Superman to a mock-up of Smallville he created, complete with robotic versions of his old friends under Braverman’s control. In the end, Superman and Conduit fought one-on-one in a mockup of Smallville High
Stadium. During the fight, Conduit overloaded his armor, and the resulting kryptonite explosion killed him.
Superman rescued Jimmy Olsen, and shut down Pipeline. With Conduit gone, the Kents returned to their life, and Lois eventually found her husband.
During the Blackest Night story arc, it was revealed that Conduit was one of the villains identified as being entombed below the Hall of Justice.
Powers and Abilities
As part of a C.I.A. experiment, Kenny Braverman was bonded/merged with an armored battlesuit. This suit is powered by Kryptonite radiation. The suit is capable of allowing Conduit to fly, to project the Kryptonite radiation as energy blasts or energy fields, and to power tendrils that whip out from the armor to grab opponents. The radiation and armor provides Conduit with superhuman strength, while the armor and helmet also provides Conduit with protection.
Unfortunately, the Conduit armor is permanently attached to his body. The Metropolis S.C.U. once attempted to remove the armor, but could not. Since the suit is permanently bonded to his neural network, Conduit also feels pain when damage is done to one of his tendrils.
As a C.I.A. undercover operative, Conduit has extensive combat training, both in hand-to-hand and in armed combat. He is a master of disguise, and has infiltrated other organizations in his C.I.A. career. He is also an expert at gathering intelligence and at counter intelligence methods.
Conduit has created an underground spy network, called Pipeline, to aide him in his research. Pipeline has various operatives around the world, and their base of operations lies deep below Metropolis. Pipeline has access to advanced weaponry, and has hacked the networks of various spy agencies around the globe. Pipeline also employs mercenaries-for-hire, which serve as ground troops for Conduit’s activities. Superman disbanded Pipeline after Conduit’s death.
Superman: The Animated Series
Kenny Braverman (voiced by Scott Menville) appeared in one episode of Superman: The Animated Series entitled "New Kids In Town," which was a flashback episode set during Superman's time in Smallville. In the episode, Kenny is portrayed as a bully.