You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve had to get some experts in though – there’s so much going on that needs to be explained!
We’ve been following the various events of Lex Luthor’s presidency recently, as described by Tim Maytom, and that means one thing: asking Luke Herr just who the heck “Manchester Black” is?!
We’ve just heard about Manchester Black, who apparently caused a heck of a lot of problems for Superman. Who is he?
Luke Herr: Manchester Black is the leader of The Elite, a group of four antiheroes who travel around in a giant sentient spaceship and stop villains by killing them. They are a stand in for The Authority, a WildStorm team that was surging in popularity at the time. Both teams are composed of members who believe in a new type of superheroics, namely being free to kill anyone who breaks the law instead of giving them due process.
Since The Elite existed to be proven wrong by Superman in Action Comics #775 though, Superman was able to defeat the team by outsmarting and disabling them, before he turned them over to the authorities for the crimes they committed, because he refused to compromise his ideals.
Sounds definitive. Was that the last of Manchester Black?
Herr: Manchester Black ended up with his powers turned off for a month when Superman lasered Black’s brain to block his powers. After Lex Luthor recruited Manchester Black to lead a new Suicide Squad whose goal was to release Doomsday, the monster that “killed” Superman, to fight Imperiex, the big bad of the Worlds at War event. Manchester Black sacrificed the rest of the team, rewrote Doomsday’s brain, and then removed the control chip that was in his own head, and escaped.
Superman was unable to stop anything – and Doomsday was seemingly killed to put Imperiex over.
Somewhere between the defeat of the Elite and the release of Doomsday, Manchester Black started on his plan to break Superman, and took a leaf out of the Knightfall/Killing Joke playbook by releasing all of Superman’s villains to break Superman in an 8-part crossover of Superman titles called “Ending Battle”.
What was his ultimate plan?
Herr: Black psychically directs the villains towards the normal people in Clark Kent’s life because he scanned minds enough to figure out the secret. These targets included Clark Kent’s adoptive parents, Pete Ross who was Clark’s childhood friend and vice-president to Lex Luthor, his dentist, accountant, primary care physician, his former workplace The Daily Planet, and eventually Lex Luthor himself, who had gone to his Island of Solitude after the attack on Pete Ross.
Superman came to confront Luthor on the Island where Luthor was attacked by the other members of the Elite who, when they tried to warn Superman about Black’s plan for revenge? Were then psychically killed. Luthor confirmed that Manchester Black was behind the plot, but didn’t actively help Superman.
Superman, then after facing four of his greatest foes, came to find that Manchester Black had killed Lois Lane, his wife, at their apartment, as part of a further attempt to get Superman to break. Superman still refused to attack Manchester Black, who saw that Superman wouldn’t break and revealed Lois was alive, accepting that Superman was for real. Black then deleted all of the files on Superman’s secret identity that he provided in the “Smallville File” to Luthor, removed the secret identity from Lex Luthor’s brain, and then he committed suicide.
Yikes. Okay then! Thanks so much, Luke! think that’s probably everything anybody ever needed to know about Manchester Black and THEN some! There’s just one part of Luthor’s presidency left for us to uncover now – and that’s what he did to Gotham City. Send up the Signal! It’s time for a true DARK KNIGHT to help us out!
Luke Herr is a writer and podcaster best known as the co-host of the Exiled Podcast, as well as MultiversalQ, a guide to the Ultimate Universe! You can find him on Twitter here!