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Black was an incredibly gifted telekinetic and telepath and was capable of amazingly precise use of his telekinesis. He was able to give Superman the equivalent of a stroke, for example, by telekinetically pinching blood vessels in Superman's brain.
He was also able to create very detailed illusions on a vast scale, and telepathically control thousands of people at the same time.
He was English, as shown by his accent and his omnipresent Union Flag T-shirt. Very little is known about his background; what little that is known include insinuations that he was abused both physically and sexually by his parents while growing up. Manchester later says that he grew up hating traditional heroes, especially those who believed in high moral concepts such as never killing under any circumstances, personally feeling that the only way to truly stop the villains was to kill them.
Black first appears as the leader of a team of super-powered antiheroes known as The Elite, who gained worldwide popularity for viciously killing their foes and thus preventing them coming back to cause more problems. Superman opposed this wanton violence, leading to a showdown on Jupiter's moon Io that was videotaped for the Earth's media. Black used his powers to give Superman a stroke, and his teammates (Coldcast, Menagerie and the Hat) apparently were able to destroy Superman in a giant explosion. While the Elite were gloating, however, Superman used his superspeed to seemingly kill all the team members, except for Black; Superman then disabled the Englishman by using his x-ray vision to locate an unusual growth on Black's brain. He identified the growth as the source of Black's powers, and then carefully fired a thin burst of heat vision through Black's retinas and told Black that he had cut out the growth (he had actually given Black a micro-concussion that left him temporarily powerless).
Faced with the apparent loss of his powers, Black actually wept, hypocritically appalled that Superman had seemingly adopted the lethal tactics he and the Elite had spent so much time advocating. Superman then revealed to the powerless Black that the rest of the Elite were only unconscious, he had not removed anything from Black's brain, and that murdering opponents makes a hero no better than his enemies. Furious, Black declared that by not killing him, Superman had guaranteed that as long as Black was alive, he would come after Superman again and again, but Superman calmly replied that he wouldn't want it any other way, and that dreams like the ones he gave to Earth were what made life worth living.
A temporarily beaten Black was taken into custody, and his mental powers restored themselves over the next few months. His next appearance was part of the Our Worlds At War storyline in Adventures of Superman #593. Black was hired by the American government and President Lex Luthor to lead a new Suicide Squad featuring Chemo, Plasmus, Shrapnel and Steel (John Henry Irons). The Squad's mission was to release the monster Doomsday against the threat of the galactic conqueror Imperiex. However, Doomsday apparently killed the Squad upon his release, with the exception of Black, who escaped after 'reprogramming' Doomsday's mind so that Doomsday's hatred for Superman was redirected towards the Imperiex probes for a time.
Black's final appearance was in the Ending Battle storyline running through the Superman titles in November and December of 2002. This storyline featured Black mentally controlling dozens of super-villains by revealing Superman's secret identity and sending them en masse after the Man of Steel. Superman manages to hold the villains back, and then finds Black in his apartment, apparently having killed Superman's wife Lois Lane. Black taunts Superman and goads him into killing him, but Superman puts Lois' body first and gives her a proper burial. Despite fantasizing about killing Black, Superman resists temptation and tells Black that he will devote the rest of his life to keeping the villain behind bars, not in the morgue.
Black is stunned at Superman's fortitude, and as his spirit wavers, his mental spell crumbles, and it is revealed that Lois is still alive; Black was trying to force Superman into a position where he would have to kill a man, but his plan failed despite all the lengths Black went to. Distraught at the revelation that he had become a villain himself, Black made the super-villains forget that Superman is really Clark Kent, and then used his telekinetic powers to take his own life.
Manchester's sister Vera Black is currently the leader of the Justice League Elite team of superheroes. For a time, Black's spirit manifested itself in her mind, thus nearly driving her to destroy London, but the other members of the Elite drove him out.
Based on Jenny Spark of The Authority.
First Appearance: Action Comics (1938) #775
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Action Comics (1938)
#775 Adventures of Superman (1987)
- 'What's So Funny About Truth, Justice, & The American Way?'#795
- 'The Thirteenth Hour'#796
- 'The Last Supervillain'#797
- 'Superman, This is Your Life, Part 2'
#593 Justice League Elite (2004)
- 'Suicide Mission'#594
- 'The Doomsday Protocol'#609
- 'Rush Hour'#649
- 'Superman, This Is Your Life, Part 3'
#4 Superman (1987)
- 'The Right Thing'#5
- 'The Aftermath, Part One'#7
- 'The Aftermath, Part Three'#8
- 'Aftermath, Part Four'#9
- 'Eve of Destruction'#11
- 'Eve of Destruction, Part Two'#12
- 'Eve of Destruction, Finale'
#181 Superman: Our Worlds at War Secret Files (2001)
- 'The Mirror Crack'd'
Superman: The Man of Steel (1991)
The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia'HC
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated And Expanded'
Suicide Squad (DC)(Interim Squads)
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