Manchester Black was the Union Jack wearing leader of a team of super-powered antiheroes known as The Elite. Very little is known about the Englishman's 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 used to love heroes, but when he grew up he realized that the only way to truly stop the villains was to kill them.
Black and The Elite gained worldwide popularity for viciously killing their foes and thus preventing them coming back to cause more problems, and came into conflict with Superman, who opposed their 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 speed 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 would not 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. During the events of Our Worlds at War, Black was hired by the American government and President Lex Luthor to lead a new Suicide Squad featuring Chemo, Plasmus, Shrapnel and Steel. 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.
After the war, 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 taunted Superman and goaded 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 was 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.
After Black's death, Manchester's sister Vera Black took over The Elite and reestablished the team as Justice League Elite. 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. This was Vera fighting against her inner demons that were created by past trauma, and not actually Manchester's spirit.
Powers and Abilities
- Telekinesis: Manchester Black was an incredibly gifted telekinetic, and was capable of amazingly precise use of his telekinesis. He was able to give Superman the equivalent of a stroke, for example, by pinching blood vessels in Superman's brain.
- Telepathy: He can read and manipulate the minds of others and even higher order animals. He was skilled enough to block the mental probes of Martian Manhunter's mental probes cause mass individuals to forget information. He also managed to control entire groups of supervillains with immediate ease