With no new characters to speak about (at the moment, at least), let’s resume Lucy W.‘s request, and meet another villain: Bruno “Ugly” Mannheim, one of the DC Universe’s most renowned gangsters. He first appeared in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, with his name changed to Bill Church Jr.: portrayed by Bruce Campbell, he is the son of the leader of Intergang, and an old friend of Perry White; he manages to corrupt Superman with Red Kryptonite, but he’s eventually arrested along with his father, both of them tricked by the same woman. He then appeared in Smallville, portrayed by Dominic Zamprogna: with his original name this time, he debuts as a thug who kills his boss Ron Milano and takes control of his criminal empire, declaring an all-out war on Metropolis‘ vigilantes starting with Stiletto…who’s actually Lois Lane in disguise. More disturbing and cruel than his live action counterparts, Bruno is quite a monster in the comics: let’s see together.
Bruno Mannheim was born in Metropolis, the son of Moxie “Boss” Mannheim, the undisputed leader of Intergang, an infamous and powerful group of gangsters. When he was still a kid, Boss Moxie was arrested by the Newsboy Legion, and Intergang was left without a leader, since Bruno was the intended heir, but still too young. During this period, the corrupted businessman Morgan Edge took control of Intergang, with Bruno being held as a figurehead for reassuring the old gangsters loyal to the Mannheim family. It was under Edge’s leadership that Intergang started employing superhumans as agents and having business with some dangerous third parties, most notably the New Gods from Apokolips. While Edge was making deals with the one he believed to be Darkseid, getting advanced weapons from him, it was Bruno who discovered the first one’s true identity: DeSaad, Darkseid’s advisor, who was enjoying playing with the humans. DeSaad was intrigued by the young Mannheim, and had him transported on Apokolips, where he was trained by Granny Goodness. Bruno became and extremely ruthless and pitiless man under Goodness’ training, a living nightmare even for men like his father. He came back to Metropolis when Morgan Edge had a heart attack, and he took control of Intergang from him. He started directing some ambitious criminal activities, such as financing a war against the independent state of Kahndaq with Apokoliptian weapons and Egg-Fu‘s research. Bruno kept following Apokolips’ directive, but this kind of operations ended up attracting a lot of unwanted attention, and eventually two reporters, Clark Kent and Cat Grant, managed to collect enough evidence against him and Intergang to put the entire country’s police against him. Exposed as the leader of the gangsters, Bruno Mannheim was arrested, but he managed to use a Boom-Tube to escape. He came back to Apokolips, where Darkseid himself oversaw the end of his training.
Darkseid made Bruno Mannheim know the one book that would have changed his life forever: the Crime Bible, a religious book worshipping crime itself, whose original copy written on the very stone Cain used to kill Abel. A man reborn, now considering himself a religious messiah, Bruno came back to Earth, where he reformed Intergang into a crime-worshipping cult. Even his character had changed quite a lot, as he was now even more ruthless and violent than before: a cannibalistic psychopath, now Bruno killed and ate anyone who didn’t submit to him, thus inspiring a sacred fear from his subordinates. He started recruiting mad scientists from all around the world, and he even “converted” supercriminals to his cause: if many at first were reluctant, they all changed their mind after Mannheim killed Mirage with his bare hands and had him cooked for dinner immediately after. This way, he thickened Intergang’s ranks with the likes of Magpie, the Ventriloquist, Kite Man, Squid, Sewer King, Rawson, Lamelle, Whisper A’Daire and many other minor villains from all around the world. Using everybody’s unique talents, Intergang expanded outside the United States, conquering first Oolong Island, then countries like Yemen and Bialya, in an expansion that would have soon aimed to the US as well. It was at this point of his expansion that he set his sight on Gotham City, albeit his operations were spotted by The Question; while the vigilante gained the help of Renee Montoya and Nightwing, however, Mannheim had found somebody worthy to be a propitiatory human sacrifice, the new Batwoman, who also happened to be Montoya’s lover. The ceremony had already begun, with Mannheim slowly piercing Batwoman’s chest with a cerimonial knife, when the trio arrived. Montoya managed to save Batwoman, who ripped the knife from her torso and stabbed Bruno in the back with it. Apparently, the deranged criminal met his end, but alien forces were always at work around him, and he was rescued by an unknown third party, who sent him back to Metropolis soon after with new technology. This time, Bruno was powerful enough to challenge Superman head on…
Bruno Mannheim is a cunning and brutal individual, a leader born who’s been taught to serve pure evil since his childhood. A natural born tactician, trained in combat by Granny Goodness in person, he has at disposal a vast amount of alien technology, granting him a range of abilities (in one occasion he turned himself into a giant as tall as Metropolis’ tallest skyscrapers). One of the most dangerous men alive, Bruno Mannheim unites in himself the evil of two worlds, a cruel gangster who grew to be a deranged cannibal who worships crime itself.