Vera Lynn Black grew up in England alongside brother Manchester ("Chess"). Chess took care of Vera in the absence of their abusive parents, whose fate is unrevealed. The orphan girl lost her arms around the same time, also under unrevealed circumstances. (Justice League Elite #4) There was one particularly scarring moment when the pair encountered a house full of people whom Chess drove to torture themselves. Vera watched on and was deeply wounded by the sight. Thus did Manchester's evil nature flourish at a young age. At some point the two parted ways — physically and idealogically. Manchester went on to found the Elite, a powerful band fo vigilantes who were taken down by Superman.
Vera pursued a more selfless path. At some point, she was fitted with a half-billion dollars worth of cybernetic technology in the form of prosthetic arms. The tech gave her heightened senses and the ability to alter other's perceptions. Something inside Vera drove her to be the very opposite of her brother, to do good where he could think of nothing but evil. She became a part of the international espionage community and met a powrful Arabic player named Naif al-Sheikh.
Manchester's hatred of Superman led him to kidnap Lois Lane. His death-wish had been to trick Superman into killing him, thus proving the Man of Steel's imperfection. When this failed, Black committed suicide. (Action #796) But he was a coward. Black changed his mind at the last second, and in a telekeinetic cannonball, he secretly uploaded his whole consciousness into his sister's mind.
After Manchester's supposed death, Vera Lynn came out from under black ops and took it upon herself to clear the family name. As Sister Superior she reassembled the Elite as a force for good then approached the Justice League with a proposition
It seemed there was a powerful chaos emanating from the Earth's very being. The mother goddess, Gaea, was awakening and in her anger she threatened to destroy humanity. Vera concocted a plan that would hopefully unite the world against a common threat and prove the human race's worth to the goddess. Though Superman was understandably hesitant to ally with the new Elite, the JLA's Manitou Raven and Major Disaster both confirmed Vera's prophesies. The JLA and the Elite subsequently staged an elaborate battle whereby it appeared that the Elite appeared unstoppable and would completely enslave the world. The JLA then convinced all the world's nations to band together against this threat; Gaea awoke and did indeed concede that humans were worthy of inheriting the planet.
After this, Sister Superior boldly proposed the formation of a sort of "black ops" JLA team: the Justice League Elite. With her deep cover experience, Vera envisioned a team that could use unconventional means to combat unconventional threats. Both Superman and Batman at first denied Vera membership in the League, which angered several of their teammates, including the Flash. He, Raven and Disaster all believed that Black had proven herself worthy, and chose to ally with her in this new venture. (JLA #100) Thus the Justice League Elite became a sort of "not-exactly-sanctioned don't-ask-don't-tell covert operations unit." Their mission was to hunt and eliminate extranormal threats to the Earth before they went public. (JLA Secret Files 2004)
This new undercover branch of the League was barely tolerated by the main team and operated out of a secret base in New Jersey called The Factory. To help keep them in check, Vera recruited Naif al-Sheikh to be their coordinator. Al-Sheikh held the clout to address an assembly of powerful world leaders would agree that "the Elite do not exist." (JL Elite #1)
In their first mission, they infiltrated The Blood Brothers, an organization of assassins. The Brothers enlisted another freelancer called, Wolfwood, who was also working undercover. With his heightened senses, he compromised Vera's disguise as Deathstroke. (#2) The Elite ditched their cover and took down both the Blood Brothers and Bhat's regime. But what happened after this would taint the Elite for good.
With Bhat in custody, Manchester Black began asserting some control over his sister. Vera blacked out and in her unconsciousness, Menagerie secretly coaxed Coldcast to kill Bhat. Coldcast retained no memory of the act, and no other members were present. (#3) Vera knew this bode poorly for their future. Upon their return, she defied protocol and avoided debriefing the team on Bhat's death, while al-Sheikh raged over the mysterious circumstances of the dictator's death. Because the Elite were in complete control, and Vera would have sensed external lifesigns and teleport signals, suspicion was of course cast on the team itself — someone on the team was obviously responsible for Bhat's death.
The JLA stepped in and attempted to shut the Elite down, but Vera strapped on Wonder Woman's lasso as a test of truth (but the lasso was actually around her cybernetics), and avoids further inquiry. This bought the team more time, pending an investigation. (#4)
The Elite's next case brought them into the undercover drug ring, Aftermath. (#4) Vera became "Miss Morphine" for the case, and the team discovered that Aftermath used aliens and metahumans to carve out a new kind of drug trade. They also discovered that another group was on Aftermath's trail: the Justice Society! (#5) Actually, Aftermath had tipped off the JSA and staged the whole battle as a test to the Elite's worthiness. They were finally invited aboard Aftermath's interdimensional ship where they met the organization's leader, Aftermath himself. And his associate — Wolfwood. (#6)
Wolfwood again sniffed out Vera's disguise, but said nothing. In their private conversation, he claimed to be on their side and making amends for his past as well. Further, he claimed that he had also been present during Bhat's death and offered to reveal the killer. (#7) Soon, Vera's disembodied brother finally took over her body completely. (#7) Chess had sensed great power in the Source (where Aftermath had been heading) and made mental contact with an ancient female warrior named Eve, who was trapped in the Source Wall. As Aftermath entered the Source Wall, he perished and Eve was freed from the wall. Chess emerged alongside her, in full possession of Vera's body and mind. (#8)
This mission was another disaster. Manitou Raven had discovered the identity of the team's killer, but he followed the team in pursuit pursuit of Aftermath and died taking the brunt of a bomb. (#8) The rest of the team were scattered and beaten, and Coldcast was taken by the JLA and charged with Bhat's death.
Manchester next tried to use Eve's powers to erase Superman from the timeline, but the changes would not hold. Eve and Black instead used a Whorlogog (a miniature of the universe) to unleash chaos on Earth. (#10) The JLA was overpowered by Black and Eve and all seemed lost. Al-Sheikh had closed the Factory and even Vera's closest friends now believed that Manchester had been in control from the beginning. But Manitou Raven made sure justice would be done: he appeared to the members of the Elite and implored them to regroup against Manchester and free Vera.
This timing was fortuitous, as al-Sheikh had just been ready to permanently disable Vera's circuitry (he held the secrets to its technology). He ultimately refused and was taken into military custody. (#11)
Black's defeat began when Raven gave Vera his Eye of Eighteen Pupils, which enabled her to recognize the true strength within herself. By this time Superman had also awakened from Black's hold, and seeing the carnage he headed to the sun to recharge his powers. The Elite knew they had but a short time to save Vera before he returned to destroy her.
Thankfully, Vera regained mental control of her body and Raven claimed that if she could assert control over the Whorlogog within her, all Black's evil could be undone. Green Arrow threw Raven's staff (which was a piece of the universe) at her and finally disconnected Vera from her brother's essence. Eve began to self-destruct and Vera made one request of her: to reverse the Whorlogog's havoc and to have the world to believe that the Elite had perished. Eve and the Elite disappeared and the public was left to believe that the JLA had saved the day.
Vera wrapped up the Elite's mission by bringing Menagerie into JLA custody. The traitor confessed to her hatred of the Blacks, that she'd been driven to revenge by the bloodlust of her alien symbeasts. Rather than kill Vera, she decided it would be better to kill her dream. In the end, Vera was granted a new lease on life. She pulled the appropriate strings to release al-Sheikh from prison and the two headed off hinting at a new plan to rejoin with "a few friends." (#12)
Though Manchester Black was driven from his sister, it remains to be seen if his essence was truly dispersed for good...
Vera has billions of dollars of cybernetic technology in her prosthetic arms. They do primarily two things. First, the arms can change shape to take the form of various weapons. Second, the arms also contain the ability to alter others' perceptions. She can convince those around her of virtually any other appearance. This is not a full-body shape-shift but a mentally-induced illusion.
She also has heightened senses from the tech in her arms.
In addition, Vera is a highly trained undercover agent who has successfully completed numerous international espionage operations.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
JLA #100, 112-113
Justice League Elite, 12-issue limited series (2004-05)
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