|“||I'm going to kill you, have a beautiful laugh, then dance until I go mad.||”|
Ladd Russo (ラッド・ルッソ Raddo Russo) is a violent hitman formerly affiliated with the Russo Family. He is known for his bloodlust and obsession with killing anyone who thinks that they're safe from death.
Between December 30-31, 1931, Ladd hijacks the Flying Pussyfoot with his followers. During the journey he loses his left hand and the flesh off his forearm to the Rail Tracer, and he is subsequently arrested by the police.
A couple months later, he's released from prison in February 1935; soon after Ladd's release, Luck Gandor hires him as extra muscle for their group at the party at Ra's Lance. Ladd continues to be eager for an opportunity to kill Huey.
Ladd has silver-blond hair (darker blond in the anime) and blue eyes. He is usually associated with white formal attire -- his choice of color for his escapade aboard the Flying Pussyfoot, since bloodstains are striking against white cloth. Thanks to Claire Stanfield (Felix Walken) aboard the train, Ladd's left arm is mutilated -- he loses his ring finger completely (and possibly a few others) and the flesh from his left hand all the way up to his elbow. He ends up having a metal prosthetic bolted to his arm bones. While it is as strong as his other arm, it breaks rather easily.
In the 2006 manga (drawn by Ginyū Shijin, which detailed the events of 1931), Ladd is drawn as younger than his 25 years of age.
Ladd can be described as having two distinct sides to his personality. One the one hand, he appears to be a violent man bent on killing anyone that he perceives as "too safe," and another more loving personality that is far more humane than one might expect from a hitman.
To elaborate on the former, Ladd is a sadist. He enjoys inflicting pain on others, finding the blood stimulating. His main entertainment in life is killing. Violent tendencies aside, Ladd brims with confidence. He has said on occasion that his victims should be scared because they have encountered him.
His hyperactive personality is evident in his combat style. He's exceptionally skilled in hand-to-hand combat (particularly boxing), and is also good with firearms. While he acts extremely reckless at times, his strength usually pulls him through.
Ladd cannot stand people who believe themselves untouchable and above harm' he almost sees himself as a divine reminder that anyone can die. . These include: the Rail Tracer, who stated that the whole world might be merely one of his dreams; Czeslaw Meyer, who looked at Ladd with the eyes of someone who thinks they cannot die; and Huey Laforet. Ladd likes people who fight fearlessly, (i.e. Chané Laforet), people who are cognizant of their own mortality (e.g. Firo and Nader Schasschule) and "bastards that only he can kill" (i.e. Graham Specter). Isaac is an exception to all of these things, but Ladd likes him because he is too oblivious to fear death.
Ladd also gets offended when people say they like his face. Especially in a bunch of different languages.He shows a softer side when it comes to Lua, his lover and fiancée. Despite what one might think, he is actually in love with her. He has vowed that he will kill her one day, and that she will die by his hands and his hands alone.
Despite his bloodlust, he admits that that killing is not a sign of strength or weakness. Though he told the Rail Tracer that mercy towards a stranger is idiotic, he seems to have been influenced by his encounter with the monster and views mercy in a better light while in Alcatraz.
For all his confidence, he exhibits a moment of fear when with the Rail Tracer and even retreats from Chané Laforet, showing that he is not without some sense of caution.
Ever since his defeat at the hands of the Rail Tracer, Ladd has mellowed out considerably. He has become more humble and is not as hate-driven as he once was. However, there are a select few people who instantly infuriate him and send his bloodlust levels skyrocketing. They are: Claire Stanfield; Huey Laforet; and Melvi Dormentaire.
Ladd forms unlikely friendships with people such as Isaac Dian and Firo Prochainezo, and decides to become friends with Nader despite the other man's reluctance. Ladd shows an uncharacteristic respect for Firo in the later storylines due to his fear of death despite his immortality - a good example of Ladd's twisted sense of acceptance.
Little is known about Ladd's past, except that one of his childhood friends was Who - one of the White Suits who accompany him on the Flying Pussyfoot. He also had a former fiancée, Leila, who was killed during their elopement at an early age. Leila's death changed the young Ladd's personality into a twisted one which we see in the current storylines. Having been part of the Russo Family since birth, he had been trained as an assassin, learning how to fight, defend and kill. The family boss, Placido Russo, was someone whom Ladd did not have a very stable nor loving relationship with. This can be seen when Ladd taunts him with a lupara, jokingly threatening to kill him. However, he later returns to his uncle in order to fulfil this seemingly empty threat. Due to the fact that Ladd felt too 'safe' around Placido, he kills him without mercy.
His love for acts of violence truly shows in the glee he exhibits while fighting or killing. He is exceptionally skilled in hand-to-hand combat - particularly boxing - as well as the use of firearms. He also has an abnormal level of durability and stamina due to his tendency to shrug off injuries and continue fighting. Ladd is deeply in love with his fiancée, Lua Klein, though he expresses it through a passionate promise to kill her someday.
Other than Lua, no one else seems to be of importance to Ladd. However, he does recognise certain people such as Graham Specter as being challenges and worthy opponents. Ladd also views Graham as somewhat of a brother, as they once fought against each other. He sees him as someone worth being associated with.
Ladd is one of the forces present during the Flying Pussyfoot incident. He is responsible for several of the deaths taken place aboard it, though when arrested, he pleads self-defense. He is jailed in Alcatraz regardless. Ladd's sentence in Alcatraz also sparked his interest in Huey Laforet, whom he vows to kill after finding out that Huey is the father of Chané Laforet. Chané's devotion to her father as well as the fact that he cannot die only increased Ladd's determination to kill Huey for his own satisfaction.
(To be expanded upon)
In 1929, Ladd comes across a bunch of boxers-turned-gangsters beating up a young mechanic (Graham Specter). Ladd says to the thugs: "It's pretty sad, a night with no stars. Kill me." He then punches one of the goons in his mouth, turning to the mechanic to say that it's self-defense if someone kills you while you're trying to kill them. In other words, when he tells them to kill him, they have the right to kill him. Which means, in that case, the gangsters have the right to kill him too. The mechanic is so inspired by Ladd's teachings that he takes his wrench and "takes apart the rest of those goons' joints." Following this, the pair become friends - Ladd being one of the few people Graham looks up to. (Note: Graham and Ladd's first meeting went differently in the anime. See Episode 14).
Ladd approaches Who on December 29, 1931 in order to convince him to join Ladd's hijacking group. Who spends over three hours trying to talk him out of it, and Ladd spends the next four hours convincing him to join. Ladd is ultimately successful.
Ladd visits Placido's office on December 30, 1931 to tell him that he plans to rob the Flying Pussyfoot and threaten to crash it into Pennsylvania Station, since the Family has been having money troubles. Irritated, Placido calls for someone to remove his nephew. At that moment Ladd's White Suits enter the room accompanied by Lua Klein. Ladd introduces Placido to the group, introducing Lua as his "girlfriend, lover, and fiancee." He calls him and Lua as being a match made in heaven, while Placido shouts at him to "shaddup" and asks where his guards went. Slamming his fist into his desk, he stands up and grabs Ladd by the collar. Calling Ladd a "crazy shit," Placido warns him not to associate the massacre with the Russos. Ladd is unfazed by the threat, and agrees that it's more fun to kill people just for the sake of killing them. Using the Family's name just takes the fun out of it.
Placido snarls that if he likes killing people so much he should go be a mercenary in South America. Ladd blithely says that Placido is "being mean" to those "poor mercenaries" and Placido again tells him to shut it. Ladd can kill as many people as he likes on a battlefield. He should satisfy his delusions there. Ladd grips Placido's forearm with an iron strength. As Placido loses feeling in his hand, he releases his grip on Ladd's collar. Ladd moves in so close that the breath of his nostrils assaults Placido's face. Widening his eyes, he points out that maybe it's Placido who doesn't know anything, especially not about him. He says that both himself and Placido have no right to talk about soldiers. A battlefield is where warriors gather, prepared to die in order to kill others. People who'll fight to the death to defend themselves. And there's no fun in killing people like that. In the middle of his rant, Ladd takes out a rifle and points it at Placido's chin.
He asks whether Placido understands what he's saying, but Placido remains silent, wary of the rifle. Ladd states that he and his guys do not care about killing people stronger than themselves -- however, that doesn't mean they go after "weaklings" like women and children. Ladd clarifies his philosophy for his uncle's sake: the people he likes to kill are the ones who are relaxed as can be. The ones who think they're completely safe, not even considering that they might be next. For example.... the brightness in Ladd's eyes vanishes, leaving behind playful condescension and pity. The threat is obvious.
Placido realizes Ladd's implication and pleads with Ladd to stop. Ladd continues. "That's right. For example..." He looks into his uncle's eyes, twists his lips into a grin, and flexes his trigger finger. "Just like you, uncle." Placido shrieks and Ladd pulls the trigger finger - a click is heard. Ladd's quiet laughter breaks the silence, as he assures Placido that the gun isn't loaded and that there's no way he'd actually kill his uncle. Even someone like him still has some respect for the man who took care of him growing up. Placido collapses onto the floor, and Ladd nonchalantly informs him that he'll be leaving now. He guesses that they "won't be seeing each other again" and wishes his uncle to take care.
He turns and admits that actually, he probably won't be able to come back here even if he wants to. After all, Placido had tried to protest Lucky Luciano's reorganization proposal - Ladd is sure that his uncle is on Luciano's "shit list." He points out that Luciano has "taken care of" hundred of mafia bosses that don't agree with him, and he intones that Luciano is "so much scarier" than a little old lunatic like himself. He'd never want to turn Luciano against him. He advises his uncle not to end up like Salvatore Maranzano, but then again the local guards are pretty good so maybe Placido doesn't have to worry so much. Then again, Ladd also thinks that the cops and the tax office have put Placido on their "little lists" too. Planning to use him as a scapegoat to take Chicago back from the mafia, perhaps?
Ladd says that it's "too bad." Back in the good ol' days, Placido would have come up with a good comeback by now. He didn't even try to fight back when Ladd pointed his rifle at him. That's a failing grade for a mafia don. Placido asks him what he'd done to his guards, and Ladd reassures him that the guards aren't dead. He just knocked them out for a bit - though they might have a few broken bones. Isn't it lucky that Placido's grandkid is still at school? Placido shouts that Ladd should just get out of his office - why had he come in the first place if he was just going to leave?
With a look of anxiety, Ladd asks if Placido could gift him his white suit as a wedding gift for him and Lua. At the abrupt question, Placido momentarily forgets his anger and asks why his men are all dressed in white anyway. Ladd's answer sends chills down his spine. "If we're gonna destroy dozens of lives in that cramped little space of a train, all that white's gonna make the blood look gorgeous, don't you think, uncle?"
Ladd takes Placido's suit and changes into it inside the Russo's black double-decker bus on the way to Chicago's Union Station. He remarks to Lua that it's a perfect fit, and Lua asks him why he didn't kill Placido. That's what he would have done normally. Ladd supposes she's right, but then again -- it's best to go to a party on an empty stomach. Lua closes her eyes and whispers that he's sick, and Ladd cheerfully replies "and you're in love with that sicko, right?" Lua nods but Ladd doesn't even look to check as he announces the "grand opening" of their party to the dozens of his followers.
He and his group arrive at the station at night. There, he vows to massacre every last one of them with joy. His gang also accepts this with high enthusiasm and they board the Second Class car with their carry-on luggage. Ladd is pleased that they are traveling second class, since it isn't the best or the worst and he likes how it's "neither here nor there." He wonders what kind of "filthy rich bastards" are in First Class, and remembers that there was an orchestra in black on the platform. He thinks that their black is a wonderful contrast to the Russo white.
He asks his friends who else they spotted boarding, and one of them pipes up that he'd seen a woman and her daughter board. The man thinks they're Natalie Beriam and Mary Beriam, wife and daughter to Senator Manfred Beriam. Ladd grins and says that a Senator's family is sure to be enjoying life in First Class, not even thinking that something bad might just happen to them. With a smile, he says that it looks like they've found their first victims.
The connecting door to the second class car opens, and in steps a mysterious man dressed in grey. He walks past them and exits through the other connecting door. The White Suits wonder who he is, noting that he sort of looked like a magician. Ladd is filled with excitement at how interesting things are becoming. An orchestra, a Senator's family, and a magician -- perfect. Variety makes things so much more exciting.
During his scrapes with the Lemures he hears the name Huey Laforet.
He later clashes with Jacuzzi Splot's gang, warning him that the White Suits will settle their matters with Jacuzzi after searching for their comrade who had masqueraded as a conductor.
When they arrive at the back of the train, they find the corpse of two conductors. Seeing the gory mess, Ladd is ecstatic and begins to jump madly in the puddles of blood. He is now determined to find out who killed their comrade and vows to inflict murderous vengeance against this antagonist. He tells Lua to go hide somewhere while his gang goes on another killing spree against the Lemures.
Ladd's gang and the Lemures' battles are depicted on varying accounts by the two books, both with successes and failures. Along the way they meet a mysterious boy who asks them to kill all the passengers in the first class cabin, planning to split the money they'll get from this along with the bombs the boy had been hiding. Ladd, infuriated by the boy's condescending attitude and confidence that he will not be killed, shoots his head clean off, rejecting the offer.
He later tells his friends, among them being Who, that they will continue to kill the Lemures and finally kill off the passengers since no ransom will be given. He later climbs on top of the train after one of his friends tells him that someone is waiting for him. There, he meets Chané and the two duel amidst the gusty winds inflicted by the train's speed. They later separate after Chané flees the battle, Ladd in hot pursuit.
Ladd overhears from her allies that they plan to betray her in order to get the secret of immortality from Huey. Ladd drops down from his hiding place and interrogates them before killing them. Once again, Ladd meets with Lua and Who. He asks the grey magician, who is with them, to help his wounded friend, He then tells Lua that he will settle matters once and for all, before setting off in search of Chané.
He later confronts Chané again at the top of the speeding train and reveals that he knows all about her and her father, mocking Huey's immortality and plotting to kill him endlessly. This infuriates Chané and causes her to emotionally lash out at Ladd via her attacks. Their fight is interrupted by a red monster, later revealed to be Claire Stanfield. The two exchange philosophies amidst the duel. At Claire's belief that he is the 'center of the world', Ladd swears that he will kill him. Claire witnesses Lua climbing up to meet Ladd atop the train and predicts that Ladd will throw himself off for Lua.
Claire ties a rope around Lua's neck, and lassos the other end to a metal post that the train is passing by, forcing Ladd to save his fiancee and jump off the train. As he and Lua soar, the rope unravels around Lua's neck -- a fake knot. Ladd shouts in fury at Claire with this revelation, even as parts of his fingers are severed from the high speed of the rope. Realizing they are headed straight for a water tank, he uses his injured left hand to punch the metal itself in order to break their fall.
The police later arrive and find the two of them by the railroad tracks. Ladd reveals the severity of his broken arm and is promptly arrested despite his claims that all his killings were done in self-defense. Ladd's arm is treated, and after he is taken to prison he is told that he will stand trial for the murders and spend his incarceration elsewhere. Ladd asks the officer where Huey Laforet is incarcerated and is told that he is held in Alcatraz.
1933 - The Slash
Ladd's name is mentioned by Ronny Schiatto, who states that he will be transferred to Alcatraz soon with the desire to kill Huey and spite Chané. Intrigued, Huey welcomes this new development.
1934 - Alice in Jails Edit
An old correctional officer recalls the time before Ladd's transferral. He notes that Ladd was placid and cooperative despite the cruelty the officer inflicted upon the prisoners. Ladd had unnerved the officer, and had even asked him how one could transfer into Alcatraz. At the officer's answer, Ladd's violent tendencies show themselves once more.
One day, the prison receives a new prisoner: Gustavo Bagetta. Ladd mocks the large gangster, instigating a fight with at least ten men loyal to him. The officer recounts how the fight ended in a near bloodbath, and how Ladd had gleefully ate his lunch amidst a pile of unconscious bloodied prisoners. Ladd was sent to solitary confinement for a short time after threatening the old officer, warning him that he should never feel like he'll never die. Ladd is subsequently transferred to Alcatraz along with Al Capone, Gustavo and other gangsters - (the correctional officer resigns from his post in order to hide).
The officer narrates how he dreads the day when Ladd is released from Alcatraz, getting the gut wrenching feeling that the mobster is still coming for him. He breaks down in fear, ending the chapter.
(To Be Continued)
In February 1935, Ladd is released from Alcatraz the same day that Nader Schasschule is released from prison/protective custody. Ladd is pleased by Nader's extreme fear of both death and the Russos and declares the other man a friend (much to Nader's dismay). He is curious why Nader is so afraid of the Russos, and what his connection with the Flying Pussyfoot is, but as they're walking he notices that they are being tailed. At the first opportunity, Ladd lobs a brick at the car following them and clambers up onto its roof, punching straight through the roof with his metal prosthetic (and holding up Nader with his other arm). He pulls out the driver with his fake hand, and causes the car to crash through a house.
He and Nader disembark, and Ladd heads for the nearest occupied car. To his luck, the car contains Lua, Graham, and Shaft, and he happily reunites with his fiancée and near-brother. Ladd wants to go visit Firo's casino, but when Shaft informs him that Who is alive and kicking, decides he'll go say hi to Who at Fred's Clinic instead. He gives Nader money and tells him to gamble at Firo's casino in his stead.
(Rest under construction)
Ladd is a trained hitman and formidable fighter. While on the Flying Pussyfoot, Ladd was one of the most effective fighters against the Lemures, second only to the Rail Tracer in terms of brutality.
He prefers to kill using his gun, a Lupara (nicknamed Blasty), using bullets in an orthodox but deadly and effective manner. When shooting he shows remarkable marksmanship.
He is equally dangerous unarmed; as a boxing fan, he seems to have worked on his punches (though he ruefully admits he needs to work on his right hook). It appears that he has improved by 1934, since he is able to take down Gustavo Bagetta with one sharp hit - and snap a table like a pencil using only his real hand.
After losing his left hand and the flesh off his forearm to Claire Stanfield, Ladd had a metal prosthetic bolted to his bones. It is as strong as his other arm, but it can break easily if too much force is used.
Ladd can be manipulative and disarming when he needs to be, and can lull opponents into underestimating him before he makes his move. That being said, he can be emotionally provoked into rashness - when confronted by people like Czes or Claire, his 'bloodlust levels' spike and he wants nothing more than to kill them. He is also a quick judge of character - with one glance at Mark Wilmans in 1935, he can tell that Mark is no ordinary child, with 'death in his eyes.'
Lua Klein - Ladd is sincerely in love with Lua, going so far as to leap off the Flying Pussyfoot to save her life. Frequently, Ladd proclaims that after he has killed everyone in the world, he will kill her last, and that he is the only one who can and will kill her. Lua looks forward to this, and is excited by the prospect of dying (at his hands especially).
Placido Russo - Ladd's relationship with Placido is neither a warm nor friendly one. He tempers Placido's arrogance and is quick to remind him that he could die at any time, clearly enjoying pressing Placido's buttons. Still, he won't go so far as to kill Placido, pointing out that he can at least appreciate his uncle for 'looking after him' all these years. He does not grieve when he learns of Placido's death.
Graham Specter - Ladd views Graham as his honorary little brother (as he calls him in front of Raz Smith, someone Ladd holds contempt for), and has a good understanding of the mechanic's personality - advising others to let Graham blow of steam when he starts ranting. He also thinks highly of Graham as a fighter, easily admitting that Graham is better than he is in a fight. Meanwhile, Graham reveres Ladd and respects him like one might a king.
Firo Prochainezo - The mobster and Ladd form a very unlikely friendship. Ladd knows of Firo's immortality but due to Firo's fear of death, respects him enough to wish him well.
Isaac Dian - Isaac befriends Ladd in Alcatraz. Isaac's complete obliviousness when it comes to the threat of death endears him to Ladd, who compares him to a puppy. Ladd finds him amusing and maintains a healthy friendship with him throughout their incarceration. In 1935, he is honestly pleased to see Isaac again.
Who - Who is Ladd's childhood friend, and he was the one responsible for giving Who the nickname 'Who.' Who is extremely terrified of dying, and it took Ladd hours to convince Who to hijack the Flying Pussyfoot with him. Once Ladd is released from prison in 1935, he acts in a blithe manner concerning Who - he wonders if Who is still alive, but doesn't seem too particular worried about the possibility he might be dead. Still, he is pleased to learn that Who is alive after all, and he goes out of his way to visit Who at his new workplace.
Nader Schasschule - Nader's fear of death catches Ladd's interest, and he is further interested in Nader after he learns that Nader is on the Russos' bad side and was involved with the Flying Pussyfoot. Ladd himself has declared that he and Nader are friends, despite the fact that Nader wants nothing to do with him.
Huey Laforet - Ladd despises Huey for thinking that he is invincible. Ever since the Lemures mentioned Huey's invincibility and lack of fear, Ladd has been plotting to get closer to Huey in order to subject him to eternal pain and death until Huey wishes for death himself.
Chané Laforet - Due to Chané's love and loyalty to her father, she and Ladd are at each other's throats and will no doubt fight to the death when they meet again. Ladd's desires to kill Huey in part to spite Chané.
Claire Stanfield - Ladd and Claire fought on board the Flying Pussyfoot, where their differing ideologies clashed heavily. Ladd has sworn his vengeance against Claire, and hates him to his core.
- Ladd was probably born in late December 1906, given that he tells Czes on the Flying Pussyfoot that he has 'just turned 25' in the anime (original Japanese sub).
- His prisoner ID in Alcatraz was 302010.
- Ladd is Ryohgo Narita's favorite character.
- The Russo Family is actually an Italian Family that migrated to North America in the late 1800s. However, they were not associated with the underground mafias.
- Ladd has claimed that he is weaker than Jack Dempsey, a famous boxer. Ryohgo Narita, the series' creator, has confirmed this to be true.