- "I'm going to kill you, have a beautiful laugh, then dance until I go mad."
- —Ladd Russo
Ladd Russo (ラッド・ルッソ Raddo Russo) is a violent hitman from the Russo Family. He is known for his blood-lust and obsession with killing anyone who thinks that they're safe from death.
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 look pretty 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 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. He's very intelligent, but can sometimes get too excited. 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. Chane Laforet), people who are cognizant of their own mortality (e.g. Firo and Neider) 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 retreated from Chane 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. He now holds a grudge against Vino, who is now toward the top of his personal kill list. Vino is second only to Huey Laforet on the list, but only because Huey was in the same prison as Ladd.
Ladd forms unlikely friendships with people such as Isaac Dian and Firo Prochainezo, and decides to become friends with Neider Schasschule 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, someone who he vowed to kill after finding out that Huey is the father of Chane Laforet. Chane's devotion to her father as well as the fact that he could not die only increased Ladd's determination to kill Huey for his own satisfaction.
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 Russo's office on December 30, 1931 to tell him that he plans to rob The Flying Pussyfoot and threaten to crash it into Grand Central Station, since the Family has been having money troubles. Irritated, Placido calls for someone to get his nephew out. 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 finds Chane Laforet and the two duel amidst the gusty winds inflicted bythe train's speed. They later separate after Chane flees the battle, Ladd in hot pursuit.
Later, Ladd loses Chane, but 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 Chane.
He later confronts Chane 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 Chane 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 words about their philosophies amidst the duel. Hearing Claire's belief that he is 'center of the world', Ladd vows to kill this new man. Claire sees Lua climbing up to meet Ladd atop the train and predicts that Ladd will throw himself off for Lua.
Claire ties Lua around a noose against a post, forcing Ladd to save his fiancee and jump off the train. It turns out that the noose was fake. He swears revenge against Claire as they are flung out of the train. He uses his wounded arm to break their fall by punching a water tank with his arm, losing it arm and bleeding almost to death.
The police later arrives to fetch the two of them. Ladd reveals the severity of his broken arm and is promptly arrested despite his claims that the massacres onboard the train were an act of self-defense. Lua is separated from him but they vow to meet each other again. Ladd is subsequently taken to prison and is told that he will stand trial for the murders and be imprisoned elsewhere. Ladd asks the officer where Huey Laforet is incarcerated and is told that he is held in Alcatraz. Ladd says nothing else and smiles, ending his involvement with the immortals until later. Despite this, the Russo family's troubles continue in 1934.
1933 - The Slash
Ladd gets an offhanded mention from Ronny Schiatto, who states that he will be transferring to Alcatraz soon in order to fulfill his desire to kill Huey Laforet and spite Chane. Intrigued, Huey welcomes this.
1934 - Alice in Jails Edit
An old correctional officer recalls the time before Ladd was transferred to Alcatraz. He notes the young killer's placid attitude and cooperation despite the cruelty the officer would inflict upon prisoners. Ladd creeped the officer out, even asking how would one be able to get a transfer to Alcatraz. The officer tells Ladd so, prompting Ladd to revert back to his extremely violent tendencies.
One day, Gustavo arrives after being jailed for the drug incident of 1932, causing a ruckus in the prison. Ladd mocks the large gangster and summons a fight with 10 men or more who were loyal to Gustavo. The officer recounts how the fight ended in a near blood bath while Ladd 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, saying that he should never feel like he'll never die because death comes unexpectedly. Subsequently, Ladd was transferred to Alcatraz along with Al Capone and other gangsters - however, the correctional officer resigns from his post in order to hide.
He 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. The officer breaks down in fear, ending the chapter.
<To Be Continued>
Ladd is a trained hitman and formidable fighter. While on the Flying Pussyfoot, Ladd was capable of doing the most damage to the Black Suits (aka the Lemures) than any other hijacker, second only to the Rail Tracer. As he was the Leader of the White Suits, it is assumed that he was the most deadly and powerful fighter. This is notable since this group was made up of highly experienced assassins and hitmen. Ladd prefers to kill using his gun, a Lupara he has named Blasty, using bullets in an orthodox but deadly and effective manner. When shooting he shows remarkable marksmanship, usuallingaims for vital parts of the body and blasting them with deadly accuracy. Using his fists, he can savagely disfigure one's face; however, he notes himself that he needs to work on his right hook. It appears that he has improved by 1934, as he is able to defeat Gustavo Runorata with one clear hit and snap a table like a pencil using only his right hand. Ladd is able to combine melee combat and marksmanship skills, as seen when he fights one-on-one with Chane Laforet (the Lemures' strongest fighter). In the anime opening, Ladd was shown throwing darts with great accuracy. However, after losing his left hand to the Rail Tracer, he suffered a significant loss to his capabilities and had to resort to becoming a lot stronger at what he could still do. Additionally, his new prosthetic has been stated to be attached to his bones which means that hitting something with too much strength could be fatal.
While it isn't shown in the anime adaptation, Ladd is also a brilliant manipulator and is extremely good at reading people and piecing together information. All of his schemes are extremely well-planned-out acts to lull opponents into underestimating him or fear him so much they begin making mistakes. Only Czeslaw and the Rail Tracer genuinely disgusted him enough that he completely lost it and went berserk on them.
Ladd is infamous in the underground world because of his enjoyment at killing. According to Placido Russo, even 'homicidal nutcases' are wary of Ladd, further elaborating on his abilities. He also stated, when Ladd left the organization, that other mafia families put more pressure on the Russos when informed of Ladd's departure. Most of the Russo Family's people felt incredible respect for the assassin, as when he left, many people also left stating that they had 'nothing else to do'.
While not usually shown, Ladd is an expert improviser and is very quick to react to unplanned occurrences. When hurtling off of a train at a deadly speed, he used his own arm to punch a tower in order to save his own life and Lua's.
As a member of the Russo family, he has access to all of the family's sources of income and influence. With his incarceration, the family fell into disarray and suffered greatly without the fear that Ladd struck into their enemies. As the leader of the White Suits, he was in charge of the hijacking, and expertly coordinated all the unexpected occurrences to his own advantage. With his leadership, he made sure that his men suffered far less casualties than the Black Suits while doing considerable damage to them as well. Though he did not take into account the Rail Tracer, he was one of the few who even theorized that there was another faction on the train (Goose was the only other person to do so). He also had a large amount of influence over Graham Specter's gang, as Graham was his underling. It is unknown whether Graham was Ladd's only underling, but Graham may be all he needs, as he is a powerful individual in his own right.
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 will be the only one to kill her. This is a sign of affection between them.
Graham Specter - Ladd has a brotherly relationship with Graham that extends to a sort of rivalry. After Ladd defeats Graham in a fight, he decides to let him live, as Graham fought well and accepted his death by a man better than him. Graham is now a close underling of Ladd and admires him as one would a sacred 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. Ladd thinks that Isaac is too 'out of it' to threaten, noting that he is oblivious when it comes to the matter of death. Ladd finds him amusing and maintains a healthy friendship with him throughout their incarceration.
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).
Chane Laforet - Due to Chane'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 desire to kill Huey is in order to spite Chane.
Claire Stanfield - Ladd and Claire fought on board the Flying Pussyfoot, where their differing ideologies clashed heavily. Ladd has sworn his vengeance against Claire.
- Ladd was probably born in late December of 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 1800's. 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.