Ludwig was the first born child of two globetrotting musicians and was named for the composer Ludwig van Beethoven in hopes of his following in their footsteps to become a musician. Ludwig was born with skeletal features that caused the midwife to scream on the belief that she had delivered a corpse. Ludwig's father believed that he would fill out with age, but he never did. Ludwig and his younger brother Wolfgang's names were the subject of much ridicule of the children in the rough Hackney neighborhood where they grew up, particularly due to their Germanic sound, and the emergence of war with Germany. Ludwig's skeletal looks were also a point of mockery. The Smiths learned to fight in order to gain respect, and quickly earned it through their prowess.
As adults the Smiths made their talent their career, and joined the Sabini Mafia where they killed two men in a street fight, which forced them to go into hiding in France for two years. During this time, Ludwig learned of the old French street gangs of the early 1900s, and had two Apaches made in the style of the French gangsters. When the Smiths returned to England, they found their services in high demand and were met with steady employment as freelance assassins. While hired out to Sir John Charnage, a schoolboy witnessed some of their activity, and necessitated their chasing him down in their car. They found the boy's car on fire after it dove off a bridge, and Ludwig refused to search the bank, not wanting to get his best shoes muddy, but Wolfgang threatened to tell their employer if they didn't, but they had to drive away quickly when an exploding spark plug took off Wolfgang's ear. After the boy broke into Charnage's house, the Smiths were sent to Highgate Cemetery to search for him, and after a brutal fistfight the Smiths left with serious injuries. When they returned, Ludwig got his brother inside, and ran back out when their car exploded. After it was extinguished, Ludwig found the boy in the Paradice Casino, and took him to Charnage, where they poisoned him with lethal amounts of gin. Ludwig and Wolfgang were then tasked with dumping the boy in the ocean, but on the way out of the Thames he set the boat on fire and caused Wolfgang to lose the fingers on his left hand.
They then returned to Charnage's ship, the Amoras, where he attempted to blame his failures on Ludwig and his brother. Colonel Irina Sedova, who was in charge of the operation, had Ludwig kill Charnage for his incompetency. Shortly after, the ship began to go out of control, causing Ludwig to try to sever the tow lines to get it into open water and on the way to the Soviet Union, while Wolfgang went after the boy, but when Ludwig cut the taut tow cable, it went whipping back with such force that it cut Wolfgang in half. Ludwig then chased the boy into the navigation cabin, and followed him onto a cargo net that had swung over it, and attempted to do the boy in before being crushed between the ship and the wall of the dock.