Facts About Black Mask:
We all know DC Comics has one of the greatest galleries of supervillains in comic book history. To be precise, Gotham, in general, sees a lot of very well-acclaimed and extremely well-received villains spring up every now and then. And one such villain that has recently seen a massive spurt in popularity is the Black Mask. Black Mask is a classic DC Comic book villain and a nemesis of Batman. He is going to make his live-action debut in the upcoming DC Extended Universe Birds of Prey movie. It is about time we learn a little bit about this guy. Some facts might blow your mind away.
1. His face is actually a mask permanently melted over his skin
There are several iterations of how Roman Sionis gained his signature Black Mask look. In one storyline, Sionis becomes the leader of a gang and starts carrying out anti-social and criminal activities before he gets the attention of Batman and Robin. In another issue, a fire in one of the many Bruce Wayne’s events held in Gotham gets to his face and his face is permanently charred to the bone and a mask melted onto his face. But at the end of the day, Sionis still wears that mask not out of his own volition but due to the machinations of fate.
2. He is one of Gotham’s greatest Crime Lords to have ever lived
There are a lot of criminals in Gotham City but only a select few could be considered to get up to the mark of the legends. Don Falcone, the Ventriloquist, and the Penguin are a few that come to mind. Using their cunning and connections, they became the kings of Gotham’s underworld. Black Mask is also one of Gotham’s most gifted Crime Lords. The difference between him and the rest of the Crime Lords operating in Gotham City is that where Penguin uses his wit or where Carmine Falcone uses his family name to keep his men in line, Black Mask uses fear to do the same.
3. He almost drove Batman insane via torture
When we say Black Mask likes torturing people, we actually mean it. It is part of his signature set of skills. Black Mask believes torture is an art-form and instead of an interrogation technique, it is better suited for brain-washing people. Whenever there is an interrogation session with a hostage Black Mask’s men have captured, Roman Sionis prefers performing and supervising the torture sessions himself. In one issue, his men even captured Batman and the amount of physical stress that Black Mask put Batman through almost drove even the Dark Knight insane. And mind you, Batman has trained himself extensively to endure the greatest levels of pain and he still could not take on Black Mask.
4. He is a childhood friend of the Batman
As a child, Roman Sionis was born to a very wealthy and super-rich family of Gotham City. He was part of the elite few, the superclass of Gotham. But Sionis hated everything that was at his disposal. Ever since he was a child, Sionis was forced to put on a façade so that he does not smother the family name. He never liked his family or any of the elite families in general but he hated Bruce Wayne in particular. Gotham’s poster boy, Bruce Wayne had everything that Sionis never could – a pair of loving parents and immeasurable wealth and power. When Sionis lost his company and went bankrupt, his hatred for Bruce only grew exponentially, effecting his transition into the Black Mask.
5. He is mentally insane
Black Mask used to be a sane person and a successful businessman. He was a well-respected member of society. But his downfall, both economically and psychologically, was very extreme. What Joker faced in a day in his “One Bad Day”, Sionis experienced in small amounts, over a period of time that steadily drove him insane. Sionis then started wearing the Black Mask, first given to him by his psychiatrist as a tool to help his mental condition. The more he wore it, the more he started to feel invincible. A few strokes of luck later, Sionis started believing that the Black Mask had supernatural powers and he will remain undefeated as long as he keeps wearing it.
6. Commanded DC Comics’ largest Criminal Empire to ever exist
In a very short span of time, Black Mask did what nobody else before him could. Outsmart Batman to become Gotham’s greatest Crime Lord with the world’s most powerful organized crime unit at his disposal. The situation only became worse for Batman as he decided to wait it out. At one point in time, Black Mask had amassed so much power and wealth that Batman feared that going against him would only aggravate matters. It took the combined might of Red Hood and Batman to take the guy down for good. Even then, he remained a huge threat and a force to be reckoned with.
7. He became Batman
The acclaimed War Games storyline has a lot of twists and turns. But the one that will always be remembered, other than the ‘death’ of Spoiler aka Stephanie Brown, was the great reveal of Black Mask to be the new Batman. He was not doing it for helping people though. Black Mask had his own ulterior motifs to put on the mask. He was trying to manipulate people and almost succeeded as well until the Joker immediately saw through him and made him then and there. He was later shot by the Clown Prince of Crime in the same storyline.
8. He started the False Face Society
The False Face Society is a group of powerful criminals that began as a motley gang of small-time thieves and murderers. It was founded and started by none other than Black Mask. While the group soon lost its charm and wealth as well as more or less disbanded later, the False Face Society still holds a special place in Black Mask’s origin story for being the first-ever criminal organization started by the world’s most powerful crime lord to have ever lived. We will always remember the League of Assassins or the Court of Owls, the False Face Society, at its peak, was strong enough to challenge these organizations’ hegemony in Gotham.
Roman Sionis was a complicated man with a very tumultuous past. But the reason he was driven to the edge of sanity and eventually fell into the cliff was none other than his parents. And that is exactly why he committed parricide – the act of killing your own parents. Roman began to hate his parents so much that he could not take it anymore and started a fire that trapped his parents, who burned to death. Sionis later got ownership of the Sionis Company, which he eventually drove into bankruptcy.
10. There are more than one Black Masks
Many do not know but Roman Sionis’ father was also a career criminal and operated under the code name – “The Mask”. That was a revelation that came to us only after the launch of DC Rebirth. In another arc, a new Black Mask came into the scene. He was even more ruthless and smarter than the Original Black Mask. He is later revealed to be Jeremiah Arkham, the gifted nephew of Doctor Amadeus Arkham, founder of the Arkham Asylum. Jeremiah reveals that he lost his sanity after being exposed to too much of the crazy mental patients in the Arkham Asylum. He also reveals he was exposed to some dangerous criminals that affected his neurology and drove him mad.
The last movie to be released under the DC Banner is Joker. The movie is currently in theatres. The official film synopsis for the movie reads:
Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Arthur Fleck seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. Arthur wears two masks — the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he’s part of the world around him. Isolated, bullied and disregarded by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as The Joker.