Black Mask

Black Mask

(pop culture)
“Crazier than the Joker! Deadlier than Ra's al Ghul!”—or so read the cover of Batman #386 (1985), introducing Black Mask. Janus Cosmetics falls into the hands of Roman Sionis, heir to the firm worth millions, once his parents die in a suspicious fire. After he bankrupts the company it is acquired by Bruce (Batman) Wayne, against whom Sionis swears reprisal. Sionis etches an ebon mask from his father's casket lid and, in a pinstripe suit and fedora, becomes Gotham City's newest crime boss, Black Mask, ordering hits on several of Wayne's employees and consequently attracting an investigation by Batman. In a climactic clash, Sionis is critically burned, his mask permanently bonding to his disfigured flesh. (This story unfolded in three chapters, each written by Doug Moench, continuing in Detective Comics #553 and Batman #387, both 1985; Tom Mandrake drew the Batman chapters, and Klaus Janson, the Detective installment). Longtime Batman scribe Moench used Black Mask sporadically over the next ten years, in one case pairing him with fellow felon Black Spider. After Gotham City was partially destroyed by an earthquake in the “No Man's Land” storyline (1999), Black Mask emerged as a major adversary in the Batman family of titles, tangling with (in addition to the Dark Knight) Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Catwoman. Black Mask no longer wears his facial covering, exposing his grotesque, charcoallike features, which were carved into plastic in a 2005 DC Direct action figure. A master torturer, Black Mask takes psychotic glee in mutilating his foes' faces. He has been presumed dead in the past but has returned to plague Gotham with his sadistically brutal crimes.