Black Mask (01 - Roman Sionis)
Real Name: Roman Sionis
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Roman Sionis was born into one of Gotham City�s elite families, to parents who were wealthy and utterly self-absorbed, caring more about their social status than their son; moments after his birth, the doctor carelessly dropped him on his head. Roman's parents were less concerned about their son's well-being and more concerned about covering up the entire incident out of fear of how their wealthy friends would react to the news of their son's injury. A second incident occurred when he was a child. While at the Sinois family country estate he was attacked by a rabid raccoon. This incident was also covered up by the Sionis family, with Roman being forbidden from mentioning it to anyone.
Further adding to the cauldron was his father's "friendship" with Thomas Wayne; both of Roman's parents disliked the Waynes and were quite vocal about it in private with their son. However, to their son's dismay, they continued to associate with Thomas and Martha Wayne and pretended to be friends with the couple, to the extent of literally forcing him to become friends with their son, Bruce. His parents' hypocrisy had a deep impact on him, and he grew to hate and resent them and the "masks" they wore in public.
When he graduated high school, Sionis was given a high ranking position inside his fathers company, Janus Cosmetics. It was there that he met and fell in love with Circe, a young working class secretary. His parents didn't approve of the relationship and made it clear that they wanted the romance ended. Enraged, Roman burned down the family's mansion, killing both of his parents. Upon their deaths he inherited the family fortune and business. As Roman wasn't the businessman his father was he ended up ruining Janus Cosmetics by funding a line of face-paint make-up which failed. In desperation he threw large sums of money at the staff chemists to create a product to save the company, and what came back to him was a kind of water-proof make up. The product was rushed to market without proper testing, and once it hit the market turned out to be a deadly toxin which disfigured several hundred women.
Circe, now Sionis' fiancé, broke up with him in front of his entire staff. At that time, now successful mogul Bruce Wayne offered to bail out the company on the condition that Sionis give up control and allow Wayne to appoint his own Board of Directors. Sionis agreed, but was furious at the perceived humiliation and dramatic loss of face he had suffered. He went to the family mausoleum and broke his mother's ebony coffin lid and carved a mask from a large chunk of it, becoming Black Mask as he had always been obsessed with masks, and the idea that a person becomes someone else when they wear one.
Sionis found he had an amazing aptitude for crime, and he soon had a large gang working for him. Calling them the False Face Society, the one requirement was that all members must select a mask from his collection and wear it at all times when on the job and in his presence. They were successfully gaining power in the Gotham underworld, until Black Mask decided it was time to take his revenge on Bruce Wayne. He began kidnapping Wayne Enterprise executives, putting masks on their faces that were coated in the deadly make-up once made by Janus Cosmetics. He also targeted Circe and forcibly disfigured her with the chemicals in order to force her to reunite with him. Circe would ultimately kill herself, leading Black Mask to replace her with a mannequin that he talked to as if it were a real person.
These kidnappings drew Batman's attention, and he began hunting down the False Facers. He slowly began to dismantle the organization until he finally found Black Mask in the ruins of the Sionis Family home. Black Mask lit the wreckage on fire trying to escape, but was caught in the burning house. Batman was able to save him, but the mask had been burned onto his face and left him disfigured.
Black Mask spent some time in Arkham Asylum, but escaped when Bane assaulted the facility in Knightfall and subsequently restarted the False Facers. He took on a new second-in-command, called Tattoo (whose face was covered in a tattoo mask pattern), and he began burning down Wayne properties. This time he also kidnapped Lucius Fox, CEO of Waynetech and friend of Bruce Wayne. Batman infiltrated the gang and was able to save Fox from Black Mask's torture, and even brought in Tattoo, but Black Mask escaped.
Some time later, Black Mask reappeared as a mob-boss/cult figure who had given up his vendetta against Bruce Wayne. Making allegiance with the Penguin at some times, working alone at others, he controlled much of Gotham's underworld until the city was destroyed by an earthquake and declared by the government to be a "No Man's Land."
Sionis discarded the ebony mask, believing his scars to be a sign of his strength and determination to survive. By now completely insane, he led a cult whose trademark was ritual scarring, killing anyone who refused to join. He led a powerful group until Batman and Huntress dissolved it. Sionis was imprisoned in Blackgate Penitentiary, but he managed to escape before the city was made a part of the country again.
Black Mask had lost much of his power base, and it took him some time to rebuild his empire. He began a drug trafficking ring and decided to move his organization into Gotham's East End, drawing the attention of Catwoman, who had sworn to protect that area of the city.
Catwoman interfered in Black Mask's plans, stealing money from him and giving it to the poor, and injuring many of his men. Black Mask decided he wanted to remove the problem, and so found an old friend of Selina Kyle's, Sylvia Sinclair, who was working in the Gotham mobs. She revealed Catwoman's secret identity to him, and he began a campaign of terror against her. He blew up the new youth center she had endowed with the stolen money, hounded her, and kidnapped her sister and brother-in-law. Black Mask tortured Catwoman's brother-in-law brutally in front of her sister, and then made the woman eat pieces of her husband's corpse.
Catwoman arrived to find her brother-in-law dead, her sister insane, and her friend Holly on the verge of being tortured. She attacked Black Mask, and the two of them fought across his penthouse. At the end of the battle, Black Mask fell from the top of the building, leaving everyone to assume he was dead.
When Tim Drake quit his role as Robin in order to honor a promise to his father, Batman chose Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, to replace him. Batman quickly discovered that her lack of focus and self-absorption made her a danger to herself and others, and fired her. Desperate to prove herself, she took one of Batman's contingency plans and set it into action with the intent of shepherding it to a successful conclusion. The plan was to get all of Gotham's crime lords under the control of Orpheus, an agent of Batman, and therefore under the control of Batman himself. The plan failed because Spoiler was unaware that a key contact with the crime lords, Matches Malone, was actually another alter ego of Batman himself. When "Matches Malone" did not appear as expected, the tension at the meeting accidentally degenerated into a firefight, leaving many dead and wounded. This created a power vacuum that quickly erupted into a brutal gang war on the streets of Gotham.
Desperate to rectify the situation, Spoiler sought Orpheus, believing that if she could enlist his help there might still be a chance to bring the plan to some sort of successful conclusion. As she finished telling Orpheus his role in the plan, Black Mask murdered him by slitting his throat in front of Spoiler. He then tortured Spoiler for the rest of information on the plan.
Black Mask assumed Orpheus' identity, using face putty and padding, (as seen in 'Batman: War Games, Act 2') managing to fool even Batman and Onyx. As Orpheus he fanned the flames of the crisis, driving Gotham's criminal element into a bloodthirsty, destructive mob seeking to kill any member or associate of the Batman Family. He then returned to torture Spoiler for his own enjoyment only to find that she had escaped. Black Mask soon tracked her down again and they fought. Spoiler managed to overcome Black Mask and get away, but was left with severe internal injuries.
Black Mask then infiltrated Oracle's Clocktower in an attempt to expose her to the criminal mob. Batman attacked him in a blind rage and Oracle, fearful for Batman's life, was forced to activate a self-destruct device in the tower to get Batman to save her.
In the end, the Spoiler died due to the injuries inflicted on her and the willful negligence of Leslie Thompkins. (Although a recent retcon states that Black Mask "tortured and killed" Stephanie Brown in current continuity.)
Black Mask then rose to become the overlord of the Gotham underworld.
Allied with reporter Arturo Rodriguez, Black Mask began a campaign to discredit Batman. While Rodriguez slammed Batman in the press, Black Mask committed a series of murders disguised as Batman. This plan was complicated by the arrival of the Joker. Black Mask was intent on killing the Clown Prince of Crime and framing Batman for it, but the Joker wanted to kill Black Mask, because he robbed him of the opportunity to kill another Robin. The two nearly killed each other before Batman intervened. Batman eventually exposed Rodriguez and finally managed to capture Black Mask. However, while being taken to jail, he managed to kill the escorting officer and escape again.
The assassin Deathstroke later approached Black Mask offering him a place within The Society. Eager to strengthen his increasingly tenuous grip on the underworld (Batman and the new Red Hood had both been targeting his operations), he accepted, and Captain Nazi, one of the Hyenas, and Count Vertigo were sent after Batman and Red Hood. However, these villains were defeated, and Batman ultimately prevented the Society from securing a foothold in Gotham.
In an attempt to "improve himself" after this debacle, Black Mask threatened the most important people in Catwoman's life, from Slam Bradley to Holly Robinson. Still thinking that she adhered to a strict no-kill rule, Black Mask was caught by surprise when Catwoman retaliated by shooting him in the head and blowing off his jaw, killing him.
After the shooting, Selina Kyle passed the mantle of Catwoman to her friend Holly. Not long after, Holly was arrested for the killing of Black Mask.
First Appearance: Batman (1940) #386
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Arkham Asylum (1989)
#56 Batgirl (2009)
- 'War Games, Act 2, Part 6 of 8: Collateral Damage'#57
- 'War Games, Act 3, Part 6 of 8: Ground Zero'
TPB Batman (1986)
- 'Under The Hood Vol. 2'TPB
- 'Under The Hood Vol. 1'TPB
- 'Under The Red Hood'TPB (3rd Printing)
- 'Under the Red Hood'#386
- 'Black Mask: Losing Face'#387
- 'Ebon Masquery'#400
- 'Resurrection Night!'#484
- 'Faces of Death'#497
- 'Knightfall, Part 11: The Broken Bat'#518
- 'Black Mask: The Spidered Face'#519
- 'Black Spider: Web of Scars'#519 (2nd Print)
- 'Black Spider: Web of Scars'#565
- 'No Man's Land: Mosaic, Part One'#632
- 'War Games, Act 2, Part 8 of 8: Orpheus in the Underworld'#633
- 'War Games, Act 3, Part 8 of 8: No Going Back'#634
- 'War Games, Epilogue: Decompression'#635
- 'Under the Hood, Part 1: New Business'#636
- 'Under the Hood, Part 2: First Strike'#637
- 'Under the Hood, Part 3: Overnight Deliveries'#638
- 'Under the Hood, Part 4: Bidding War'#638 (Jason Todd 2nd Printing Cover)
- 'Under the Hood, Part 4: Bidding War'#639
- 'Family Reunion, Part 1: The Word on the Street'#640
- 'Family Reunion, Part 2: While the Cat's Away'#642
- 'Breaking the Skin'#643
- 'War Crimes, Part 2: Minor Discrepancies'#644
- 'War Crimes, Part 4: Judgment At Gotham'#645
- 'Show Me Yesterday, For I Can't Find Today'#646
- 'Franchise, Part 1: Supply Side Economics'#647
- 'Franchise, Part 2: The Away Team'#648
- 'All They Do is Watch Us Kill, Part 1'#649
- 'All They Do is Watch Us Kill, Part 2'
#202 Batman Arkham: Killer Croc (2016)
- 'El Último Arkham'#203
- 'El Último Arkham'
TPB Batman Arkham: The Riddler (2015)
- 'Batman Arkham: Killer Croc'
TPB Batman by Doug Moench & Kelley Jones (2014)
- 'Batman Arkham: The Riddler'
Batman Legends (2003)
Batman Villains Secret Files (1998)
Batman Villains Secret Files and Origins 2005 (2005)
Batman: Azyl Arkham (2005)
Batman: Bullock's Law (1999)
Batman: Crimson Mist (1999)
Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2002)
nn Batman: Gotham Knights (2000)
- 'Setups (Mattel Facsimile Edition)'#1
#56 Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged (2012)
- 'War Games, Act 1, Part 4 of 8: Rules of Engagment'#57
- 'War Games, Act 2, Part 4 of 8: The Light at the End of the Tunnel'#58
- 'War Games, Act 3, Part 5 of 8: Flight Risk'
TPB Batman: Joker's Asylum (2008)
- 'Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged'
Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition (2014)
Batman: Knightfall (1993)
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (1989)
#183 Batman: Masterpieces (1998)
- 'War Games: Act 2, Part 2 of 8: Philosophical Differences'#184
- 'War Games: Act 3, Part 2 of 8: The Road to Hell'
Batman: No Man's Land (1999)
Batman: Shadow of the Bat (1992)
TPB Batman: Unseen (2009)
- 'Batman: The Last Arkham'TPB vol. 01
- 'Batman: Shadow of the Bat Volume 1'#3
- 'The Last Arkham, Part Three'#4
- 'The Last Arkham, Part Four'
TPB Batman: War Crimes (2006)
- 'Batman: Unseen'#1
Batman: War Games (2005)
Birds of Prey (1999)
Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns (2010)
HC Catwoman (2002)
- 'Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns'TPB
- 'Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns'
2nd Edition TPB vol. 01 Catwoman Secret Files and Origins (2002)
- 'Trail of the Catwoman'TPB vol. 02
- 'Crooked Little Town'TPB vol. 03
- 'Relentless'TPB vol. 05
- 'The Replacements'TPB vol. 06
- 'It's Only A Movie'TPB vol. 07
- 'Catwoman Dies'#9
- 'Disguises, part four of four'#14
- 'Relentless Part Three'#15
- 'Relentless Part Four'#16
- 'Relentless Part Five'#35
- 'War Games, Act 2, Part 7 of 8: Betrayal'#36
- 'War Games, Act 3, Part 7 of 8: Multiple Fronts'#43
- 'Pest Control'#49
- 'The One You Love, conclusion'#50
- 'Backward Masking, Part One'#51
- 'Backward Masking, Part Two'#52
- 'Backward Masking, Conclusion'#54
- '1 Year Later: the replacements, part two'#58
- 'Memories Are Made of This'#62
- 'Sons and Daughters'#71
- 'Mother's Day, Part One'#83
- 'Night and the City'
Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years (2015)
Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes (2010)
HC Detective Comics (1937)
- 'Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes'
#553 Gotham City Sirens (2009)
- 'The False Face Society of Gotham'#566
- 'Know Your Foes'#566 (Newsstand Edition)
- 'Know Your Foes'#684
- 'Darkest Day'#697
- 'No Man's Land: Mosaic, Part Two'#798
- 'War Games Act 2, Part 1: Undertow'#799
- 'War Games Act 3, Part 1: Good Intentions'#800
- 'Alone at Night'#808
- 'City of Crime, Part 8: The New Face'#809
- 'War Crimes Part 1: To the Victor Goes the Spoils'#810
- 'War Crimes Part 3: A Consequence of Truth'
#2 Green Arrow (1988)
- 'Girls Talk'#13
- 'Sister Zero, Part 2 of 2'#22
- 'Judgment On Gotham Part Three: Family Matters'
Joker's Asylum II: The Riddler (2010)
#1 JSA (1999)
- 'The House the Cards Built'
Legends of the Dark Knight [I] (2012)
#11 Legends of the Dark Knight [II] (2012)
- 'Slam! Part 1 of 3'#12
- 'Slam! Part 2 of 3'#13
- 'Slam! Part 3 of 3'#22
- 'Carved Part 1 of 1'#54
- 'Riddler in the Dark Part 2 of 3'#55
- 'Riddler in the Dark Part 3 of 3'
Legends of the Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular (2014)
#2 Nightwing (1996)
- 'Man-Bat: The Return, Part Two'#3
- 'Man-Bat: The Return, Part Three'#4
- 'Man-Bat: The Return, Part Four'#5
- 'Man-Bat: The Return, Conclusion'
#1 Nightwing Secret Files (1999)
- 'Child of Justice'#35
- 'No Man's Land: Escape to Blackgate, Part One: The Belly of the Beast'#36
- 'No Man's Land: Escape to Blackgate, Part Two: Nothing But Time'#37
- 'No Man's Land: Escape to Blackgate, Part Three: Escape from Blackgate'#97
- 'War Games, Act 2, Part 3 of 8: Clarification'#98
- 'War Games, Act 3, Part 3 of 8: Casualty of War'#109
- 'Cold Turkey'
#130 Secret Files President Luthor (2001)
- 'War Games, Act 2, Part 5 of 8: The Only Light in Gotham'#131
- 'War Games, Act 3, Part 4 of 8: Too Many Ghosts'
Tales of the Multiverse: Batman - Vampire (2008)
The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
HC Who's Who In The DC Universe Update 1993 (1992)
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia'HC
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated And Expanded'
- 'Abra Kadabra to Yankee Doodle Dandee'
Video Game Appearances:
Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)
Black Lantern Corps
False Face Society of Gotham
Secret Society of Super-Villains (03-Current)
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