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Supervillain Origins: Black Mask

VOICE OVER: Dan
Roman Sionis was once the son of a wealthy Gotham family that made its fortune creating cosmetic products. However, his parents didn't care for wealth; instead they were preoccupied with their status among Gotham City's elite. Because of this, they cozied themselves with the likes of the Wayne family, and forced Roman to befriend their son Bruce. Enraged, he burned his parents to death in a fire and inherited the Janus Cosmetics Corporation. Forced to resign after a buyout by Wayne Industries, he swore vengeance on Bruce Wayne, and carved himself a mask from his father's coffin. Join http://www.WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of The Black Mask.
Transcript
Supervillain Origins: Black Mask

This sociopath and underworld crime lord is best known for his long-running vendetta with Bruce Wayne and Catwoman. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origins of Roman Sionis, otherwise known as the Black Mask.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline, which unfolded in 1985’s Batman #386 and was expanded upon in 2002’s Catwoman #16, and 2010’s Batman #697.

Roman Sionis was once the son of a wealthy Gotham family that made its fortune creating cosmetic products. However, his parents didn't care for wealth; instead they were preoccupied with their status among Gotham City's elite. Because of this, they cozied themselves with the likes of the Wayne family, and forced Roman to befriend their son Bruce.

Roman felt his parents were living behind a mask. The last straw came when they forbid him from dating the company's secretary, with whom he had fallen in love. Enraged, Roman burnt his parents to death in a fire. He subsequently inherited the Janus Cosmetics Corporation and became obsessed with collecting masks. However, he was soon forced to resign after one of his decisions led to the creation of a deadly skin product, and the company's subsequent buyout by Wayne Industries.

Deprived of his legacy, he swore vengeance on Bruce Wayne. As he became increasingly unstable and deranged, he was motivated to dig up his father’s grave and create a skull-like mask from the wood of the coffin.

Taking up the identity of the Black Mask, he began exacting his revenge by targeting the executives of Wayne Tech. With the help of his gang of masked henchmen called the “False Face Society,” he killed them using the same hazardous cosmetics he had once manufactured.

Batman responded by hunting down and dismantling the False Face Society. This led to a confrontation in which Black Mask and Batman sparred in the ruins of the Sionis family home. Black Mask attempted to kill Batman by starting a fire but he himself was burned and the flames fused the mask to his face.

Black Mask was then apprehended and sent to Arkham Asylum. However, he escaped and resumed his evil deeds. Most notably, he re-built the False Face Society, led a cult and allied with the Penguin. The Black Mask also launched more attacks on Wayne Industries, and started a drug trafficking ring in Gotham’s East End.

Consequently, Catwoman, who had sworn to protect that part of the city, began stealing his money in order to help the poor. Black Mask took it upon himself to teach her a lesson in response: he brutally murdered her brother-in-law, and made her sister eat pieces of the corpse. Catwoman then faced off with the villain, after which he fell to his apparent death.

However, the Black Mask survived. He eventually re-emerged to become the undisputed leader of a power vacuum Batman had created within the criminal underworld. He similarly took it upon himself to brutally murder Stephanie Brown, a new Robin with whom Batman had parted ways. Catwoman ultimately tracked Black Mask down and, despite her personal beliefs against killing, took her revenge.

Roman Sionis’ death led the insane head of the asylum, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham to adopt the Black Mask persona and fill his shoes in the underworld. As a result, the greatest criminal strategist in Batman’s rogues gallery continues to cause trouble for the dark knight and Gotham's citizens.

In response to his rising popularity among Batman fans, the Black Mask continues to appear in various forms of media. These include his role in the 2010 animated feature “Batman: Under the Red Hood”, as well as the Arkham series of videogames.
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