21 July 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Black Mask

Less than a year to go until The Dark Knight!

The Black Mask first appeared back in 1985 and has since appeared in The Batman animated show. He seems like a great possible choice for Batman Begins 3.

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.

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.

As Janus Cosmetics crumbled Circe, now Sinois' 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 when 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 and subsequently restarted the False Facers. He took on a new second-in-command, called Tattoo, 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.

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.

Black Mask eventually 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.

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.

Friend and Foe Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll
Bat-Hound (Ace)
Black Mask

The Dark Knight returns in 363 days!

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