DC Comics has got a slew of characters that wear boring ol’ suits. Mattel has a figure subscription specifically targeted at collectors. When Mattel announced Club Infinite Earths, I was excited at the prospect of getting some boring ol’ suit figures. Black Mask wasn’t on the top of my list though.
I’m not a big fan of the Black Mask, but it’s not his fault really. Though I used to be a lifelong DC reader, Black Mask’s first appearance and heaviest use fell into that middle-80s period where I wasn’t really reading comics.
The creation of Doug Moench (Moon Knight, Deathlok) & Tom Mandrake (Grimjack, The Spectre), the first Black Mask appears shortly before Crisis on Infinite Earths. He’s kind of an anti-Bruce Wayne. Roman Sionis was born to wealthy parents, but it’s all downhill from there. They drop him on his head as a baby. They treat him like crap and don’t die when he’s young (they probably never even took him to movies!), but his big beef with his parents is how fake they were. This would lead to a youthful obsession with masks.
Roman grows up and runs the profitable family company into the ground by releasing defective makeup that disfigures women. Rightfully, that kinda sends him over the edge. He kills his parents and, because he’s always been obsessed with the power of masks, carves a black mask out of his Dad’s casket. He then goes on to set himself up as a powerful crime lord and leader of the False Face Society that would prove to be a big thorn in 80s Batman’s side.
Now, I’ve really never read that Black Mask. By the time I’m finally introduced to the character, Brubaker had come along and pretty much ignored all of that. Treating him like a blank slate, Brubaker turned Black Mask into more of a solo act and not to mention sadistic douchebag. After an altercation with Catwoman, Black Mask killed her brother-in-law and fed his eyeballs to her sister (Mattel left that out of his packaging bio).
Black Mask was also used as the primary antagonist is Batman: Wargames. I kinda hate that whole mini-series. I’m a big fan of Stephanie Brown as a character, particularly her brief time as Robin, and I’m still harboring some resentment over her stint in Robin being used to get readers invested in her shortly before killing her off. If you read Wargames, you got to see Black Mask, stab, torture, shoot, and kick Stephanie down a flight of stairs (this was followed up with Leslie Thompkins letting her die to prove a point to Bruce. Ugh.). That stupidity would ultimately be undone, but I’ve never really cared much for Black Mask none the less.
Anyway, I’ve gone and started ranting about Stephanie Brown again. Black Mask ended up getting tossed off a building by Catwoman. He survived that, so she made sure on his second attempt on his life by putting a gun to his head and blowing his face off (this was also left off his bio). Later, in another asinine plot twist, Jeremiah Arkham would become the second Black Mask (maybe the nu52 washing some things away isn’t so bad after all…) .
Like I said, I wasn’t all that thrilled we were getting this figure, but it is a new character that we don’t have. He pads out the shelf, right? The figure represents Black Mask as he was seen in the Brubaker stories when his look was redesigned into a black “Red Skull” look. Continue to Page 2…