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Back Issue: Black Mask Begins

September 3, 2008

(This origin story was originally published in Batman #386, Detective Comics #553 and concluded in Batman #387. Written by Doug Moench)

Welcome back comic fans and let me introduce you to a new category on this site called “back issue”. Under this label I will from now on publish reviews of older comic books, usually short story lines taken from a regular monthly series like The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman or Detective Comics. These stories will often be important ones like for example this week’s three issue ark dealing with the creation of one of Batman’s fiercest enemies, the Black Mask. If you are not a regular reader of the Batman comics, you might never have heard of this character before, so let me fill you in on the details.

Already at his birth Roman Sionis had encountered the first tragedy of his life, when he was dropped by a doctor and people always said after this that there was something strange in his eyes. He grew up to be an apathetic young man, who always stood in the shadow of his wealthy parents and who couldn’t await to inherit his father’s company “Janus Cosmetics”, so he helped out a little in the process. After the death of his parents, he tried to revolutionize the market, but his first idea failed miserably, while his next project, a waterproof makeup, left customers disfigured and almost ruined the company completely. The only way to save the company was for Wayne Industries to pay off the debts and to relieve Sionis from his post as chairman. Furious about the loss of face he breaks into his parents’ crypt and carves himself a mask made of the ebony wood of their coffins. From there on his obsession with masks turns him into a career criminal, calling himself Black Mask. He forms the False Face Society of Gotham and starts to terrorize the city and especially the newly appointed board members of Janus Cosmetics, which in turn also compels him to attack Bruce Wayne.

Black Mask, and this is what I like about the villains in Batman, is once again a lost soul, whose insanity gets the best of him and turns him into a homicidal maniac. Over the years he has turned into one of the most malevolent crime lords of Gotham City. Finally I would like to point out that I think that the Black Mask would be a perfect candidate for Nolan’s more realistic Batman universe. Maybe he will make an appearance in one of the next movies, who knows.

“The mask destroys one identity while creating another!” – Black Mask

Story                  7

Art                      6

Reread Value     8

Overall Rating   7/10

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