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Roman Sionis (New Earth): Misc


DC Comics

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From DC Database

Character Template Character Template
Real Name
Current Alias


Parents (deceased)


Base Of Operations


6' 1"

195 lbs (89 kg)



Unusual Features
blackened skull face


Marital Status

Crimelord, Businessman


Place of Birth

First appearance
Appearance of Death



Black Mask is a supervillain in Gotham City. He is a boss in Gotham Organized Crime who often comes into conflict with the Batman, and also runs his own gang the False Facers. Ruthless and sadistic, he runs his operations with an iron fist and matchless ambition. His effectiveness as a leader has made him one of the greatest crimelords the city has ever seen.

Dark Beginning

Black Mask's origin story was established in his first appearance. Roman Sionis was born into one of Gotham City’s elite families, to wealthy and utterly self-absorbed parents, 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 Sionis family country estate he was attacked by a rabid raccoon. This incident was also covered up by the Sionis family, who forbid Roman to mention 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.

After his high school graduation, Sionis was given a high ranking position inside his father's company, Janus Cosmetics. There, he met and fell in love with Circe, a working class secretary. His parents didn't approve of the relationship and made it clear that they wanted it ended. Enraged, Roman burned down the family's mansion, killing both of his parents. Upon their deaths, he inherited the family fortune and business. Roman wasn't the businessman his father was, however, and eventually ruined 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 makeup. 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' fiancée, 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 humiliation he had suffered. He went to the family mausoleum and broke his mother's ebony coffin lid. From a piece of this, Sionis carved a mask, becoming 'Black Mask'.

Becoming Black Mask

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 Enterprises 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.

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

In the graphic novel the "Black Mask" is second in command of the escaped patients at Arkham. The Joker is in command. He was eventually returned to Arkham.


Black Mask spent some more time in Arkham Asylum, but escaped again when Bane assaulted the facility in Knightfall and subsequently restarted the False Facers. He took on a new second-in-command, 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.

Cult Leader

In "The Cult" storyline, 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 in the "No Man's Land" story arc.

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 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.[1]

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.

The Unseen

Black Mask became obsessed with obtaining the ability to turn invisible. He stated that it was the ultimate mask. To this end he funded Niles Glass research on a Translux invisibility serum. Glass successfully turned himself invisible, but then went on a revenge killing spree and almost killed Black Mask. He was rescued by Batman and the serum was lost. Black Masks fascination with invisibility would continue in his legacy, the second Black Mask.

War Games

Main article: Batman: War Games

When Tim Drake quit his role as Robin in War Games, Batman chose Stephanie Brown, aka The Spoiler, to replace him. Batman quickly discovered that her lack of focus and inability to follow orders 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.

In War Games Act Three, 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') fooling 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 supposedly died due to the injuries inflicted on her and the willful negligence of Leslie Thompkins (although a recent retcon establishes that Stephanie's death had been faked).

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 Black Mask's murder.

Blackest Night

Main article: Blackest Night
During Blackest Night, the original Black Mask, Roman Sionis was reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps with a power ring. Black Mask immediately attacked Catwoman in an effort to avenge his death. Not getting the emotional response he wanted from her as he attempted to kill her, Black Mask decided to go after Catwoman's sister, Maggie Kyle, who he had tortured into insanity prior to his death. At the mental hospital, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn manage to intercept Black Mask before he reaches Maggie. Black Mask temporarily defeats Ivy and Harley and proceeds to capture Catwoman and Maggie. Just as he is about to torture Maggie again, Ivy has a giant venus fly trap devour him. The fly trap's digestive acid dissolves Black Mask's body, and when the body is reanimated by the Black Lantern ring, it is dissolved once again, trapping Black Mask in a perpetual cycle presumed to last until the Blackest Night is over.[2]

Powers and Abilities


  • Criminal Mastermind: Black Mask is arguably the greatest criminal strategist and organiser in Gotham, having taken almost full control of the city's underworld on at least two occasions.
  • Torture Master: Perhaps Black Mask's most defining skill is his mastery of both physical and psychological torture, which he often uses either to extract information, or simply to torment his enemies. He has been shown using a variety of crude, sharp-edged weapons, as well as the use of everyday objects including kitchen knives, steel pipes, and electricity cords which he slowly drips with water causing mild electric shocks.
  • Hand to hand Combat: Black Mask is a highly accomplished athlete and hand to hand combatant who has been shown fighting on par with the likes of Nightwing, The Red Hood, Robin, Catwoman, and even Batman himself on at least one occasion. He has also shown skill as an acrobat and dancer when impersonating Batman and Orpheus.
  • Peak Physical Conditioning: Black Mask's physical attributes of strength, speed, stamina, agility and endurance seem to be on par with many extremely fit individuals. His healing and recovery speed is also remarkable, suggesting he possesses a very fast metabolism.
  • Marksman: Roman Sionis is an excellent marksman who always carries at least two semi-automatic handguns. He has proven capable of hitting highly nimble athletes (like Jason Todd and Catwoman) in mid-air with relatively little effort and has also shot mid-flight batarangs away from himself.
  • Master of Disguise: Black Mask seems to be a formidable master of disguise as well as a highly gifted actor, as he was able to fool even the deductive skills of batman when disguised as Orpheus, and also led almost all of Gotham to believe he was Batman when donning his suit. He most often uses face putty or plastic masks to hide his skull-head and look like someone else.


  • Criminal Insanity



Ebony death mask which is now burnt to face in the form of a skull. Various torture tools and devices, including special chemical which he used in his early career to kill or disfigure others by placing it on their faces.


Two semi-automatic handguns. Periodically makes use of knives, machine guns, explosives, and just about anything he can get his hands on.

See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References


Batman Villain(s)

This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or members of the Batman Family. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Batman Villains category."

This article uses material from the "Roman Sionis (New Earth)" article on the DC Comics wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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