"Black Mask: Losing Face":
- Know that the mask destroys one identity while creating another! Know that the mask recreates the wearer! Know that through the sublimation of personality, inhibitions die -- and deeper drives, more primitive instincts, are brought to the surface!
- -- Black Mask
Appearing in "Black Mask: Losing Face"
- Roman Sionis (First appearance) (Origin)
- Charles Sionis (Dies in flashback)
- Commissioner Gordon
- Harvey Bullock
- Lucius Fox
- Mrs. Sionis (Dies in flashback)
- Circe (model) (First appearance)
- Black Mask (First appearance) (Origin)
- False Face Society (First appearance)
- Thespis (First appearance)
- Tupeng (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Black Mask: Losing Face"
Roman Sionis is born to wealthy parents Charles Sionis and his unnamed mother, then immediately dropped on his head by the doctor. This small event turned Roman's life as he grew up as a "different" kid. During his early years, his parents were more focused on their "masks", with his father more concerned about the press photos and his mother more concerned with her makeup. They decided not to sue the doctor who dropped Roman because they did not want their names muddied by a common lawsuit. Growing up Roman witnessed his family put on "masks" of normalcy to impress their socialite friends, such as Thomas and Martha Wayne. He grew to despise these encounters and the way his parents forced him to act. At the age of 12 his family went on a vacation in the woods. He had seen a cartoon about a friendly raccoon and he tried to pet one in the wild, viewing it as a friend because it also wore a "mask". The raccoon had rabies and bit him. He nearly died, stumbling around the woods for hours calling for his parents. The chauffeur eventually found him and saved his life.
When Roman reached adulthood, he was made Vice President of his father's company Janus Cosmetics. He fell in love with a model named Circe and promised that she would become the face of the company. His parents were outraged at him sleeping with a "common model" and insisted they would have her fired. Roman put on a "mask" of acceptance, but the following summer he set his parents' mansion on fire and burned them both to death. Commissioner Gordon had him investigated as a suspect, but Circe was his alibi. Like this, Roman became the President of Janus Cosmetics the next day and fired the public relations division to fill their offices with an apartment for himself and Circe. He devoted an entire room to collecting bizarre masks from around the world.
His first initiative as President of Janus was to drop their "invisible" cosmetics and instead focus on boldly colored makeup that would act like a liquid mask. This was a huge financial failure that lost many of their customers. His next move was pushing an experimental waterproof makeup that hadn't been properly tested. The makeup was found to bond with people's faces and then make their skin peel off, causing hundreds of lawsuits. Roman proposed marriage to Circe, but with his company verging on bankruptcy she decided to leave him instead.
Janus Cosmetics was bailed out by the Wayne Foundation and Lucius Fox explained their one condition was that Roman step down as President. Signing away his company was the final straw, and Roman snapped. He went to the mausoleum where his parents were buried and smashed their ebony coffins open with a giant rock. Looking at the "mask of death" that was his father's decomposing flesh, he begaun to laugh. Taking a large shard of the broken coffin, he carved it into a mask for himself.
Several days later, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock investigate a break-in at Roman's former apartment. Roman has stolen back his money, his guns, his collection of masks, and the experimental makeup that ruined him. He uses the money to hire two local criminals, having them meet at his parents' mausoleum as the "False Face Society of Gotham". They are both given masks, and he names them Thespis and Tupeng. There is a crimewave in Gotham over the next month as Sionis continues to recruit new False Faces. Eventually Batman beats one of them until he gives up the name of his boss, calling him "Black Mask." Batman, Gordon, and Bullock are called to a crime scene. The new chairman of Janus Cosmetics under the Wayne Foundation has been found dead and wearing a pig mask. Black Mask used his poisonous makeup inside the mask to make it lethal on his victim, eating away the skin of the victim's face. Batman makes the connection that Black Mask must be Roman Sionis. Elsewhere, Black Mask tells his False Faces that their next target will be Bruce Wayne.
- This story is continued in Detective Comics #553.
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