|Real name:||Roman Sionis|
|First Appearance:||Batman: Arkham City (Batman #386)|
|Created by:|| Doug Moench|
|Affiliations:|| Commissioner Loeb|
|Portrayed by:|| Brian Bloom (voice) |
Troy Baker (Joker)
- "Kill him and I'll pay you whatever you want. Make him suffer and I'll double it."
- ―Black Mask[src]
One of the first crime lords to seize complete control of Gotham City, Roman Sionis was born into a wealthy family, but was nonetheless raised by abusive, selfish, and neglectful parents. As his parents cared more about their own image and social standing in society rather than the welfare of their own son, Sionis grew to loath them and the 'friends' they made in Gotham City, especially Thomas and Martha Wayne and their son, Bruce, seeing them all as hypocrites wearing figurative masks to conceal their true feelings about each other to simply blend in with society.
Finally reaching his breaking point, Roman set fire to his family mansion, completely burning it to the ground and murdering his parents at the same time. Left with their massive fortune and his father's company, Janus Cosmetics, Sionis embezzled his inheritance money and started numerous lucrative business ventures, which he eventually used as a front for illegal operations in conjunction with his late father's corporation. Carving a mask from the black wood of his father's coffin, Sionis became known to the criminal underworld as Black Mask, a sadistic and vicious mass murderer and crime boss.
Using the mask as inspiration to form and build up a massive gang known as the "False Facers", Black Mask unleashed a crime wave throughout all of Gotham with his army for years on end and soon became the leading crime lord among the criminal underworld and one of the most powerful and influential individuals within the entire city as his businesses grew into a massive empire. Now in a position of wealth, power, and ultimate control, Black Mask seeks to bring vengeance to everyone who he has believed wronged him in the past to perfect his criminal lifestyle, particularly Bruce Wayne, his old childhood rival in his mind, and Batman (unaware that the two are one and the same), for interfering with his plans and rise to power.
The Early Years and Masks of Society
Roman Sionis' childhood would be scarred with several incidents that left him in extreme pain, including being dropped on his head shortly after being born in the hospital. His parents are always more concerned on how it would affect their public image however, rather than their son. As they always leave their son behind to engage in social events to uphold their reputation, even if they despise those they are attending with, Roman develops an intense hatred for his parents and an aptitude towards the concept of masks, believing his parents were hypocrites wearing figurative masks to uphold their family image. Over the years, Roman would collect various masks that would make up a massive collection, which would serve him and his criminal activities well years later.
Among the socialites that the Sionis' frequently engage with are the Waynes, with Roman being forced to become friends with Bruce by his parents. As Roman knows his parents true feelings about the Waynes, Roman grows to despise them all. Despite this, Roman is eventually able to complete his education and get a job at his father's massive company, Janus Cosmetics, where he meets a beautiful young woman named Circe, whom he eventually falls in love with. However, his parents forbid him to see her due to Circe being of the lower class compared to them; this would be the last straw for Roman. Roman then starts a massive fire within his family mansion with his parents inside to finally be rid of them once and for all.
After Roman sets fire to his family mansion, completely burning it to the ground and murdering his neglectful parents at the same time, the villain becomes rich in wealth, power lust, and tainted ambitions. With his parents out of the way, Roman took control of Janus Cosmetics and becomes engaged to Circe with Roman believing that he may finally have a chance at being happy. However, Roman is not the business man his father was and nearly bankrupts the company with several ill conceived and rushed products, leaving him no choice but to accept help from Bruce Wayne in exchange for giving up control of the company; this intensified Roman's hatred of Bruce Wayne even more. To make matters worse for Roman, Circe broke up with him in front of the entire company, destroying the last shreds of humanity that may have been left in Roman.
Roman decides to take his business activities into the criminal elements to capitalize on Gotham's violent streets and criminal underworld. Still left with a massive fortune, Sionis embezzles his inheritance money and starts numerous lucrative business ventures, which he eventually uses as a front for illegal operations in conjunction with his late father's corporation, which he manages to uphold control of with his newly formed, massive profits. Carving a mask from the black wood of his father's coffin, Sionis becomes known to the criminal underworld as Black Mask, a sadistic and vicious mass murderer and crime boss. Sionis/Black Mask also had been afflicted with paranoia, which was a large part of the reason he was one of the more successful criminal kingpins.
Roman also was an old accomplice of the Falcone Crime Family, more specifically Carmine Falcone. At some point, Roman also encountered Carmine's son, Alberto Falcone, and offered him a private place to talk after Falcone made a statement about his family at Cucinotta's the night before. However, this later came back to haunt him when Alberto Falcone, who had a history of mental instability, made a threatening call to Roman late at night in his alternate persona.
- "This time tomorrow, Gotham's gonna be mine."
- ―Black Mask[src]
Recruiting dozens of other thugs and murderers to form a group called "The False Facers", Black Mask would lead his gang into performing incredible and daring heists, using his family crypt as an initial base of operations to direct his affairs from. Black Mask and his organization would grip all of Gotham in a massive crime wave and murder countless individuals who have crossed him in the past, including Circe, who eventually commits suicide to avoid extensive torture done regualry to her by Roman, and several Wayne Enterprise employees.
Roman becomes extremely wealthy and powerful in a relatively short period of time, gaining the attention of the Dark Knight himself as the villain buys up and starts several more businesses. By the events of a particularly snowy winter during Batman's second year patrolling the streets of Gotham, Black Mask is by far the most powerful man and crime lord in the city, possessing immense wealth and resources and controls Gotham's criminal underworld with his massive gangs.
Using his massive wealth and ties to the criminal underworld to hire corrupt public officials, such as Commissioner Loeb, and countless bent cops, Black Mask also effectively and completely controls the Gotham City Police Department, with the exception of Captain James Gordon and a few others, allowing him to easily stay out of prison with any evidence against him mysteriously going missing and witnesses ending up dead. Additionally, judges, councilmen, and even guards at Blackgate Penitentiary would end up on Sionis' payroll, effectively making the villain the true law that controls the city with his criminal empire in a seat of supreme power.
To serve as a personal squadron of enforcers for Black Mask within the GCPD, Commissioner Loeb initiates a SWAT team made up of handpicked officers who would use stolen equipment and gear in their "assignments"; the worst of the worst with Howard Branden as their trigger happy leader. This team would serve Black Mask and Loeb most loyally of all by stealing weapons from evidence lockup and transferring them to Roman, helping the crime lord in selling drugs and expanding his profits, eliminating evidence and framing other individuals for his crimes, killing witnesses, and turning a blind eye to his criminal activities. Serving their own interests at the same time, Loeb and Branden would also use their connections to Black Mask to intimidate Gotham citizens into handing over protection money, use the homeless to do their dirty work or suffer beatings, and secure their own financial situations with bribes.
While most police officers who would not take Sionis' bribes or orders are horrifically tortured and murdered, Black Mask would have other plans in mind for Captain James Gordon. While Gordon was previously attacked by his fellow coworkers, including his partner, Arnold Flass, under the orders of Loeb for not being a "team player", Black Mask believes that Gordon would be far more useful to their plans and cause if he was controlled instead as his respectable public image would help to preserve the reputation of a thoroughly corrupt police department. To this end, Loeb orders Harvey Bullock, another officer bordering on corruption as well, to become Gordon's partner to uncover information on the captain that could be used to blackmail and effectively control him for their own designs.
In the meantime, Gordon is given a task that would both keep him busy and out of Loeb and Branden's operations and keep him focused on a task that would benefit Black Mask and the corrupt police department as a whole; capturing Batman. To this end, Gordon is put in charge of a task force whose sole assignment is hunting down and capturing vigilantes, with Batman at the top of the list. This would spark conflict between Gordon and his daughter Barbara, who believes that Batman accomplishes much more than the broken legal system in Gotham.
With Black Mask using sadistic torture, fear, and punishment to exert his control over his followers, enemies, and the entire city alike, and the entire Gotham police force and infrastructure serving as little more than a secondary gang for his forces, few stepped up against Black Mask, despite most believing his involvement in the numerous crimes he has been alleged, but never convicted of, to have committed. Having wiped out most of the competition and begun consolidating his power, Black Mask issues forth a crime wave with his gang to capitalize on his reign over the city. Forming a truce with other criminals within Gotham City, including newcomer to the criminal underworld Oswald Cobblepot, also known as The Penguin, who agreed to assist in his plans for his own purposes, Black Mask also seeks to completely wipe out the entire Falcone Crime Family, one of his last remaining, competing adversaries.
Wearing a Black Mask when leading his men, also similarly wearing masks to represent their personalities, as a disguise and part of his persona when heading up his criminal activities, the villain is able to publicly run his company as Roman Sionis and keep himself from being connected to any crime, while also using his businesses as a front for drug trafficking and other illegal operations. Roman's businesses primarily consist of Janus Cosmetics, which he often uses to conceal illegal chemicals and drugs to be sold onto the streets, and Sionis Industries, which has since fell into disrepair.
However, Roman still keeps control over the mill and uses it as a storage facility to receive shipments of illegal materials used in the construction of his drugs. Within the mill warehouses, there is a secret passageway that leads to a massive drug manufacturing facility, where Sionis makes and ships his drugs and also keeps a private office and torture chamber, which he uses to brutalize, intimidate, and slaughter his enemies and cops who would not take his orders in order to further feed his sadistic appetites. Roman also keeps stashes of his ill gotten gains within the mill as a failsafe fortune for his illegal activities.
The remainder of his illegal profits would be stored within the Gotham Merchants Bank, yet another business that Roman owns and uses as a secondary front to launder his ill-conceived fortune. Through his control of the Merchants Bank, Roman would also embezzle city funds, leaving many clients broke and homeless as Roman buys up numerous resources and miles worth of real estate throughout new and Old Gotham to serve as secondary headquarters and safe houses. With Sionis selling large quantities of drugs each week, most of Gotham's infrastructure on his payroll, and owning much of the real estate, Gotham becomes rifled with corruption, crime, and poverty, with many turning to a life of crime to support themselves.
Towards the start of a particularly snowy winter, Roman was making his final plans to cement his control over the city by having Commissioner Gillian Loeb, now a fully loyal agent for Black Mask, become the next mayor of Gotham. While Loeb and Roman were originally enemies during Loeb's initial campaign for Mayor as he took bribes from the crime lord's competitors, the pair soon formed an alliance with Roman promising the corrupt commissioner that he will be rewarded handsomely as long he continues to follow his orders as Mayor. With Loeb as his puppet Mayor, the entire police force under his complete control, and Gordon under careful surveillance, Black Mask would be the one and only law that governed Gotham City.
To further Loeb's political ambitions, the police department took credit for the capture of a recent and brutal serial killer who planned his murders around holidays, known as Julian Day, who used the name 'the Calendar Man'. The reality however was that the killer was actually located and subdued by the Batman. By manipulating the warden at Blackgate Penitentiary, Loeb is able to have Day deemed sane, which all the evidence pointed to the contrary, in order to arrange his execution on Christmas Eve as a form of twisted, yet poetic justice for the people of Gotham. This act, in conjunction with the falsified news articles, printed by corrupt journalists, praising Loeb would undoubtedly ensure in his victory with all the political points he would gain and, with his victory, would usher in a city under the complete control of Roman Sionis.
While Black Mask is on the verge of ruling the city and seems to be untouchable by any law, authority, or individual, the crime lord's luck took a turn for the worse with the emergence of a psychopathic mass murderer and villain calling himself The Joker, who began to steal chemicals from Sionis' mill to construct explosives as part of a much larger scheme. To this end, Roman has his men follow the Joker to find out what the villain is planning while also moving one of his girlfriends, Tiffany Ambrose, to his safe house in Lacey Towers when the Joker spooks her.
However, Joker learns of Tiffany's location and begins to stalk her, which results in Tiffany texting Roman for help. Unfortunately, Joker is able to break into the safe house, violently knocks out Tiffany, and ties her to the chandler. When Roman arrives at the safe house, he has one of his henchmen disguised as himself enter the room while he sneaks in the back to surprise the Joker. The plan goes horribly wrong as Joker shoots and kills the decoy and violently beats Roman, despite the latter surprising the former. Joker then torches the room with a cocktail incendiary device and forces Roman to shoot his girlfriend through the heart. Abducting Roman, Joker tortures the crime lord over the course of several days to learn every detail about his life, which he then uses to disguise himself as Black Mask for his own plans. By that time, he was 37 years old.
As Batman continues to investigate Black Masks's activities, he learns that the crime lord, who is now a disguised Joker in reality at this point, seemingly strives to kill him above anyone else, having placed a bounty of $50,000,000 on the Dark Knight himself and bringing in eight of the world's most deadly assassins, including Bane, Deathstroke, Deadshot, Copperhead, Electrocutioner, Firefly, Killer Croc, and Shiva to Gotham City for one night on Christmas Eve to kill Batman. This bounty and enlistment of assassins sets in motion a chain of events that leads Gotham down a road of death and destruction as Batman faces, for the first time in his career, the most iconic of Gotham's villains and criminals that would go on to become his immense rouges gallery and the most notorious inmates within Arkham Asylum.
However, as Batman investigates the crime scene in which Tiffany, as well as the impostor Black Mask serving as a decoy, were slaughtered by the Joker, the hero learns that this new criminal has taken the real Black Mask hostage in order to use him to gain access to his money stored at the Gotham Merchants Bank (thanks to a piece of cloth torn from Black Mask's coat caught on a glass shard and leaving shoe polish while the Joker dragged him). Arriving at the bank, Batman learns that Joker has been impersonating Black Mask and seized complete control of his operations, and slaughtered any of Black Mask's men who would not turn. While impersonating the crime lord, Joker was the one who hired the assassins, used Warden Joseph to lead a breakout at Blackgate that saw the death of Commissioner Loeb, and ordered the bombing of the GCPD.
- "You son of a bitch! You think you can steal from me and get away with it?! You're a dead man, dead!"
- ―Black Mask foolishly threatening The Joker while at the villain's mercy.[src]
After murdering dozens of the bank's employees, stealing billions of Roman's ill gotten profits, and beating the fallen crime lord into unconsciousness after the latter attempted to threaten the Joker for his actions (despite being held hostage, as well as refusing to "play along" regarding the Joker faking denial of the Joker's existence while he was still posing as him), Joker escapes in a stolen ambulance and blows up the remaining money and vault with explosives. Joker then consolidates his power by killing his opposition and taking control of Sionis' Steel Mill, as well as his drug manufacturing plant and trafficking operations hidden within. Joker then has his men take Roman down to his old torture chamber to interrogate him for any remaining secrets or pieces of information he may have kept from them and to then additionally brutalize and murder him.
However, Batman is able to rescue Sionis, and attempts to interrogate him regarding the Joker's location. However, Sionis refused to give any information, also telling him that absolutely nothing Batman can do can compare to what the Joker did to him, although Batman intended to prove him wrong by attempting to accelerate his pacemaker. However, Copperhead arrives and poisons Batman before he could get the chance. Sionis then attempts to seek revenge by offering to pay her to kill Batman, although Copperhead dismissed his offer and noted he was a fallen crime lord, revealing she was already aware of the Joker having impersonated him.
Nonetheless, he manages to slip away. Despite his power being diminished a great deal, Black Mask rallies his remaining, loyal followers and sets up shop in the abandoned Gotham Cathedral, storing his remaining drugs, laundered money, weapons, and plans to control the rest of Gotham within the church. Sending out his men to continue selling his drugs, stored within canisters from his Cosmetics front operation, Sionis plans his revenge on the Joker and then intends to retake his position as top crime lord.
Unfortunately for the villain, Batman destroys his canisters of drugs and tracks him and his remaining men to the Cathedral. However, Black Mask anticipated that Batman might show up, and confronted him at the church with several of his men shortly after the vigilante destroyed his last drug stash. The mob boss then told him that Batman's presence saved him the trouble of arranging for his men to track Batman down, agreeing with Batman about their both being unable to give up. When Batman attempted to threaten Black Mask with how he'll get him and his men to surrender to the GCPD, Black Mask acknowledged the threat, but informed Batman that the latter probably already knows his decision on the matter before siccing his men on him.
The Dark Knight consequentially beats them all to a pulp and leaves them for the Gotham Police to arrest. While Roman assures the hero that he will be out by morning thanks to the corrupt legal system on his payroll, Batman's exploits throughout the long night filtered out much of the corruption within Gotham's infrastructure as Gordon begins taking the leadership of Gotham's Police Department, with Loeb having been violently murdered by the Joker earlier during the brutal night, and rids it of the bent cops once and for all. Harvey Bullock himself becomes a trusted partner and friend to Gordon and reluctant ally to Batman after gaining a deep respect for Gordon after becoming his partner, losing any potential for corruptness in the process.
- "I'm going to dedicate every waking minute to tracking you down and taking you out."
- ―Black Mask threatening Batman shortly before his arrest and incarceration.[src]
In the end, Roman is finally arrested, prosecuted, and sent to Blackgate Penitentiary by the renewed legal system as Joker takes his place as the criminal world's lead rouge with his men, resources, and money at his disposal. Roman was finally exposed for the criminal he was as his alter ego, Black Mask, was reduced to a fallen crime lord who lost nearly everything to the Joker and Batman. His hatred of both individuals would be amplified further and ensure that he would return years later to continue in his criminal activities and strive to kill those who wronged him.
After the events of Arkham Origins, Black Mask is finally arrested and placed within Blackgate Penitentiary along with other criminals within Batman's extensive rouges gallery. During his incarceration at Blackgate Penitentiary, Roman would keep a photo of Tiffany with him at all times, implying that, despite his overall persona as a sadistic and mass murdering crime lord with several female admirers, Black Mask truly cared for and loved his former girlfriend. With his hatred of Joker only intensifying every day, Black Mask has his men within the prison watch the Joker and makes notes of all his movements in preparation for his planned revenge.
Stealing various dental equipment from the prison's medical ward, Roman plans to slowly torture and murder the Joker in retirbution for actions against him and his criminal empire and planned to wipe out the rest of his opposition. Three months later, a massive explosion within the prison commences a riot that allows Black Mask, The Joker, and The Penguin to seize complete control of the facility and carve up a portion of it for themselves and advance their own, individual agendas. Using a a homemade security override system and crowbar, as well as cutting several power chords controlling security systems, Black Mask is able to access several weapon caches, claiming the artillery for his gang, and makes his way to the prison's power plants, wiping out all resistance and planning on using the prison's power to flush the Joker out and use as his trump card and ultimate weapon against the rest of the prison population.
Believing the carnage to be much more complex than just a simple prison riot and takeover, Batman arrives at the penitentiary to investigate the situation further, allowing Black Mask a chance of ultimate revenge against his hated enemy. After taking over a section of the prison, Black Mask attempts to overload the prison generators to wipe out everyone in the prison, taking out all his rivals in the process and leaving himself the sole remaining criminal kingpin. Forcing a technician to overpower the generators, Roman shoots the man dead after he completes the deed and ventures further into the Industrial District with several dozen of his men. Targeting a lone security guard, who makes one final phone call to his wife to say goodbye, Roman murders the man and cuts off his thumb in order to use his fingerprint to activate the main electric controls to reroute even more power.
However, Batman is able to foil his plans once again, stabilizes the generators, and defeats Black Mask and his men, leaving them to be arrested and imprisoned once again. Black Mask, however, had a fall-back plan, where he had Catwoman rig the prison with various explosives (this revelation depends on which kingpin Batman defeated last). Catwoman didn't actually care about ensuring the bombs went off, however, as she only needed a distraction to ensure Bane was smuggled out. However, before Black Mask can be taken into custody by the police, Black Mask regains his consciousness and takes a riot officer hostage before he could arrest the crime lord.
Black Mask demands that the other two officers give him access to the Joker, still hungry for revenge against the villain for everything he took away from him. When the officers refuse, Black Mask throws their colleague at them as a diversion and begins shooting, forcing the police to fire back, killing the officer and critically damaging the generator right next to Black Mask. As a result, the generator explodes and the resulting fire consumes Black Mask, who screams uncontrollably, but is nonetheless able to escape into the night, with the guards also speculating that wherever he went to, the Joker had better watch his back. However, Black Mask still receives his due as the fires from the explosion would graft his mask onto his face to the extent that it was unable to ever be removed short of sufficient blunt force.
Batman: Arkham City
Game Over Lines
- "With you out of the way, Gotham's mine for the taking, and sooner than I thought."
- "I didn't think it would be this easy. Oh well, live and learn!"
- "What, the party's already over? And I was just getting warmed up!"
- "I was hoping you'd at least live long enough to see what I've got planned for this place!"
- "That's it? All this build-up and he falls over like he's made of sticks? What an anti-climactic ending!" (kicks Batman violently)
- "Unkillable? Not quite."
- "Not your best day, Deathstroke. Now hurry up and die."
- Of the villains with game over quotes, Black Mask is the only villain where one of the his game over quotes features him directly inflicting violence on Batman's presumed corpse (swiftly kicking him while complaining about how the buildup turned out to be "anti-climactic" before walking away). Game over close contenders include the Penguin (throwing a lit cigar onto Batman's corpse before dismissing himself for "business to take care of"; and another where he pokes Batman's corpse with an umbrella) and Killer Croc (where he is shown lurching at Batman's corpse to eat him).
- This incarnation of Black Mask seems heavily inspired by his depiction in the 2004 TV series "The Batman", based on his default attire being a white dress suit and as well as wearing an ornately-carved static skull mask. Unlike that depiction, however, Sionis' mask is removable (at least until the ending of Arkham Origins: Blackgate).
- Some of the promotional images of Black Mask during the development of the game were later used with the Joker in the final cut. The first, where he is preparing to use a yanker on a keeling policeman held hostage by his men, was depicted when Joker's identity as the imposter Black Mask was revealed at the Gotham Merchants Bank heist. The second, where Black Mask gets extremely close to a GCPD lab technician before presumably torturing him, was later used by the Joker during his meeting with Bane, Firefly, and Electrocutioner, seconds before killing the latter. Ironically, the actual Black Mask ended up being in the position of the police officer in the final version of the first promotional image.
- For unknown reasons, despite his identity of Black Mask being stolen by the Joker alongside his mask, Black Mask's game over quotes still feature him wearing his trademark mask.
- Despite being an implied polygamist, Black Mask (referred to in Arkham Origins: Blackgate) has shown he cared greatly for his girlfriends, in particular Tiffiny Ambrose; he kept her picture with him at all times, possibly mourning.