Roman Sionis, a former business executive who originally hated Bruce Wayne rather than Batman, wears a black wooden mask and leads the cult-like society of False Facers. Black Mask eventually became a mob boss controlling large sections of Gotham City's criminal underworld.
Young Roman Sionis came from a rich family, his father a sucessful industrialist. His parents would drag him around to parties, and force him to be friends with the children of other wealthy Gothamites like the young Bruce Wayne. His parents hated other people like the Waynes though, but put on almost social masks in public to seem like more charming people. Roman hated the masks his parents wore. He would later inherit the prosperous Janus Cosmetics Corportation after his parents died in a suspicious fire. Roman quickly drove the company into the red, leaving the company open to a Wayne Industries buyout. Driven mad by losing his legacy, he turned his hatred on Bruce Wayne. Donning a mask carved from his mother's coffin, he began murdering Wayne employees. In the ensuing battle with Batman, Sionis's mask became permanently burned into his face as a living death mask. Over time he would become one of Gotham City's most ruthless and sadistic crimelords, commanding "False Facers," a masked army of henchmen. With each subsequent loss to Batman, his empire shrank and his sadism grew. Among his many crimes were the destruction of a community center on Gotham's East End, the painstaking murder of Catwoman's brother-in-law, and driving her sister Maggie insane.
Believed dead at Catwoman's hands, Black Mask survived, and when Gotham City's gang wars erupted - part of a "war game" created by Batman that went horribly wrong - they created a power vacuum in the underworld that he could exploit to build a criminal empire. Murdering Orpheus, a costumed gang leader working secretly with Batman to end the unrest in Gotham, he took the tragic hero's identity and gained the trust of the teen hero Spoiler (who had triggered Batman's "war games" in a misguided attempt to prove herself), learning information vital to his cause before betraying and torturing her. Following Batman's plans, the faux Orpheus rallied all the factions, revealed his true identity and initiated a spree of carnage culminating with Spoiler's death. Black Mask became undisputed ruler of the entire Gotham underworld.
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, seemingly killing him. After the shooting, Selina Kyle passed the mantle of Catwoman to her friend Holly. Not long after, Holly was arrested for the killing of Black Mask.
In the "Battle For The Cowl" storyline, Black Mask resurfaces (or possibly a new bearer of the name). He has drugged Arkham Asylum's inmates, including The Great White Shark, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Mr. Zsasz, and the Scarecrow, with a substance that can kill when triggered. Black Mask is quickly acknowledged as the leader of the group when he blows up Arkham Asylum, and then prepares for his ascension by destroying Two-Face's and Penguin's reign and becoming Gotham City's crime lord once again.
In Other Media
- In the DCAU comic Batman Adventures, Roman Sionis was a businessman who turned his failing company, Sionis Industries, into a corporate juggernaut, but lost it all as soon as he took on Wayne Enterprises. Following this, an associate of The Red Hood approached Roman to become his personal Black Mask, to lead The False Face Society, which consisted of Sportsmaster, Gorilla Boss, Black Spider, Bronze Tiger, Firefly,and Deadshot. Unfortunately for Roman, he was unable to fulfill the Red Hood's first command--to take out the Batman.
Taking what little he had left, Roman charged into the Wayne Enterprises building and demanded Bruce Wayne--the man that had caused him to lose everything in the first place. What he didn't realize was that his own right-hand man, Matches Malone, was Bruce Wayne in disguise. The Phantasm assumed Black Mask's position and was poised to deliver the final blow against her former boss when Batman stopped her.
Authorities found Black Mask cuffed to the railing in the subbasement of the Wayne Enterprises building and took him into custody.
- In Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, the DCAU video game based on The New Batman Adventures, Commisioner Gordon found his emergency phone lines jammed with reports in the chaos covering Gotham, one of which was a desperate plea from a policeman named Bock, who reported he was trying to suppress an incident single-handedly: Black Mask and his gang were facing The Luckhand Triad Gang in Chinatown in a looming gang war. Black Mask is not mentioned again, nor does he make an actual appearance in the video game.