Batman: Arkham Origins – A History Of The Black Mask

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Batman: Arkham Origins will bring us several years into the past as we take control of a Batman that hasn’t tangled with the likes of the Joker, Two Face, or Mr. Freeze. Much like previous Batman adventures, Gotham and it’s Gothic architecture will serve as a back drop to the newest installment of the Batman: Arkham franchise. Only this time the full city will be open to exploration. Yule logs, egg nog, and decorations litter Gotham during the Christmas season. Underneath the yuletide carols and snow drifts, a new threat lingers in the shadows.

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It’s just been announced that the Black Mask will play opposite a younger Batman in WB Montreal’s Batman: Arkham Origins. The choice to use a less mainstream Batman villain is a risky, but deservedly bold one. I applaud WB Montreal for choosing a fitting antagonist to introduce Batman to the “supervillain”. An idea he will become increasingly familiar with later in his career as the Dark Knight. Fans of Batman comics that haven’t experienced an Arkham title yet, may run from all directions to struggle with one of the most diabolical figures in the Batman universe. For those who’s time with the Dark Knight has exclusively been on-screen in one form, or another, Black Mask represents the type of villain portrayed in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.

Black Mask for those of you that don’t know him –

Roman Sionis, His parents neglected him during his childhood, and chose rather to focus on their social standing. They were an affluent family, who’s fortune arose from Janus Cosmetics, the family business. During his childhood Roman’s parents associated closely with another powerful Gotham family, the Wayne’s. Thomas and Martha Wayne were known as respectable, business philanthropists. Roman’s parents carried on with the Wayne’s to bolster their own social status, but in secret detested the family. As a result of their time with the Wayne’s, Roman grew to know another young boy named Bruce. The juxtaposition of his parents association with, and behind-closed-doors hatred of the Wayne family grew inside Sionis.

After high school Roman was given a high ranking position at Janus Cosmetics. During his time with the company he met, and fell in love with a blue collar woman named Circe. His parents disapproved of their union, and as a result Roman Sionis set his families mansion ablaze with his parents inside. With his parents death Roman was named head of Janus Cosmetics. However, his subsequent business endeavors were a failure. His last ditch effort to turn a profit had him throwing his remaining fortune at an experimental product. Janus’ chemists came up with a sort of waterproof makeup that was rushed to the market in an effort to save the company. The makeup turned out to be a toxin that disfigured many women that purchased the product.

After this overwhelming failure, Bruce Wayne offered to buyout Janus Cosmetics. His terms included Sionis stepping down as CEO, giving way to Wayne Enterprises board of directors. Sionis accepted the offer. Bitterly humiliated, he chose to deface his parents crypt. Just before he could complete his woeful deed he was struck by lightning, which hurled him into his parents final resting place, and headfirst into a stone within the crypt. Roman decided this incident was a rebirth of sorts, and using cloth from his fathers casket, he fashioned the ebony mask that he adorned as Black Mask.

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Black Mask has played many roles throughout the Batman comics. He’s evolved from a petty thug, into an established crime boss. His history with Batman all stems from the hatred for the Wayne family, that was ingrained in his psyche during childhood. The humiliation he suffered at the hands of Wayne Enterprises motivated Black Mask to hatch a revenge plan. His plot targeted the Wayne Enterprises board of directors. He hunted down three Wayne executives, and murdered them with masks laced with the deadly toxin created by Janus Cosmetics. After his attempt at Bruce Wayne was foiled, he retreated back to his families mansion to complete the task of reducing the estate to ashes. This lead to an encounter with Batman and Robin in which his mask was burned into his face. This symbolic act completed his transformation into Black Mask.

Black Mask has since become a staple in the Batman comics. He’s become well known for his ruthlessness, cunning, and hatred for Batman.

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His detailed back story and involvement with the Wayne family makes him the perfect antagonist to challenge Batman in the outset of his crime fighting career. It’s mentioned by WB Montreal that Sionis will still be in control of Janus Cosmetics, at least in the opening acts of Batman: Arkham Origins. Look for Black Mask to hatch an ingenious, and equally devious plot. The addition of Black Mask allows the petty criminals of Gotham to rally behind a figure head for the first time. It’s especially believable that Sionis would have the means of supporting a crime syndicate due to his enormous wealth. WB Montreal is taking a risk with their antagonist, but it’s a high reward situation. They have the infrastructure that Rocksteady built at their disposal as mentioned in our reveal, and it’s great to see them expanding the Arkham territory, and those that inhabit it.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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