With the Dawn of DC initiative now underway, a number of the publisher’s heroes and villains are getting the narrative spotlight. Of course, the nature of superhero comics means that that spotlight includes some major changes — including, in the case of one fan-favorite villain, an interesting makeover. Spoilers for Punchline: The Gotham Game #4 from Tini Howard and Blake Howard, Max Raynor, Luis Guerrero, and Becca Carey below! Only look if you want to know!
The issue followed the latest steps in Punchline and the Royal Flush Gang’s efforts to create chaos in Gotham City — particularly, through controlling the underground drug trade. As the issue reveals, Punchline and Catwoman’s recent fiery warehouse fight has caught the attention of some notable names in Gotham’s underworld, including Roman Sionis / Black Mask. After Catwoman went toe-to-toe with Sionis in the start of Howard’s Catwoman run, his precious black mask has been destroyed — but this issue of Punchline showcases a new one, combining white elements and more hardware than the previous version.
Who is DC’s Black Mask?
Created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake, Black Mask first made his DC Comics debut in 1985’s Batman #386. In the comics, Roman starts out as a reluctant childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, but one whose origin story almost mirrors his, as he ends up killing his own parents and inheriting their fortune and their cosmetic company, Janus Cosmetics. After slipping into financial turmoil, Roman visits his parents’ grave, where he is struck by lightning, an event that he sees as his own personal “rebirth.” Roman then destroys his father’s casket, using the pieces to make his Black Mask, and quickly becoming a crime boss and drug kingpin.
Over the years, he would go toe-to-toe with Batman, Catwoman, Oracle, and Spoiler, and would go on to join the Secret Society of Super-Villains and later become a Black Lantern. Roman’s canon was further expanded upon in the New 52, which furthered his connection to the False Face Society, and also briefly established that he suffered from dissociative identity disorder, and that “Black Mask” was another facet of his personality. The character has appeared across live-action multiple times in recent years, portrayed by Todd Stashwick on Fox’s Gotham, Ewan McGregor in Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), and Peter Outerbridge in The CW’s Batwoman.
What do you think of DC redesigning Black Mask? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!