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Batman Rogues DC Episodes Villains

Issue 118 – Black Mask

We go back to the Batman rogues gallery to examine Black Mask! Why does Roman have a legitimate axe to grind with his parents? Tune in to find out!


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  • Intro
    • Podchaser – Reviews4Good – NUEXGUY – “CAPES ON THE COUCH is one of my favorite podcasts for the unique perspective and insight they bring to the superhero genre. I haven’t heard another podcast go so deep into the psychological arguments around these characters. One of the most informative and entertaining podcasts around. Did I mention there are skits as well?”
  • Background (3:16)
    • Black Mask (Roman Sionis) created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake in Batman #386 (August 1985)
    • Roman Sionis born to wealthy parents who didn’t care for him – they dropped him on his head early, possibly causing mental damage
    • Hated Thomas & Martha Wayne, who his parents were always sucking up to – this led to a fascination with masks, because he believed his parents were phony
    • Once he came of age and became VP of his father’s cosmetic company, he burned down the family estate, killing his parents, and took over everything
    • After running the company into the ground, it was rescued by Wayne Enterprises, but he was fired – he went to his parents grave, dug up the coffin, and destroyed it – he used the pieces to make a new mask, and called himself the Black Mask
    • Created a gang, the False Face Society, and began going after the Wayne Foundation and its members, including Bruce – after a failed attempt on Bruce’s life, he set fire to his family’s house once again, and in a battle with Batman fell into the flames, fusing the mask to his face
    • During No Man’s Land, he becomes the head of a cult known for ritualistic scarring – he’s taken down by Batman and Huntress
    • Later gave up the theme of masked henchmen and decided to run a drug trade out of the East End of Gotham, putting him into conflict with Catwoman
    • Tortures and nearly kills Stephanie Brown during War Games
    • Killed by Catwoman after threatening to kill all her loved ones – he’s resurrected during Blackest Night as a Black Lantern, but was defeated by Ivy and Harley, trapping him in a pitcher plant that digested his body as it regenerated
    • New 52 gives him largely the same backstory, but now his mask gives him low level psychic abilities – he also has split personalities, with Roman and Black Mask being distinct identities
    • DC Rebirth abandons the psychic abilities, but has him allied with the Penguin
  • Issues
    • No positive family background left him alone
    • Obsession with masks (16:36)
    • Sadism, especially with women (23:49)
  • Break (30:18)
  • Treatment (31:23)
    • In-universe – Let him roleplay in different masks to learn empathy
    • Out of universe – (35:08) Reframe to get more buy-in from the client
  • Skit (40:33)
    • Hello Roman, I’m Dr. Issues. – What do you want?
    • This isn’t a house call, and it’s not like I asked to meet with you. You’re required to -*cuts off* I know what you’re here for. Let’s get this straight: I’m not trying to change. I’ve changed enough for my lifetime, thank you very much. 
    • *pause* I appreciate your honesty. It saves me time. Goodbye. -Bye.
    • *sound of walking away, distant* Oh man, I gotta try *walking back* Sorry, I’m not going to give up. -Sucker.
    • As dangerous as this may sound, the goal of therapy for a thief may be to make them a better thief – You can’t be serious. Nobody’s that stupid, especially against me.
    • I don’t mean being better at bad things for society. I mean being more in tune with your mental state so that you are better at your personal goals. What you do with them is none of my business. -What sort of backwards schooling did you do? This is nuts! 
    • How long did you originally plan on talking to me? -Negative 2 seconds, then find someone to kill you.
    • And how long have you actually talked to me? I’ve already exceeded your lowly expectations. -I just can’t get over how bonkers this is. You’re just like that Harley chick…oh yeah, same field. See, I knew all shrinks are weirdos. 
    • So what can this self-proclaimed weirdo do for you? I’m all ears. -You’re really trying to analyze me, huh? *pause* OK then. I want my enemies dead. I want unlimited access to every major corporation’s bank accounts in Gotham. I want enough firepower to take down a small nation’s army…or Batman. It’s about the equivalent budget. So *claps hands* get to it, chop chop! 
    • Not a single emotional goal. You really don’t have the vocabulary for that, do you? -Who says what I want won’t make me happy? 
    • Well, how much did you have before? -Well, let me do some quick math…a hell of a lot more than you ever will.
    • And were you happy then? -I wasn’t locked up, chastised, and made to do interviews with the likes of you.
    • So you didn’t have the same intellectual stimulation, but you didn’t answer the question. I appreciate your deflections. It’s a strong intellectual coping skill -How long are you going to keep up with this psycho-crap? I’m not trying to be some prissy high-status goody two shoes.
    • Fascinating. You equate being high status with somehow being good. I’ve definitely seen examples across a full spectrum with regards to that. Does that attitude date back to direct experience as a crime lord, or from your interactions at a younger age? -It dates back to being annoyed by someone who is not a henchman, partner, associate, or target talking to me as if somehow any of this matters. 
    • I see. That’s how you view your spheres of influence. If no one fits into those spheres, then you don’t expend mental energy on them. That’s an advanced skill to maintain locus of control. How did you learn that? -I don’t know. That sounds like common sense to me. If someone isn’t worth my time, then they’re a guaranteed waste of my money. The best examples are the ones who keep asking questions when they’ve been given every hint to stop.
    • I’m picking up what you’re putting down. But what about those that are in your sphere of influence and you can’t kick them out? -They don’t exist.
    • Au contraire; I’m talking about your adversaries. They probably take up most of your mental bandwidth, and make you feel worse because you’ve lost to them. -*defensive* I don’t lose. I learn. 
    • You’re impressing me with your knowledge of mindset focus techniques. How does that translate when you’ve had to make such a transition from full mob boss to anonymous inmate number? -It translates just fine because no inmate is asinine enough to have drawn out stalling conversations with the man responsible for their death.
    • Oh, I’m going to have to challenge you on that one. You’re forecasting a future that may never happen. I’ve dealt with clairvoyants before, and they’re not perfect, either. That type of bias will get you into trouble. You need someone to watch those psychological blindspots. -*exasperated* You’re really just going to stay there and act like I’m not insulting you, warning you to get the hell away from me? You really are off your rocker! 
    • Every conversation is an opportunity for growth. Even when I have my own doubts of the benefit, I’m willing to try. Surprises only happen if you take a chance. How long have you focused on such a restrictive life? – Come here inside this cage, I’ll show you restrictions.
    • Thankfully we only resort to restraint when it’s absolutely necessary. If you decide to be unruly, then 4-points are readily available, along with injection medication depending on your symptoms. Thankfully, I don’t have to directly get involved in that. – Too scared? Don’t want to get your hands dirty and make the hard choices? You’re soft. Especially on the outside. I bet you go down after… let’s say 3 hits.
    • Well, I’ve been hit 4 times and got a broken rib, so you’re not too far off. Nice guy though, just let his delusions get the better of him and incorporated me. You on the other hand, are all about making direct threats and intimidating people that have no interest in such things. I’m sorry if I’m coming off aloof now. You’re getting away from the meaningful topics in your life to show yourself as a class D thug. – I came within inches of killing Batman. I left Stephanie Brown for dead. You want to call me D-class? Do so at your own risk.
    • *non-chalant* I…just did. Your wit is sharp enough that I don’t have to repeat what I said. Don’t miss the point that you present yourself that way, but have the potential to… – And we’re done here. Todd, if you don’t mind.
    • Wait, you’re supposed to protect m-*gate unlocks* You can lock up my body. But you never took the time to freeze my assets. And those are MUCH more powerful than anything I do physically. Having said that, let me show you what I can do. I don’t normally enjoy this… wait, who am I kidding, I love this! They say love what you do and never work a day in your life. In my case, that’s been true since day one. Now then… 
    • *muffled* Good self-actualization – Aww, if you think it’s hard to speak now, let’s see how well you talk when your jaw is in 3 pieces. The crowbar, please, Todd. 
    • *muffled scream* – Music to my ears…
  • Ending (48:25)
    • Recommended reading: Batman: War Games
    • Next episodes: John Walker, Isaiah Bradley (Ruby), Comic book death (Matt)
    • Plugs for social

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