Wednesday, June 19, 2013


It's been a long time since my last update. This ends up happening when I've got a lot on my plate. A lot of script writing, pitch writing, drawing, and inking. So I apologize for the long wait for some of this. But it's time for me to play catch-up and start to say my final thoughts on a lot of past comics I've had a part in.

Each issue of Arkham Unhinged was a chance to shed light on some of the lesser used characters in the game. And that definitely was the case with Black Mask. Aside from his brief appearance at the beginning of Arkham City, as well as his challenge map train level, his time was short. Of course, it looks like that's going to change in Arkham Origins.
Telling Black Mask's story was about going through the history of the character, and adapting an origin for him in the Arkhamverse. To help set up the reason he hates Bruce Wayne as well as Batman. And I also wanted to incorporate the train  sequence into the story before the start of the game itself.

The fun came in how to depict Black Mask. Sionis always had a chip on his shoulder, from his upbringing with bad parents, to losing the family company and fortune, to being disfigured. He was a top mob heavy that got dropped a few pegs once he was caught and couldn't get back into his factory inside Arkham City. But I admired his tenacity and brutal stubbornness. For a villain, he sort of exudes a strong work ethic. And never content with what he's been dealt. Always looking for a way to gain ground and get back on top. And we put him through his paces here…captured, escaped, recaptured.

Harley's hyenas showed up strictly because I've always enjoyed then in the animated series. And I felt they could be worked into this story fairly naturally. I didn't like the idea of them being stuffed in Penguin's museum. If that did end up happening in the Arkhamverse (and wasn't just Penguin bragging), then it happened after this story. Poor Bud and Lou. I choose to believe it never happened.

I also found a way to stick Firefly into the Arkhamverse. Roman and Garfield Lynns had some past history together, so I thought it would be fun to have him show up in our story (even if it is a glorified cameo). I always hoped I'd have more time to explore the two of them, but my run ended before I got that chance.
Sadly, the thing I'll remember most from this story was the timing of it. The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado was fresh on everyone's minds. Out of that horrible tragedy, DC decided to delay putting out an issue of Batman Incorporated due to some of its content. But then my story was brought to some attention for the part with Black Mask's shootout in a theatre. It had come out around the same time as the real incident and wasn't pulled or delayed. I just hated the idea that this got mentioned at all. You never write these stories wishing for any of this fantasy to happen. Or to get wound up in any controversy over it. Not when the real life tragedy was horrible enough.

Artist Eric Nguyen did a fantastic job drawing this issue. We had worked one time before on an origin story in Justice League Beyond. For that, he adapted a more animated style approach. But for this story, he changed his style a little more hard edged and it really fit. He draws one creepy looking Black Mask.

Also below are just a few panels that changed during the production of the issue. Sometimes the art didn't fit exactly the first time around, and would get corrected and redrawn. Baby Roman was in an awkward position in the first panel and looks better in the second. Same with the idea of Roman burning down his parents' home. We decided not to show him actually doing the deed, and focusing more on the actual results. All a part of the behind-the-scenes magic that goes into the making of a comic.


  1. Definitely one of my favorite stories, and honestly my preferred origin for the Black Mask.

    1. Thanks Bill. I do like my Gotham villains with their tragic pasts. Very few are outright evil people, but their journey to get there is the interesting part.