Written By: Tom Taylor
Art by: Cully Hammer
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Letters by: Wes Abbott
Black Mask is one of those Batman villains that represents the street level aspect of Batman’s crime fighting career. Black Mask is a villain that would like to take over the world, but he usually just settles for trying to take over Gotham. In “Year of the Villain: Black Mask” we get to see this side of Black Mask in the beginning of the issue, and a more ambitious side of him in the second half, albeit one that’s being led by Lex Luthor. Black Mask is a character that really doesn’t get the spotlight all that often, although that’s seemingly about to change being that he’s the main villain of the new “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” film. I’m excited that he’s getting the spotlight in that film while being played by Ewan Mcgregor, and I’m excited that he got a spotlight in this issue. That’s the real benefit to this Year of the Villain theme that DC’s pushing, is that we’re getting a chance to spend some time focusing on the antagonists of the DC Universe.
Tom Taylor of Injustice and the recent DCeased comic is the writer of this issue and he really takes his time making sure you get to know who Black Mask is by giving you a quick retelling of his origin. We get to see his childhood relationship with Bruce Wayne and his character defining resentment towards his parents for the way they abused him. We get to see how Black Mask became the Black Mask and we see him in action before being confronted by Lex. As someone who knew very little about Black Mask, I really enjoyed the way that Taylor introduced the character and made his backstory relevant to what this story was and not something that was there just to be there.
On top of being an interesting study of Black Mask, this issue also features Batwoman and Renae Montoya, both of which are making their live action appearances in the Birds Of Prey film and Batwoman show respectively. Their story is not one that I know much about but this issue seems to push it forward a bit and because of that, this issue actually has some stakes and a level of importance to it that some of the Year of the Villain stuff hasn’t had. Whether Black Mask’s story continues or this issue is actually important or not I’m not sure, but because of the events that take place and the way that it ends, Taylor presents everything in a way that makes Black Mask seem like an important piece of the larger puzzle.