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This artefact appears in a minor 1973 Batman story.

I had entirely forgotten about it. But it was reprinted in a collection of Batman tales written by Archie Goodwin  .

This obscure relic can be useful in stories. And heh, not every profile has to be a multi-parts monster spanning universes and centuries.

The mask resembles the Scarlet Mask – from another forgotten 1973 comic feature.



This mask is a religious artefact of a (fictional) Central American culture of yore, the Xochipecs.

It resembles their skull-headed god of death, Matuchima.

The mask was considered a gift from that god, conferring death-dealing powers. Wearing it made a warrior nigh-invincible, but also condemned to die soon after the battle.

Archaeologist Austin Spires unearthed it deep in the jungle. The mask and his other findings became a special 1973 Xochipec exhibit at the Gotham Museum.

Curse of the deathmask !

However, the upper management of the Museum was riddled with ego and influence conflicts. Several men, including Spires, thought that they should be the director.

Preying on this, Spires shared his translations about the mask holding great power. This baited other managers to try the mask just to see.

They were thus dosed with a Xochipec concoction, the mask having a hidden injector. This drug turned them into a berserker warrior then killed them through cardiac failure.

Two men died thusly. But Batman (Bruce Wayne) deduced the truth.

(Look, I just wanted to write “thusly” for once.)

Spires attempted to flee with the mask, to sell it for a fortune. But his rash move sent him falling to his death. The mask was seemingly destroyed in the fall.

Death mask of Matuchima - Batman artefact - DC Comics

Powers & Abilities

The scary-looking mask has a discreet spur at the base. When donned, it stings the neck. If a hidden reservoir has been filled, this injects a special narcotic.

The drug triggers an unthinking berserker rage. Even an untrained person can batter the 1973 Batman, ignoring his punches and moving with great strength and speed.

However, their heart will eventually burst.

We can assume that the wearer could also withstand smaller melee weapons, like the ones historically made in ore-poor Central America. However, a full mag of .45 ACP bullets at close range could kill a death mask berserker.

The mask comes with a spiked club. It looks *vaguely* like a macuahuitl (ˈkʷawit͡ɬ] – or so I’m told), but it seems to just be a stout blunt weapon.

It also came with a red robe. But that bit was probably modern.

Death mask of Matuchima - Batman artefact - DC Comics - Brawl duel


Once the narcotic takes effect, the victim will cease speaking.

They will brutally, relentlessly act on their frustrations, desires and impulses. Like a man given a bottle of bourbon and the keys to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hummer.

DC Universe Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this item in DC Universe stories).

Samples of the Xochipec drugs could have been part of a specific strain of Venom.

The original was based on Rex Tyler’s work. But the variant designed in Santa Prisca and used on Bane could conceivably draw from the Matuchima sacred drug.

DC Heroes RPG

The MASK itself has BODY 02.

The narcotic is best represented with italicised Attributes. Since apparently, any random schlemiel will become unstoppable. So /DEX/ 11 /STR/ 06 /BODY/ 05, Acrobatics (Athletics): 06, Martial artist (EV): 08, Skin armour: 04.

Skin armour only works vs Unarmed, Blunt, Structural and forms of Piercing and Slashing Descriptors that are smaller than a broadsword.

Cardiac stress will kill within a few hours. An aged man in bad health might last but minutes. I’d imagine that an athlete in great shape might hold on for 8 or 10 hours.

The club likely goes [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 07), Descriptor: Bludgeon]. Go shawty, go in da club !

Design notes

The stats are based on 1973 Batman likely being DEX 09 STR 05 BODY 05. Even with such high Attributes, he got steamrolled. Since there’s only one Martial Artist sub per Phase and the mask-wearer gets superhuman scores in AV, OV, EV *and* RV.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Det #437.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 15th of January, 2020.