Man in the iron mask
This device appears in one of the stories in Batman Vol. 1 #39 (1947).
It’s downright obscure, but if you’d like to bring back some of the weirder Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Batman stuff in a story…
Powers & Abilities
This solid iron mask that covers the entire head and neck, plus parts of the shoulders.
In this story, a key use is to block incoming punches with one’s head. It doesn’t hurt the mask-bearer at all. And the pain and damage can easily incapacitate even a fit and trained puncher.
The two persons who wear the mask during the story turn out to be excellent brawlers. They can hold their own against the Batman.
Now, 1947 Batman wasn’t a combat monster. A determined thug could still be a threat. But it’s a bit odd. Thus, our game stats play that up by having the mask somehow enhance most bearers’ combat prowess.
Nobody ever worries about eating and drinking whilst wearing the mask. So there likely is a mechanism to allow for that.
In 1947, a mobster going by “Iron-Hat” Ferris was spotted talking to the police.
His boss, nicknamed “Specs”, produced a medieval Schandmaske (“shame mask”). He had his men weld it shut around Iron-Hat’s head, then warned other criminals not to offer help to the traitor.
Historically, Schandmasken (also known as witch’s bridles, mordacchias, etc.) were chiefly used in parts of Europe to punish and shame women for speaking up. Or for gossiping about the wrong persons.
But this specific mask (which curiously evokes Batman’s mask) seems different.
One caption in the story specifically references Alexandre Dumas’ Le vicomte de Bragelonne. Which is the last of the Musketeers Trilogy novels.
Le Vicomte is one of the more famous literary uses of the “the man in the iron mask” historical anecdote, which long fascinated the French public. So mentioning it may imply that this specific mask of shame was built to punish men.
Know that a mask brings power
One of Iron-Hat’s buddies was willing to take tools to the mask and open it. But he demanded a grand in cash (about $12K in 2018 USD) due to the risks.
Desperate, the man in the iron mask broke into an iron tabs food supplement plant to steal money. But Batman and Robin forced him to flee.
As it happened, the 1947 electoral campaign for District Attorney was on. One Henry Kendall saw an opportunity to make the current D.A. look incompetent – and take over.
Kendall lucked out and found Iron-Hat Ferris first. He lured him by promising a deal. But Kendall instead bound Ferris, took the iron mask and impersonated him.
The iron-masked Kendall launched a wave of robberies. He targeted companies evoking iron, to make it all more memorable.
Batman and Robin tried to stop him, but he escaped.
Not the king of the Rumba beat
However, a tracer bug allowed the Dynamic Duo to locate the Man In The Iron Mask’s hideout. They got in just before Kendall would put the mask back on Ferris and eliminate him.
Furthermore, Batman had put on a pair of cesti. These allowed him to punch the mask without harm to himself.
Though he had been knocked out, Kendall recovered, rushed Batman and fled. But he was still wearing the iron mask. While running across the open field behind his hideout, he was struck by lightning and slain.
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
This story took place nearly 40 years before Black Mask’s debut. So a tie is unlikely.
But I guess this specific mask could show up as an Easter Egg in Black Mask’s collection. Perhaps it would be next to the Scarlet Mask, the Death Mask of Matuchima and the Ion Mask ?
DC Heroes RPG
Tell me more about the game stats
- BODY 04.
- Claws Being: 04.
- Descriptor: Bludgeon.
- Enhance (Structural RV): 01 (cap is 06).
- Enhance (RV against Unarmed, Critical, Devastation and doubles): 04 (cap is 08).
- Enhance (Facial attacks RV): 01 (cap is 05).
- Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 03).
- Martial Artist: 05.
- Shade (Audial): 01.
- Drawback: Audial Perception rolls have +1CS to their OV/RV.
- Attack Vulnerability (-1 CS AV/OV vs. electricity).
- Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP (2 APs against Unarmed attacks).
- Note: Claws Being can only be used when Blocking an Unarmed Attack. It is Combined with this Dice Action, but using Claws Being still uses up an Automatic Action.]
Source of Character: Batman Vol. 1 #39.
Writeup completed on the 27th of October, 2018.