Mask is a two-part Batman story which originally appeared in the pages of Legends of the Dark Knight issues #39 and #40. Published in 1992 and written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot, the story sees Bruce Wayne drugged and psychologically manipulated so that he believe his life is a lie.
During the course of the story Bruce questions his own identity, wondering whether he is really a costumed crime-fighter, or just a penniless alcoholic. Does Batman really exist or is he just a figment of Bruce’s imagination?
What happens in Batman: Mask?
While on patrol in Gotham City, Batman begins to feel unwell. He takes himself to a side street where he promptly passes out.
When he awakes, the Caped Crusader discovers he is unmasked and lying in a hospital bed. At first he is concerned that his secret identity has been revealed, but it soon becomes clear all is not as it should be.
Speaking with an analyst called Doctor Clayton, Bruce Wayne is told that he is completely delusional. He is not a masked vigilante, but rather a drunk who has been in and out of institutions for years.
Suffering from disturbing visions of his parents, Bruce is unable to make sense of reality. However, he maintains a belief that he is Batman – even if he is continually told he is not.
Bruce continues to experience visions. He imagines what Gotham City would be like without Batman’s protection – it is a place filled with anarchy and destruction.
The visions include his friend and butler, Alfred Pennyworth. And during this vision, Bruce is given a choice – to give up or to believe in himself.
Making the decision to believe in his life as the Caped Crusader, Bruce wakes up. He discovers that the hospital he is staying in is all a facade.
The reality is that Bruce/Batman has been captured by Steven Gallagher – a man with a vendetta against the Dark Knight. Gallagher blames Batman for ruining his life, so he created an elaborate hoax to get revenge.
Although Gallagher has the upper hand, he is killed by his accomplice, allowing Bruce to escape. Bruce then dons his Bat-suit and vows to be Batman forever.
Is Batman: Mask worth a read?
Batman: Mask is a good little story, which looks at Bruce’s inner turmoil. It takes his fears, anxieties and internal pain, and uses them as the driving force of the narrative.
Utilising imaginative storytelling and some quite dark imagery, writer/artist Bryan Talbot conjures up a captivating tale which works perfectly as a two-part piece. And while the reveal isn’t quite as exciting as the set-up, this is ultimately a strong, small scale story with big ideas.
Has Batman: Mask been adapted into film?
To date, Batman: Mask has not been adapted into film, however, elements of the story share similarities to the Batman: The Animated Series episodes Dreams in Darkness and Perchance to Dream.
Personally I don’t think Mask would work well as a movie, it is much more suited to comics and/or television. But aspects of it could be developed into a motion picture.
I hope this information on Batman: Mask has proved useful. Should you want to read more posts about Batman, please take a look through I’ll Get Drive-Thru, or alternatively check out one of the recommended reads below.