While walking his dog in the 1940s, the young man who would become The Red Mask witnessed a meteorite fall to Earth and, out of curiosity, went over and investigated. He made a mistake he would regret for as long as he lived. He touched it. As a result, he was "cursed" with the ability to kill with a single touch. His dog was the first to discover this. Over time, his wife left him and he became distanced from society. Partly from a childhood dream to be somebody who made a difference, and partly from a very adult hatred of people, he decided to become a super villian. "A bad guy" in his words.
Over the years, he wasn't very successful as a super villain. He often attempted to specialize in thievery of banks and such, but he only had a handful of good raids. One of his biggest wins was against another, considerably better villain named Doctor Fang, whom he beat at cards, winning a team of very dangerous robots. He retired soon afterward, and let the robots rust.
One day, when he was in his 60s, he started to cough up blood. He continued coughing blood for days, and soon realized he was dying. He took stock of his life, and decided to put his underpants over his tights one last time. He would set his robots loose, let them wreak havoc over Miami, then when he was satisfied, he would take a leap of faith from a building. He watched the city burn for a while, then prepared to go sidewalk diving.
Animal Man showed up, and Red Mask told him his life story. Animal Man tried to talk Red Mask out killing himself. He actually managed to turn Red Mask's head when he told him a movie company might be interested in his life story, should he be willing to give it to them. Animal Man flew of to find someone who could help. While he was waiting, Red Mask coughed up blood again, and said "To hell with it." Then, for a few seconds at least, he fulfilled his childhood dream. He flew.
The costume of the Red Mask is almost, strangely identical to the most recent Red Hood costume from Batman and Robin. The main difference is that the yellow on Red Mask's is replaced by black.