Real Name: Dennis Burton
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Assistant District Attorney
Enemies: Whalen, Renard
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Purple Mask
Base of Operations: Unknown
First Appearance: as the Laughing Mask Daring Mystery Comics #2 (Timely Comics, November 1939)
as the Purple Mask Daring Mystery Comics #3 (Timely Comics, January 1940)
Powers/Abilities: Good fighter and detective. Maintains a "crime lab" so presumably he has some scientific knowledge.
History: Dennis Burton was an idealistic young Assistant District Attorney who grew disillusioned with the ease many criminals avoided punishment for their wrong-doing. Coming from a long line of law enforcers, he couldn't stomache this, and so, armed with twin .45s and an eerily glowing mask (with a wide, smiling face on it), he became the Laughing Mask, scourge of the underworld. He had no compunctions about killing, even shooting a gangster who was tied up and defenceless.
After a brief career with this identity, Dennis decided for reasons unknown to design a new costume, and became the Purple Mask. The look might have changed, and he was marginally less murderous, but criminals still had reason to fear encountering him.
Comments: While it was never explicitly stated that The Laughing Mask and the Purple Mask were the same man (e.g. no story actually showed him giving up one identity for the other), given that both characters had the exact same secret identity, profession and modus operandi, it does seem a fair assumption to have them be one and the same. Laughing Mask appeared in Daring Mystery Comics #2, the Purple Mask in the next two issues.
Thanks to Jess Nevins for allowing me to use information from his excellent Golden Age Heroes Directory and his Guide to Golden Age Marvel Characters. Thanks also to Richard Boucher & Darrin Wiltshire @ PR-Publications for permission to use information from their equally brilliant collection of Golden Age Sites, PR Publications. Their knowledge of Golden Age characters far outstrips my own. Thanks also to Copper for letting me use his Micro Hero version of the Laughing Mask, in lieu of an actual Golden Age picture.
CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with
Purple Hood, British government agent
The Purple Mask, Dandy supervillain
anyone else who is Laughing, Purple, or wearing a Mask
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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