Cover art for The Twelve #4.
Art by Kaare Andrews.
|First appearance||Daring Mystery Comics #2|
|Alter ego||Dennis Burton|
|Team affiliations||The Twelve|
|Abilities||Expert marksman and pugilist|
The Laughing Mask (Dennis Burton) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is a Timely Comics Golden Age superhero which appeared in Daring Mystery Comics #2, 1941, and reappeared in The Twelve. He was a deputy district attorney who took to murdering criminals in the vein of Marvel's later The Punisher, although the Laughing Mash used a phosphorescent mask to scare his victims prior to the kill.
His one Golden Age story was reprinted in The Twelve #0.
For unknown reasons he became The Purple Mask (Daring Mystery Comics #3,4) and was the cover feature on Daring Mystery Comics #3. The first Purple Mask story was reprinted in Daring Mystery 70th Anniversary Special.
Michael J. Vasallo identifies The Falcon (appearing in Daring Mystery Comics #5-6) as a revamp of The Purple Mask. That character was also a deputy district attorney, but his name was Carl Burgess and was, in terms of continuity, a distinct character. The Falcon appeared on the cover of Daring Mystery Comics #5. The Falcon did not kills his foes per se, but he allowed them to be killed by their own actions.
Fictional character biography
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Dennis Burton was a Deputy District Attorney who became frustrated with the American civil justice process and decided to take the law into his own hands. Using the alias "The Laughing Mask", he donned a red suit and phosphorescent glowing mask, plus a pair of .45 pistols. He accepted killing as a means for justice, shooting several unarmed gangsters during his first appearance. Burton subsequently appeared as the Purple Mask, who did not kill his foes, but left them bound for the police.
Some time after his official introduction as a superhero, The Laughing Mask joins Captain America, the Invaders and a cadre of second-tier superheroes in the Battle of Berlin. There he's ambushed and captured along with Blue Blade, The Black Widow (unrelated to the modern character of that name), Captain Wonder, Dynamic Man, Fiery Mask, Rockman, the original Master Mind Excello, Mister E, Phantom Reporter, the Witness and the telepathically controlled robot Electro. As Electro is deactivated and unable to help the other heroes, they are doused with sleeping gas and put in cryogenic stasis by Nazi scientists, hoping to dissect them and discover the secret of their superhuman abilities. Dennis Burton, along with the others, is "lost" when the scientists are killed during the fall of Berlin, and he's discovered only many years later, in modern time.
Living in a luxurious mansion with his former teammates, he resumes his heroic business, this time in full compliance with the Superhero Registration Act. His trademark pistols become his undoing when he registers them as his weaponry of choice. The pistols are discovered to have been looted from his execution of a mobster during the 1940s, a crime for which the Laughing Mask is still held accountable. He is then arrested. Master Mind Excello later arranges for his bail.
In return for clemency on his arrest, the Mask arranges to work with the robotic 'Electro', as he is one of the few entities compatible with the being. Via remote he attacks a Middle Eastern drug operation.
During a flashback sequence it was revealed Laughing Mask killed several unarmed German prisoners of war.