THE MOUTHPIECEMedium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creator: Fred Guardineer
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In the early 1940s, it was all the rage for comic book characters to put on a mask and fight crime under phoney names. Even previously-established characters, whose regular lives contained ample scope for adventure, such as aviator Hop Harrigan, eventually adopted "Guardian Angel" as a nom du superhero. In Police Comics #1 (August, 1941), the same comic book
as The Mouthpiece's introduction, reporter Chic Carter, transferring over from Smash Comics (Bozo the Robot, The Jester) assumed the name "The Sword" for the same purpose. So naturally, that was the route chosen by young district attorney Bill Perkins, who was frustrated with his low conviction rate, which he blamed on the lack of evidence provided by the law-enforcement officers charged with the duty of gathering it.
As The Mouthpiece, however, Bill gave only lip service to gathering evidence his vigilante activities were more concerned with putting a stop to crime by any means he found necessary, legal or il-, which had little to do with the requirements of a courtroom. In fact, he was known to take the law into his own hands to the point of murdering the crooks he opposed, which he did on more than one occasion.
Still, lip service was more than The Black Hood, The Guardian and other lawmen-turned-superhero gave the legal niceties of their jobs. With them, the difficulty of obeying the law while enforcing it was often cited as the reason they became vigilantes in the first place.
The word "mouthpiece" is used by scofflaws to mean "lawyer", since a lawyer is whom a legal defendant speaks through. But since his "mouthpiece" takes the defense's side in a legal procedure, it seems odd for the D.A. to take that as a superhero name.
Be that as it may, as The Mouthpiece, Bill used a minimal superhero suit in fact, it was no different than the suit he wore in his regular job, with the addition of a mask. Just like The Spirit's if The Spirit had had a job. Like Midnight, the early Crimson Avenger and other "costumed" crime fighters, The Mouthpiece wore just a mask in addition to his normal clothes.
Police Comics #1, where The Mouthpiece debuted, also contained the introductory stories of heroes as enduring as The Phantom Lady and as ephemeral as 711. It was published by Quality Comics, also known for characters as varied as Blackhawk and Torchy. This character was created by Fred Guardineer, who was also responsible for DC Comics' Zatara the Magician and Quality's own The Blue Tracer.
To the extent he was a superhero (or any kind of a hero at all), The Mouthpiece was tied with Firebrand, for the distinction of being the first such character dropped from Police Comics, which also sported such series stars as Plastic Man and The Human Bomb. His final appearance was in #13 (November, 1942).
In 1956, DC Comics acquired properties from Quality, resulting in the eventual revival of The Ray, Quicksilver and many others. But that didn't do The Mouthpiece any good. Except for an occasional reprint, he was never seen again.