Roger Hayden as the Psycho-Pirate in Batman #20 (April 2017).
Art by David Finch.
|First appearance||Charles Halstead:|
All-Star Comics #23 (December 1944)
Showcase #56 (June 1965)
|Created by||Charles Halstead:|
|Alter ego||- Charles Halstead|
- Roger Hayden
|Team affiliations||Roger Hayden:|
Secret Society of Super Villains
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 In other media
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Fictional character biography
Charles Halstead is a minor character who first appears in All-Star Comics #23, created by Gardner Fox and Joe Gallagher. He was originally a linotyper for the Daily Courier who became jealous of his boss's success; later, he becomes a criminal mastermind under the name Psycho-Pirate. He plans crimes based on emotions, hoping to ruin his boss. Nothing is known of the life of Charles Halstead before he became a linotyper at the Daily Courier. A long-time employee, Halstead was a friend and favorite of publisher Rex Morgan. Secretly, however, Halstead was frustrated with his lack of advancement at the paper and, at some point, snapped. He resolved to take what he had never been able to earn and his first target was the paper itself. He began to stage a series of crimes based on emotions (hate, greed, etc.), cluing the Courier with leads to his crimes.
As time passed, Halstead, as the Psycho-Pirate, became bolder. He penned a letter to the Courier, challenging the Justice Society to stop a new wave of crimes based on a variety of emotions. For example, he engendered fear into the inhabitants of a city where he threatened to unleash a deadly plague until his plan was halted by Dr. Mid-Nite. Each JSAer was given an emotion and a task to solve. With the JSA dispersed and only the Atom to guard Halstead, the Psycho-Pirate began a campaign to demoralize the publisher with constant news of despair: business failure, divorce, foreclosure—a series of lies designed to crush the spirit of his employer. To remove the Atom, he convinced the hero that the JSA had been captured and sent the Mighty Mite to rescue them. The Atom discovered the ruse and defeated the criminal's henchmen disguised as JSAers. In doing so, the Atom discovered the true identity of the Psycho-Pirate, who shot him to preserve his secrecy. Wounded, the Atom made it to the Courier just as the JSA returned and exposed Halstead as the Psycho-Pirate. Halstead was subsequently sentenced to a lengthy prison term after the Justice Society of America captured and put him in jail. He escaped by playing on the emotions of a guard, but the JSA heard of his plans from his cellmate and were able to recapture him. He continued to research the mysticism of emotions until his death sometime in the 1960s.
Roger Hayden first appeared as the second Psycho-Pirate in Showcase #56, created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.
Roger Hayden is a jailed gangster (later retconned into a young 20-year-old who was sentenced to a year in prison for attacking his emotionally abusive psychiatrist father) who is a cellmate to Halstead on Earth-Two. Halstead's dying wish to have a legacy prompts him to tell Hayden of a secret which he has divined in his jail years, the existence of the Medusa Masks. These golden masks bestow upon the wearer the power to project emotions onto others. Hayden finds these masks, merges them into a single faceplate and uses its powers to become a supervillain. It becomes increasingly apparent that he is addicted to absorbing others' emotions, though it causes him pain, possibly brought on by the combination of all of the masks into one. He is eventually imprisoned after a battle with Doctor Fate and Hourman.
Hayden returns to prominence when he insidiously begins influencing prominent Gotham City citizens Bruce Wayne and Alan Scott, the former a wealthy businessman and now commissioner of Gotham's police force, the latter the president of the television station WXYZ. Initially, Scott is the most affected as he, in his Green Lantern persona, begins exercising his frustrations upon humanity for the failures of his private life, such as the impending bankruptcy of his station. After creating a disturbance at Gotham International Airport, he is subdued by his Justice Society comrades, who assist both Scott and teammate Flash, who had also been under Hayden's control. The Society has to next battle a civil war within their membership instigated by Wayne, still under Hayden's control and determined to rid Gotham of all superheroes.
Hayden later joins the Secret Society of Super Villains, having been recruited by the Ultra-Humanite to defeat Hayden's old foe Hourman. While he is initially successful thanks to a device the Ultra-Humanite devises that amplifies and projects Hayden's face and hence his control, ultimately both the Justice Society and the Justice League defeat Hayden and his teammates after their betrayal of fellow Secret Society members. The villains are deposited into an interdimensional rift known as Limbo.
From there, the Ultra-Humanite gains mental contact with his younger self from the 1940s, and the two Ultra-Humanites are able to pull the Secret Society, including Hayden, back to that era, where they confront and are defeated by the All-Star Squadron and the time-lost Infinity Inc.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
In the Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series, the Monitor recruits Hayden—who goes on to help Firestorm recruit Killer Frost to the Monitor's team by making her fall in love with her enemy—but he is abducted by the Anti-Monitor. In exchange for an entire world to play with, Psycho-Pirate becomes an accomplice to the Anti-Monitor, manipulating a captive Barry Allen, his powers briefly being enhanced so that he can control the remaining three alternate Earths—Earth-4, Earth-S, and Earth-X—so that their heroes are provoked into attacking the teams sent to rescue them, although use of his powers on this scale causes him to "burn out" so that he cannot use his powers again afterward. Although the Anti-Monitor constantly belittles the Psycho-Pirate, he keeps him around because his emotion-manipulating abilities may prove useful, and the Anti-Monitor lacks the time to find or create someone else with those powers. After the resolution of the Crisis, Psycho-Pirate is one of the few to have full memories of the event. Driven mad by these memories, the Psycho-Pirate is shown in the last few panels of Crisis in a straitjacket, as the scene pans out from his eyes to a full view of Earth from space.
Following the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hayden escaped Arkham Asylum and encountered a renegade 5th Dimension Thunderbolt genie who had merged with private investigator Jonnie Thunder. In the pages of Infinity, Inc. #30-34, the two bedevil the members of Infinity, Inc. in a bid to destroy Jonnie's mind so that the Thunderbolt could seize total control over her body. During the arc, it is shown that the renegade Thunderbolt repeatedly electroshocked Psycho-Pirate upon recruiting him. This was done to "cure" Hayden of the madness he was suffering from; the side effect being that he lost all memories of the Crisis and the existence of parallel earths.
Defeated, Hayden relocated to Markovia and impersonated the villain Baron Bedlam in order to gain power in the nation. In a story that spanned two specials (Outsiders Special and Infinity, Inc. Special), the Outsiders and Infinity, Inc. defeated Psycho-Pirate and the villain was imprisoned.
Hayden shows up again in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. The effects of the electroshocks given to him by the renegade Thunderbolt had worn off and Hayden's memories of the Crisis and multiple Earths were restored. He ends up releasing characters destroyed during the Crisis back into the world. Many of these characters come to realize they are just characters in a comic book. After an intervention by Animal Man, Hayden, seemingly happy, fades away into nothingness (due to the strain from releasing all of the forgotten characters), removing him from reality and placing him back in Limbo. James Highwater, one of the Asylum staff, is left to wear the Medusa Mask and keep the forgotten worlds contained. The other staff members come to accept Highwater as a patient, not realizing at all that anything is wrong.
At some point, the Medusa Mask is held by the Force of July. Abraham Lincoln Carlyle, who shelters the Force, claims to have gotten the mask from Hayden and learned how to use it by watching him. He tries to use the mask, unsuccessfully, against Shade, the Changing Man as his team was under attack from the Suicide Squad. His heart fails him and he dies.
Psycho-Pirate does not appear again until 1995, when he becomes part of the Underworld Unleashed crossover event. Like many other villains, Psycho-Pirate sells his soul to the demon Neron in exchange for more power. The process results in a costume change as well. Hayden now wears a black leather jacket. His mask morphs into an eyepatch and the metal of the mask has largely replaced one-half of his brain. Sane, and making no allusion to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and the existence of the Multiverse, Psycho-Pirate goes on to fight the Chase Lawler version of Manhunter, once before being arrested and sent to jail.
After his appearance in the Fate series, Psycho-Pirate makes two brief appearances during the Joker: Last Laugh crossover event. He is first seen locked up in the maximum security prison called the "Slab". He is once again insane and rambling of the existence of the Multiverse and is seen in his original costume. All but one eye of his face is covered and his eyebrows have been shaved off so as to reduce his ability to express emotion. The Joker initiates a breakout and infection of the inmates; they now follow his orders and commit dangerous pranks. Hayden is seen shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.
Psycho-Pirate reappears in the JSA Classified #1–4 story arc, in which he reveals that he and Power Girl are refugees from Earth-Two. Along with other individuals (such as Donna Troy, her evil alter ego Dark Angel, and several others), they were missed in the restructuring of the Multiverse into a universe. Hence, Power Girl's original origin is her one true origin.
Psycho-Pirate hopes to weaken Power Girl mentally so that she can be captured as part of Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s plot involving characters originally from different universes. Psycho-Pirate flees and vows to make Power Girl his love slave once Luthor is finished with her.
When Nightwing, Superboy, and Wonder Girl attack Luthor's base, they free all the captive heroes, including Power Girl and Black Adam, who are then confronted by the Psycho-Pirate. Black Adam proceeds to gouge out the Psycho-Pirate's eyes and pushes the Medusa Mask through his head, killing him.
Psycho-Pirate is mentioned in Justice League of America #1 as selling emotional states, such as "happy" and "ecstatic", much like a drug dealer. Among his reported clients are Signalman and Silver Ghost. Psycho-Pirate's Medusa Mask is also featured in the 2008 Raven miniseries. In the story's conclusion, Raven destroyed the mask, but its power still affected scientists who studied its schematics on a computer.
In the Blackest Night storyline, Psycho-Pirate has been identified as one of the deceased who are entombed below the Hall of Justice. Psycho-Pirate's corpse is revived as a Black Lantern during the event. He attacks Smallville, using his powers to manipulate the inhabitants and sway Conner Kent into attacking Superman. Psycho-Pirate murders several Smallville citizens after using his powers to enhance their emotions; Black Lanterns enjoy attacking the emotionally overwrought.
Conner attacks Superman and aids the Black Lantern Superman from Earth 2. However, the effect of the mask wears off and Conner once more regains his senses. Clark and Conner decide to separate with Conner confronting Psycho-Pirate. This time he manages to withstand his manipulation and steal the Medusa Mask (reconstructed via the black ring). Using the artifact, he inspires hope, will, and compassion, ending the riots in Smallville. Psycho-Pirate is last seen retreating into a dark alley, followed by Conner. Conner then uses the Medusa Mask on Kal-L, causing the black rings to malfunction and turning both Psycho-Pirate and Kal-L back into inanimate corpses.
The New 52
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, a new Psycho-Pirate first appears in Superboy Vol. 6 #23 as a member of the Twenty, a group of people who are infected by Brainiac with a psionic virus, thus giving them all psionic abilities. He was captured by the H.I.V.E. Queen, another member of the Twenty who had become a zealous devotee of Brainiac. He managed to escape and sought out the Medusa Mask, an artifact that he believed would protect him against other people with psychic powers. He then spent the next four years hiding other psychics from H.I.V.E. who were using the people they captured to power their operations in Metropolis.
During the Psi-War storyline, the Psycho-Pirate appears and takes out Hector Hammond and the H.I.V.E. Queen, who were both fighting for control of the city. When Superman arrives at H.I.V.E.'s headquarters, Hayden confronts him and drains his mind too. He is then surprised by Lois Lane, who was infected with the same psionic virus by Senator Hume, yet another member of the Twenty. The two fight, with Hayden getting the upper hand. He then proceeds to make Metropolis' citizens act on pure emotion, creating riots and chaos throughout the streets. A recovered Superman, Lois Lane, Hector Hammond, and the H.I.V.E. Queen then team up to fight the Pirate and a fierce battle ensues, during which the Queen and Hammond are beaten. Superman manages to pull the Medusa Mask off of Hayden's face and incinerates it with his heat vision, defeating the Psycho-Pirate. However, he disappears in the aftermath of the battle.
At the same time as he was clashing with Superman, Roger Hayden also sent an astral projection to confront Superboy and Doctor Psycho who are in New York City looking for a psychic called Shift. He reveals that Psycho was only manipulating Superboy to get his power. A three-way battle ensues between the three characters, which ends with Doctor Psycho being defeated and Superboy falling unconscious, only to wake up in a cell powerless.
Psycho-Pirate and Hugo Strange are sent to Gotham as part of Amanda Waller's Task Force X. As soon as they arrive, Hugo Strange deviates from their mission and uses Psycho-Pirate to infect Gotham City's newest heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl, with overwhelming rage and fear, respectively, causing Gotham to go on a murderous rampage. With this accomplished, Strange trades the Psycho-Pirate to Bane, who wants the Pirate to help him overcome the horrors of his childhood and his addiction to Venom. When Batman learns of this, he forms his own Suicide Squad with the Bronze Tiger, the Ventriloquist, Catwoman, and Punch and Jewelee. Together, they infiltrate Bane's prison fortress on the island of Santa Prisca and retrieve the Psycho-Pirate. Batman returns the Pirate to Gotham City and uses him to reverse the emotional damage that he did to Gotham Girl.
The Medusa Mask is taken into Batman's custody. When Batman accidentally puts the blood-stained smiley face button from the corpse of Edward Blake (the Comedian) left in Batman's Batcave by Dr. Manhattan, next to the Medusa Mask, both artifacts create an energy reaction that attracts the attention of the Reverse Flash. The Reverse Flash is then killed by Dr. Manhattan, but not before the Medusa Mask manifests the erased-from-existence Jay Garrick; who frantically attempts to warn Batman and Flash of Manhattan's evil scheme to alter the timeline so as to eliminate the Justice League and a create a darker, more cynical Superman, and a version of the Flashpoint Universe Thomas Wayne, who begs Batman to give up his costumed identity for a normal existence.
Shortly after those events, Hayden has the Medusa Mask returned to him by agents of Bane. From there, it is revealed in the wake of the aborted Batman and Catwoman wedding that Hugo Strange, Psycho-Pirate and Gotham Girl were actually working together in secret with Bane, and that Psycho-Pirate has resurrected the Flashpoint Batman from the dead, to aid in Bane's scheme.
Powers and abilities
Charles Halstead has no superhuman powers; he is, however, a brilliant criminal mind with an excellent grasp of human psychology and emotions.
With the Medusa Mask, Roger Hayden is able to project emotions into people. Often, it seems to intensify emotions that a person already feels, no matter how small. Hayden later shows the power to manifest DC Multiverse characters that had been destroyed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This power expands to any Multiverse character, including the still-living. Psycho-Pirate has also shown some sort of regeneration of body control, as he is able to reform after being crushed by Power Girl, and also disguises himself as a Legion flight ring.
During his '90s revamp, Psycho-Pirate was an "psychic vampire", able to drain emotions from people.
Following the New 52 reboot, Roger Hayden is depicted as a psychic who specializes in telepathically manipulating people's emotions. Examples include: calming a person to make them more reasonable or amplifying negative emotions such as fear or anger to the point of sending people into a murderous frenzy. While wearing the Medusa Mask, Hayden's emotion-manipulating powers were increased to the point where he could control all of Metropolis without straining himself. The mask also provided him with a number of other abilities, including shielding his mind against intrusion from other telepaths; levitation; draining other psi-powered individuals of their mental energies to increase his own; projecting psionic constructs in the form of giant orange snakes which he used to attack; forming a psychic link with another person; projecting his mind over tremendous distances, essentially granting him omnipresence; deflecting psionic attacks; projecting bolts of psionic energy; and creating illusions.
In other media
- In Justice League Unlimited, the Roger Hayden version of Psycho-Pirate makes a cameo appearance as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society. He has no lines and takes no significant action in any episode. Notably, he is lacking the Medusa Mask.
- The Roger Hayden incarnation of Psycho-Pirate appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Armin Shimerman. In the episode "Inside the Outsiders", he is a sadist who kidnaps the group of teenage heroes known as the Outsiders (Black Lightning, Katana and Metamorpho) and feeds off their rage caused by twisted nightmares. Batman goes inside their minds to save them, but Psycho-Pirate fakes his victory, almost causing Batman to feed him rage by pretending to kill the Outsiders. Batman realizes this, and thinks positive thoughts, starving the villain, and defeating him. Psycho-Pirate also made a cameo appearance in "Mayhem of the Music Meister" in the musical number "Drives Us Bats", as one of the patients at Arkham Asylum mesmerized into singing by the Music Meister.
- In the Constantine episode "Blessed are the Damned", the Medusa Mask is briefly seen among the artifacts stored in Jasper Winter's house.
- In The Flash episode "Nora", Nora West-Allen reveals a newspaper from 2049 to her father, Barry Allen about his disappearance in 2024. The newspaper includes a quote from Roger Hayden a.k.a. Psycho-Pirate, who claims to remember the events of the Flash's final battle with the Reverse-Flash and Flash's disappearance, who says, "Worlds lived, worlds died. Nothing will ever be the same."
- The Roger Hayden incarnation of Psycho-Pirate made his live action debut in the DCTV crossover "Elseworlds", portrayed by Bob Frazer. In the second part of the crossover, Hayden is part of a group of inmates attempting to escape from Arkham Asylum after being released by John Deegan before being stopped by Batwoman. In the final part, he reappears in his cell with his signature mask with a disfigured Deegan as his neighbor, cryptically quoting, "Worlds will live, worlds will die and the universe will never be the same."
- The Roger Hayden version of Psycho-Pirate appears as a playable character in Lego DC Super-Villains, with Armin Shimerman reprising the role from the Batman: The Brave and the Bold series.
- In the Justice League Adventures Issue #20 story "Emotional Baggage", Roger Hayden is a former psychiatrist (suspended for malpractice) whose wife and son died during an alien attack in Metropolis that the Justice League was involved in. He blames the League for this, displacing his own guilt. To exact revenge, he steals the Medusa Mask and becomes the Psycho-Pirate, first turning civilians against the League and then using the members' deeply hidden resentments to turn them against each other. By shape-shifting the emotion centers of his brain, Martian Manhunter frees himself and stops the Pirate's rampage by going into Hayden's memories of his family. Hayden is later seen in a straitjacket after this; doctors believe that the Medusa Mask has driven him insane. However, the "horrors" they say he is experiencing in his mind turn out to be him telling his wife and son that he loves them.
- Psycho-Pirate appears as the primary antagonist of a special one-shot Young Justice issue published for Free Comic Book Day. He is shown working with Atomic Skull as part of a scheme to steal plutonium from a STAR Labs facility. Psycho-Pirate uses his Medusa Mask to force Superboy, Miss Martian, Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash to confront their inner demons, but is defeated and captured when Kid Flash breaks out of the illusion and removes the Medusa Mask from Psycho-Pirate's face.
- Earth-Two was established as a parallel world that served as the home of the Justice Society of America, as well as other DC Comics characters introduced during the Golden Age of Comic Books. Flash (vol. 1) #123 (September 1961).
- Suicide Squad #27, 1989
- Blackest Night #1 (July 2009)
- Blackest Night #3 (September 2009)
- Blackest Night: Superman #2 (2009)
- Blackest Night: Superman #3 (2009)
- Action Comics Vol. 3 #24
- Superman Vol. 3 #23-24
- Superboy Vol. 6 #23-24
- Batman (2016-) Vol. #1-3
- Batman #20-21 and Flash #20-21
- Agard, Chancellor (November 2, 2018). "Arrowverse 'Elseworlds' crossover to feature DC villain Psycho-Pirate". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
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