Unearthing Psycho-Pirate

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As the Blackest Night spreads across the DC Universe, Broken Frontier unearths the histories of several of the key players in the event.

Spoiler warning:  Read no further if you’ve not had a chance to dig into your most recent Blackest Night titles…

The story of Roger Hayden, the Psycho-Pirate, actually began with a minor Justice Society villain from All-Star Comics.  Charley Halstead, a jealous employee of the Daily Courier, utilized mystical emotion-themed attacks as the Psycho-Pirate in All-Star Comics #23 (Winter 1945) and #32 (December 1946) before being carted off to jail.  Years later, still incarcerated in the twilight of his life, Halstead found himself sharing a cell with a young criminal named Roger Hayden.  Seeking to extend his legacy beyond death, Halstead shared with the younger man the existence of the Medusa Masks, golden faceplates that bestowed the ability to project emotions onto others.  Upon his release, Hayden managed to seek out the masks, embarking on a criminal career clashing first with Dr. Fate and Hourman (Showcase #56, June 1965) and the Spectre (The Spectre #5, July 1968) as the new Psycho-Pirate. 

Psycho-Pirate resurfaced years later, subtlety manipulating the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott) with his powers, instigating a full-blown civil war among the members of the Justice Society, before finally being subdued (All-Star Comics #65-68, March-Oct 1977 and Justice League of America #147, October 1977).  Regrouping, Psycho-Pirate was recruited by the Ultra-Humanite as part of the Secret Society of Super-Villains, targeting members of both the Justice Society and Justice League.  While Hayden did managed to overcome his former rival, Hourman, a split between members of the Secret Society (when the foes of the Justice Society betrayed the rivals of the Justice League), allowed the heroes to triumph (Justice League of America #195-197, October-December 1981).  Trapped in limbo, Hayden and the Secret Society eventually escaped, landing in the past, where they were defeated by the All-Star Squadron and the time-displaced members of Infinity Inc. (All-Star Squadron #26, October 1983 & All-Star Squadron Annual #2, 1983).

Back in the present day, Psycho-Pirate found himself drawn into combat with Firestorm (The Fury of Firestorm #41, November 1985), a battle that would begin a series of life-altering events for Hayden.  During the fight, the mysterious Harbinger took both Firestorm and Psycho-Pirate, recruiting them to the cause of The Monitor, a cosmic entity seeking to save all of reality.  During a mission to prevent the DC Multiverse from collapsing, Hayden was abducted again, this time by the Monitor’s opposite number (and the source of the threat), the Anti-Monitor.  Serving the Anti-Monitor (who promised to feed Hayden’s growing addiction to the emotions of others by giving him an entire world), Psycho-Pirate was in part responsible for the deaths of Supergirl, the Flash and the entire DC Multiverse.  At the conclusion of the Crisis, Hayden was one of the few people left with full recollection of the disaster, as well as his own role in it.  Driven mad by this knowledge, Hayden was committed to Arkham Asylum (Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12, April 1985-March 1986).


Psycho-Pirate’s timeline becomes confusing over the next several years, beginning with a series of appearances in The Outsiders and Infinity Inc.  Following his failed bid to overthrow the country of Markovia (culminating in Infinity Inc. Special #1, 1987), Hayden ended back in Arkham Asylum where he encountered Animal Man  (Animal Man #10, April 1989).  Hayden and Animal Man eventually came face-to-face again, when many characters killed during Crisis on Infinite Earths began escaping through Psycho-Pirate.  Ultimately, Animal Man, the Crisis escapees and Psycho-Pirate came to realize they were all actually characters in a comic book.  With Animal Man’s aid, Hayden achieved a measure of peace, allowed to fade out of existence when one of Animal Man’s rivals took his place (Animal Man #24, June 1990).

At some point after this, Hayden returned – likely an editorial move, either through accidental or deliberate neglect of the Animal Man story.  Primarily appearing in “crowd shots” of super-villains, Hayden’s next significant role was in JSA Classified #1-4 (September-December 2005).  Clashing with Power Girl, Psycho-Pirate sought to incapacitate his foe by barraging her with countless explanations to her mysterious origins.  At the end of his games, Hayden eventually revealed that Power Girl, like himself, was a refugee from an alternate Earth that had been destroyed during the Crisis.  This was later revealed to be part of a larger plan to bring the DC Multiverse back into existence (Infinite Crisis #1-7, December 2005-June 2006).  During the new Crisis, Psycho-Pirate used his powers to manipulate Black Adam, an affront for which he would pay for dearly.  In Infinite Crisis #6 (May 2006), Adam confronted Hayden putting out the villain's eyes, before driving his hand through the back of Psycho-Pirate’s head.

Having already avoided death (or worse) at several points, Psycho-Pirate once again returned in the pages of Blackest Night #3 (November 2009), raised from the dead by a Black Lantern Ring (as an aside, Hayden is shown wearing his mask, although it was destroyed in last year's DC Special: Raven mini-series).  Linked again with a refugee from a Pre-Crisis world, Psycho-Pirate joins the battle in Blackest Night: Superman #2….


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