Roger Hayden as the Psycho-Pirate.
Art by Chas Truog.
All-Star Comics #23
Showcase #56 (May–June 1965)
- Charles Halstead|
- Roger Hayden
Secret Society of Super Villains
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 captures and puts him in jail. He escapes by playing on the emotions of a guard, but the JSA hears of his plans from his cellmate and are able to recapture him. He continues 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 twenty-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 by the combination of all 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 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 assists both Scott and teammate Flash who has 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 successful thanks to a device Ultra 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 for lack of a better term.
From there, Ultra gains mental contact with his younger self from the 1940s, and the two Ultras 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 and Madness
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 afterwards. 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 last few panels of Crisis in a straitjacket, as the scene pans out from his eyes to a full view of Earth from space.
Hayden appears in the 1987 Outsiders special. He impersonates the villain Baron Bedlam in order to gain power in the fictional Eastern European country of Markovia. Since the Outsiders hero Geo-Force is a Markovian prince, his team becomes involved, assisted by another superhero team Infinity Inc.. Despite Geo-Force's knowledge of his childhood castle, Hayden quickly subdues him and the other heroes involved. The story is continued in a similar Infinity Inc. special.
Hayden shows up again in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. 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 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 anything is wrong.
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 of 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's 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 JSA Classified issues #1-4 storyarc, 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's 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. Psycho-Pirate is able to make Black Adam call down the lightning to power the Tower.
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 mini-series. In the story's conclusion, Raven destroyed the mask, but its power still affected scientists who studied its schematics on a computer.
The Blackest Night storyline, Psycho-Pirate has been identified as one of the deceased 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. The 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 and Kal-L, causing the black rings to malfunction and turning both Psycho Pirate and Kal-L back into inanimate corpses.
The New 52
In the new rebooted DC Universe, 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.
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 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 "emotion vampire", able to drain emotions from people.
In other media
- In Justice League Unlimited, 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 version of Psycho-Pirate appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Inside the Outsiders" voiced by Armin Shimerman. In this appearance 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 NBC series Constantine episode "Blessed are the Damned," the Medusa Mask is briefly seen among the artifacts stored in Jasper Winter's house.
- 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 centres 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).
- Blackest Night #1 (July 2009)
- Blackest Night #3 (September 2009)
- Blackest Night: Superman #2 (2009)
- Blackest Night: Superman #3 (2009)