Spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched The CW’s Elseworlds event.
Back before the three-night, three-series crossover spectacular that was this week’s CW crossover event “Elseworlds”, it was reported that Supergirl and The 100 star Bob Frazer would be appearing on the special as a particularly strange DC Comics character. With a name like Psycho Pirate, you’d think that the longtime villain would have had a bigger part to play in the proceedings, but he barely made a dent in the narrative. In fact, Frazer’s performance basically served to introduce the chaos that was about to break out in Arkham Asylum and to close off the crossover in mysterious fashion by once again donning the nondescript golden mask. So what’s going on here?
“Elseworlds” may not have taken the time to explain just what this character is all about or what part he has to play in the upcoming 2019 crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, but we were curious, and we think you might be, too. So we’ve got an explainer for Psycho Pirate’s history, his character breakdown, and a look at just how important he’ll (possibly) be to the events of The CW’s next crossover a year or so from now. Why? Because you can’t just drop a name like Psycho Pirate and expect us not to dig a little deeper.
First appearing back in 1944 as Charles Halstead, a creation of Gardner Fox and Joe Gallagher, followed by a turn as Roger Hayden, created by Fox and Murphy Anderson in 1965, the DC supervillain known as Psycho Pirate has psychological themes at his core and as an element of his criminal activities. Originally a typesetter at a local paper who becomes jealous of his successful boss and angry at his own failings, Halstead’s version of the character plans his crimes based on emotion. For example, he’d sow fear by threatening to spread a plague in the city, or publish a series of demoralizing stories to force his editor into despair. Eventually, his crimes escalated to a challenge against the Justice Society of America itself, ending with his exposure as the criminal and a trip through revolving prison doors until his death in the 60s.
During one of those prison stints (on Earth-Two, obviously), Halstead passes on his legacy to his cellmate Roger Hayden. He manages to do this by revealing his discovery of the Medusa Masks, golden masks that allow the wearer to project emotions onto others. Hayden gathers all of these masks and melds them into one powerful but plain-looking mask which grants him incredibly manipulative abilities (except when going up against Black Adam) but also makes him addicted to absorbing others’ emotions. Hayden, too, returns to prison when he tangles with the likes of the similarly masked Doctor Fate and Hourman.
Hayden later plagues powerful superheroes and even turns them against each other by manipulating their emotions, eventually forcing a mini-civil war amongst them. And while Hayden’s Psycho Pirate does spend a bit of time with the Secret Society of Super Villains (who all spend a little time in Limbo), it’s his role in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” that we turn to next. It seems that the Monitor initially recruits Hayden due to his emotion-manipulating abilities, but he’s soon partnered up with the Anti-Monitor with the promise of a whole world of his own to toy with.
Psycho Pirate’s part to play here is bigger than the “Elseworlds” crossover might suggest. Under the orders of the belittling but power-amplifying Anti-Monitor, the suped-up supervillain manipulates Barry Allen and the heroes on the remaining Earths into battling each other. Eventually, The Flash turns the tide on Psycho Pirate by forcing him to turn the Anti-Monitor’s allies on the powerful foe himself. Once all the dust settles, Psycho Pirate, now severely drained of his powers, is apprehended once more and confined to Arkham Asylum where his apparent memories of the multiverse (a rare occurrence for the heroes and villains who survived the crisis) slowly drive him insane.
Psycho Pirate definitely gets some more time to shine post-Crisis, but unless The CW greenlights a PP solo series, I think this is about all you need to know about the gold-masked madman at the moment.
For more on everything “Elseworlds”, be sure to check out our breakdowns here:
- How “Elseworlds” Was a Great Ode to DC Entertainment’s Past
- What the Reveal of Next Year’s Arrowverse Crossover Title Could Mean for DC TV