Psycho-Pirate is the name of two DC Comics supervillains, dating back to the Golden Age of Comics.
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
Continued use of his powers drove Hayden mad and he was eventually placed in a mental hospital. During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Harbinger recruited Psycho-Pirate as part of the team of heroes and villains the Monitor was gathering. Psycho-Pirate teamed with Arion and Obsidian to journey to Arion's home in Ancient Atlantis. There, Hayden found Pariah. He tried to use his powers on Pariah only to find himself attacked by Arion, who had warned Hayden not to use his powers on anyone. Hayden unleashed his powers on Arion but the battle was stopped when Psycho-Pirate was beamed away by the Anti-Monitor.
After a show of incredible power, Psycho-Pirate switched sides and joined the Anti-Monitor's effort to destroy the Multiverse in exchange for an entire world to play with. He used his powers to torture the Flash (Barry Allen) who had been captured by the Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor also augmented Hayden's powers so he could influence the minds of all who lived on Earth's Four, X, and S. The plot was foiled thanks to Harbinger and several heroes.
The plot left Psycho-Pirate severely drained so he couldn't aid the Anti-Monitor in stopping an army of heroes that invaded the Anti-Matter Universe. Hayden's powers recharged just as the Flash broke free from his imprisonment. Flash then forced Hayden to use his powers to cause several Thunderers to attack the Anti-Monitor while Flash destroyed the massive anti-matter cannon the Anti-Monitor was going to use to destroy the remaining Earths. The Flash died in the brutal run to destroy the antimatter cannon and Psycho-Pirate found only his empty costume; he thought Flash was still around, and struggled to free it so Flash could save him. He was found by Kid Flash (Wally West) and several other heroes as they were on their way to stop the Anti-Monitor once and for all. Despite his anger over the loss of his mentor, Kid Flash rescued Psycho-Pirate. Psycho-Pirate was placed in Arkham Asylum because of the intense madness that overwhelmed him as a result of remembering the Crisis. He was apparently one of the only people who remembered the Multiverse.
Seemingly partly recovered, Psycho-Pirate was released and employed by Mzzttexxal, Jonni Thunder's renegade Thunderbolt, to challenge Infinity, Inc. after which he disappeared but resurfaced in Markovia impersonating the dictator Baron Bedlam, which brought him into conflict with Infinity, Inc. again as well as the Outsiders. Psycho-Pirate was driven mad once more and returned to the asylum.
Hayden's knowledge of the Multiverse got him involved in an adventure with Animal Man in which he was apparently removed from existence, though he somehow returned without explanation. Years later, Psycho-Pirate was one of the many villains who had their powers upgraded by Neron. The Medusa Mask was one of the many objects of power sought after by the JLA and a team of heroes from another dimension as part of a game being played by Krona and an alien grandmaster. The Mask was recovered by a member of the JLA's opponents. Krona tried to use the Mask and the other items of power in an effort to destroy the universe but was foiled.
Psycho-Pirate was approached by Alex Luthor to be a part of his plot to create the perfect Earth. Psycho-Pirate snuck into Arkham and gave Jean Loring a black diamond, enabling her to transform into Eclipso. He then joined several members of the Society in attacking the Freedom Fighters. While the rest of the Freedom Fighters were either killed or severely wounded, Psycho-Pirate used his powers to capture the Ray so Alex Luthor could use him as part of the massive machine he was building. Psycho-Pirate then tried to drive Power Girl mad by teasing her with different explanations as to her origins before telling her the truth, that she was the cousin to Earth-Two Superman (Kal-L). Before he could capture her, the Earth-Two Superman appeared and rescued her. Power Girl ended up a prisoner of Alex Luthor anyway and Alex promised Psycho-Pirate that he could have her once the plan was completed. Psycho-Pirate then used his powers on Black Adam, causing him to speak the word "Shazam", thus enabling Alex to power his massive machine. Psycho-Pirate watched the death of Lois Lane-Kent, wife of the Kal-L and stood by as Alex Luthor destroyed world after world and merged others as he searched for the perfect Earth.
The plot came to a halt when Nightwing, Superboy (Connor Kent), and Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark) found Alex Luthor and attacked. They freed those Alex was using for his machine, and Psycho-Pirate tried to use his powers on Power Girl and Black Adam. However, Black Adam simply gouged Psycho-Pirate's eyes out, and then ran his hand straight through Psycho-Pirate's head. Psycho-Pirate died instantly. The Medusa Mask was still in Black Adam's hand when Superboy-Prime appeared and joined in the battle. In the chaos that erupted, the Mask was lost. If and when it will turn up again is unknown.
One Year Later
Psycho-Pirate is mentioned as selling emotional states, such as "happy" and "ecstatic," much like a drug dealer. Among his reported clients are Signalman and Silver Ghost.
During the events of Blackest Night, Psycho-Pirate's corpse was revived as a Black Lantern in which he attacks Smallville, using his powers to manipulate the inhabitants, and sway Conner Kent into attacking Superman. Conner attacks Superman and aids Black Lantern Kal-L. However the effect of the mask wears off and Conner once more regains his senses. Clark and Conner decide to separate with Connor confronting Psycho Pirate. This time he manages to withstand his manipulation and steal the Medusa Mask (which seems to have been reconstructed via the Black Lantern 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. Dialogue indicates that Conner used the Medusa Mask on Psycho Pirate just before he used it on Kal-L. In both cases the Medusa Mask caused the black rings to malfunction, 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. 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 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 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 sends 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 is exposed to be a Task Force X member who deviated from Amanda Waller's original plan. Along with Hugo Strange, Psycho-Pirate causes the superhero Gotham to emotionally collapse and fight Batman.
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.
Following the New 52 reboot, Roger Hayden is depicted as a psychic who specialises 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 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 version of Psycho-Pirate appears again 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.