The crossover Elseworlds introduced a character who’s been teased around quite a lot, in the Arrowverse: Roger Hayden, the (second) Psycho-Pirate. Hayden was first mentioned in The Flash, as the article written by future Iris West-Allen about the disappearance of The Flash quotes his cryptic statement about “worlds living and dying” and a crisis that would have changed everything. Then, in Constantine, we spotted his trademark Medusa Mask among the many trophies in Jasper Winter‘s house. Finally, in Arrow, we meet him as one of the patients in Arkham Asylum, one who’s swiftly recaptured by Batwoman, but who promises to have a wider role in next year’s crossover. In the comics, he distinguishes himself for being “cursed with memory”, memory of erased realities that he can’t forget. Let’s see together.
Roger Hayden’s story began on Earth-Two, in Gotham City. He was the son of a renowned psychiatrist, but despite the man’s profession, he was very abusive with his son, constantly manipulating the boy’s emotions to belittle and mistreat him. Finally, when he was nearly twenty years old, Roger snapped and attacked his father, severely beating him. The court wasn’t sympathetic with the damaged Roger, and he was sentenced to one year of prison. His cellmate was an elderly criminal, Charles Halstead, the first Psycho-Pirate. Sensing his death approaching and wanting to leave a legacy, Halstead told Roger about his Medusa Masks, golden mystic relics that allowed their wearer to control, manipulate and absorb other people’s emotions. As soon as he was released from prison, Roger went to the location pointed by Halstead, and found the masks: ambitious and not very cautious, he fused them all into a single, more powerful golden mask, and proceeded to use it to exact his payback on the world for all he had suffered. His debut wasn’t exactly glorious, as the new Psycho-Pirate was stopped by the combined efforts of Dr. Fate and Hourman. He made quite a ruckus when he managed to influence Bruce Wayne and Alan Scott with his powers, with the unforeseen effect of unleashing the frustration of Batman and Green Lantern (and even of The Flash) on Gotham, but he was once again apprehended, this time by the entire Justice Society of America. He was then recruited by Ultra-Humanite in his Secret Society of Super-Villains, and battled the JSA, the Justice League of America, the All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc., but was eventually arrested. The constant use of the Medusa Mask made Roger addicted to others’ emotions, and eventually his psyche broke under the pressure of all these stimuli: instead of jail, he was this time sent to a criminal asylum.
Roger Hayden stayed in the mental hospital until he was recruited by the Harbinger, who was gathering a team of heroes and villains for The Monitor in his war against his evil twin, the Anti-Monitor. The Psycho-Pirate proved to be fundamental in recruiting the last member of the team, Killer Frost, making her fall in love with Firestorm, but he proved to be too unstable to work in a team, and even if his entire universe’s fate was at stake, he ended up trying to use his powers first on Pariah, then on his teammates Arion and Obsidian. While he was battling Arion, though, he was kidnapped by the Anti-Monitor, who also found his powers useful, and forced him to use them on the captive Barry Allen to make him open a portal to the remaining realities: Earth-X, Earth-4 and Earth-S. The Anti-Monitor also augmented the Psycho-Pirate’s powers so that he could influence anyone on these three universes, but this left him completely drained, unable to use the Medusa Mask. Because of this, he couldn’t stop Harbinger and the remaining heroes when they invaded the Anti-Matter Universe and stopped the Anti-Monitor and his underlings once and for all, and he wandered, lost, looking for someone to save him. All he found was an empty Flash costume, belonging to the now deceased Barry. Looking for the hero, believing he could bring him back home, the Psycho-Pirate was found by Kid Flash instead: even if he was angry for his mentor’s death, Kid Flash did save the Psycho-Pirate, but brought him directly to Arkham Asylum, locking him there… and for a good reason. The reality the Psycho-Pirate found upon returning to Gotham was different from the one he had left, it wasn’t Earth-Two anymore, but a fusion of the surviving realities named New Earth… but he remembered everything of the world before the end of the world, and unlike most living beings in the universe he had memories of what the world was like before the Anti-Monitor’s attack… definitely too much for a single mind to maintain its sanity.
Roger Hayden is completely, totally and irredeemably crazy, although this doesn’t quell his keen intellect at all: his mind may be broken because of memories belonging to different planes of reality coexisting all together, but he’s still calculating, focused and relentless. As the Psycho-Pirate, his Medusa Mask gives him the ability to absorb other people’s emotions and then redistribute them (he even became an “emotion dealer”, selling ecstasy, joy and the likes), to augment and manipulate other people’s feelings, and even to feed on them; after the Crisis, he displayed other powers of unknown origins: he’s able to heal from even lethal attacks, to compress his body in impossible shapes, and most notably to create perfect duplicates of people from other universes erased from existence after the Multiverse was crunched into New Earth. With insanity dictating all his actions, the Psycho-Pirate is an unpredictable, erratic threat, who attacks following his own logic and possibly schemes and plans originating in long-forgotten realities. Being the only one to remember, he’s also the one who knows more than anyone else, and this is something not to be taken lightly…