The son of the wealthy Rathaway family, Hartley Rathaway was born deaf. Unwilling to have a son with what they perceived as a defect, they spent millions on restoring Hartley's hearing. He was given cochlear implants that gave him massively enhanced hearing. Becoming obsessed with sound, and particularly with music, he began working on sonic technology. Discovering a way to use his sonics to hypnotize others, he parlayed this new ability into a life of crime. Initially joining up with the Rogues, he soon found that a life of crime was not for him. He left the Rogues and reformed, becoming a vigilante hero.
Pied Piper was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. He is inspired by the traditional German legend of the Pied Piper. He made his first appearance in The Flash #106.
Piper was introduced during the Silver Age, during which relatively little was known about him.
The Bronze Age introduced his first and presumed current origin story.
In the Modern Age, Piper reformed, though this has been in flux; his reformation was retconned to being due to the Top. Also during this age he came out as gay. In this Age it was implied his ability to control others was rooted in manipulation of the Anti-Life Equation. This is presumably no longer canon.
In the New 52 Piper remains reformed, and does not appear to have ever vacillated between good and bad as he has in the past. His reformation is now due to his own personal choice.
Major Story Arcs
Piper clashes repeatedly with the Flash during a number of crimes, often in conjunction with the Rogues. Following Flash's death, he reforms.
As part of Blacksmith's plan to alienate Flash from his friends and allies, she has Mirror Master frame Piper for murdering his parents, and hypnotize him into believing he has done so. He is imprisoned in Iron Heights, but soon breaks out, seeking to prove his innocence. He seeks out the currently reformed James Jesse, who does not initially believe him. He flees Jesse's office and goes to the also reformed Heat Wave. There, they are invited by Jesse to join the anti-Rogue task force, The Project
During the Rogue War, Piper fights on the side of the reformed Rogues. During the battle between Rogues he is freed from his brainwashing by the Top. Briefly returning to villainy, he quickly becomes good again after Flash reveals his identity to him, reminding him of their friendship. He goes to protect Linda, and when she spontaneously becomes pregnant due to time travel he fetches Flash from the aftermath of the battle.
In the wake of the disappearance of Wally West and Linda Park, Piper falls back in with the Rogues, though he is plotting to bring them down from the inside. He joins the team in following Inertia, who claims to have a device that will freeze time and allow them to plunder the frozen world. However, the machine strips Flash of his powers instead. He is present when several other Rogues fire on the depowered Flash, killing him.
On the run following Flash's death and the subsequent backlash in the superhero community, Piper is one of only two Rogues to escape transportation to Salvation. He and Trickster go on the run together. Briefly captured, they end up handcuffed to one another but still on the run. They are sought by numerous heroes and villains, and are nearly captured or killed several times. When Trickster is killed by Deadshot, Piper is forced to drag his corpse through the desert for some time, before successfully severing Trickster's hand. He is brought to Apokolips, due to his apparent ability to channel the Anti-Life Equation in his music. Upon learning that Desaad had manufactured the recent misery in his life, he plays a song that destroys Apokolips and Brother Eye, who had recently assimilated it. Though he is caught in the blast, he somehow manages to survive.
Piper uncovers Trickster's will, which has hidden information about the Rogues in it. He travels to the fight that is going on between the Rogues, Zoom, and Kid Zoom. He briefly immobilizes the speedsters, but is stabbed by Libra. After Libra is defeated, he successfully immobilizes Kid Zoom again. This allows the Rogues to kill him, for which Piper feels immense guilt. He later turns himself in to the police.
When Gorilla Grodd arrives and takes over Central City, Piper attempts to attack him. He is defeated and knocked unconscious. Some time later he joins forces with the police and the Rogues; initially protecting Glider, he joins the fighting against the Crime Syndicate's forces. He plays his flute, hypnotizing Parasite and awakening Glider from her coma. He and the Rogues subsequently part ways amicably.
In the alternate Flashpoint timeline, Piper is a hero whose vocal cords were torn out by Citizen Cold. He opposes Cold, and attempts to uncover Cold's true identity and the dark secrets he is hiding.
Powers and Abilities
Piper has superhuman hearing due to his specially-designed cochlear implants. He possesses a genius level intellect in the field of sonics and sound-based technology, and was able to create his sonic technology on his own. He is also a skilled conductor and musician, particularly in the use of the flute.
- Sonic Blasts
- Energy Projection
- Hypnosis/Mind Control
- Enhanced Hearing
- Sound Manipulation
Weapons and Equipment
Piper carries a flute which, when played, can be used to hypnotize and control anyone who hears it into doing anything he wishes. It is effective on both humans and animals; as with his namesake, he often uses it on rats. He also carries devices that are capable of generating or amplifying sounds for various purposes, such as destroying objects or creating force fields. He carries a sonic tuning fork that paralyses those who hear it.
- Height: 5'10"
- Weight: 150 lbs
- Eye Color: Blue
- Hair Color: Blond
- Citizenship: American
- Place of Birth: Central City
- Marital Status: Single
- Occupation: Symphony Conductor, vigilante
- Known Relatives: Osgood Rathaway (father, deceased), Rachel Rathaway (mother, deceased), Jerrie Rathaway (sister)
- Base of Operations: Central City
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Piper appears in this film, based on the Flashpoint arc. He does not speak in his appearance.
Piper appears as an antagonist in the episode "Pied Piper." This version of the character is very different from the main universe; his name is Hamlin Rule, and he hypnotizes women to rob the venues at which he performs. He is portrayed by Martin Mull.
Justice League Unlimited
Piper appears in the episode "Flash and Substance" as a patron of the bar where Flash villains tend to congregate. Like the other patrons, he flees when Flash, Batman, and Orion arrive. He does not speak in his appearance.
Piper appears as a minor antagonist in this show, making his first appearance in "The Sound and the Fury." This version of the character was not born deaf; rather, he gained superhuman hearing in a lab accident while he was working for Harrison Wells. Seeking revenge, he designs supersonic weaponry with which to attack Wells and the Flash. He is portrayed by Andy Mientus.
DC Universe Online
Piper appears in the hero campaign as a bounty in WANTED: Pied Piper, and also must be defeated in FlashBack. He is voiced by Jim Canning.