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Pied Piper(pop culture)
The Fastest Man Alive first faced the music of the Pied Piper in The Flash vol. 1 #106 (1959), by writer John Broome and artist Carmine Infantino. This “Master of Sound”—wearing a green jerkin with white polka dots and a minstrel's cap— parades into Central City, tooting a Super-Sonic Flute that emits mind-controlling tones. Acoustically manipulating vibratory fields with his melodies, the Pied Piper stops the Scarlet Speedster dead in his tracks and buries him in an earthly fissure before the Flash whirlwinds to victory. Although enigmatic in his first outing, more was revealed about the Pied Piper in his reappearances. The felonious flutist is actually Hartley Rathaway, a spoiled rich kid who was born deaf but surgically cured of his affliction, sparking his fascination with sound. Developing his knack for hypnotism through music, the Piper's crime career was fostered out of boredom, not economic necessity, and he occasionally waltzed with the speedster alone and while partnered with other rogues. The Flash's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 (1986) took the wind out of Rathaway, who became a costumed social advocate and an ally of the Flash's speedy successor Wally West. The Piper surprised his fast friend in Flash vol. 2 #53 (1991) by revealing his homosexuality, becoming one of the few comic-book characters of the era to be openly gay. In the 2000s his life has been anything but melodious. Rathaway was framed for his parents' murder and escaped from the supervillain penitentiary Iron Heights before being able to prove his innocence. His sanity has since wavered, and his mental manipulation by the villainous Top in the “Rogue War” Flash storyline (2005) has left the Flash wondering if the Pied Piper will soon resume his sinister songs. A one-hit wonder Batman villain called the Pied Piper—“the man of 1,000 pipes”—pulled pipe-related crimes (involving everything from smoking pipes to sewer pipes) in Detective Comics #143 (1949).
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
charms children of Hamelin with music. [Children’s Lit.: “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” in Dramatic Lyrics, Fisher, 279–281]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.