The Pied Piper is a villain who uses supersonics to battle heroes such as the Flash. Having revealed himself as gay, Piper sometimes works on both sides of the moral line; often championing the cause as a loyal socialist.
Hartley Rathaway was born deaf, but was eventually cured thanks to research funded by his wealthy father and Doctor Will Magnus. He became obsessed with sound, and pursued little else in life; experimenting with sonic technology, Rathaway eventually invented a technique of hypnotism through music, and a way to cause deadly vibrations. Growing bored of his lifestyle, he turned to crime as the Pied Piper and frequently clashed with the Flash (Barry Allen).
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Hartley retired from crime to become a socialist champion of the poor and underprivileged. He also came out as openly gay, and joked that this was ironic, as he was one of the few villains to have ever "gone straight". Rathaway remained a good friend of the Flash (Wally West), and his wife Linda, who he helped with scientific problems.
Some time later, Piper was arrested for the murder of his parents. Wally eventually discovered that the true murderer was Mirror Master. Unaware of Wally's discovery, Piper broke out of Iron Heights and struck a deal with former rogue-turned-FBI agent, the Trickster.
It was later revealed that, after Barry Allen had Zatanna tamper with his mind to turn him into a hero, the Top had "reprogrammed" Hartley to also become a hero.
When the 'good' Rogues went after the remaining 'bad', Top returned to undo his brainwashing on the redeemed Rogues. When the Piper battled the Flash, West unmasked himself, triggering a flood of memories of their friendship and causing the Piper to pass out as his mind repaired itself. When he awoke, Piper appeared to be his old self again and came to Linda’s aid.
- Pied Piper (Bounty)
- Pied Piper (Flashback)
- He must be defeated to complete WANTED: Pied Piper.
- He also has to be defeated in the instance Flashback.
- Piper first appeared in The Flash #106 (May 1959).
- Hartley admitted that he first realized he was gay when he became attracted to Rod Lauren when watching The Crawling Hand.