Welcome to another edition of King's favorite column, What The Fuck Were They Thinking, where I spotlight and critique characters and concepts that just don't work.
Today's newest inductee to my hall of shame, is the Pied Piper.
Yep. The Pied Piper.
And no, not the famous one from children's literature and fairy tales.
This Pied Piper debuted in The Flash#106.
Piper, who's real name is Hartley Rathaway, was born deaf, but thanks to genius Dr. Will Magnus(creator of the Metal Men) he regained his hearing. And because of that experience, he became absolutely obsessed with sound.
I imagine if he was created today, he'd have like 50 million blogs and fan-sites devoted to the concept of sound. He seems the obsessive/stalkerish type;)
It wasn't too much longer when Rathaway found a way to create a electronic flute that could hypnotize people. Once he had that, instead of oh I don't know, helping out other deaf children and adults, he decided to turn to a life of crime. You know, just 'cause.
And since he happened to live in the same city as a certain Scarlet Speedster(Central City bitches), He and the Flash often got it on like Donkey Kong.
After Barry's death, he wound up forming a strange friendship with Barry's replacement and former sidekick, Wally West. From there reforming was the order of the day, and the Piper went straight.
Yeah, the Pied Piper's a butt-pirate. Wanna' fight about it?;)
He became a general stable of Wally's supporting cast over the years up until the Rogues War in 2005.
It was revealed that the rogue the Top(trying to be helpful to Barry) took a big page out of Zatanna's playbook and brainwashed certain rogues to be good guys. Only rogues like the Trickster and the Pied Piper stuck, and just like that, years of character development went up in smoke.
The Trickster(the original) and Piper would then find themselves chained together and hunted down by members of the Suicide Squad during the abortion that was Countdown to Final Crisis.
As far as I know he has yet to appear in the NU52 universe. Whether or not he will remains to be seen.
Now before King goes on the offensive here, let me be clear on that I find ridiculous about the Pied Piper as a concept.
The obvious first one would be his debuting outfit.
One look at that, and you'd know he was gay before he even came out.
I would also like to point out, that turning or revealing Rathaway gay was a pretty good move character-wise on the part of former Flash writer Bill-Messner-Loebs. Not because he was gay, but because it was used as a way to make the character more multi-dimensional. Great discussions and character advancements were made on both his and Wally's part because the topic of homosexuality was brought up and mentioned in a very realistic and intelligent manner. Not just, Piper going "Hey Mary, I love cock you silly goose!"
Getting back to the point I was making, Carmine Infantino did not do Piper any favors by using that redonkulous outfit.
To me, if you're going to go with a Pied Piper gimmick, he should be creepy and sinister. He should have an unsettling, almost pedophilic-vibe to him.
The last updated version of his outfit worked better, but seems to be missing something.
I'd also suggest tweaking his personality a bit. He seemed to finally be on the right path to being taken seriously before the reboot happened. I'd like to see that again. Maybe give him a slight inferiority complex because of the whole growing up deaf thing. Hell, maybe even make him deaf again, so as to really turn the pathos/emotional screws.
If he were to remain a homosexual, that's always nice fodder for discussion. Would he be harassed by both the villains AND heroes for being gay? If so, would that add to the resentment he may hold, turning that on society as well as friend and foe alike?
Again, I'd give him a darker edge. make him slightly more creepy but without falling into the stereotypical thinking that just because he's gay, he'd have to be a child-molester, or something like that.
There's usually a way to make most characters work, even oddball ones, if and when the right creative can find the right hook/angle.
Hopefully a new and improved Piper will debut that is totally believable.....even if its comics we're talking about.
Until then, and based SOLELY off his initial concept and costume,
Mr. Gardner Fox and Mr. Infantino.....
\WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING!?