DC's Rebirth series has thus far been a confusing yet wonderful series of events. We witnessed Wally West twisting and turning in the thrall of the Speed Force in DC Universe: Rebirth, and the issue left off on the massive reveal that Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan was the one behind the erasure of ten years of continuity from the DC Universe.
We already know that the Rebirth event is expected to spin out across a two-year period, so any big reveals will be being kept pretty close to the writers' respective chests as the narrative begins to unfold. But Batman Issues 2 and 3 might have already introduced a character who could hold the key to unraveling the events of Rebirth.
This is your one and only spoiler warning for up to Issue 3 of Batman: Rebirth, so get outta here if you haven't read it yet. Read on if you have, or if you don't care about those tricky spoilers.
Batman Issue 2 revealed that classic Batman villain Professor Hugo Strange had made a return to the pages of Gotham, watching Batman from the shadows as his Monster Men schemes began to take shape. It also introduced a character referred to only as "Roger" — a patient of Professor Strange whom he appeared to have complete psychological and emotional control over.
At the time it wasn't made clear exactly who "Roger" was, though writer Tom King did confirm that he was indeed a villain. We hedged our bets and guessed that he was none other than Roger Hayden — a.k.a. the second Psycho-Pirate — and Batman Issue 3 confirmed our suspicions.
Roger Hayden was a young man who learnt of the existence of the Medusa Masks — golden masks which allow the wearer to project and manipulate the emotions of others. He seeks out the masks, melting the various faceplates reflecting different emotional states down into the one mask, which he uses as the reborn super-villain Psycho-Pirate.
His golden Medusa Mask allows him to project emotions onto others, manipulating their emotional states to dangerous effect — especially when anger is involved. He crosses paths with the Justice League and Batman himself a few times, but it's the part he played in one of the various Crisis events which could make him an important character here.
Psycho-Pirate Could Be Important To Rebirth
Psycho-Pirate plays a notable part in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event of the 1980s, during which time the villainous Anti-Monitor attempted to destroy every Earth in the Multiverse (if you've seen The Flash Season 2 this might sound familiar). Psycho-Pirate is recruited by the Anti-Monitor to assist him in this endeavour, and the villain powers him up to provoke various superheroes into attacking each other.
Once all is said and done the DC Multiverse collapses in on itself, creating a singular continuity. Most characters in the DC Universe do not retain a memory of these events, such as in Rebirth where Wally West is the only one who remembers the continuity events erased from the timeline.
But one of the few characters who does remember the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths is Psycho-Pirate, and these memories eventually drive him insane. He pops up a few more times until Infinite Crisis restored the Multiverse in the mid 2000s, during which time he's killed by Black Adam. He briefly appeared in the New 52 with a more Medusa-like mask as a member of the Twenty, but hasn't been seen since.
When we first meet him in Batman Issue 2 he's already undergoing therapy for some form of emotional and mental disturbance. This could suggest that — as following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths — he's once again retained memories of the New 52-era of the DC Universe. If he, like Wally West, remembers the decade of continuity which has just been erased, he could turn out to be a very important character — perhaps even the key to unraveling the how and why of Rebirth.
The fact that he's appeared in the Batman title could be telling — as it's Batman who, with the help of the Flash, has set out to unravel the mystery behind Rebirth. They don't call him the World's Greatest Detective for nothing you know.
If Roger can remember the ten years of continuity erased by Doctor Manhattan, it would explain why he's locked up in Strange's asylum. It also clarifies why Strange is so interested in him, and why the Professor is flanked by none other than Amanda Waller and General Sam Lane, father of Superman's paramour Lois Lane.
For now though it seems that Psycho-Pirate is being used merely as a tool of Strange. At the conclusion of Batman Issue 3 the Professor compels him to use his powers on newly emerged Superman-like heroes Gotham and Gotham Girl, spelling trouble for Batman down the road.
For now though, we'll just have to wait and see what Rebirth has in store for us. But we have a funny feeling you're going to want to keep an eye on Psycho-Pirate from here on out. You never know, he could turn out to be much more important than we first thought.