Born deaf, Rathaway was later cured by his parent's money and research. He became obsessed with sound and found how to control peoples' minds with it, through a pipe he developed. Eventually, he became a member of the Flash's Rogue Gallery.
The Pied Piper was originally inspired by the classic tale "The Pied Piper." In the classic tale the Pied Piper was hired to get rid of a bunch of rats from a village. So the Pied Piper played a tune on his flute which hypnotized the rats. The rats followed him and he led the rats to a river where they drowned. The Pied Piper then returned to the village expecting to be paid but the townspeople refused to pay him. Angered the Pied Piper began to play his flute again but this time the children of the village followed him and he led them up and into the mountains where they were never to be seen again.
The comic book incarnation of the Pied Piper drew inspiration from this Pied Piper and was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. The Pied Piper made his first comic book appearance in The Flash #106.
A Member Of Flash's Rogues
The Pied Piper began as one of The Flash's villains. Eventually a number of The Flash's villains grouped together to form The Rogues.
A Rogue No More
The Pied Piper got tired of the Rogue world, and eventually retired from being a super-villain and became a hero. He is one of the first characters of the DC company to 'come out' as gay, revealing his orientation to the current Flash of the time, Wally West. He fought alongside Wally many times, and became good friends with Wally and Linda Park (then Wally's girlfriend, now his wife). The Pied Piper's parents were murdered by the Mirror Master who framed Piper for the murder.
Batting For The Good Guys
The Pied Piper is one of the few Rogues who have turned good, and although he has tendencies to turn back to evil occasionally, he remains, deep down, a good person. In the DC series Countdown, he expressed to fellow Rogue the Trickster, that with Wally West's disappearance, he felt he had no where else to belong.
A Rogue Once More
Lately he has rejoined the Rogues, being led by Inertia. Inertia built a machine to steal the Speed Force from Bart Allen, leaving him powerless. The Pied Piper did not actually take part in Bart's killing, though he was present at the time. The other Rogues who were involved showed great remorse after realizing that Bart was in fact still only a child. The public is unaware that the Pied Piper played no role in Bart's death.
All With Good Wishes
Pied Piper feels great guilt in Bart's death whilst he did not participate in the killing he still felt it was preventable. Relying on the line "Evil prevails when good men do nothing." After Bart's death though the Rogues', himself included are caught and sent to the planet "Salvation." His good friend Trickster is killed before getting their though. When he returns to Earth he finds a note telling of the Trickster's last wishes to destroy the Rogue's. Pied Piper sees the evil of the Rogue's and decides to fulfill this wish of The Trickster. When he finds the Rogues' he finds them in battle against Kid Zoom. He helps them stop Kid Zoom but the Rogues' take things too far and kill Kid Zoom. Pied Piper takes this very hard as he sees again that whilst he did not do the killing that he was partly responsible for the death of another child. He turns himself over to the police afterward as a sort of penance.
Major Story Arcs
For more information: Rogue War
During the Identity Crisis story, it was revealed that Barry had Zatanna tamper with the Top's mind. This lead to the Top reprogramming multiple Rogues as heroes. Pied Piper is one of the Rogues the Top reprogrammed.
When the FBI Rogues attacked Cold's Rogues, the Top interrupted the battle and undid his brainwashing of Pied Piper, Trickster(I), and Heat Wave. Piper began to attack the Flash, but he stopped when Wally West unmasked himself. This triggered a flood of memories of his and Wally's friendship and Hartley passed out as his mind repaired itself. Piper woke up in the home of Linda and Wally West and he appeared to to be his old self again.
Rejoining The Rogues'
For More Information: The Flash The Fastest Man Alive, One Year Later
When Bart Allen became The Flash, Inertia was determined to take him down. Inertia created and a device to take Bart down and he hired the Rogues' to help him make it. Pied Piper was among the Rogues' that Inertia hired, though Hartley's intentions were to infiltrate the Rogues. Eventually the device is built and Bart loses his connection to the speed force. Then the Rogues' attack and kill the powerless Bart but Pied Piper decides to take no part in the killing.
The Pied Piper's Salvation
For More Information: All Flash, Countdown to Final Crisis
The Suicide Squad tries to capture the Pied Piper and the Trickster. Deadshot shoots and kills the Trickster, leaving the Pied Piper chained to his dead body. Eventually, the Pied Piper cuts off the Trickster's hand. He is sent to Apokolips, where Desaad tells him he can channel the Anti-Life equation with his flute. He destroys Brother Eye, and ends up back on Earth.
A Former Rogues Revenge
For More Information: Final Crisis Rogues' Revenge, Final Crisis
Pied Piper finds the Trickster's will. It has a plan to destroy the Rogues. Pied Piper decides to fulfill this plan, swearing revenge on the Rogues. He meets the Rogues as they are attacking Zoom. Pied Piper has a last minute change of heart and helps them stop Inertia. However, he does not participate in the actual killing. Feeling guilty about helping kill Inertia The Pied Piper turns himself into the local authorities, in shame.
The New 52
With the events of Rogues Revenge apparently retconned by Flashpoint, Hartley later appears as an orchestra conductor who is dating David Singh. It is mentioned at one point he was still Pied Piper but apparently reformed.
Pied Piper attacks Grodd and is swiftly batted down. He is standing against Grodd, who is attacking Keystone and Central City, with Tar Pit, Girder, and Chroma. (a similar looking Rainbow Raider.) Grodd dipatches them one by one.
He later on helps former teammate Captain Cold and Flash fight against the Rogues(consisted of Mirror Master, Golden Glider, Weather Wizard, and Heat Wave).
Powers & Abilities
The Pied Piper has a variety of instruments, which create various effects. These include hypnosis, and paralysis. The Pied Piper is also able to train and control rats. Desaad claims that the Pied Piper can channel the Anti-Life Equation through his instruments. Although he focused obsessively on sound-based technology in his early years, he later expanded his scope to more general mechanical tinkering. Initially, he employed his mind control techniques almost exclusively on humans and occasional animals, but during his incarceration in Iron Heights he became obsessed by the prison's rats. He is able to use nearly anything that can create tones for his sonic manipulations, including touch-tone telephones and grass blade whistles. Rathaway also employs a number of devices that can generate or amplify sound for destructive or protective purposes.
After events in Countdown to Final Crisis the Pied Piper learns to channel the anti-life equation through playing his flute.
Pied Piper, in the Flashpoint universe, is a hero who had his vocal cords ripped out by Citizen Cold(this universes version of Captain Cold). This forces him to use cybernetic replacement. Wally West is a childhood friend of his.
Pied Piper finds out that Wally had been killed by Citizen Cold. He decides to take Wally's place in finding Citizen Cold's true identity. He then tries to save Iris West from the Rogues, but it appears that he was killed by Citizen Cold's exploding ice sculpture. It was later shown that he survived and he revealed to Iris that Wally had been killed by Citizen Cold. Pied Piper threatens to reveal Citizen Cold's true identity and is then attacked by Cold. Iris, out of revenge, freezes Cold.
In Other Media
Wonder Woman (1976)
In the 1976 television show Wonder Woman a villain named Hamlin Rule appears. He had the ability to hypnotize people by playing a flute much like the Pied Piper can. He used this ability to hypnotize women and make them carry out his every whim. His character was played by Martin Mull.
Justice League Unlimited
The Pied Piper makes a cameo appearance in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Flash and Substance." The Pied Piper can be seen in the background of the bar when the Justice League bust in to interrogate The Trickster.
Pied Piper appears in the Flash episode "The Sound and the Fury," played by Andy Mientus. This version of the character is the former protege of scientist Harrison Wells who suffered severe, permanent hearing damage during a particle accelerator explosion a year prior to the events of the series. He also had a rivalry with Cisco Ramon, another of Wells' employees. Like his comic counterpart, he is openly gay, and was disowned by his parents after coming out of the closet.
He returns wielding a pair of high tech sonic gauntlets, which allow him to fire powerful sound blasts. He allows himself to be captured in order to gain access to S.T.A.R. Labs, where he steals information the Flash's vitals and molecular structure. Using this info, he nearly kills the Flash by tailoring a specific frequency to harm him, but is thwarted when Walls uses radio interference to destroy the gauntlets, maiming Hartley's hands in the process.
Pied Piper was set to appear in the Green Arrow film Super Max before the project was shelved.