- "It's time to pay the piper!"
- —Hartley Rathaway [src]
Hartley Rathaway, self-styled as Pied Piper, is the son of Rachel and Osgood Rathaway. A former employee of S.T.A.R. Labs, he was fired by Harrison Wells for trying to stop the activation of the Particle accelerator. He became a metahuman after the accelerator exploded.
Hartley was a child prodigy and son to Rachel and Osgood Rathaway. For a long time he was beloved by his parents and set to eventually take over the family business. However, when he came out as gay to his parents, they threw him out and cut off all ties to him.
Eventually Hartley was hired by Harrison Wells at S.T.A.R. Labs, becoming his protege and favored employee, something that did not sit well with his fellow S.T.A.R. Lab co-workers, including Caitlin Snow. While he got along well with Wells, Hartley was arrogant and demanding towards his co-workers making him very few friends. He was quick to alienate himself to Cisco Ramon on his first day of work, showing outward contempt for Cisco, due to the fact he arrived to work wearing a Star Wars T-Shirt and also because of Wells' praise of Cisco's skills.
Eventually, Hartley made the realization that the Particle accelerator could explode, Wells refused to listen, fired Hartley in order to avoid his interference, and blackmailed him into staying silent about the problem. As Hartley predicted and Wells planned, the accelerator did indeed explode. Hartley was caught in the effect, resulting his hearing being augmented to superhuman levels. Unfortunately the levels cause him overwhelming pain and caused him to have to create a special device in order to control his hearing. He also went on to create gloves that emitted sonic attacks.
Prodigal Son Returns
At this point Hartley sought out vengeance against Wells and S.T.A.R. Labs. His first act of vengeance was by sending Wells a warning at his home, shattering the glass windows with a sonic attack. He next attacked his family's office building, in order to draw the attention of The Flash, and be taken to S.T.A.R. Labs. There he antagonized Cisco (even naming himself "Pied Piper", much to Cisco's annoyance) and Caitlin, while snidely telling Wells (and Barry) that he knew Wells' deep dark secret.
It turns out that Hartley let himself get captured. After escaping his cell (and injuring Cisco and Caitlin in the process), he hacked Wells' computer to steal files on Barry so as to create a means in which to kill the Flash. Later, he draws the Flash to the Dam, where he executes his plan by having his gloves emit a tone that matches Barry's speed frequency. Thankfully, Wells uses nearby cars radio signals to interfere with Hartley's weapons causing them to explode in Hartley's hands.
Hartley finds himself back in his cell at S.T.A.R. Labs, where he is confronted by Cisco. Rather than be worried, Hartley informs Cisco that he himself will help him out of the cell, because he knows where Ronnie Raymond is and what really happened to him.
Search for Ronnie
Eventually, Cisco's guilt regarding what happened to Ronnie during the accelerator accident drove him to do just as Hartley predicted, and released him from his cell. Using specially designed handcuffs, Cisco and Hartley investigated where Professor Martin Stein was killed during the accelerator accident. There they found a blackened outline of his body, similiar to the kind left by nuclear explosions. Hartley attempted to use Cisco's confusion to make a run for, but Cisco was ready, as the cuffs he had created were designed to let out a painful sonic vibe. Although in pain, Hartley was impressed by Cisco's ruthlessness.
Their next stop took them to Barry's lab at the Central City Police Department where they examined footage of Professor Stein's death. There they saw that what looked to be a ghostly image of Ronnie merged into Professor's Stein's body. As Cisco realized what this meant, Hartley used his hearing aid device to let out a sonic attack, incapacitating Cisco, and allowing Hartley to escape again.
Hartley is intelligent, arrogant and demanding, according to Cisco Ramon, he was both a jerk and a "dick" towards his co-workers making very few friends, He was quick to alienate and belittle Cisco, largely out of jealousy, although he did respect and get along well with Harrison Wells, whom he saw as a sort of father figure, until he was fired by the latter. Despite these negative traits of his, Hartley did care about the well-being of the people of Central City, when he realized that the Particle accelerator could explode. After the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion, he became vengeful and unstable.
Powers and Abilities
- Superhuman hearing: As a metahuman, Hartley is granted augmented hearing that allows him to even hear radio waves and distinguish their frequencies.
- Genius-level intellect: Hartley is a genius of the highest caliber and is described by Harrison Wells as one of the most brilliant minds he has ever met.
- Expert tactician: Hartley possesses a keen, tactical mind. He is also good at keeping his enemies guessing what the endgame is until it is too late.
- Expert engineer: Hartley is skilled enough in engineering to make a pair of sonic gloves from scratch.
- Multilingual: Hartley can fluently speak at least six languages including English, French, Spanish, Latin, and Japanese.
- Vulnerable eardrum: Because Hartley's hearing is so powerful, he can be overwhelmed by even the most basic sounds. Due to this weakness, he is now forced to wear a device in his ear to limit the sounds he hears for the rest of his life.
- Sonic Gloves: Hartley possessed a pair of gloves that were able to emit sonic vibrations. At their lowest frequencies they could shatter glass. At their highest frequencies they could bring down an entire office building.
- In the DC comics, Hartley Rathaway is the supervillain (who was later reformed) known as Pied Piper. He was also romantically tied to David Singh.
- He is an avid chess player, and often incorporates chess metaphors into his speech (e.g. describing his victims as "pawns", and the Flash as a "scarlet knight").
- Hartley is the second LGBTQ character introduced into the Flash series, though the first one to be a super-villain.
- Hartley's sound emitting gloves and his hearing problems coming from an accident (the comic version was born with them) make him similar to the Batman Beyond villain Shriek.
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