When Geoff Johns began revising the "New 52" universe in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the status of the DCU wasn't quite resolved. By the time the issue ended, Wally West had told other characters that not only had something erased 10 years of continuity, but an outside force also caused the "New 52" reboot iself.
Although readers know that some of the Watchmen characters are behind the continuity problems, characters in the DCU are still investigating — namely Batman and the Flash. The two characters have discovered several clues about the altered timeline, including a Watchmen-esque smiley face button to go with the previously-seen Thomas Wayne letter that Barry Allen brought back from the Flashpolnt universe.
DC has revealed that the "Rebirth" event will be building over a two-year period, so there probably won't be any giant leaps in the story in the next few months. However, a villain re-introduced in Batman #2 and #3 may be an important element in the unfolding story.
The villain? Psycho-Pirate.
In Batman #2, writer Tom King used the character for the first time in this "Rebirth" era as part of a team of characters who were up to no good — including Hugo Strange, Amanda Waller and General Lane. In Batman #4, Waller tells Batman that she recruited Hugo Strange and Psycho-Pirate to complete a government mission (a la the Suicide Squad). But the two characters went rogue.
Psycho-Pirate is the alter ego of Roger Hayden, a man who has the ability to project emotions onto other people. As Amanda Waller tells Bruce Wayne in Batman #4, "the Psycho-Pirate is a man who could make gods go mad." As a result, he and Hugo Strange are wreaking havoc in Gotham City.
But it's a different ability that makes Psycho-Pirate so interesting in light of the timeline glitches tied to Watchmen and "Rebirth." In DC's 1985 reboot-causing Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Psycho-Pirate was a key bad guy, but perhaps even more interestingly, after the end of Crisis, he — unlike most everyone else in the DCU — retained memories of the continuity changes that came with Crisis.
In fact, the memories of Crisis eventually drove Psycho-Pirate insane. He was locked up in Arkham Asylum, where he talked seemingly nonsensically about past worlds that lived and died. So it's worth noting that in Batman #2, it appears that Psycho-Pirate is again be in some type of asylum.
Has he once again remembered a mess of continuity that was erased? Will someone listen to his memories of the past that was erased?
It's looking like the answers to both questions are yes.
According to Tom King, Psycho-Pirate retains the continuity-remembering abilities in "Rebirth" universe. As he told Newsarama after Batman #4 was published, "as established in Grant Morrison's Animal Man, the Pirate remembers continuity that no longer exists," and that was "one of the appeals of having him in this book, and tying him into the story spine of the greater DCU."
If Psycho-Pirate ends up remembering the 10 years of erased continuity, he's a key element in Batman and Wally West's quest for answers to the mysteries of "Rebirth."
And it's important that he's in Batman, since Bruce Wayne is one of only a handful of characters who are aware that the timeline has any alterations. And he's also one of the smartest characters and best detectives in the DCU, so it would make sense for him to encounter one of the only people in the universe who's knowledgeable about what's missing from history.
Besides, with his involvement in Crisis — as well as its sequel 20 years later in 2005's Infinite Crisis (by "Rebirth" architect Geoff Johns)— it would make sense of Psycho-Pirate to also play a key role in the events surrounding the Watchmen and the mysteries of "Rebirth."