(or Piper of Newtonmore?)
Real Name: Unrevealed
Identity/Class: Extraterrestrial (Dire Wraith) magic-user
Occupation: Invader, would-be mutator of Earth's children
Group Membership: Wraith Warlocks (a sub-division of the Dire Wraith race)
Affiliations: Dweller on the Threshold
Enemies: Rom, adults and children of Newtonmore
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Piper of Peril
Base of Operations: Limbo;
formerly the Newtonmore hamlet in the Scottish Highlands
First Appearance: Rom#40 (March, 1983)
Powers/Abilities: As a Dire Wraith, the Newtonmore Piper possesses the ability to change his shape, color, size and mass so as to become any physical being he may desire (within certain limits). By transforming into an appropriate creature, the Wraith can then use that creature's physical abilities (like flying while in the form of a bird) but he cannot alter his brain/body structure enough to replicate any psionic or paranormal abilities which the being he's imitating may possess.
As a Dire Wraith, the Piper, in his natural form, has a barbed, razor-sharp tongue which he could use to absorb the brains of victims, thereby gaining their memories. However, male Wraiths (generally) avoid using their brain-eating ability because they consider it repugnant. Like all Dire Wraiths, the Piper was hatched from an egg and has a lifespan of well over 200 Earth-years.
As a Wraith Warlock, the Piper has a significant ability to manipulate the mystical energy radiated by the Black Sun of the Dark Nebula but, like almost all Wraith magic-users, his sorcerous powers are dependant upon the availability of that particular type of energy. On Earth, the Piper's sorcery was only at its peak during the Cosmic Alignment between Earth and the Dark Nebula. While most Dire Wraiths use incantations and/or gestures to cast their spells, the Piper uses the music he plays on his pipes. It may be presumed that the Piper can play a number of tunes, each of which are linked to a specific effect. One of the Piper's songs could mesmerize all the humans in a small village, compelling the children to follow the Piper like sleepwalkers while forcing the adults to remain asleep. Another tune could cause bands of force to appear (as the music seemingly took on physical form) and entrap someone as strong as the Spaceknight Rom. Finally, the Piper's "Summons Song" could open a Cosmic Portal across space to the faraway planet Wraithworld, awaken the dark force known as the Dweller on the Threshold which lay dormant there and draw it to the portal.
History: Nothing is known about the origin of the Newtonmore Piper or about his activities prior to the night when the Black Sun of the Dark Nebula moved into a Cosmic Alignment with Earth.
(Rom#40 - BTS) - On the night of the Cosmic Alignment between the Black Sun of the Dark Nebula and Earth, the sorcerous powers of all Dire Wraiths on Earth (including the Newtonmore Piper) were strengthened to their peak level.
(Rom#40) - On the night of the Cosmic Alignment, the "Piper of Peril" visited the Newtonmore hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. Once there, the Piper began using his pipes to play mournful music that cast a Wraith magic spell over all the humans in Newtonmore. The Piper's sorcerous song mesmerized all the children and compelled them to follow him while forcing all the adults to remain asleep. The Piper led the sleepwalking children away from Newtonmore to a certain outcropping and then stopped playing while he briefly spoke to the entranced children. The Piper then began playing his Summons Song which caused a portal across space to Wraithworld in the Dark Nebula to appear in the air (looking at first like a star in the night sky). As the Piper continued to play, the Cosmic Portal opened wider and wider. When the portal finally reached its full size, the Piper stopped playing and addressed the children, telling them that:
Through this portal soon shall stream,
a thing of nightmares, not of dreams!
Welcome him! He comes for you!
To bring a change the Earth will rue!
As the Piper gloated, he was surprised when he was interrupted by the Galadorian Spaceknight Rom who had secretly watched him lead the children from the hamlet and open the portal and who had (somehow) sneaked up behind the Piper. Now standing between the Cosmic Portal and the Piper, Rom challenged the Wraith, telling him that he would have to first win past Rom if he wanted to use the rays from the mystical Black Sun to transform the sleeping innocent children.
As the Piper was scanned by Rom's Energy Analyzer, he freely admitted that he was a Dire Wraith, claiming that "The time for hiding - - for demeaning ourselves by adopting these disgusting human disguises - - will soon be done!" Even as he told Rom that the Dweller on the Threshold would soon arrive through the open portal to transform the children and doom all of humanity, the Piper played another tune on his pipes and the resulting music took on physical form and bound Rom with bands of force. The Piper boasted that the bands would entwine tighter until they cracked the Spaceknight's spine but Rom realized that the Piper knew that the bands couldn't really kill him and were only intended to immobilize him until the Dweller on the Threshold could cross the portal to Earth.
As Rom struggled against his bonds, the Piper continued to play his pipes, causing a door of light containing the Dweller on the Threshold to appear amidst the lava flows of Wraithworld and then to move closer across the void towards the Cosmic Portal on Earth. Just before the Dweller was to arrive, the Piper reminded Rom about how Wraith magic had already changed harmless Earth dogs into savage and subservient Hellhounds, then asked Rom to imagine how the Dweller's (greater) magic could transform the children (into Wraith-Slaves). As the Piper boasted that Rom had already lost the final battle because the Dweller on the Threshold was here, a desperate Rom broke free from his bonds and used his Neutralizer to shred the Piper's magic and banish the Piper to Limbo. Rom then flew through the Cosmic Portal, grappling with the Dweller on the Threshold and forcing it back from the doorway between dimensions, away from Earth and into a realm of unreality that was neither Earth nor Wraithworld.
Without the Piper to keep it open, the Cosmic Portal closed. When dawn came the children awoke from their sleep and made their way home.
Comments: Created by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema and (Ian) Akin & (Brian) Garvey.
The "Piper of Peril" was probably inspired by the folk tale of the "Pied Piper of Hamelin." It may be for that reason that the children were only described as coming from "yonder hamlet." While "hamlet" is a real word, it's rarely used nowadays and I suspect that Bill Mantlo may have chosen to use that word because it sounds somewhat like "Hamelin." However, that's just a guess on my part.
Dire Wraith entry in Dark Reign Files identifies him as the "Newtonmore Piper"
so that's the name of the "hamlet." Newtonmore is a genuine place, btw, a
village of around 1000 people located at what is considered the geographical
centre of Scotland.
While the idea of a Cosmic Alignment between Earth and the Dark Nebula played a big part in several issues of ROM, it was never explained how a planet could come into "cosmic alignment" with another star system. As I understand it, the sorcery practiced by the Dire Wraiths was somehow linked to Wraithworld which itself received its dark magical power from the Black Sun's radiation. If so, then Wraithworld acted as a relay for the Black Sun, absorbing its energies and then retransmitting them in a form that the Dire Wraiths could use. Furthermore, I believe that Wraithworld also acted as a lens which focused the Black Sun's energies through it and out into space. Thus, when Wraithworld was aligned between the Black Sun and Earth, those energies were directed at Earth in concentrations similar to what was available within the Dark Nebula, thereby boosting the sorcerous powers of all Dire Wraiths on Earth to their peak levels. However, this is just my interpretation of those stories.
According to a High Wraith Witch (in ROM#36), "Once each year the heavens swing into unholy alignment! Across untold light years, the Black Sun of our dreaded Dark Nebula now casts its pall across the cosmos - - to Earth! Thus, as long as its shadow does cross that of Earth's, our Dire Wraith black magic is at its peak!"
Although the Piper does not specifically identify himself as being a Wraith Warlock (unlike Doctor Dredd in that same issue), I'm going to assume that Rom was correct when he (mentally) referred to the Piper as a "son of the dread Dark Nebula."
The total number of children who were mesmerized by the Piper is uncertain. Judging by pages 8 and 9, he spirited dozens of children away from their homes but later pages show no more than ten children with him.
The Piper of Newtonmore has no known connections to:
Adults of Newtonmore
The parents of the children the Piper intended to transform. Since the Wraiths only planned to transform Earth's children into their mindless servants, the Piper had no use for the adults so he just used his magical music to keep them asleep while he stole the children of Newtonmore. A side-effect of the Piper's music caused the adults to experience deep and disturbing dreams. After the Piper was banished by Rom, the adults (presumably) awoke at dawn.
Children of Newtonmore
The children chosen by the "Piper of Peril" to be the first to be transformed by the Dweller on the Threshold into mindless Wraith-Slaves of incredible power whom the Dire Wraiths would use to conquer Earth for them. On the night of the Cosmic Alignment between Earth and the Dark Nebula, the Piper used his magical pipe-music to mesmerize all the children in Newtonmore . In a sleepwalking state, the children then followed the Piper out of Newtonmore. They stood quietly as the Piper opened the Cosmic Portal and Rom appeared and battled on their behalf. As the portal carrying the Dweller on the Threshold approached, the children trembled, sensing (even in their entranced state) that it was coming for them. Later, after the threat of the Piper and the Dweller on the Threshold had been dealt with by Rom and the Cosmic Portal had closed, the light of the dawn awakened the children from their sleep. Now safe, they returned to their homes, apparently not remembering anything which had happened while they had been in the Piper's power.
A mystical portal that reached across space from Earth to the Dark Nebula. Opened by the Wraith magic of the Summons Song that the "Piper of Peril" played on his pipes, when the Cosmic Portal first appeared it looked like a star hanging low in the night sky of the Scottish Highlands. As the Piper continued to play, the "star" seemed to approach Earth as the portal opened wider and wider. By the time it was fully opened, the Cosmic Portal was a circle about a dozen feet in diameter with the lower edge resting just above the ground. The other end of the portal initially opened into space within the Dark Nebula but soon descended to the surface of Wraithworld. The portal shrank and closed up soon after the Piper was banished to Limbo by Rom.
Since the Dark Nebula side of the portal initially opened onto outer space, the difference in atmospheric pressure should have caused the air from the Earth side to be drawn into and through the portal. Presumably part of the Piper's spell was designed to counteract the pressure imbalance so as to prevent the portal from sucking both him and the children into it and away from Earth.
Rom#40, full-page 8 (Piper - full body)
Rom#40, page 10, panel 4 (Piper - head shot)
Rom#40, page 18, panel 1 (Piper - being Analyzed)
Rom#40, page 9, panel 3 (adults of "Hamlet")
Rom#40, page 9, panel 2 (children of "Hamlet")
Rom#40, page 10, panel 6 (children of "Hamlet")
Rom#40, page 12, panel 1 (Cosmic Portal)
Rom#40 (March, 1983) - Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Ian Akin & Brian Garvey (inks), Ann Nocenti (editor)
First Posted: 03/16/2006
Last updated: 03/16/2014
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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