The Piper is a testament to the idea that anyone can be a hero. Because, I guess in the 1940s, even dance bands like those led by singer Swing Sisson had super villain enemies.
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing (Sisson)
We all have projects that we believe in that just don't land, and the Piper, the person who ended up being Swing Sisson's inadvertent nemesis, just wanted to do vaudeville. Vaudeville was the comedy of French origin that was popular from the 1880s until the 1930s. You know what wasn't in the 1930s? 1941, which was why the Piper was laughed off the stage, which led him to his greatest invention.
He made a special type of light that could freeze people in place which he called the Q-Ray. Not sure what he was going for there. I guess if you wanted to sell it you could say, Q-Ray whoo-ray! Get your Q-Ray today. I'm not a copywriter and the Piper had no need for one. He wasn't looking to sell the Q-Ray. He was only looking for vengeance.
You see, part of putting yourself out there in the creative sphere is opening yourself up to criticism. Just like you can put anything out there, people have the right to say whatever they want about it. That's the deal. The Piper...would not agree with that statement. His name was really Max Shayme...and when people didn't want to go to his vaudeville act ten years after vaudeville stopped being a thing, well, those people had to die.
And yeah, that's his motivation. You don't like my art? Well, burn for it.
A burning desire...to set a bunch of people on fire.
In absolutely the most horrific outcome of any villain on this podcast, the Piper, who dresses in a purple track jacket and wears his underwear outside his tights, loaded his Q-Rays into the projector at the theater, froze the entire audience, and then lit the place on fire. He then played clarinet while the concert hall burned. The people, hopelessly transfixed by the Q-Ray, couldn't even scream as the fire consumed them. The heroes, the swing band set to play that night, only made it out because they were backstage. Sidebar, if you name your kid Swing in the era of big band swing music, you're pretty much deciding how their life is going to go.
Anyway, Swing and his bandmates got in a fist fight with Piper and his henchmen and managed to drag themselves from the burning concert hall before it came down on top of them.
The Piper had thrown a clarinet at one of Swing's bandmates and it broke with a chunk of it becoming lodged in his head. The band studied it and found that it said "south side music shop."
Now, they're just three swing musicians. Should they maybe turn that piece of evidence over to the police?
Nah. They have a score to settle. Those 1100 people were their fans. It was the least they could do.
Fanning the flames
Swing and Toby, the two men, forbid Bonnie from coming with them. The completely irresponsible and dangerous job of tracking down mass murderers with no weapons, training, or backup is apparently men's work. They got a list of addresses from the music shop and went door to door, their only plan being to fist fight the guys who just murdered over a thousand people in cold blood.
It did not go well, but luckily Bonnie didn't listen to them and followed them throughout their search, her reasoning being that they couldn't tell her want to do. She heard the scuffle, jumped through the door, and kicked the Q-Ray from the Piper's hand before he could freeze Swing. Bonnie picked it up, and just started shooting. It just froze the bad guys...she didn't know it would do that... and Swing and Toby, still not superheroes at all, got a few punches in before the police showed up.
They joked around with piper puns while the Piper was arrested...because that's totally appropriate when they're arresting what would be the worst mass murderer in American history.
- Feature Comics #52