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Scarecrow
Scarecrow
Publication Information
First appearance World's Finest Comics #3
Story: "Riddle of the Human Scarecrow"
Created by Bob Kane
Bill Finger
Origin World's Finest Comics #3
Batman Annual #19
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #17
Year One: Batman/Scarecrow #1-#2
Biographical Information
True Identity Jonathan Crane
Hair Brown
Eyes Blue
Height 6'0"
Weight 140 lbs
Skin color Caucasian
Gender Male
Affiliations Injustice Gang/Injustice League
Secret Society of Supervillains (former)
Legion of Doom
Partner(s) Penguin (former)
Known alias(es) God of Fear
Schroken
Scarebeast
Professor Rance
Abilities Well-educated in psychology
Skilled chemist
Capable of creating various toxins
that induce crippling hallucinations
Trained in "violent dancing" style of kung fu
Arch-nemesis Batman

The Scarecrow (Professor Jonathan Crane) is a fictional character, an enemy of Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. He first appeared in World's Finest Comics #3.

Publication HistoryEdit

Jonathan Crane (Golden Age)
The original Golden Age Crane's transformation into the Scarecrow. Art by Bob Kane.
Lego JokerAdded by Lego Joker

Much like the Riddler, Scarecrow was introduced relatively early, but quickly faded into obscurity after his introduction. Unlike Riddler and Joker, Scarecrow's original incarnation was noticeably different from his Earth-One and New Earth incarnations. In particular, he was a racketeer instead of a mad scientist with a knowledge of psychology, and taught criminology instead of psychology. Thus, his connections with the theme of fear is much looser.

While the Earth-One Crane was introduced in Batman #189 (portrayed the character with fear-inducing toxins for the first time), the original Earth-Two Crane was depicted one last time in The Brave and the Bold #197. Here, he too has developed a fear-inducing hallucinogen, and infects Batman with it, causing the Dark Knight to hallucinate that all of his allies in crimefighting have vanished. Batman eventually overcomes this phobia by making a new ally - in this case, Catwoman.

Fictional Character BiographyEdit

OriginEdit

Pre-CrisisEdit

The original Earth-Two Crane was depicted with a surprising amount of backstory for supervillains at the time, being portrayed as someone who enjoyed frightening birds when he was a child. In his adult years, he became a professor of psychology at a local college, where other professors often riduculed his thin frame and threadbare clothes (since he spent most of his salary on books). Annoyed by his peers, and covering respect (as well as fear), Crane became a racketeer with the alias of "scarecrow", and true to the alias, wore a scarecrow outfit whenever he was "on the job".

As "The Scarecrow", Crane accepted payment from rich customers in exchange for doing their dirty work (such as threatening people that had filed lawsuits against his customers). As his "calling card", Crane would scatter pieces of loose straw at the scenes of his crimes. Eventually, Crane was fired for firing a pistol in one of his classes as part of a lecture, prompting him to don the identity of The Scarecrow full-time.

Post-CrisisEdit

Thin and awkwardly-build during his teenage years, Crane was often the subject of ridicule from his peers, who mercilessly bullied him and called him degrading nicknames such as "scarecrow". At home, his situation was little better, as he lived with an abusive grandmother who was incredibly strict with him and threatened him for the most trivial actions (some accounts claim that he enjoyed scaring birds when he was small, though Crane is often depicted as having a phobia of birds in others).

Crane's only solace was in his books, which he was mocked for even further (he was often compared to Ichabod Crane, the main character of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). As a result, he grew detached from society, and at age eighteen, brandished a handgun to the senior prom. Armed with the gun and dressed in a scarecrow outfit, he attacked the head bully Bo Griggs and his girlfriend Sherry Squires, injuring the former and killing the latter.

Years later, as an adult, Crane managed to get a job as a psychology professor at Gotham University, but was soon dismissed for firing a gun in a classroom. Enraged, Crane used his knowledge of chemicals and the human mind to create a powerful hallucinogenic toxin that could make a person literally face his own worst fears, with fatal (or at least sanity-breaking) results. Dubbing himself "Scarecrow", Crane once more donned a costume of rags to get revenge on those whom he felt had wronged him.

Naturally, Crane was caught by Batman in the end, and sent to Arkham Asylum. Time and time again, however, he would escape to either look for revenge on the Caped Crusader or to further his twisted experiments on fear, often kidnapping people to be used as unwilling test subjects.

Criminal CareerEdit

Pre-CrisisEdit

In his first appearance, the Scarecrow operated as a racketeer instead of a true "super-villain"; he would show up inside the homes of the rich and famous in a scarecrow costume, shoot them in a non-fatal area, and threaten to do so again (fatally) if he was not given money. He was eventually defeated by Batman, but escaped on one occasion to commit a series of robberies with the theme of words rhyming with "hat". [1]

After he was re-introduced with his fear-inducing gadgets, the Scarecrow began to drift in the direction of a "true super-villain". Notably, he (along with Poison Ivy) were members of Libra's original Injustice Gang. On another occasion, Crane injected Batman with a dart that caused him to radiate an "aura of fear" that filled everybody in proximity of him with deathly terror. By doing so, he hoped to force the Dark Knight to retire from crime-fighting.

Scarecrow (Silver Age)
The Silver Age/Bronze Age Scarecrow. Art by Alan Davis.
Lego JokerAdded by Lego Joker

In "Fear For Sale" Crane created a toxin that instead removed people's fears, applied them to star athletes, and demanded money for the antidote (as the toxin made the athletes reckless, and in some cases, borderline suicidal). Here, Batman (who had been earlier infected with the toxin) defeats Crane not by overcoming his fear, but instead focusing on what he fears most - the death of Robin. [2]

Post-CrisisEdit

Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, Crane's criminal career could be said to have began in his childhood, with the aforementioned attack on Bo Griggs and Sherry Squires.

During the "Knightfall" saga, Crane teamed up with Joker to invade the mayor's home and hold him captive, for apparently no reason other than to watch the city delve into chaos. The two were the last of the Arkham escapees that Batman had rounded up before battling Bane's men, and during the fight, Crane attacked the Caped Crusader with his fear toxin. Batman, however, reacted to the hallucinations (of Joker killing Jason Todd) with blind rage instead, resulting in the two blasting a hole in the tunnel that they had taken residence in and fleeing. [3]

Subsequently, after Jean-Paul Valley had taken up the mantle of Batman, Crane returned and brainwashed half a dozen teenagers into becoming his henchmen to spread his fear gas all over the city, under delusions of becoming "the god of fear". Though hampered by the vigilante Anarky (who had recently come to the conclusion that if Batman were to die, all of the madmen that plagued Gotham would slowly vanish), Jean-Paul still manages to beat Crane senseless, but not before receiving a heightened sense of paranoia from Crane's toxin. [4]

During the "As the Crow Flies" story arc of the 2000s (Batman #626-#630), Crane was transformed into a being known as the "Scarebeast" by Penguin, who intended for him to kill off his disloyal colleagues. Crane was eventually restored to his human form, though he transformed again during the "War Games" arc, hinting that the Scarebeast is not truly gone.

Powers and AbilitiesEdit

Though often portrayed as frail and not being much of a physical threat, The Scarecrow was actually a somewhat formidable fighter in his initial appearance. Here, he is able to hold his own against the Dark Knight in fisticuffs, clobbers Robin with a trash can, and wields a tommy-gun rather efficiently. In addition, he was portrayed with the power of being able to jump extremely high, something rarely, if ever, associated with him anymore.

Going even further, some Modern Age versions of the character have indeed been portrayed as a physical threat; during the "Knightfall" saga, for example, he claimed to have studied on a fighting style known as "violent dancing", based off of the crane style of kung fu. Making full use of his long, thin limbs, he was able to hold his own against Jean-Paul Valley (Batman II) for a while.

Crane has been "upgraded" into a more monstrous version of himself at least twice. During the aforementioned "As the Crow Flies" arc, his "Scarebeast" form possessed superhuman strength and durability, and was able to release a super-powerful version of his fear toxin naturally. During the "Torment" arc (Superman/Batman #37-#42), he associated himself with Darkseid and Dessad, and was turned into an even more powerful creature named Schroken that could fight Superman on even terms. Eventually, however, Superman and Batman were able to return him to his human form.

ParaphernaliaEdit

Fear Toxin
The effects of the Scarecrow's fear toxin, as seen in Batman #494. Art by Jim Aparo.
Lego JokerAdded by Lego Joker

Once the character's fear-inducing abilities were introduced, he has toted around an endless variety of terror-causing gadgets. His (in)famous fear toxin is described as "a toxic mix of adreno-cortial secretions and strong hallucinogens"; once breathed in or injected, the victim is subject to horrifyingly realistic visions of their worst phobias and fears. In its strongest doses, the toxin is capable of mentally scarring its victims for life, or else killing them on the spot with panic-induced heart attacks. To distribute these toxins, Crane has a variety of mediums, most commonly a mechanical skull, but also everything from ragdolls to false strands of straw attached to his mask.

Other items in Crane's arsenal over the years have included a black light projector that would inflict a fear of the dark upon his foes, as well as a chemical spray that inflicted a fear of heights. On at least one occasion, he has even developed a drug to remove fears from people, causing them to become incredibly reckless (he is even able to trick an athlete into committing suicide with it). On another, by combining his fear toxin with virtual reality helmets, Crane was effectively able to brainwash a half dozen teenagers into doing his bidding, up to and including literally dying for him.

Keeping in with his "Scarecrow" theme, Crane has occasionally been depicted as toting around a large scythe and/or pitchfork as a melee weapon.

Relationship with the JokerEdit

Despite being a major Batman villain, the Scarecrow has not had much depicted interaction with the Joker. The most notable team-up between the two men occurred during the "Knightfall" saga, where the Joker ordered minor villain Cornelius Stirk to kidnap Commissioner Gordon, believing him to be adept at spreading fear.

Getting word of this, the Scarecrow interrogates one of the Joker's henchmen (using his fear toxin as persuasion) and interferes with the Joker's plan by spraying Gordon with his fear gas, causing him to see Stirk as Batman. Taking advantage of this, Stirk attempts to kill Gordon instead, causing Joker to abandon the plan in disgust once the real Batman shows up and beats Stirk into submission.

The Scarecrow then confronts Joker, furious that he had went to "a rank amateur in the realm of fear when the master was readily available". The Joker dares him to spray him with fear toxin, to which Scarecrow responds that he would rather have an equal partnership. The two then embark on a campaign to spread fear and chaos throughout Gotham, and do so, invade the mayor's home. Scarecrow attacks the defenseless man with his fear gas, forcing him to make phone calls to further the chaos (such as luring the police on wild goose chases).

During this team-up, Scarecrow displays impatience with the Joker's lack of seriousness. This feeling comes to a head during the aftermath of Batman's "breaking" by Bane (though neither knew it at the time), where Scarecrow, incensed by Joker's taunting, squirts him with his fear toxin. To his surprise, the toxin has no effect on the Joker, who in turn calls him a "loser" and a "charlatan" and beats him unconscious with a chair.

Other incarnationsEdit

Live-actionEdit

Batman BeginsEdit

In the 2005 film Batman Begins, the Scarecrow was played by actor Cilian Murphy. Here, he is re-imagined as a member of the staff at Arkham Asylum, but still portrayed as a corrupt, sadistic psychologist. In the film, he is secretly allied with Ra's al Ghul and mob boss Carmine Falcone, the former of whom gives him a special flower that he needs to make his fear toxin, and the latter of whom helps him smuggle hallucinogenic drugs into Gotham. As payment, Crane declares Falcone's men insane in court, allowing them to escape jail time. Unknown to Falcone, however, once his men are in Arkham, Crane experiments on them with the drugs as a way of testing and perfecting his fear toxin.

Crane is later detained by Batman, sprayed with his own toxin, and locked away in Arkham. While there, he meets Falcone, also recently detained by Batman. Falcone attempts to blackmail Crane into allowing him onto the "Fear Toxin" project that he and Ra's al Ghul are working on, but in response, Crane dons a burlap mask and sprays Falcone with his toxin, deeming himself "Scarecrow" in the process. Later on, he leads a massive breakout at Arkham as part of Ra's al Ghul's plan to bring panic to Gotham, but is detained by Batman/Bruce Wayne's girlfriend, Rachel Dawes, who electrocutes him with a taser. At the end of the film, James Gordon reveals that Crane is still at large, as Rachel had only electrocuted him so that she and a young boy could escape from him.

The Scarecrow's costume in the film is relatively "mundane" compared to that of his comics counterpart; it consists of only a poorly-stitched burlap bag as a mask (which has a built-in rebreather, allowing it to double as a gas mask). According to director Christopher Nolan, this was done to emphasize Crane's interest in the mind over appearance.


Scarecrow (Cilian Murphy)
Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, as portrayed by Cilian Murphy.
Lego JokerAdded by Lego Joker

The Dark KnightEdit

In the 2008 sequel to Batman Begins, Murphy reprises his role as the Scarecrow, albeit in only a brief cameo. Here, Crane is shown to have moved on to a partnership with a Russian mobster known as The Chechen. A meeting between the two in a parking garage, however, is interrupted by several Batman copycats (whom Crane immediately identifies as fake). Eventually, the real Batman shows up (much to Crane's delight, as he knows that the real Batman would never kill), and a fight ensues. During the fight, Crane attempts to run Batman over with his van as he escapes, but misses, and is finally captured when the vigilante jump down the spiral parking ramp and slams into the hood of the van.

AnimationEdit

Batman with Robin the Boy WonderEdit

The Scarecrow's first portrayal in animation was in the 60's Filmation Batman cartoon (originally packaged as The Batman/Superman Hour). Here, he is voiced by Ted Knight, and portrayed merely as a petty thief who wishes to rob the farmer's market.

Super FriendsEdit

During the show's various incarnations, the Scarecrow first appeared in Challenge of the Super Friends in 1978, voiced by Don Messick. Here, he was one of the thirteen members of Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom, and was often used as comic relief, never offering any real threat as a villain.

The character was greatly expanded upon in the show's final incarnation, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. In the episode "The Fear", he was portrayed with his fear-inducing devices for the first time, in the form of illusion-inducing skulls that inflicted various phobias onto their victims. He also utilizes his skills as a psychologist here, tormenting Batman with his fear of Crime Alley, where the Dark Knight's parents were murdered.

In addition, Jonathan Crane is seen for the first (and only) time, as a detective helping Commissioner Gordon with capturing the Scarecrow (Batman and Gordon are both unaware of Crane's alter-ego until the very end).

DC Animated UniverseEdit

Scarecrow (DCAU)
The many faces of the DCAU Scarecrow.
Lego JokerAdded by Lego Joker

Initially voiced by Henry Pollic II in Batman: The Animated Series, the Scarecrow appeared several times over the course of the DCAU. He first appeared in the episode "Nothing to Fear", where Jonathan Crane is stated to have been fired from Gotham University for "unethical experiments", and as the Scarecrow, takes revenge by robbing it and burning it down. He is eventually detained by Batman, though not before forcing the Caped Crusader to face his own worst fear - being a disgrace to his father.

Crane was also the primary antagonist in the episodes "Fear of Victory" (where he infected athletes with his fear toxin, causing them to break down in the middle of games and thus allowing him to get rich by betting against them) and "Dreams in Darkness" (where he infected Batman with the toxin, causing the Caped Crusader to be imprisoned in Arkham and plagued with hallucinations while Crane attempted to flood Gotham's water supply with his toxin). In addition, he made several cameos, such as in "Joker's Wild" and "Lock-Up". Scarecrow was voiced by Henry Polic II in this series.

When B:TAS "evolved" into The New Batman Adventures, Crane received what was probably the most drastic of the character revamps. Before, his costume often changed from episode to episode, and while resembling an actual scarecrow, was never intimidating. Now, however, his look resembled an undead Western preacher, with a hangman's noose around his neck. This new Scarecrow starred in two episodes of the new series: "Over the Edge" (where he infects Barbara Gordon/Batgirl with it and forces her to hallucinate her own death and the repercussions) and "Never Fear" (where he creates a toxin to remove fear from Gotham's populace to create chaos). Jeffrey Combs provided the voice for the new Scarecrow.

Batman: Gotham KnightEdit

The animated feature Batman: Gotham Knight, a collection of six short stories bridging the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, features the Scarecrow in the story "In Darkness Dwells". Here, the Scarecrow leads another breakout at Arkham, and kidnaps Cardinal o' Fallon with a gang of inmates, including Killer Croc. Croc, infected with Crane's fear toxin, attacks Batman and Commissioner Gordon, and in the ensuing fight, transfers some of the toxin into Batman with a bite.

After working his way though the hallucinations brought on by the toxin, Batman finds Scarecrow and his minions holding a "trial" for o' Fallon, Crane being displeased with the Cardinal's efforts to help the homeless and depriving him of his test subjects. Batman succeeds in saving the Cardinal, though Crane manages to escape.

Batman: The Brave and the BoldEdit

The animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold featured Scarecrow in the teaser of the episode "Trials of the Demon!". Here, he has allied himself with a villainess named Scream Queen, and has genetically altered Gotham's pumpkin crop so that when they are lit on Halloween night, they will release his fear toxin. With help from the Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick), however, Batman is able to defeat him.

Crane later makes a cameo as one of the prisoners at Blackgate in the episode "Night of the Huntress!".

Arkham SeriesEdit

Scarecrow is a recurring boss in the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, and is shown to be working with the Joker in the game, as he is often sent by the Joker to distract Batman to slow him down. All three nightmares involve his parent's death. Crane was first seen in the Medical Building's morgue, using his fear toxin on Batman to prevent him from reaching Commissioner Gordon, and is seen a second time in the Arkham Mansion, trying to prevent Batman from reaching Dr. Young and Victor Zsasz. The second attempt does prove somewhat successful, as when Batman escapes the hallucination he is in an unknown room. Scarecrow reappears in the Asylum's transfer facility, this time trying to stop Batman from reaching Killer Croc's lair. When this attack proves futile Crane flees down into the sewers himself, intent on poisoning Gotham's water with his most powerful fear gas to drive all of its inhabitants insane. Batman reaches him in time, but before either of them can act Crane is dragged under water by Killer Croc. Despite numerous hints of his survival in Batman: Arkham City, Scarecrow is never actually seen. Scarecrow's costume radically differs from any previous version, as here is shown wearing a mask tied with a noose and two gas mask tubes protruding from his cheeks. He has no shirt, wears bandages around his feet instead of shoes, and his right fingers have hypodermics needles strapped to them filled with fear toxin. He is voiced by Dino Andrade.

FootnotesEdit

  1. Detective Comics #73
  2. Detective Comics #571
  3. Batman #494-#496; Detective Comics #661
  4. Shadow of the Bat #16-#18

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