I’m sorry for not posting this yesterday guys. The day got busier than expected.
Art by Jason Fabok and Nathan Fairbarn
Born a bastard whose father left before he was even born, young Jonathan Crane was hated and abused by his grandmother. His mother left him with his grandmother when he was still a newborn, and she, a zealot, saw him as an abomination due to the circumstances of his birth. She would often take him to church in a suit laced with a homemade cocktail that would attract the crows to peck at him. In his teenage years, he was bullied for his jumpy personality and wiry frame, the latter of which gaining him the nickname “Scarecrow.” At this point, the abuse was enough, and he taught himself a style of “violent dancing” to defend himself. He also began experimenting with the chemical cocktail of his grandmother and used this to create his notorious Fear Toxin. He used these to frighten his bullies until their hearts gave out, and they expired. He then turned this on his grandmother and killed her as well. These were the first acts of terror from the man who would become Scarecrow.
He attended Gotham University and became a psychology professor by killing the previous professor. He focused on the concept fear in his class, and he would use extreme methods to study it, such as firing a gun in front of his students. He was eventually fired for this, and he became the head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. He would, however, go onto kill those responsible for his saccing. He went on to use his Fear Toxin to study the reactions in his patients. This is where he began calling himself Scarecrow. It’s worth mentioning that he would eventually have an intern by the name of Thomas Elliot. Young Elliot was clearly unstable, but, instead of addressing his issues, Jonathan Crane encouraged his sickness.
The many deaths at Gotham University attracted the attention of the Batman, then still in the early days of his career. Batman and then-Captain James Gordon tracked down and arrested the Scarecrow. This was the beginning of the longstanding animosity between Batman and the Jonathan Crane.
He would next cooperate with Harvey Dent aka Two-Face to go to war with the Carmine Falcone criminal empire. This group perpetrated a massacre of Gotham’s various crime bosses on Columbus Day. After this, they were apprehended by Batman and Robin.
The Scarecrow would continue to fight with Batman over the years. His crimes often would circulate around causing fear and studying its effects. He had developed into a sadistic psychopath, but he was not incapable of complex forethought and planning. He would even briefly join the Injustice Gang as well as the Secret Society of Supervillains. However, all of his ploys have ended with him being arrested by the Batman or one of his associates, and he is sent to Arkham Asylum for incarceration and treatment.
He was among the rogues to be released from Arkham Asylum by Bane when he staged his massive coup against the Dark Knight. Scarecrow became privy to the fact that the Joker had begun cooperating with a less notorious fear-obsessed crook named Cornelius Stirk. Crane was offended by this fact, and he approached the Clown Prince of Crime with a new plan set against Gotham’s Mayor, Krol. Scarecrow dosed Mayor Krol with Fear Toxin, and he became subservient to this damned duo. The two coaxed the mayor into decommissioning the fire departments of the city and sending the police into a deathtrap they designed. They next lured Batman to the Gotham River and dosed him with the Fear Toxin. Batman was only angered by his visions and furiously beat Crane. Crane managed to flood the tunnel in which they fought and escaped. At his and Joker’s hideout, Crane attempted to gas Joker. It had no effect, the Joker beat him with a chair, and he left Scarecrow to die.
The next major play by the Scarecrow was the fear-based brainwashing of a number of Gotham University students to serve his will. He next attempted to take over all of Gotham through the same means, and this almost came to fruition. Batman, assisted by the vigilante Anarky, managed to track down Crane and stop this plan. This landed Jonathan Crane back in Arkham.
He was next inquired for psychological profiles by Thomas Elliot, now known as Hush, on Batman and his allies. Huntress tracked him down, and Crane gassed her. Batman came to her rescue, but he was intercepted by Clayface (disguised as a returned Jason Todd). Scarecrow was able to escape as a result.
The Penguin used a chemical compound to mutate the Scarecrow into a massive, strong, Fear Toxin-emitting creature called the Scarebeast. He killed off many of the Penguin’s treacherous colleagues for Cobblepot. Batman intervened once again, and Scarebeast reverted back to Jonathan Crane upon his defeat.
He and Killer Croc would later be duped by Black Mask to going to the Gotham Clock Tower, as Black Mask had convinced them that it was the Batcave. Black Mask pushed Scarecrow into a laser grid to overload the power to the building. He was badly burned, and he was turned once more into the Scarebeast. He was attacked by a coalition made up of Tim Drake, Cassie Cain, Onyx, Tarantula, and Catwoman. They kept him within the Tower until it detonated. Crane, however, manged to survive the explosion.
Desaad later abducted Crane and took him to Apokolips. He was transformed into a beast called Schroken, and he was later rescued by Batman and Superman.
Hush recruited Scarecrow to help him once again to bring down the Batman. A part of this plot was kidnapping an orphan boy and dosing him with Bane’s Venom fluid. The kid was forced to fight the Batman, but the Caped Crusader managed to turn him on Scarecrow. Crane flipped on Hush and was sent to Arkham. However, before he was put in a cell, Batman interrogated him on where Hush’s hideout was and left him with the Joker.
He survived this experience, and his next ploy involved creating a new drug called “Thrill.” It had a different chemical composition than his Fear Toxin, and, when Batgirl aka Stephanie Brown came after him, he deployed it on her. The drug proved to encourage people’s self-hatred, but Batgirl overcame it and took down Scarecrow.
When the Blackest Night fell upon Earth and the Black Lanterns invaded Gotham, Scarecrow longed for the terror the undead were causing the citizens, but he found that the constant exposure to his own Fear Toxin had killed his capability of feeling any emotion, including fear. He found he could only feel fear when in the present of Batman, whom was believed to be dead at this point. Meanwhile, the Guardian Ganthet, searched out more Lanterns from all over the Emotional Spectrum to fight off the Black Lanterns. A Yellow Ring of Fear found its way to Jonathan Crane, and he could feel fear once again. He was then recruited by Ganthet and the Green Lantern Corps to help fight off the Black Lanterns. An Orange Ring of Avarice had found its way to Lex Luthor, and he would later steal the Yellow Ring from Scarecrow.
In revenge for this act, Scarecrow began hunting down and murdering LexCorp interns. He was halted by Supergirl and Robin. However, during this fight, he revealed a new and improved Fear Toxin that affected even Supergirl. She overcame it and still helped Robin bring down Jonathan Crane.
In the New 52, Jonathan Crane’s obsession with fear and creation of the Fear Toxin came from his father’s experimentation on him as a child. He developed and began testing the Fear Toxin as a means of learning how to control fear and never feeling it again.
His first plan involved leading the GCPD off his trail by helping them investigate the first recorded outbreaks of Fear Toxin. However, the newly formed Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin found him out and arrested him.
After many subsequent captures by the Batman, Crane was robbed by Catwoman. He recruited Batman to figure out why, and he learned that it was part of a plan by Hugo Strange and his son to spread Fear Toxin across the city.
Crane next kidnapped Commissioner Gordon and led Batman to his hideout. He tested out a new Fear Toxin on the Caped Crusader, and the Batman was not immune to this new blend. He managed to incapacitate Batman and captured him. Batman eventually escaped, and the two fought a deadly duel. As the hideout began to detonate, Scarecrow began actually freeing his captured test subjects before escaping himself. He made another ploy at infecting Gotham with his new Toxin, and awaited the Batman in his next hideout. The Dark Knight had a new antidote for the new compound, and Scarecrow was taken back to Arkham.
His next scheme took place in Metropolis where searched for a new plant to upgrade his Toxin. Swamp Thing came to meet him this time, and Scarecrow began experimenting various blends on the creature. Eventually, Swamp Thing lost control of his powers and plant life began spreading across Metropolis. This attracted the attention of Superman, and the Man of Steel brought in Crane.
His next ploy was far more elaborate, and Scarecrow used a new blend of Toxin to convince the heroes of Gotham City that the town was now a peaceful and crime-free utopia aptly called Gothtopia. When Batman began seeing through the ruse, he was taken to the “Crane Rehabilitation Center for Health and Wellness” by his own allies. This facility was run by the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Batman broke out and began designing a cure, and he has aided by Poison Ivy in this venture. He freed his allies with the cure and brought down Scarecrow once again.
When the Crime Syndicate took over the world and left Gotham in the hands of its criminals and the Justice League were believed dead, Scarecrow became their representative in Gotham. Penguin became the new mayor, and the villains began carving up Gotham for themselves. Bane wanted to overthrow this and took the identity of the Batman and began using the leftover frozen Talons of the Court of Owls to overthrow the rogues. This led to all-out war that ended with Bane fighting the Venom-powered villains of Gotham. Bane won and strung up Crane like an actual scarecrow. However, Bane was still brought down by the Batman when he returned home. Jonathan Crane was once again placed in Arkham Asylum.
When Scarecrow next escaped, he was used as a catalyst in a ritual to resurrect Deacon Blackfire by Mister Bygone and the Joker’s alleged Daughter. He was saved by Batwing and Jim Corrigan, and he escaped in the chaos.
Crane wanted to reunite the rogues of Gotham. He met with all of them at a restaurant to bring down the Batman. He even made peace with Bane by promising to enhance his Venom. Batman ambushed them and brought them down quickly, but Scarecrow and some others escaped and were brought to an unknown location by a mysterious benefactor. This individual gave the villains weapons on the sole condition that they are put to use.
Scarecrow’s use of these weapons was the arming of predator drones with Fear Toxin to spread across Gotham. However, Batwing and Batman ambushed and stopped Scarecrow once again.
The next notable adventure for the man who loves fear was during Joker’s Endgame for Gotham City and Batman. The Clown Prince infected the city with his Joker Venom, turning them into mindless and laughing madmen. Jeremiah Arkham released a number of villains from Arkham while attempting to infect them with Joker Venom too. Scarecrow and select others such as Poison Ivy and Clayface were immune due to prior exposure to the chemical. They were afraid of this new mayhem caused by the Joker, and they tried to hide out in Gotham. Batman eventually recruited Scarecrow and the others to hold off the insane citizens of Gotham while he dealt with the Joker himself.
It’s fairly easy to explain why I love Scarecrow so much. He is an intelligent and conniving rogue with a deadly obsession. His love of causing and studying fear has been his greatest weakness. Like a pyromaniac who returns to the scene of the crime, Scarecrow is often a victim of his need to watch his work unfold. He is also deliciously sinister and delightfully cruel. His finicky nature and intelligence add to these qualities to make a great, classical Batman villain. He is the master of fear, and he’ll never cease his pursuit of his obsession. These qualities more than earn Scarecrow the place of my 6th Favorite DC Villain of all time.