When Jonathan Crane was a child, his father conducted many experiments, trying to comprehend the emotion of fear. Unable to use proper test subjects, Dr. Crane used Jonathan as his guinea pig.

As part of the experiments, Jonathan was locked inside a little dark room while his father examined the test's effects on his son. One day however, during one of the experiments, Dr. Crane experienced a heart attack and died, leaving young Jonathan still trapped in the pitch black test chamber. Dr. Crane's employers at the University became concerned about his prolonged absence, and eventually, police were called to investigate. When they arrived at the Crane's household, the cops spotted the test chamber and were horrified to find Jonathan alone down inside, having survived days of starving and being completely terrified. [1]

As a result of this event, he was traumatized most of his childhood until, eventually, Jonathan decided that if he could control fear, he would never have to live in it again. He soon developed an obsession with his goal and became a psychologist with a concentration in phobias. Not waiting long to put his degree to use, Crane began using patients as test subjects to develop a project that he would later call "Fear Toxin". The gas, when inhaled, would cause his victims to hallucinate about their worst fears.

Crane, adopting the alias "the Scarecrow", soon became a threat to Gotham City, as he took criminal measures to perfect his fear gas.

First Encounter with the Dynamic Duo

Scarecrow began his first reign of terror not long after Dick Grayson became the first Robin. Scarecrow was the first 'super villain' for Robin to fight, following the training he received directly from Batman after his parents' deaths. Crane began his criminal career by first pretending to help the GCPD solve the cases of the newly emerging Fear Toxin outbreaks, only to be figured out by Batman and Robin soon after. Having evaded their clutches in their first encounter, the duo pursued Crane on an extended mission to bring him to justice. [2][3] In the process, he worked with the Orphan and Mother, cowed by the possibility of being murdered by one of them or the former's daughter.[4]

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Cycle of Violence

Defeated by Batman early in his career and sent to Arkham Asylum, [5] Scarecrow broke out of prison and, in one of his escapes, threatened to hurt a hostage if Batman didn't figure out why Catwoman had stolen his Fear Toxin's antidote. The hostage was a bluff, so Batman found Scarecrow's location and left him beaten on the roof for the police to find. The hero then found out that Hugo Strange and his son were planning to mass produce and spread Scarecrow's toxin throughout Gotham, a plan that he quickly put an end to. [6]

Scarecrow and Batman play a game of wits against one another for the fate of Gotham

Scarecrow and Batman play a game of wits against one another for the fate of Gotham

Never making it back to prison, Scarecrow kidnapped Commissioner Gordon and held him somewhere in Gotham for Batman to find. Back at his hideout, Crane waited for Batman to discover his location and, when he did, Scarecrow surprised the Bat with several doses of Fear Toxin, leaving the hero more incapacitated than usual from the villain's poison. [7] With a combination of the hormones from several victims including a little girl he abducted and Batman himself, Scarecrow perfected a super fear toxin that even he wasn't immune to. [1]

After what seemed like days captured and restrained by the Scarecrow, Batman broke free from his chains inside Scarecrow's hideout. The two fight, but they are both injured, with Batman receiving a scythe to the shoulder and Scarecrow a Batrope through his jar. Wayne wasn't able to arrest Crane, though, because, due to their fighting, a gas main broke inside the house, causing it to explode. Scarecrow, showing his humane side, actually saved one of his test subjects from the explosion and encouraged her to escape. He, too, made his getaway in the confusion. [8]

Losing a lot of blood from his wound, the madman made one last play in order to bring Gotham to its knees. Infecting thousands of people with his new super toxin during the Christmas parade, Scarecrow tended his injury and waited in one of his safe houses until his poison had finished. However, his plan failed since Batman, having been affected by the toxin for so long in Scarecrow's old hideout, developed an antidote from his own blood and distributed to all the infected using the Batplane. With the GCPD, the dark knight discovered Scarecrow, who surrendered to them, realizing the jig was up and that he needed proper medical attention. Crane was returned to Arkham Asylum. [9]

Urban Jungle

Freed from prison, Scarecrow escaped Gotham for a brief stint in Metropolis. Around the same time, Swamp Thing, too, had made a visit to the city of tomorrow. One night, Scarecrow broke into the Metropolis Botanical Gardens, planning to steal plants to use for his fear toxin. Swamp Thing, already knowing the notorious criminal, went to stop him but was sprayed in the face by Scarecrow's toxin. Testing toxin after toxin for one that would work on a plant like Swamp Thing, one gas finally caused the monster's powers go unstable, making plants spring up everywhere throughout Metropolis and attracting Superman's attention. [10] The man of steel quickly retrieved Scarecrow from the gardens and returned him to Gotham where he belonged. [11]


Scarecrow's new plot to terrorize Batman took a new approach: instead of using fear, he would make Batman see Gotham as a utopia. Tricking the dark knight and his allies into wearing toxin-laced Scarecrow masks, the heroes of the city forgot their pasts and were stuck in a peaceful hallucination. Batman was the first one to see through the ruse and deduced that the "Gothtopia" that he was protecting was all a lie. His friends, on the other hand, were still heavily sedated and were instructed by Scarecrow and some other escaped Arkhamites to apprehend Batman for treatment at Crane Rehabilitation Center for Health and Wellness. Rather than fight his allies and get no where, he threw the fight in order to discover who the mastermind was. [12]

Breaking free of the asylum, Batman discovered the cure for the "contentment toxin" but, because of his infection with it, wouldn't survive long enough to make an antidote for him and his allies. Working with Poison Ivy, Isley used her power over plants to expedite the creation of the anti-venom, and the two returned to Crane's Rehab Center in hopes of curing anyone else infected. [13] Biding his time, Batman pretended to still be under the criminal's control until he could administer the antidote effectively. After freeing his allies of Scarecrow's toxin, Batman turned the tables on the mastermind, arresting Scarecrow and causing him to be caught in his own hallucination of a world where he defeated the dark knight. [14]

Arkham War

When the Crime Syndicate arrived on Earth and seemingly killed the Justice League, all major villains around the world were broken out of their cells and allowed to roam free. Scarecrow, loving the idea of a group of united villains, became a liaison of sorts for the Secret Society. [15] Crane and his fellow Arkham Asylum inmates, realizing it was pointless to fight among themselves, agreed to share Gotham. While Mayor Penguin mapped out districts for each villain to control, Bane prepared to break the peace by recruiting the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary to join him in taking Gotham for themselves, initiating what would be called the "Arkham War". [16]

Scarecrow was the first to hear of Bane's declaration of war and roamed Gotham, recruiting its criminal overlords to fight as an army against the Blackgate prisoners who challenged them. Getting each villain's assurance that they will join him, Scarecrow became the general and strategist of the Arkham Army. [17]

As his first move in the war, Scarecrow and his battalion invaded Blackgate in an effort to secure the Talon assassins frozen underneath the prison. Bane, figuring out their plan too late, only managed to save one of them for himself and, in the fight, missed the opportunity to kill Scarecrow. [18]

Bane and Scarecrow, opposing forces for control of Gotham

Bane and Scarecrow, opposing forces for control of Gotham

Scarecrow and the Arkhamites successfully revived the Talons and put them under their control using the Mad Hatter's tech. [19] This plan, though, failed when Bane and his own Talon survived the ambush. As a fallback plan, General Scarecrow secretly drugged his Arkham Army using a derivative of Bane's precious Venom steroid, giving them all super strength rivaling their opponent. [20] This, too, failed, and Bane, standing over his defeated enemy, declared himself the victor of the Arkham War. [21]

To honor his win, Bane hung Crane on a telephone wire like an actual scarecrow, announcing to Gotham that they were under new management. However, before long, Batman returned to the city, not dead like the Crime Syndicate had claimed. Using a batarang to slice Scarecrow down, the Bat left Crane in front of the GCPD Headquarters for the police to return to Arkham. [22]


Not staying in custody long, Scarecrow went after Batman again, but, this time, his foe was stricken with amnesia by Kaiyo the Trickster. Detonating a bomb and shooting the trapped civilians, Scarecrow escaped, leaving the memory-less Batman disappointed with his failure. [23]

Taken back to Arkham, Scarecrow's stay at the Asylum this time was cut short by a mysterious benefactor trying to exhaust and kill Batman. Mister Bygone and Joker's Daughter were left in charge of organizing a magic ritual to resurrect Deacon Blackfire right underneath Arkham. Scarecrow, still in his cell, was abducted against his will to be used as the energy source for the ritual. [24] [25] Batwing and Jim Corrigan arrived in time to stop the summoning from finishing but, despite their efforts, Arkham Asylum was destroyed in the process. Scarecrow, recovering from being used as a human circuit breaker, escaped undetected in the madness.

Wanting to retry their Arkham War plot, Scarecrow invites a collection of Batman's rogues to a restaurant to discuss taking Gotham for themselves. Bane, having not forgiven Scarecrow since their last battle, prepared to kill them all by igniting a broken gas main. If it weren't for Scarecrow appeasing his old rival general with the promise of super-charging his Venom, Bane would have surely burned them all alive. [26]

The super-criminals, regrouping again to meet Poison Ivy's contact at Willowwood Orphanage, were ambushed by Batman, who defeated quickly defeated them all. [27] Though they were left for the police, Scarecrow and the other villains were rescued by the mysterious benefactor and brought to a secret location. There, they were given advanced weapons with the only request being that they use them. [28] [29] Scarecrow, enthused, claimed several assault drones for himself. [30]

Atop Gotham Cathedral, Crane attempted to rig the stolen drones to release his Fear Toxin throughout Gotham, but his plan was challenged Batwing, helping Batman secure the escaped prisoners. [26] The vigilante, though, was overwhelmed by Crane, eventually being saved by Batman, himself, who hacked into the drones' software and turned them against the mad scientist. [31]


Never making it back to prison after being beaten by Batman, Scarecrow, in the wake of Lincoln March's defeat, didn't waste any time striking at Gotham while their savior was tired. Unfortunately for Crane, the Bat was just as ready for action as ever and quickly went to work on stopping him. [32] The fight was quick, but, during the tussle, Batman was hit with a surprise dose of Fear Toxin, giving him visions when he returned home later. Scarecrow was finally returned to the interim asylum while Arkham was being rebuilt - the former Wayne Manor. [33]

Again, Scarecrow's detention at Arkham wasn't a long one. The Joker, returning to Gotham after over a year long hiatus, drove the city mad with an endgame for Batman in mind. Jeremiah Arkham, taking advantage of the hysteria, impersonated the clown and released every prisoner from his asylum, infecting them all with Joker Venom while he did. Only certain criminals who had prolonged chemical exposure prior to the infection such as Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Bane, Mr. Freeze, and Clayface were immune to it. The surviving group of Arkhamites banded together, knowing that the Joker had gone off the deep end this time around, and escaped into the city, all of its citizens infected hostile laughing zombies like in the manor. [34]

Batman deduced that the key to stopping Joker and reversing the infection was located in the rumored Dionyseum in the clown's spine. Unable to get close enough to him without getting mauled by the zombie city dwellers, Batman recruited Scarecrow and his gang of villains to hold off the horde of civilians while he went for Joker. The Arkhamites, despite not wanting to help their mortal foe, assisted him anyway because they knew the Joker needed to be stopped. [35] In the final confrontation with the Joker, both Batman and his arch-nemesis were seemingly killed beneath the streets of Gotham, and the city began reconstruction. [36]

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Batman and Robin Eternal

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Scarecrow appears again in Blackest Night #6. When Ganthet creates duplicates of the seven Lantern Corps rings, Scarecrow is chosen by the yellow ring because of his ability to instill great fear, and becomes a temporary member of the Sinestro Corps. He was soon elected to be the Sinestro of Sector-2814.

Overjoyed at finally being able to feel fear, Scarecrow gleefully and without question follows the commands of Sinestro. For a time, he willingly did his duty, and even assisted against the Black Lanterns, personally attacking Black Hand. His joy is cut short, however, when Lex Luthor, overwhelmed by the orange light of greed, steals his yellow power ring.

Some time later during the events of Brightest Day, Scarecrow begins kidnapping and murdering college interns working for LexCorp as a way of getting back at Luthor for stealing his ring. When Robin and Supergirl attempt to stop his plans, Scarecrow unleashes a new fear toxin that is powerful enough to affect a Kryptonian. The toxin forces Supergirl to see visions of a Black Lantern Reactron, but she is able to snap out of the illusion and help Robin defeat Scarecrow. He is eventually freed from Arkham when Deathstroke and the Titans break into the asylum in order to capture one of the inmates.

Scarecrow briefly appears in Batman and Robin #25, he was going to gas Gotham with his Fear Toxin but Batman stopped him before he was able to fulfill his plans



  • Scarecrow's Fear Toxin
  • Venom: Scarecrow has experimented extensively with Bane's signature drug both with his permission [37] and without.[20] Scarecrow has shown that combining the drug with his own toxin makes the user lose their mind and become completely fearless. [38] Scarecrow has also proven that taking trace amounts of Venom can be used to temporarily allow great muscle growth.[20]


  • Scarecrow was Dick Grayson's first 'super villain' while acting as Robin. [2]



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