Scarecrow, in theory, should be one of Batman’s top five adversaries. Maybe even top three! If Batman’s best villains are all twisted reflections of Batman himself, then the villain who turns his greatest weapon, fear, back on him ought to be one of the best. Unfortunately Scarecrow has rarely lived up to his promise — he’s usually depicted as a bit of a b-grade villain, and the rare times he’s written to a major threat, the stories usually just aren’t that good.
Well, it seems as though Scarecrow may finally get his day Batman: Arkham Knight. Early trailers peg Scarecrow as one of the, if not the main villain of Arkham Knight, so before Rocksteady’s next big Batman game comes out, let’s delve through the Bat-back catalogue for some Scarecrow stories actually worth your time…
World’s Finest #3 “The Riddle of the Human Scarecrow” (1941)
The first-ever Scarecrow story comes from that all too brief era where most of Batman’s “fun” elements were in place (Batmobile, Robin and so on) but his villains were still allowed to be stone-cold evil murderers. For a Golden Age story, “The Riddle of the Human Scarecrow” delves surprisingly deeply into Jonathan Crane’s psychology and backstory, and the art (credited to Bob Kane, but probably mostly the work of Jerry Robinson) is surprisingly effective. The Scarecrow is legit creepy in this story — moreso than most of the more over-the-top versions we see these days.
Oh, and at this point Scarecrow doesn’t have any fancy-pants fear gas. How does he instill fear in people? By shooting them. Simple, but effective.