Robin’s True Nemesis Is Scarecrow, Not The Joker | Screen Rant

Although many believe otherwise, Robin’s true nemesis should not be the Joker but the Scarecrow. This becomes apparent during the time period when Tim Drake struggles to prove himself worthy to join Batman. While Batman deals with a series of unexplained attacks with no apparent purpose or connection, Scarecrow eventually reveals himself as the mastermind behind everything and even shares details about his origin story. That story and its connection to birds prove that not only is he a true Robin villain but further justifies Tim Drake’s destiny to become the third Robin.

In the Identity Crisis storyline, Batman and Gotham’s police force are stunned as a series of violent crimes hinder the upcoming holiday season, their only link being an ominous skull mask the perpetrators wear as they commit their heinous acts. Meanwhile, Tim Drake deals with the death of his mother and the reality of his paralyzed father while also seeking Batman’s approval. Having deduced the Batman’s secret identity, Tim believes Robin is necessary to Batman’s mission, but he is denied his requests to join Bruce on his patrols. While Tim works hard to deduce the rhyme and reason behind these attacks, he is warned by Batman that should he put on a costume, he'll never get the chance to become a Robin. Right around the time Tim figures out the common theme linking the events together, Batman and photographer Vicki Vale learn the mastermind behind everything is Professor Jonathan Crane also known as the  Scarecrow.

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While Scarecrow has Batman and Vicki Vale tied up in Batman #457, the story by Alan Grant and the late Norm Breyfogle sees Crane ecstatic to have Batman to torture and eventually unmask. While Scarecrow debates which of his mind-altering drugs to use, Batman stalls by asking him the reason for everything he has caused recently. Scarecrow admits it has all been a whim to frighten others, something that began when he was a child. “You see, when I was a boy, I liked to frighten birds,” he says, admitting the pleasure he felt in their fluttering, winged terror sparked his interest in understanding fear and the effect it has on others, which would lead to him becoming the Scarecrow.

This issue not only marks the first appearance of Tim Drake as Robin, but Scarecrow’s admission proves he’s a true Robin villain instead of just another of Batman’s villains. Although the various Robins all have a history with the Joker, especially following his hand in Jason Todd’s death, Scarecrow’s presence highlights the theme of fear throughout the storyline. It was the rush of causing fear to birds that led Jonathan Crane down the dark path to become the Scarecrow. It is his drugged Christmas cards that unleash any repressed emotions or fears from his victims so his suggestions can motivate them into mayhem. It is Bruce’s fear of seeing Tim end up like Jason Todd that keeps him from allowing Tim to join him on patrol. Finally, it is Tim’s fear of living up to Jason or Dick Grayson’s legacy that he has to overcome before he is able to don a makeshift costume and interrupt Scarecrow’s monologuing in order to save both Batman and Vicki’s life.

Although DC later gave Scarecrow a fear of bats, which seemingly connected him more with Batman, Jonathan Crane’s namesake may still invoke fear and discomfort but not for everyone. Although he is also drugged by Scarecrow, Tim pushes past his fear to do the right thing, proving he has the kind of bravery and dedication necessary to become Batman’s partner. Rewarded with his own Robin costume, Tim Drake owes a subconscious thank you to Scarecrow, not the Joker, for helping to jumpstart his comic book destiny.

NEXT: Tim Drake & Bruce Junior: The Best Batman & Robin Fans Will Never Get

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