This is the latest edition of the Batman Arkham series that I have read. I’ve become a fan of these big collections because each one gives us stories focused on a specific iconic villain, from their earliest tale to some of their more recent ones.
While Scarecrow has become a pretty solid and formidable villain for Batman and his allies over the last few decades, his earlier tales are pretty mundane. He doesn’t have a great origin and his real identity isn’t that interesting. However, the character evolved really well over time, which is very apparent when reading this collection of stories.
Unfortunately, with the earlier stories being boring and a lot less fun than say early Joker or Riddler tales, it drags the book down in the first half. Once you get into the 1970s though, things get better. The ’80s and ’90s Scarecrow stories are really well done and that was my favorite era for the character, as he truly became a “master of fear”.
The second half of this book is much better than the first for the reasons I already mentioned but one big thing that makes Scarecrow work is his “Fear Gas”. Without it, he’s just a lanky dude dressed like a country hobo with straw spilling out of his shirt. With the Fear Gas, he is a serious threat that often times pushes Batman to the limit. The Fear Gas was a good invention for the character and made him what he is.
If you are a fan of Batman and especially the villains, this is a great anthology to have. I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told but then again, that’s probably my favorite comic book anthology of all-time. This ranks well alongside the other Batman Arkham anthology collections.