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Rebirth

Deviant Doctor Still at Large

Burlap-clad criminal Scarecrow, also known as Arkham Asylum psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane, is still roaming the streets after the recent mass-breakout at Arkham. Gotham City Police have been working tirelessly to recover the missing inmates, with the assistance of the masked vigilante known only as Batman. Despite their efforts, Scarecrow has managed to evade capture. Police Commissioner James Gordon declined to comment when asked if there are any leads regarding the former doctor's whereabouts, but our sources tells us that the police are no closer to finding Scarecrow than they were the night he escaped.

Dr. Crane's fall from grace began when it was discovered that he was leaking a chemical compound into Gotham's water supply. This compound, known as "fear toxin", is reported to cause an overwhelming sensation of terror, in addition to hallucinations. Thousands of Gotham's citizens were subject to the toxin's effects last year when-

Crane crumbles the newspaper page into a ball, crushing the black print with his hands. It angers him to see his work reduced to such simplistic terms; while he doesn't expect a sensationalist rag to understand the complexity of his achievements, he finds their efforts to describe his toxin pathetic. "Overwhelming sensations of terror" is a sad, inadequate description of the absolute Hell he is able to inflict.

Never mind their attempts to portray him as an evil man hiding behind a mask, reducing him to a modern-day boogeyman in a three-piece suit. "Evil" is a word the simple-minded have used for centuries to belittle things they do not understand. There is no such thing as evil; evil is a convenient excuse for man's desires, his greed, his nature. Crane embraces this part of himself, rather than deny it as most do, and that is what makes him "evil" in the eyes of others. Scarecrow is his identity, not a masquerade—if Gotham need fear any man in a mask, it's The Bat they hail as their savior.

Crane removes his jacket, torn and raveled from frequent wear, draping it over the passenger seat of his van. The vehicle has been his home since his escape; his wanted status does not permit him the luxury of living in an apartment or room—he must constantly be on the move, never staying in the same location for more than a night. His food and belongings are retrieved from dumpsters, and occasionally he is able to clean himself in gas station restrooms. One night he was able to break into a department store and steal a few items of clothing, as well as a pair of cheap reading glasses. This allowed him to discard his Arkham jumpsuit, making it much easier for him to blend into a crowd. A beard provides sufficient camouflage, as does his newly-long hair.

He had obtained the van via robbery; without his fear toxin, he'd been forced to perform the act the "old-fashioned way". Concealing his face with hosiery he'd stolen from the department store, he confronted the vehicle's owners—a young couple, easily intimidated—with an empty hand shoved inside his jacket, giving the illusion of a weapon. Once in his possession, he switched the license plates with that of a vehicle in a parking garage.

His lifestyle, while not enviable or convenient, serves him well. He has never been one to burden himself with luxury or extravagance, and he misses little regarding his former home. He no longer has a nine-to-five job to attend, or loathsome coworkers to bother him, or bills to pay. He can finally devote his whole life to his work, free from meddlesome distraction.

And he has made very good use of his time.

He opens the van's glove box and retrieves a small, wooden box. Carefully placing the box in his lap, he slowly lifts the lid.

Inside are three vials, his fear toxin floating inside the glass.

It had taken him months to procure the necessary ingredients to create the toxin. Months of stealing, buying, and trading—all without access to his notes. But he had done it. He had re-created his achievement.

He'd tested the finished product on a homeless man, slipping it into a piece of bread that the man eagerly accepted. He had wiped away a tear of joy as the man's screams ripped from his throat.

And now he holds the first step to regaining power in his hands.

He looks at his reflection in the rear-view mirror, eying his thick beard. Tonight he will check into a hotel, a seedy one where the management won't ask for his name. He will shave, shower, cut his hair, and get a good night's sleep in a real bed for the first time in months.

He will be clean and rested, and tomorrow he will begin to put his plan into motion.

He's going to start by making everyone pay for what they have done to him.

Dawes will pay.

Gordon will pay.

Gotham will pay.

Crane carefully closes the box, smiling.

And The Bat will pay.