Real Name: Unrevealed, if applicable
Identity/Class: Magical entity,
Occupation: Protector of Humanity, Guardian of the portal to Earth; Owner of HTV
Group Membership: Fear Lords (D'Spayre, Dweller-in-Darkness, KKallakku, Lurking Unknown, Nightmare, Nox)
Affiliations: Clea, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Rintrah, Thing (allies);
Dave Duncan (unknown connection), Jess Duncan (former owner of the Scarecrow Painting), Harmony Maxwell:
Roadkill and Splatt the flat cat (unknown association, employed at HTV, possibly served Nightmare)
Enemies: Cult of Kalumai (Bartalome, Gregor Rovik), Fear Lords, Kalumai and his demon-servants
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Scarecrow, Guardian (of the Painting/portal), Skirra Corvus (old Icelandic for "scare" and Latin for "crow"-according to Roy Thomas)
Base of Operations: an unnamed extra-dimensional realm, accessed via a magical painting
First Appearance: Dead of Night#11 (August, 1975)
Powers: The Straw Man exists in an unknown form, in an unnamed realm that exists within the Painting. This form has yet to be seen. Upon traveling to Earth, he creates a "grain-stalk body" for himself in the form of a scarecrow. These forms possess superhuman strength (enhanced human to Class 10) and a degree of superhuman resistance to injury. The straw bodies contain no rigid structures in them, and so can survive most types of blunt trauma without damage. Penetrating wounds (projectiles, bladed weapons, etc.) pass harmlessly through the straw bodies. The straw bodies are vulnerable to fire, and can be consumed in a seconds by powerful flame.
After one straw body is destroyed, the Straw Man can form another to return to the Earthly plane. However, there appears to be some undefined time period before he can return. Usually consumption by fire marks him as out for the rest of a fight. (How 'bout a little fire, Scarecrow?)
The Straw Man, as a Fear Lord, obviously generated fear in those around him, but the extent of this ability is undefined. It involved his eerie, haunty laugh. In his first appearance, he commanded an army of crows, which he directed to use their beaks and talons to rend the flesh of his foes. He demonstrated the power to control plant-life, animating and directing the limbs of a tree on one occasion, and could control animals, as well. He also created a whirlpool that formed a space or dimensional warp, and summoned a thunderstorm. Lastly, he can apparently take on a human appearance at will and in that form owns and controls HTV, Horror Television, a cable network.
The Straw Man's painting serves as the portal between Earth and the realm of the demon lord Kalumai. It appears to be a normal oil painting, but will always reform after being destroyed, and its image has been known to vary.
Weight: 60 lbs.
Hair: Yellow (actually straw)
History: The Straw Man/Scarecrow's origins are unknown. It exists in an extra-dimensional realm, perhaps within the Painting itself, but whether it originated there or on Earth is never made clear. It considers Earth its home, in a sense, whatever that means. The origins of the painting are lost in history. Centuries ago, it had some connection to the Cult of Kalumai, but that is never detailed. The first recorded owner of the Painting was a religious heretic, who had fallen out with some of the more "orthodox heresies"--such as the Cult of Kalumai.
(Dead of Night I#11) - Members of the Cult of Kalumai broke into a gallery, shot the guard, and prepared to steal the Scarecrow Painting. The Scarecrow emerged from the painting and slew the Cultists.
The Painting was next seen up for auction, and Jess Duncan (who had always wanted the painting) was bidding for it. Gregor Rovik, the especially sinister-looking leader of the Cult of Kalumai , was outbidding him. Jess' brother Dave gave Rovik a shot to the ribs that knocked the wind out of him, to prevent him from one-upping Jess's final bid. Rovik swore vengeance, and soon enough he led his cult to attack and knock out Jess and Dave, steal the painting, and kidnap their friend, Harmony Maxwell, to serve as a sacrifice for Kalumai.
Rovik had the other cultists scrub the painting, revealing an image of Kalumai beneath the Scarecrow's image. The Scarecrow and his murder of Crows (I think that's the right term for a "flock" of crows....) burst into the room and descended on the Cultists, tearing them apart. Rovik took Harmony and tried to escape, but the Scarecrow directed some trees to grab him and pulverize him. The Scarecrow returned Harmony to the now empty temple of Kalumai, where she was found by Jess and Dave. Jess reclaimed the painting, which again featured the Scarecrow: this time the picture showed him standing over the defeated cultists, with a smile on his face.
(Marvel Spotlight#26) - A group of Kalumai's demon servants emerged from the Scarecrow Painting. They made their way to the police station, beat up the cops there, and broke into their holding area, in search of the Horn of Kalumai, which would enable Kalumai himself to travel to Earth (with the aid of a blood sacrifice, naturally). The Horn had been brought there after it was found on the mutilated body of Gregor Rovik. The Scarecrow showed up at the police station, battered the demons, and took the Horn back with him to the painting. When the Scarecrow entered the painting, the Horn couldn't go with him, so it fell to the floor of Jess Dancan's loft.
Jess and Harmony returned home and found the Horn, and then accompanied Dave to an aquarium for the opening exhibit of this giant, freaky, evil-lookin' fish that had been brought up from the ocean depths. The demons showed up at the exhibit and attacked Harmony, but the Scarecrow showed up and helped fight them. The demons, following orders from Kalumai, burst into flame, to take advantage of the Scarecrow's weakness, but Harmony dropped a giant tarp on them. The Scarecrow commanded the giant fish to break its tank, and then he generated a whirlpool in the water, which swept up the demons, and the fish, and transported them to who knows where (I think the fish was sent back to the ocean depths, maybe the demons were, too). With the threat gone, the Scarecrow vanished.
(Marvel Two-In-One#18) - During an art exhibit, Kalumai spread his influence through the painting into a man, who clubbed Dave Duncan, and then jumped into the Painting. Kalumai mutated the man into a fiery creature and sent him back to Earth. The Thing was present at the exhibit, alongside his girlfriend, Alicia Masters, and confronted the fiery man. The Scarecrow appeared soon afterward, and helped fight Kalumai's pawn. Scarecrow tricked the pawn into setting the Painting on fire, severing the link between Kalumai and his pawn, returning him to normal (that sequence was a little confusing). As the Painting continued to go up in flames, the Scarecrow jumped through the portal. Then the Painting was gone, and the portal seemingly closed forever.
(Dr. Strange III#31/2 (fb) ) - The Scarecrow destroyed Kalumai.
(Dr. Strange III#31/2) - The Dweller-in-Darkness gathered the Fearlords to his Halls of Fear to reveal his plan for overtaking the Earth. The Scarecrow told them that he considered Earth his home, and warned them to stay away from it.
(Dr. Strange III38, 40) - The Straw Man, as Skirra Corvus (the owner and creator of HTV, the Horror Television network) challenged Dr. Strange to appear on his show. Dr. Strange contacted Corvus, who revealed himself as the Straw Man, and explained the Fear Lords plans. The Lurking Unknown then arrived and set the Straw Man on fire, destroying him in seconds.
The Straw Man returned to assist in the final battle, brought back to Earth with the aid of energy from Dr. Strange, transferred via the body of Daredevil into the Painting. The Straw Man accompanied Clea, Daredevil, and Rintrah to the Halls of Fear, to battle D'Spayre. He readily sacrificed one of his straw bodies, allowing D'Spayre to set him on fire, and used the flames to touch the magical bonds containing Strange, freeing him.
(Journey into Mystery I#633) - The Fear Lords met to discuss the Serpent's recent attacks on Earth. Nightmare was not present at the meeting as he planned to harvest the fear left behind by the Serpent for himself.
(Journey into Mystery I#636) - Loki and Leah tricked the Fear Lords into a meeting to tell them about Nightmare's scheme to harvest fear the Serpent brought to Earth in a crown to become the King of Fear. For the good of mankind Scarecrow entered the fight to destroy the crown. The battle over the crown in Nightmare's realm resultet in a stalemate.
Comments: Created by Scott Edelman and Rico Rival.
The Thing referred to him as "Straw Man" as a nickname in Marvel Two-in-One#18, but he first took it as a name for himself (to distinguish himself from a "certain mortal psychotic") in Dr. Strange III#38. Edelman actually used the name in a text page in his first appearance. I like the name Straw Man, for some reason.
He never spoke in his initial appearances, but he did have an eerie laugh (well, it was eerie to his foes). He was talking up a storm (telepathically) when Roy Thomas used him, but if my memory serves, it may only be magic users and demons to whom he spoke. I'm not sure if there's any significance to this.
The Scarecrow's original stories hinted that there was some connection between the Scarecrow and Dave Duncan. In his first appearance, he wasn't shown emerging from the painting, only appearing from out of nowhere when needed. After the cultists attacked Jess and Dave, one of them, in shadows, was shown rising from the room and exiting, shortly before the Scarecrow appeared to save Harmony.
In the second story, Dave showed up badly beaten and exhausted, just after the Scarecrow returned to the Painting. Later, he left the room minutes before the Scarecrow appeared, and both Jess and Harmony wondered why he was never around when the Scarecrow was.
In the third story, Dave was missing, and Jess and Harmony confessed their beliefs that he was the Scarecrow, and might now be dead. The next issue box said, "Is this the end of the most mysterious superhero of them all...?"
...and this plot was never picked up, or resolved, to the best of my knowledge. The closest thing I could figure was maybe he had kind of a Sleepwalker deal going on, where he served as the Scarecrow's conduit to Earth, but the two couldn't be around at the same time...or maybe it was a Rick Jones/Captain Marvel thing...Billy Batson?...the world may never know.
All of the following info is taken from a text page "A Bit of Rag and a Clump of Straw" by Scott Edelman, in Dead of Night#11 (and from the letter page of Marvel Spotlight#26)::
The Scarecrow was originally intended to be a feature in the Monsters Unleashed magazine, rotating leads with Tigra and the Frankenstein Monster. John Byrne even drew an initial sketch for the character, who was to be a pumpkin-headed, non-speaking, non-laughing fighter of evil, based in the 1930s. That series was cancelled before it could be featured. It was next slotted for a back-up feature in Giant-Size Werewolf, but that, too, was cancelled. Then it was scheduled to be a bi-monthly feature in Dead of Night, but it was cancelled after the Scarecrow's first issue, and #12 never came out. Edelman was supposed to continue his story in a Scarecrow series, but that was cut, and he was given another test chance in Marvel Spotlight.
Apparently sales didn't warrant a series, although the response from the readers was quite positive. Bill Mantlo, who was often seen wrapping up unfinished characters and storylines in the 1970s, co-wrote the Marvel Two-in-One story (with Edelman). It featured a mystery ending (Dave Duncan was suspected of being the Scarecrow, or his human host or something), intended to reignite interest in the character, in hopes of getting the series. I guess it didn't quite make it. Anyhoo, Jean-Marc Lofficier (and Roy Thomas) drug him out of Limbo back in 1992, but he's continued to sink back in there ever since--Snood.
In addition to the above info, Edelman discussed twelve separate origins he had conceived for the Scarecrow. These included (only 4 were described, and I'm copying them virtually word for word):
SCIENTIFIC: The Scarecrow was an actual scarecrow inhabited by one of the microscopic men of the Psycho-Man's homeworld (Traan, in Sub-Atomica aka the Microverse). He contacts Michael Morbius for help in defeating the villainous Psycho-Man. Afterwards, upon discovering that he is stuck in the body, and cannot return to his homeworld, he spends the rest of the strip trying to cope with life on the planet Earth, and thwarting dastardly doings with emotional powers, such as those used by his aforementioned planetary compadre.
INTROSPECTIVE: A young man, testing his own mind and endurance by putting himself in total isolation, enters his own mind and daringly deals with and defeats his own emotions. When brought back to shuffle on the mortal coil once more, he finds himself in complete control of the emotions of others. He dons a scarecrow costume as a symbol of fear, and decides to battle crime for a combination of kicks and egoboo. (Leggoo my Eggoboo...sorry, couldn't resist.)
ROMANTIC: The Scarecrow is a pulp hero who was killed in the 1940's who has been sent back to Earth by some mysterious force because the world needs a defender once more.
RELIGIOUS: Our straw man is a messenger of God who has been placed here to keep in balance the eternal scales of good and evil.
Straw Man got an entry in OHotMU Horror 2005.
Clarifications: The Straw Man/Scarecrow should be distinguished from:
Dave Duncan was a writer for some magazine, and was the older brother of Jess. There was supposed to be some connection between him and the Scarecrow, but it was never resolved (see Comments). He was last seen getting knocked out by a pawn of Kalumai.
--Dead of Night I#11 (Marvel Spotlight I#26, Marvel Two-in-One#18
Jess Duncan was a painter, and had sought to obtain the Scarecrow Painting for some time. Jess had a loft in the Soho (South of Houston) area of Manhattan, New York, where he proudly displayed the Painting for some time.
--Dead of Night I#11 (Marvel Spotlight I#26, Marvel Two-in-One#18
Harmony Maxwell was an art critic. She had learned some fighting skills (a by-product of life in New York City) and was able to do a judo-type flip on one of Kalumai's demons.
--Dead of Night I#11(Marvel Spotlight I#26, Marvel Two-in-One#18
Dead of Night#11 (August, 1975) - Scott Edelman (writer), Rico Rival (artist), Len Wein (editor)
Marvel Spotlight I#26 (February, 1976) - Scott Edelman (writer), Ruben Yandoc (pencils/inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Marvel Two-In-One#18 (August, 1976) - Bill Mantlo & Scott Edelman (writer), Ron Wilson (pencils), Jim Mooney & Dan Adkins (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Dr. Strange III#31 (July, 1991) - Jean-Marc Lofficier, Roy & Dann Thomas (writer), Larry Alexander (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Dr. Strange III#38 (February, 1992)- Jean-Marc Lofficier, Roy & Dann Thomas (writer), Geoff Isherwood (pencils), Jim Sanders III (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Dr. Strange III#40 (April, 1992)- Jean-Marc Lofficier, Roy & Dann Thomas (writer), Geoff Isherwood (pencils), Jim Sanders III (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Journey into Mystery I#633 (March, 2012) - Kieron Gillen (writer), Ricahrd Elson (artist), Lauren Sankovitch (editor)
Journey into Mystery I#636 (June, 2012) - Kieron Gillen (writer), Ricahrd Elson (artist), Lauren Sankovitch (editor)
Last updated: 05/22/12
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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