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Quote1 Look, Bruce. No one knows Gotham better than you. It's your city. It's Batman's city... But it's also nearly four hundred years old. Which means over the years, maybe it belonged to something else, too. Something big. Something dark. Quote2
Dick Graysonsrc

The Court of Owls is an ancient society that has controlled Gotham City for centuries.

History

They are a violent cabal who have used architecture and planned assassinations to wield political influence throughout history. Their legend is told only through whispers and a nursery rhyme that bears their name. To carry out their interests, they employ a breed of highly-trained assassins known as Talons. The leaders of the organization appear to be human and wear owl masks over their faces. The rest of the court, on the other hand, are mutated and appear to actually be human/owl hybrids, exemplified by their owl-like distorted faces, long claws, and animalistic mannerisms.

Talon 007

The Owls swarm as Talon defeats Batman.

The Court of Owls

 Main article: Batman: The Court of Owls

The Court of Owls took notice when billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne announced plans to rebuild and reshape Gotham City for the future.[3] For this, he was sentenced to death, and their assassin, the Talon, attempted to murder him during a meeting with politician Lincoln March. They struggled at the top of Wayne Tower until the killer plummeted down, surviving the fall.[4] Batman began to investigate, and discovered that their society has secret headquarters in hidden rooms throughout every building established by the Alan Wayne Trust. They attempted to kill him again by blowing up their newest base.[5] Bruce recounted that as a child he believed them responsible for the death of his parents, and personally investigated the conspiracy before determining that there was insufficient evidence.

Court of Owls 004

The Talons sleep.

When Batman visited the sewer where Alan Wayne's body was found, the Talon launched a surprise attack and abducted him.[6] They trapped Batman in a massive labyrinth used for all their victims where he spent over a week without food and began experiencing hallucinations. The giant maze tells the story of every man and woman they've ever killed, including Alan Wayne, eventually leading to a room that contains Batman's story. Talon finally walked up from behind and stabbed Batman, attempting to kill him when he was at his weakest.[7] The Court finally revealed themselves in person, having decided to honor their worthy opponent by displaying his skeleton in the maze. Talon asked for their sentence, and he was commanded to brutally beat the super-hero to death. Batman gathered his last reserves of strength when he was inspired by the memory of his tortured ancestor, and tore the Owls away from his body. Delivering a savage beat-down on Talon, he swore that he will hunt them down and escaped using a make-shift explosive. Talon was disposed of for having outlived his usefulness, and the Owls revealed that a small army of similar warriors is waiting to be released.[8]

Not long after, apparently tired of their game, and angered at Batman's escape and discovery of their lair, the Court unleashed the full might of their army of undead Talons on the city to kill Batman and his allies and retake Gotham for themselves.

Court of Owls 006

Bruce Wayne is attacked.

In the aftermath of this incident, the Court of Owls decided that they needed to recruit the "Gray Son", someone they had trained to be an agent but had escaped - Dick Grayson. To draw his attention, they instigated a conflict with the teenage vigilante collective known as We Are Robin. Initially fighting to protect the adolescents, Grayson ended the conflict by joining the Court as a double-agent, giving them what they wanted. In the process, he discovered that the Court was actually merely the local branch of an international cabal of ultra-wealthy individuals, the Parliament of Owls.[9]

The Parliament of Owls in and of itself was founded by people descended from the Tribe of Judas, who worshipped the Bat God Barbatos. Its true mission was to infect the blood of a son of the House of Wayne who had been prophesied to take on the persona of a bat, with five metals originating in the Dark Multiverse. The group had been promised that in doing so, they would be allowed to rule the world alongside Barbatos. However, the leaders of the Parliament of Owls were killed by the "Robins" of Barbatos' minion The Batman Who Laughs, leaving the group betrayed by its founder and its overall purpose nonexistent.[10]

Despite supposedly being wiped out by The Batman Who Laughs and his Robins, it was revealed some of the court members survived, with the Judge of Owls now acting as the Court's leader.[11]

Talons

The Talons are a breed of deadly assassins with absolute loyalty to the Court. They remain dormant deep within their inner sanctum until they are called upon. Experts at murder, they are responsible for securing and maintaining the Court's interests with an iron fist whenever their services are needed for an execution.

  • Uriah Boone was one of the first Talons employed by the Court. Active in the early 1600s, Boone was resurrected to fight Batman while Gotham was being ransacked by the Joker, hellbent with an endgame in mind. Boone's weapon of choice is a custom scythe with a chain hook on the bottom. He was defeated by Batman, demanding answers about Joker's origins, in the sewers below the city.[12]
  • Ephraim Newhouse was the Talon of 1665. His sloppiness forced the court to retire him, stripping him of his weapons and armour with a mark of disgrace on his record. Four of his knives were stolen by Catwoman, centuries later. On the Night of the Owls, Ephraim was revived, and sent by the Court to assassinate The Penguin. By sheer coincidence, the Penguin was in possession of the fifth knife, which Catwoman had set her own sights on. In the ensuing conflict, Catwoman saved the Penguin's life, and promised the five knives back to the Talon, preying on his need for redemption in the eyes of the Court. The Penguin shot him through the head before an exchange could be made, and so Catwoman - feeling as though she and the Talon were kindred spirits - laid his body on the roof of Gotham City Police Headquarters with his five knives, and activated the Bat-Signal.[13]
  • Henry Ballard was encountered by the Birds of Prey. He remembered the Gotham City of 1847 as a violent place, and saw the present city in the same light. When he was unmasked, he already had the appearance of an old man. The Birds of Prey managed to subdue him when Poison Ivy dragged him into a refrigerated train car meant for transporting meat.[14]
  • The Talon of the 1780s was a killer with a near-perfect assassination record. His sole blunder was failing to assassinate one member of a family he was told to wipe out entirely. He requested the final descendant of that family to be his target during the Night of the Owls, however he failed a second time and was decapitated by Damian Wayne.
  • Alexander Staunton was the Talon in 1856. He was effective, but his assassinations lacked the subtlety the Court of the day felt was essential, and he was retired. During the Night of the Owls he was sent to kill Lucius Fox, but was stopped by Batwing.
  • Mei Ling was the Talon in 1890. She was sent to assassinate Thurston Moody, the former deputy head of Gotham Sanitation, who was a member of a terrorist group called the August 7. She was later killed by Sebastian Clark who spilled liquid nitrogen on her head
  • William Cobb is the assassin that was sent to murder Bruce Wayne, prior to the Night of Owls.[4] After he was captured, he was discovered to be a paternal great-grandfather of Dick Grayson. Though he was subdued by Batman in the Batcave, he was revived when the cave was overrun by his fellow Talons. He escaped to seek out Dick, to kill him for supposedly betraying his heritage. As Nightwing, Dick rejected the idea of destiny, and overcame his ancestor.[15]
  • Mary Turner is the assassin sent to coerce Commissioner Gordon into letting his police force handle the Night of Owls ineffectively, and into inadvertently lighting a modified Bat-Signal which would fill the sky with the symbol of the Court of Owls, thereby killing any hope that the Batman will save Gotham. She was horribly disfigured at a young age by a bomb attached to a balloon which was sent by Emperor Hirohito to cause panic in the United States during World War II. She faced Batgirl, but let her go, because they both wear masks.[16] Later, Catwoman broke the Talon out of Blackgate Penitentiary after she was hired by a prominent member of the Court of Owls. When she realized the Court member's motivations, she turned on him, and alongside Batgirl, defeated his Talons - including Mary, who turned on her master out of a newfound friendship with Catwoman. In order to protect Mary, Catwoman faced the police alone.[17] Later, Batgirl found a place for Mary amongst the Birds of Prey.[18]
  • Alton Carver was the most recent Talon. Like every other Talon, Carver was a performer with Haly's Circus, but his fear of death prevented him from mastering the high-wire. Frustrated, the ringmaster forced him to overcome his fear by setting his trailer ablaze with him inside. When he emerged, burnt but alive, he was ready for the Court's training. Twenty-six years later, he had become one of the best Talons, but he had also become sloppy. He was warned that if he continued to make mistakes, he would be replaced with a boy who had already been chosen to succeed him. On the night of the mission that was meant to redeem him, Carver couldn't help but go to see the one who would replace him. He saw Dick Grayson perform, and knew that the boy would outmatch him. Having delayed too long, he missed his chance to kill his target stealthily, and was attacked by the Batman. His failure forced the Court to retire him, and he was not awakened again until the Night of the Owls. He was given mayoral candidate Lincoln March as target. Though March was stabbed, he managed to shoot Carver in the head. Unexpectedly, though, Carver survived, and attacked the Batman, who had arrived on the scene. The battle ended with Carver sent careening through the window and onto the street below. Despite the fall, he managed to escape into the sewers.[19]
  • Calvin Rose is the only Talon to escape the grasp of the Court of Owls. An expert escape artist and talented acrobat, the former assassin seeks a normal life despite being hunted by the Court.


Trivia

See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

Footnotes


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