The Court of Owls is an ancient conspiracy that has controlled Gotham City for centuries.
They are a violent cabal who use architecture and murder 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 on their faces. The rest of the court, on the other hand, are mutated and appear to actually be human/owl hybrids. Their owl-like distorted faces, long claws, and their eating style prove this.
The Court of Owls
Main article: Batman: The Court of Owls
The Court of Owls takes notice when billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne announces plans to rebuild and reshape Gotham City for the future. He is sentenced to death, and their assassin, the Talon, attempts to murder him during a meeting with politician Lincoln March. They struggle at the top of Wayne Tower and the killer survives a fall from the top. Batman begins to investigate, and he discovers that their society has secret headquarters throughout hidden rooms in every building established by the Alan Wayne Trust. They attempt to kill him again by blowing up their most recent base. Bruce recounts that as a child he believed them responsible for the death of his parents, and personally investigated the conspiracy before determining that there was no evidence.
When he visits the sewer where Alan Wayne's body was found, the Talon surprises and abducts him. They trap Batman in a massive labyrinth used for all their victims where he spends over a week without food and regresses to the point of hallucination. 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 his own. Talon finally walks up from behind and stabs Batman to kill him when he is at his weakest. The Court finally reveal themselves in person, having decided to honor their worthy enemy by displaying his skeleton in the maze. Talon asks for their sentence, and he is commanded to brutally beat the super-hero to death. Batman gathers his last reserves of strength when he is inspired by the memory of his tortured ancestor, and tears the Owls away from his body. Delivering a savage beat-down to Talon, he swears that he will hunt them down and escapes using a make-shift explosive. Talon is disposed of for having outlived his value, and they reveal that a small army of similar warriors is waiting to be released.
Not long after, apparently tired of their game, and angered at Batman's escape and discovery of their lair, the Court unleashes the full might of their army of undead Talons on the city to kill Batman and his allies and retake Gotham for themselves.
In the aftermath of this incident, the Court of Owls decided 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 rich people, the Parliament of Owls.
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.
The Talons are a breed of deadly assassins absolutely loyal to the Court. They remain sleeping deep within their inner sanctum until they are called upon. Experts at murder, they are responsible for controlling 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 bellow the city.
- Ephraim Newhouse was the Talon of 1665. However, 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 turned on the Bat-Signal.
- Henry Ballard was encountered by the Birds of Prey. He remembered the Gotham City of 1847 as a violent place, and saw the city's present the same way. 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 carrying meat.
- The Talon of the 1780s was a killer with a near-perfect record. His sole failure was missing one member of a family he was told to exterminate. He requested the final descendant of that family as his target during the Night of the Owls. He fails again and is decapitated by Damian Wayne.
- Alexander Staunton was the Talon in 1856. He was effective, but his killings 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. In her time, 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 is later killed by Sebastian Clark who spills liquid nitrogen on her head
- William Cobb is the assassin sent to murder Bruce Wayne, prior to Night of Owls. After he was captured, he was discovered to be a distant ancestor 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, and kill him for betraying his heritage. As Nightwing, Dick rejected the idea of destiny, and overcame his ancestor.
- 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 fills the sky with the symbol of the Court of Owls, thereby killing 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 faces Batgirl, but lets her go, because they both wear masks. Later, Catwoman breaks the Talon out of Blackgate Penitentiary after being hired by a prominent member of the Court of Owls. When she realizes his motivations, she turns on him, and with Batgirl, they defeat his Talons - including Mary, who turns on her master out of friendship. In order to protect Mary, Catwoman faces the police alone. Later, Batgirl finds a place for Mary with the Birds of Prey.
- 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, burned 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 wakened again until the Night of the Owls. He was given mayoral candidate Lincoln March as target. Though March was stabbed, he shot Carver in the head. Unexpectedly, though, Carver revived, 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.
- 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.
- 111 Appearances of Court of Owls (Prime Earth)
- 34 Images that include Court of Owls (Prime Earth)
- Team Gallery: Court of Owls (Prime Earth)
Links and References
- Nightwing: Rebirth #1
- Dark Nights: Metal #2
- Batman (Volume 2) #1
- Batman (Volume 2) #2
- Batman (Volume 2) #3
- Batman (Volume 2) #4
- Batman (Volume 2) #5
- Batman (Volume 2) #6
- Robin War #2
- Dark Nights: Metal #2
- Doomsday Clock #6
- Batman (Volume 2) #39
- Catwoman (Volume 4) #9
- Birds of Prey (Volume 3) #9
- Nightwing (Volume 3) #9
- Batgirl (Volume 4) #9
- Batgirl Annual (Volume 4) #1
- Birds of Prey (Volume 3) #15
- Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2) #9
- U.S. Geological Survey
- 20 Fun Facts About Owls