Greetings all. Let’s jump right in. Who are the Court of Owls? (I won’t make the joke again, I promise!) You probably aren’t familiar with them if you haven’t read Batman in the last 3 years. (Shame on you if you haven’t, Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) and Greg Capullo (@GregCapullo) are doing some incredible storytelling!) When DC comics rebooted there whole publishing line and started every title over at #1 in 2011, Mr. Snyder wanted a villain worthy of Batman and Batman #1. (The Joker and Ra’s al Ghul had both been overused for the few years up to this.) So if I remember the interview I heard correctly, he decided Gotham City itself should be the ultimate villain. How can a city be a villain? The Court of Owls of course. The Court of Owls was an organization that ran Gotham as a whole since the 1800’s (1862 I believe). This grouping of some of the oldest and wealthiest families controlled the city of Gotham through wealth and politics. The inner circle (the Leaders of the group) were human and passed their position down through the generations of their families and wore Owl masks like so:
And if someone didn’t cooperate with their rule? The Court would send one of their assassins to murder any opposition. These undead killers were called Talons:
The Court raised them from a young age and gave them the treatments that would allow them to live centuries. And where would they find the children to warp and corrupt? The Haly Circus of course! Think about that! Yes, the circus where Dick Grayson (Robin #1, Nightwing) grew up was the training ground for the Court. Had Batman not taken Dick in, he probably would have ended up as one of the assassins. The Court also ruled through fear, they became an urban legend. Young Bruce Wayne even heard the rhyme that floated through Gotham about the Owls.
“Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite & lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word about them, or they’ll send THE TALON for your head.”
When Bruce Wayne wanted to rebuild a good portion of Gotham, the Court sent a Talon to kill him, so he would not demolish/discover some of their holdings. When Batman interfered with the Courts business, they kidnapped and tortured him. He escaped days later through much effort. And when they really felt their plans threatened, they unleashed all their Talons at once (around 40 I believe) to kill influential Gotham citizens. It took the efforts of Batman, Nightwing, Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood, Batwing, Batgirl, Catwoman, and the women of the Birds of Prey to stop what was known as the “Night of the Owls”.
One of the members of the Courts inner circle “Lincoln March” later killed most of the inner circle and confessed to Batman that he was really Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce Wayne’s brother, who blamed Bruce for their parents death. I don’t believe his claims were verified one way or the other. One of the Talon assassins actually broke his conditioning and worked (sometimes with Batman) to try and destroy the Court. This Talon’s name was Calvin Rose, whose greatest talent was as an escape artist. Everyone get all that? If you want to read the whole story, Get Batman vol. 2 #1-12, either the individual issues or trade paperbacks. As always, any thoughts, opinions, questions, anything you want me to cover in future blogs, PLEASE let me know in one of the following ways:
Until next week, be good. Remember, Batman isn’t the only one watching from the shadows!