Owlman, as seen in JLA: Earth 2.
Art by Frank Quitely.
|First appearance||Justice League of America #29 (Aug. 1964)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox (writer)
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
|Alter ego||Thomas Wayne II, Thomas Wayne Jr, Lincoln March.|
|Place of origin||Earth-Three|
|Team affiliations||Crime Syndicate of Amerika
Crime Society of America
The ability to cause confusion
Chemically enhanced "super-cortex"
Skilled martial artist
|Altered in-story information for adaptations to other media|
|Team affiliations||Injustice Syndicate (Batman: The Brave and the Bold)|
Owlman is the name of several fictional supervillains that appear in comic books published by DC Comics who are the intended reverse counterparts of Batman. Owlman first appeared in Justice League of America #29 (August 1964), and was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky. He was created as an evil version of Batman because owls are known to prey on bats.
Fictional character biography
Original Earth-Three Owlman
Originally, Owlman is an unnamed super-intelligent supervillain who was created as an evil counterpart to Batman and is a member of the criminal organization known as the Crime Syndicate of America who originated and operated on the reverse Earth-Three. In some of the pre-Crisis Crime Syndicate appearances, the Earth-Three Owlman also had the ability to briefly control other people's minds, though it is unclear how he acquired this ability. When he was knocked out, his sub-conscious mind was able to activate enough for him to say a word enabling him to travel to Earth-Three. He was also able to see in the dark. In the first travel between Earths, they met the JLA and JSA, but were defeated and imprisoned between Earth-1 and Earth-2 by Green Lantern. Later the time traveling villain Per Degaton released them as part of his plan to take over Earth-2 by stealing nuclear missiles from the Cuban Missile Crisis of Earth-Prime. When the Syndicate betray him, they are sent to 1982 as he had made sure this would happen when they touched him. When he was defeated, these events were erased from existence. The pre-Crisis Earth-Three Owlman and all members of his Crime Syndicate were killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series at the hands of the Anti-Monitor from a wave of antimatter destroying pre-Crisis Earth-Three.
Thomas Wayne, Jr.
The Owlman character was revived (along with his teammates) in the late 1990s for modern DC continuity in the graphic novel JLA: Earth 2. This Owlman was developed to be reflective of the modern readers with a far darker attitude and background than either of the two previous teams. On antimatter Earth, Owlman was now Thomas Wayne, Jr., the older brother of that reality's Bruce Wayne. In most mainstream DC universes, Batman's genesis occurred when young Bruce Wayne was witness to the murder of his parents, and was inspired to devote his life to fighting crime.
In the antimatter universe, however, young Bruce was killed along with his mother by a policeman when Thomas, Sr., refused to accompany him for questioning. Thomas, Jr., escaped the crime scene with the hoodlum Joe Chill, whom he considered his hero, and grew up to become Owlman. Equipping himself with a utility belt containing technology and weapons similar to those used by Batman along with possessing a drug-enhanced high intellect (devoted to crime rather than serving the law), Owlman became a master criminal and an ally to Boss Gordon (the antimatter Earth's version of James Gordon).
Later, he learned that his father, Thomas Wayne, Sr., was still alive and had become the chief of police in their world's version of Gotham City, gathering a cadre of police officers who did not give in to the rampant corruption which infested their version of Earth. Thomas, Jr., blames his father for the deaths of his mother and brother and it is strongly hinted that the main purpose to his criminal career is to punish his father, who is well aware of who he is and is equally determined to destroy his own son. During his visit to the "main" DC Universe, upon discovering the Waynes' grave, he states that nothing matters because "he's dead", presumably referring to Thomas Wayne, Sr., and actually shows a rare moment of pathos as he kneels in front of the grave.
While antimatter Clark Kent (as Ultraman) is the leader of the Syndicate, Thomas, Jr. (as Owlman), is the real brains behind the group. The working relationship between the two is extremely tense, due to Ultraman's desire to rule the planet through fear and violence clashing with Owlman's more pragmatic desire to allow dissent and rebellion to run rampant (going so far as to funding opposition towards the Syndicate) in order to provide himself and his allies in the Syndicates enemies to fight.
Further complicating things is the fact that Thomas, Jr., has carried on a longtime affair with Ultraman's wife Superwoman. Ultraman is aware of the affair, but due to Thomas, Jr., having undisclosed photographic blackmail material against the villain, he is unable to seek retribution against Owlman for the betrayal.
In JLA: Earth 2, the antimatter Alexander Luthor, a heroic version of Lex Luthor, makes a reference to Owlman's "drug-enhanced" cerebral cortex, although this version of Owlman does not demonstrate any superhuman powers. Presumably, Thomas, Jr., merely uses some sort of drug to enhance his mental capacity though it is not specifically stated how powerful his mental powers are or how they are enhanced through such artificial means.
Thomas, Jr., and his antimatter Crime Syndicate allies appeared in the weekly Trinity series, starting with issue #9. The "Weaponers of Qward" had attacked their Earth, killing millions and tearing apart the landscape. The Syndicate had kidnapped hundreds of innocent people from all 52 realities, including what appeared to be Jimmy Olsen, but was later revealed to be his anti-matter duplicate. It is unclear if Thomas, Jr., allows the JLA to win in order to get the heroes off his source Earth and counterattack after they depart, or if he was actually defeated.
In the continuity following DC's 2011 reboot, Owlman is one of the members of the Crime Syndicate to arrive from Earth-3 at the conclusion of the "Trinity War" event. He is also shown to be the master of his Earth's Alfred Pennyworth (who was responsible for forming the Secret Society of Super Villains on their behalf). During the Forever Evil storyline, Owlman accompanies Superwoman to Arkham Asylum where they spring its inmates and capture Nightwing.
A Qward weaponer, wearing the same costume as the dead pre-Crisis Earth-Three Owlman, appeared one time alongside of a full replacement Qward Crime Syndicate team. This Qward Owlman was easy to identify versus the original human pre-Crisis Earth-Three Owlman due to his warped face and enlarged eyes.
Owlmen of Earth-3
In 52 Week 52, an alternate version of the pre-Crisis Earth-Three was shown as a part of the new Multiverse. In the depiction were characters that are evil versions of the original Justice Society of America, including Batman. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the two panels in which they appear, but the altered Batman is visually similar to Owlman.
In The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society, this reality is stated to be Earth-3, separate from the pre-Crisis Earth-Three reality and an older Owlman is shown with a young sidekick called Talon, who is dressed parallel to Dick Grayson's Robin. The current young Talon had a relationship with Duela Dent, the daughter of his greatest foe, the Jokester, as shown in the Teen Titans series. The Teen Titan Talon wears a costume that is a direct alternation of Tim Drake's Robin costume, suggesting the current Talon to be the Post-Crisis Earth-3 Drake and not the same Grayson-parallel Talon shown in Search. Based on statements and illustrations in this same book, it is stated one of earlier Talons succeeded the old Owlman in a manner parallel to the way that Wayne as Batman was succeeded by Grayson in the role of Batman for a period of time. as he was shown killed by the Jokester on page 22 of this book with the Jokester's boot on his throat. A young Owlman with a different costume and helmet later appears the same book battling the Jokester.
It is not specified who the old Owlman is, though his face is clearly shown in panel. Some suggest the old Owlman was the post-Crisis Earth-3 Bruce Wayne based on the fact that Jason Todd of post-Crisis Earth-3 is stated to be the current Owlman, though others state the old Owlman was someone else. The old Owlman's exact birth identity has yet to be specified in panel.
This young Owlman with the different costume and helmet appears again in issue #31 of Countdown — assisted by a team referred to as the Crime Society. This young Owlman is specifically stated to be Owlman and the Todd of Earth-3 by Bob the Monitor who fights the Todd of New Earth. New Earth Todd is aided by his own traveling companions, Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy, against the other members of the post-Crisis Earth-3 Crime Society, including a young Ultraman and Spectre counterpart in panel.
Roy Raymond, Jr.
In the absence of Batman, the Outsiders have been joined by a new Owlman. A "Trick or Treat" tease from the October 2008 edition of DC Nation ("The Owl and the Butler are the Same Person") hinted that it would be Alfred Pennyworth behind the mask. However, in Outsiders Special #1 (2009), it appeared to be Roy Raymond, Jr., that would become Owlman. This is confirmed in Outsiders vol. 4, #15 (Feb. 2009), where Raymond does become Owlman, with equipment left for that purpose by Batman.
"Thomas Wayne Jr./Lincoln March"
In The New 52 continuity, a man who claims to be Thomas Wayne, Jr. first appears in Batman #1. According to this man, he was Bruce's younger brother, born prematurely as the result of an attempt on Martha Wayne's life by the Court of Owls. He survived and was sent to be cared for the Willowwood Home for Children. Shortly thereafter, the Waynes were murdered, and he claims to have been left in Willowwood. Without the Waynes' funding, the home deteriorated from the premier children's hospital in the area to a mental institution where sick children were abused by the staff; he claims to have endured this treatment until he was taken in by the Court of Owls and raised as their pawn. 
In his false identity as businessman Lincoln March, this man witnessed an attempt on his and Bruce Wayne's lives by one of the Court's Talon assassins and realized that Wayne is Batman from Wayne's successful ability to fight off the assassin (despite Wayne's attempts to pass his techniques off as lucky hits). "March" then assassinated several members of the Court of Owls by poisoning, faked his own murder (by taking a dose of the regenerative compound which the Court of Owls used to preserve their Talons from death, then when a Talon stabbed him, simply pretending to succumb to his wound), and lured Batman to the crumbling shell of Willowwood for a final confrontation. Equipping himself with a suit of powered armor which was originally intended for use by Talons, he attacked Batman. After a lengthy brawl, he was ultimately caught in an explosion meant for Batman, although no body was found in the wreckage.
Bruce later found evidence that he indeed had a brother who was born prematurely as a result of a car accident but who only lived twelve hours, and that weeks later an orphan child had been admitted in Willowwood with characteristics similar to his deceased brother but who Bruce believes was raised to believe he was Thomas Jr., though without the body or DNA to analyze he cannot confirm any of this. Nevertheless, Bruce confided in Dick Grayson his belief that his parents would have told him if he had a brother, and that the circumstantial evidence he discovered could easily have been used by the Court to convince "March" of the authenticity of his "true" identity.
In other media
- Owlman appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes "Deep Cover for Batman!" and "Game Over for Owlman!", voiced by Diedrich Bader. Owlman is the leader of the Injustice Syndicate. Owlman uses the Phase Oscillator to go to Batman's dimension. After a scuffle, Batman imprisons him in the Batcave. Batman impersonates Owlman to stop the syndicate. In "Game Over for Owlman!", Owlman escapes and frames Batman by committing various crimes while disguised as him (Owlman's Batman disguise is almost the original 1930s version of Batman's costume, complete with hand-only gloves, high wing mask, dark grey bodysuit, and black accessories and bright yellow with circle utility belt. Later episodes reveal this was an earlier costume Batman used before he switched to the more friendly-looking current version). Owlman assembles a group of supervillains (Black Manta, Brain, Clock King, Doctor Polaris, Gentleman Ghost, and Gorilla Grodd) to join him. With the heroes after him, Batman teams up with Joker (who was displeased that Owlman was upstaging him). Owlman used Batman's computer to figure out weaknesses to capture Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, Red Tornado, the Atom, and Aquaman. In exchange for the captured heroes, Owlman negotiates with Batman to hand him the Phase Oscillator in exchange for their freedom. When it came to the fight with Owlman and his villain allies, Owlman allowed Joker to work on the wax trap. Batman reveals that he traveled to alternate Earths to round up the Batmen to fight the villains and free the captive heroes. Using a smokescreen, the Earth-1 Batman manages to trap Owlman and Joker. Owlman is returned to his dimension in bondage while the other villains are arrested.
- Owlman appears as the main antagonist in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, voiced by James Woods. He is a sinister and calculating strategist and is in a relationship with Superwoman. Unlike the comic book incarnations, this version of Owlman apparently has no superpowers, but wears a powerful exoskeleton within his costume. When he discovers the existence of the multiverse, he becomes obsessed with the idea that nothing really matters, as no matter what action a person might take, an alternate version of them will choose to do something else. As a result, he feverishly searches for Earth-Prime, the foundation of all Earths in the multiverse, with the intention of using a powerful weapon the Syndicate recently developed to destroy it and, with it, all reality. He reasons that destroying the multiverse is the only action he could definitively commit without another version of him somewhere doing the alternative option. He also likens humankind to a cancer that must be eradicated. Owlman nearly succeeds in his plan, but Batman follows him to Earth-Prime and narrowly defeats him. He sends the weapon and Owlman to another parallel Earth that is unpopulated and frozen solid. Once there, Owlman notices he still has time to stop the detonation and save himself. Realizing that an alternate version of him will make the opposite choice regardless, he does nothing while saying "It doesn't matter." Thus, the weapon explodes and destroys the planet, killing Owlman.
- In Batman: Gotham Adventures #10 and #14, Harley Quinn is free from Arkham Asylum and decides to write a romance novel. Joker escapes and looks at Harley's scripts and discovers that the book is not a tell-all book, but a "Harley Quinn romance novel" titled Masks of Love, about the adventures of Punchinello and Owlman (who is based on Batman).
- While Owlman never appears in the animated series The Batman, he was due to appear in a future issue of The Batman Strikes!, a spin-off comic book from the show, in a story written by Josh Elder. However, the title's cancellation prevented the Owlman story from being released.
- In Batman #107, "The Grown-Up Boy Wonder!" (April 1957), Dick Grayson is exposed to a strange gas and wakes up the next morning a fully-grown, adult man. He is unable to be Robin because of his costume now being too small, so he dons an owl costume and becomes the Owlman. He partners with Batman against a trio of former circus acrobats-turned criminals called the Daredevils. At the end of the story however, Grayson returns to the body of a teenager and is Robin again.
- "Owlman". ComicVine.com.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Crime Syndicate". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 89. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
- Justice League Vol. 2 #23
- Forever Evil #1
- 52 52: 11/3 (May 2, 2007), DC Comics
- Brady, Matt (May 8, 2007). "The 52 Exit Interviews: Grant Morrison". Newsarama. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
- Batman Vol. 2 #1
- Batman Vol. 2 #3
- Batman Vol. 2 #9
- Batman Vol. 2 #10
- Batman Vol. 2 #11
- Harvey, James (January 29, 2009). "New 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' Scheduled for February 2009 on Cartoon Network". World's Finest Online.
- Fritz, Steve (February 26, 2009). "Brave & Bold Producer Talks Owl Man, Superman, and a Musical". Newsarama.
- "Interview with Josh Elder and Russell Lissau". Wizard World Texas.
- "Batman #107". ComicVine.com.