Court of Owls

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Court of Owls
The Court of Owls.jpg
The Court of Owls surrounds Batman,
art by Greg Capullo
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman (vol. 2) #6
(February 2012)
Created byScott Snyder (writer)
Greg Capullo (artist)
In-story information
Type of organizationOrganized crime
Secret society
Base(s)Gotham City, later international
Agent(s)The Talons
Roster
See: List of Court of Owls members

The Court of Owls is a fictional criminal organization and secret society appearing in DC Comics continuity as adversaries of the superhero Batman. The Court is described as an organization of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of the fictional city of Gotham, having existed since the city's founding and completely unknown among its general population outside of an urban legend centered around their reputation for grisly assassinations carried out by indoctrinated agents known as Talons. The 2015–2016 "Robin War" story line details their international expansion, with the group renaming itself the Parliament of Owls.

The Court of Owls made their on-screen debut in 2015's Batman vs. Robin as part of the DC Animated Movie Universe before making their live-action debut later that same year in the Gotham television series.

Publication history[edit]

The Court of Owls was created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo and feature as Batman's main antagonists in the first two-story arcs of The New 52, the 2011 reboot of DC's continuity.[1] They are first mentioned in Batman (vol. 2) #2 (2011) and make their first appearance in Batman (vol. 2) #3 when Batman discovers one of their secret bases of operation and where they are seen posing with one of their assassins, the Talon William Cobb, in a series of old photographs, finally providing Batman with proof of their existence

Fictional team history[edit]

The New 52[edit]

The Court of Owls is a violent cabal of some of Gotham City's oldest and wealthiest families who use murder and money to wield political influence throughout history. 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 white owl masks on their faces. The earliest history of the Court of Owls dates back to Gotham's earliest days in the 1600s.

Bruce Wayne recounts that, as a child, he believed the Court of Owls responsible for the death of his parents and personally investigated the conspiracy before determining that there was no evidence. When Wayne announces plans to rebuild and reshape Gotham City for the future, The Court sentences him to death and their assassin, the Talon William Cobb, attempts to murder him during a meeting with Lincoln March. They struggle at the top of Wayne Tower and the killer survives a fall from the top. Batman discovers that their society has various secret headquarters throughout hidden rooms in every building established by the Alan Wayne Trust, created by Bruce's great-grandfather, Alan Wayne.

In the 2012 storyline Night of the Owls, the Court of Owls, angered at William Cobb's defeat at the hands of Batman, awaken all of their other Talons to reclaim Gotham City from Batman. The Court's goal is to prove that they, not Batman, are the superior legend of Gotham City. The Bat Family and Birds of Prey work together to defeat them.

Artist Greg Capullo signing a Court of Owls replica mask during an appearance at Midtown Comics

During the Forever Evil storyline, the Court of Owls see the news from the Crime Syndicate that the Justice League is "dead" and claims that the Court of Owls will prosper. With their existence threatened, they dig into the foundations of their arcane history and use it to adapt. A prominent member of the Court of Owls shows his daughter where the Court of Owls began: the chamber of the First Talon.

At the conclusion of the 2014-2015 series Batman Eternal, it is revealed that Lincoln March used the Court's resources to fund the Cluemaster's campaign against Batman, reasoning that Batman's public death at the hands of an unknown enemy would forever end the "myth" of the Dark Knight. However, the plan fails when Batman's allies and the people of Gotham City rally together against March's assault after Commissioner Gordon calls on them to stand up for the city in Batman's name, forcing March to retreat.

In the 2015-2016 storyline Robin War, the Court of Owls reanimate Lincoln March, who has devised a way to obtain their prophesied Gray Son. Councilwoman Noctua, a member of the Court, rises to power in Gotham City and implants a set of laws and regulations that ban all Robin paraphernalia and will imprison those caught possessing or wearing anything Robin-related. This gets the attention of the original four Robins: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne (the current Robin), who all arrive in Gotham to train the hundreds of members of the Robins street gang.

DC Rebirth[edit]

In Nightwing (vol. 3), Lincoln March addresses the Parliament of Owls as they decide to cast aside their connection to the Court of Owls in Gotham and don black owl masks. As March begins to preach his new role in the Parliament, he is killed by the Raptor, who reveals that both he and the Parliament agree that March's own desires began to become a hindrance to them and they needed a clean path to Nightwing.[2] Dick Grayson has finally re-obtained his secret identity and has returned to the role of Nightwing. He willingly works for the Parliament in order to bring them down from the inside; they are wary of and suspect Grayson's true intentions, but they do not know that their leverage over him has been resolved. To keep him in check, the Parliament partners him with the Raptor to aid in his missions.[3]

In the 2017 storyline Dark Nights: Metal, it is subsequently revealed that the Court of Owls were predominately a cult that worshiped Barbatos, a dark god associated with bats who hailed from the Dark Multiverse beneath the DC Multiverse. A cell of members ambush the Justice League and offer Batman up as the key to open up the Dark Multiverse, but are subsequently brutally murdered by The Batman Who Laughs and his Robins.

In the Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock, the remaining representatives of the Court of Owls are among the villains that attend the underground meeting held by the Riddler to talk about the Superman Theory. Their judge states that the Court of Owls are not relocating to Kahndaq.[4]

Members[edit]

  • R. H. Orchard – Built the Orchard Hotel in 1893. His son Benjamin Orchard ran away from home and joined Haly's Circus. R. H. turned his own son into a Talon as a reprisal for turning his back on his legacy.
  • Maria Powers – The wife of Joseph Powers, the owner of the Powers Hotel and a member of the Court of Owls.
  • Lincoln March – A Gotham City mayoral candidate who claims to be Thomas Wayne Jr.
  • Thurston Moody – A wealthy Gotham nobleman who is a potential member of the Court of Owls in the 1800s. He used kidnapped children as slaves beneath Gotham City, which was uncovered by Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham.
  • Sebastian Clark – The former Grandmaster of the Court. Clark escaped the Court when it came for his father and lived in Europe for years under an assumed identity before returning to Gotham City and assuming the title of Grandmaster.
  • John Wycliffe – The Grandmaster of the Court after Sebastian Clark. A descendant of Bartholomew Wycliffe, one of the signers of Gotham's original charter. He was killed by Sebastian Clark.

Talons[edit]

The Talons are a group of highly trained assassins loyal to the Court of Owls. Among the known Talons are:

  • Uriah Boone – Uriah Boone was one of the oldest Talons, active at some point before Gotham became an industrialized city.[volume & issue needed]
  • Ephraim Newhouse – Ephraim Newhouse was the Talon of 1665. During the Night of the Owls storyline, Ephraim was revived and sent by the Court to assassinate Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot.
  • Henry Ballard – Henry Ballard remembered the Gotham City of 1847 as a violent place and saw the city's present the same way. The Birds of Prey subdued him when Poison Ivy dragged him into a refrigerated train car meant for carrying meat.[5]
  • Alexander Staunton – Alexander Staunton was the Talon of 1856.[volume & issue needed]
  • Felix Harmon – Felix Harmon, known as the "Gotham Butcher," was the Talon of the 1860s.[volume & issue needed]
  • Xiao Loong – Xiao Loong was the Talon of the 1890s.[volume & issue needed]
  • The O'Malleys – Three generations of O'Malleys have served as Talons: James O'Malley, his son Brandon and his grandson Nathaniel.[volume & issue needed]
  • Jonas – Jonas was the Talon of the 1920s. He was from a poor African American farming family in Georgia.[volume & issue needed]
  • Benjamin Orchard – A Talon in the 1930s for one year.[volume & issue needed]
  • Mary Turner – Mary is the Talon of the 1940s. 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. Batgirl found a place for Mary with the Birds of Prey,[6] giving her the codename "Strix" (which is Latin for "owl").[7]
  • Alton Carver – Alton Carver was the most recent Talon. He was given mayoral candidate Lincoln March as a target.[volume & issue needed]
  • Calvin Rose – Calvin is shown locked in a dog kennel by his father at age 8 for three days, at which point he is able to break the chain on the door and escape to Haly's Circus. Calvin Rose was trained as an escape artist at Haly's Circus. He was then recruited by the Court of Owls and trained to be their next Talon.[volume & issue needed]
  • William Cobb -- One of the Courts most prolific members, Cobb is the assassin sent to murder Bruce Wayne prior to the Night of the Owls. Born on October 10, 1901, William Cobb was the son of an ironworker and textile worker who lost his life while working on a bridge. He is also the great-grandfather of Dick Grayson, and is later a member of the Suicide Squad.[8]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Film[edit]

The Court of Owls appears in Batman vs. Robin, consisting of the Grandmaster (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes), socialite Samantha Vanaver (voiced by Grey DeLisle), and an unidentified Talon (voiced by Jeremy Sisto), the son of an abusive jewel thief.[11] Throughout the film, Talon attempts help Robin realize his potential and join the Court. However, Talon betrays them after refusing to kill a kidnapped Robin and seizes control of the Court's army of zombified Talons. After his army is destroyed by Batman, Nightwing, and Alfred Pennyworth and he is defeated by Robin, Talon commits suicide.

Video games[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • Batman: The Court of Owls is an original novel tie-in, published February 12, 2019, and written by Greg Cox. Set shortly after the Court's comic debut, Batman's investigation into a missing arts student at Gotham University reveals that said student had stumbled on clues left in the artwork of a prominent artist almost a century ago. Tracking the student's research, the student learned the artist was a reluctant member of the Court and had created a serum that could theoretically allow the user to see the future, to the extent that certain pieces he created hint at Gotham's future costumed criminals.
  • The Court of Owls appear in Black Canary: Breaking Silence, the fifth novel in the DC Icons series. The book was released on December 29, 2020 and was written by Alexandra Monir.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
  2. ^ Nightwing Rebirth #1. DC Comics.
  3. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #1. DC Comics.
  4. ^ Doomsday Clock #6 (July 2018). DC Comics.
  5. ^ Birds of Prey (vol. 3) #9. DC Comics.
  6. ^ Birds of Prey (vol. 3) #15. DC Comics.
  7. ^ Birds of Prey (vol. 3) #16. DC Comics.
  8. ^ Nightwing (vol. 3) #9. DC Comics.
  9. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Bruno Heller Confirms Court of Owls for Gotham
  10. ^ Fish Mooney Returns to Gotham? - #DCTV
  11. ^ "Animated 'Batman vs. Robin' Movie Finds Its Voice Cast (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. January 14, 2015. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  12. ^ LEGO DC Super Villains Talon Unlock + Free Roam Gameplay, retrieved 2019-09-08
  13. ^ Grieve, Caitlin (August 22, 2020). "All Batman Characters in Revealed Gotham Knights (So Far)". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 23, 2020.

External links[edit]