With WB Montreal teasing their new game, rumors have been flying that the next villain Batman is set to face in the Arkham universe is the Court of Owls. Scott Snyder, the creator of the Court of Owls and current writer on Batman: The Last Knight on Earth, tweeted and then deleted a post alluding to the group’s involvement in the upcoming game. Additionally, an Associate Producer at WB Montreal tweeted a picture of the development team’s shirts with a logo that is eerily similar to the Court of Owls signature owl.
While the Court of Owls has had a few appearances outside of the comic panels, most people will be surprised to find out they are a fairly new member of Batman’s rouges gallery. Despite debuting fairly recently in Batman Vol. 2 #3, which released October 2011, The Court of Owls has managed to become on the Batfamily’s fiercest adversaries.
The Court of Owls first appeared in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s groundbreaking run on Batman. As mentioned above, the Court first appeared in Batman Vol. 2 #3. The group is an allusive crime syndicate, made up of Gotham’s wealthiest families, that has ruled Gotham from the shadows for generations, with the earliest reports of the Court of Owls dating back to the 1600s. The role of the Court is to wield political influence through violence, murder, or any other means necessary. The Court is able to do most of their dirty work thanks to their Talons, child performers from the circus that are kidnapped and trained until they are transformed into assassins.
The Court of Owls was a well-known legend in Gotham, similar to the boogeyman or the Easter bunny. Prior to seeing them face-to-face, a young Bruce Wayne, following his parents’ death, became obsessed with the Court and was convinced they had somehow caused his parents’ deaths. However, Bruce later determined he was riddled with grief and had no actual proof of their involvement or even their existence.
Bruce Wayne didn’t come face-to-face with the Court of Owls until many years later when an assassin, one of the Court of Owl’s Talons, made an attempt on his life in their name after he announced plans to rebuild and reshape Gotham City. Batman then dug up clues, leading back to his grandfather, only to find that the Court has nests hidden throughout the city. With an incredible reach and a nearly unlimited pocketbook, the Court of Owls have the resources to give even the Dark Knight a run for his money as he is later caught by them and tortured. Following Batman’s escape, Talon leads an undead army of other undead Talons into the city to kill Batman and his allies. The culmination of the fight with Talon leads to the realization that Dick Grayson, Nightwing, was meant to be in his place and would have if he had not been adopted by Bruce Wayne.
Other Comic Book Appearances:
Since their introduction, The Court of Owls have become a staple in Batman lore and have shaped DC Comics as we know it. In addition to playing a major role in Snyder’s Batman, The Court of Owls has faced off against Batman and his allies in Batman: Night of the Owls and Robin Wars. Batman: Night of the Owls sees all of Batman’s allies including Batgirl, Batwing, and even the disgraced Red Hood facing off against various Talons. Following the final battle, Bruce is able to deduce the Powers family were the leaders of the Court. However, by the time he finds them, they are all dead by poison. Bruce also later discovers Lincoln March had been a Talon and had used Mr. Freeze’s serum to stay alive. March was created by the Court to compete with Batman but he ended up killing the Court in Gotham. March also claims to be Bruce’s long-lost brother Thomas Wayne Jr. After their confrontation and Batman’s escape, there is no way to prove March’s parentage.
However, in Gotham, legends don’t stay dead for long. The Robin War storyline revealed that the Court of Owls had expanded internationally, now going by the Parliament of Owls. In this comic run, the city of Gotham has been completed overwhelmed by the Court’s influence. Robin becomes more of a movement than a mantle as street kids from around Gotham, with the help of the real Robin, Red Robin, Grayson, and Red Hood, attempt to win the city back from their control. The book culminates with Damian Wayne initially striking a deal with the Court to ensure the safety of his brothers. However, the Court has always wanted Dick Grayson so by using an explosive device implanted within Damian by the Court as leverage, Grayson joins the Court of Owls.
With Grayson now a part of the Court and Lincoln March convincing the Parliament of Owls to disconnect themselves from Gotham, the fight heads overseas. In Nightwing: Rebirth, March is killed by Raptor, a villain with a mysterious connection to Dick Grayson. Dick Grayson is able to get his identity back and agrees to work with the Parliament in the hopes of bringing them down from the inside.
The most essential Court of Owls stories to pick up are Batman: The Court of Owls volume one and two, Batman: Night of the Owls, Robin Wars, and Nightwing: Rebirth. However, if you want more of the Court of Owls you can also pick up Batman: Eternal as well as the “Forever Evil” storyline in Justice League. The Court has also made a brief appearance in the DC crossover event Dark Knights: Metal and the current Watchmen sequel series, Doomsday Clock.
Comics and Beyond:
While the Court of Owls has yet to grace the big screen or star in a AAA title, they have still successfully made their way off the panels. Most recently, the Court has been featured in Fox’s television Batman prequel following Jim Gordon, Gotham. In the show, it is revealed that Ras al Ghul has played a large part in manipulating the group and thus, Gotham as a whole.
Additionally, The Court of Owls were the main villains in the DC Animated film Batman vs. Robin. In the film, Talon attempts to manipulate Robin into joining the Court of Owls and killing Batman. The animated film offers the closest interpretation of the group’s origin story to-date. The Court of Owls also has a brief appearance in Young Justice: Outsiders where the group plays a part in the trafficking of meta-teens. Outside of TV and film, the Talon assassin William Cobb is a playable character in Lego DC Super-Villains.
Is there anything about the Court of Owls we missed? Do you think they will show up in the next Batman game from WB Games? Let us know in the comments below.