The New 52 relaunch back in 2011 left fans pretty unimpressed overall, but one of the few shining lights was Scott Synder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. These new tales of the World’s Greatest Detective captured fans’ imaginations and it propelled Synder and Capullo to new heights within the community.
They opened strong with one of the best new villains: The Court of Owls. This secret society helped bring readers in and kept Batman on his toes. Their story arc set a strong precedent for the issues that followed, and Synder and Capullo most certainly did not disappoint their fans.
The first glimpse at what the Court is capable of comes in Batman #2. Bruce is called to the scene of a gruesome murder. The victim is a true Jon Doe with no traceable identity. He is a mystery.
What is more mysterious is the fashion of his killing, as he was mercilessly tortured. He was punctured with many throwing knives and pinned to a wall. This is just a taste of the horrific acts the Court of Owls commits.
The Court of Owls took over Gotham City. Much like Batman, they used superstition and fear in order to rule from the shadows. One way they did this was they infested the buildings of Gotham. They took advantage of the myth that the 13th floor of buildings were bad luck, and they set up bunkers in these spaces.
This way they could have safe houses from which to strike from all over Gotham. They were used the most by their assassins, the Talons, as a place to attack from the shadows.
8 Murdering Alan Wayne
Alan Wayne is considered to be one of the main men who built Gotham, but he died a terrible death. He felt haunted in his own home by the Court of Owls. They drove him to the edge of sanity, so many people believed he was going senile in his old age.
So when people heard he died in the sewer, nobody questioned it. But the truth was the Court killed this elderly man with more than 50 throwing knives to the body and dumped his body in the sewer.
7 The Labyrinth
The Court has ruled Gotham for centuries and in that time they had many means of disposing of people. None were worse than The Labyrinth.
They would lock people down in this maze in the dark and drive them mad. Then they would take their picture and hang it on a wall for others to see, and they would send one of their Talons to hunt these people. Hundreds of people died in this fashion, all by the decree of the Court of Owls.
6 Driving Batman Mad
It was in the Labyrinth that the Court began to deal with Batman. They locked him down there, and madness began to set in. He was down there for eight days, in the darkness with no food and water that was drugged.
He had hallucinations of his parents and he wandered in circles. He felt the presence of the Talon hunting him until that Talon finally stabbed him through the back. They thought that they could break both his mind and body, and then they could rule again.
5 Ric Grayson
In Tom King’s fan favorite run on Batman, fans saw Nightwing survive an assassination by the KGBeast. This left Dick Grayson with memory loss until Batman brought in a specialist. It turned out this specialist was part of the Court of Owls.
Nightwing was destined to be a Talon, so they manipulated his memories so he didn’t remember being Robin and Nightwing. Because of all this, he left his old life behind and took on the name of Ric Grayson, and the Court was ready to swoop in.
The Talons are the most feared weapons of the Court. They are deadly assassins that have trained in the harshest conditions since they were children. They are deadly and without fear, while also being impossible to kill.
That’s because the Court can revive them from death. They use a special mixture of metal in order to give the Talons immortality. The Talons are put to sleep until called upon, and when they wake, stay out of their way.
3 The Attack of Gotham City
Batman #8 kicks off the storyline Night of the Owls, which was adapted in part by the DCAU in Batman Vs Robin. The Court has sentenced every prominent figure in Gotham to death, meaning anyone who is of influence.
They release all their Talons from across centuries in order to carry out this vile plan. Batman is of course a target. They invade his home and the cave, but he and Alfred hold them off and defeat them while using the Bat-Family to protect Gotham.
2 Thomas Wayne Jr.
Lincoln March, aka Thomas Wayne Jr., is a sad story. The Court of Owls took Jon Doe boy from an orphanage and fed him partial truths about his life. They manipulated him into thinking he was the son of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
They filled him with purpose and greatness, fooled him into believing he was the heir of a great legacy, and then they sent him out into the world to take what he wanted. The poor man paid for the Court’s actions.
1 Helped Barbatos
In Scott Synder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Knights Metal, fans are shown that the Court of Owls has been working on preparing Batman to be a portal for the dark Bat-God Barbatos. They have been serving this god for centuries and they are finally ready to unleash him on the world.
This is a despicable act because Barbatos goes on to release unspeakable horrors on Earth, and it is partially the fault of the Court. Without them, Barbatos might have never been released.
The Court of Owls quickly became one of Batman's deadliest opponents. These heinous acts are how they did it.