The Court of Owls was an enigmatic and powerful organization, with little known of them other than the fact that they were a "secret council" that ran everything in Gotham, including Wayne Enterprises. The organization could be described as a secret society composed of the city's wealthiest and most influential citizens. Hugo Strange was contracted by them to unlock the path to immortality, by bringing the dead back to life with their memories intact. They later planned to use a newly developed weapon to destroy Gotham, something which they had done twice before in the city's history, in order to cleanse it. The Court of Owls were destroyed by their leader Sensei, who killed off the top members as they were no longer of any use in his greater plans for Gotham City and Bruce Wayne.
At an earlier point in history, the Court of Owls condoned Hugo Strange's hit on Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne. The Sensei confronted the unidentified Court of Owls member for letting Strange kill the people that he respected. When the Court of Owls member stated that Thomas Wayne was going to expose their organization, the Sensei killed him.
The Court of Owls has contracted Hugo Strange to bring the dead back to life with their memories intact. When Mooney was able to tell Strange her name, Strange brought this information to the Court of Owls after the white-haired female member of the group contacted him for a status report. The Court of Owls then ordered him to move his research and test subjects to the facility upstate, and destroy any evidence of Indian Hill's existence.
After Bruce spoke with the Wayne Enterprise board of directors about his suspicions of Wayne Enterprise being taken over, the White-Haired Woman was informed of this and sends one of her operatives to deal with Bruce quietly. Later that night, the Court of Owls Operative infiltrates Wayne Manor and fights Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred is defeated and the operative abducts Bruce.
Bruce is brought to their representative Kathryn, (the white haired woman earlier referenced), who makes a deal with Bruce for him to cease all investigation into them in return for the life of him and those closest to him. Bruce "agrees," before again being knocked out by the operative and returned to Wayne Manor. Although Bruce tells Alfred about the deal, Alfred wonders if the mysterious assailants will truly keep their end of the bargain.
Subject 514A is later visited by Kathryn and one of the Court of Owls's operatives stating that they are his real parents who have been looking for him for a long time. Subject 514A is then loaded into Kathryn's limo.
Some hours later after meeting Mayor Oswald Cobblepot at the Gotham City Founders' Dinner, Kathryn meets with another member of the Court of Owls who states that Cobblepot is still a criminal. The unidentified person tells Kathryn that judgement will come to all.
The Court of Owls later targets Mario Calvi with the first attempt killing the valet driver in a car bomb. The second half was outside the hospital where Jim Gordon intervenes. When it came to the third half at the jewelry store, Gordon subdues one of them while Mario kills one of them in self-defense. When Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and Selina Kyle meet with Whisper Gang members Luka Volk, Jacob Volk, and Dmitry and demand they speak to Kathryn in exchange for Ivy Pepper's safety. Luka commented that his group works to destroy the Court of Owls after they were betrayed by them. The Court is mentioned to have a second key while Bruce Wayne gained a hold of the first key to a safe that is valuable to the Court of Owls. The Court of Owls dispatches Talon who kills Dmitry and Luka Volk. Carmine Falcone later meets with Kathryn about why her group is killing his son while stating that the car bomb is made to look like a mob hit. When Kathryn states that Gotham City is on the brink of chaos, she states that she will call upon him when they need him while withholding whatever she knows about Mario. What Carmine doesn't know is that his son also has the same blood as Alice Tetch.
Talon is later dispatched to deal with Jacob Volk and the Whisper Gang members present. He later encounters Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle at a building where the owl statue is being held. As Alfred battles Talon again, Bruce and Selina help subdue Alfred enough to cause Talon to be stabbed and killed by his own weapon.
From their lair, Kathryn and Frank Gordon watch the Gotham City Police Department deal with the chaos that Jerome Valeska caused and the curfew that was imposed. They will see how the Gotham City Police Department will deal with Jerome first. Following Jerome's defeat, Kathryn speaks with Subject 514A where the Court of Owls had his scars removed as part of their plan to save Gotham City.
While Kathryn dispatches Subject 514A to get rid of Bruce Wayne and take his place, she has Frank Gordon talk his nephew Jim Gordon into joining the Court of Owls. Subject 514A is successful in his mission.
The Court of Owls move onto their plans for Gotham City following a unanimous vote. They also had a weapon from Indian Hill shipped in to further their plot. After another Talon had slain some of Barbara Kean and Tabitha Galavan's men at Dock 9C with Barbara and Tabitha fleeing, the Talon slew the bound harbormaster despite him stating that he didn't tell them anything. After hearing that Gordon is onto them, Kathryn informs Frank Gordon to kill his nephew. Following Frank Gordon telling him to play along with Kathryn and committing suicide, Gordon received a call at Peter Gordon's grave where his first instruction was to get into the nearby limo. Gordon makes his way to the limo and gets into it.
James Gordon arrives at the Court of Owl's headquarters. He tells them that he "did away with" Frank Gordon and is told by Kathryn to be ready when they call for him. Kathryn is later visited by Subject 514A who tells her that his nosebleeds have happening more frequently while predicting his death. Kathryn tells Subject 514A that he will be a martyr to the Court of Owls' plot by the time Bruce Wayne returns. Still wanting to know who runs Wayne Enterprises, Riddler does some attacks which leads to his capture of Mayor Aubrey James. A blindfolded Mayor Aubrey James tells him that the Court is the people that runs Gotham City and that he just does as they are told. When Riddler threatens Mayor James with a neck bomb on TV, Kathryn calls Gordon to deal with the situation since there are too many eyes watching for them to send a Talon to handle the job. She also states that if he fails, this will be the last time she calls him. After Gordon manages to get Riddler to come with him, they wait on a road where a car carrying Kathryn arrives. As the Talon loads Riddler into their car, Kathryn tells Gordon that they will find good use for Riddler. The next day, Gordon is initiated into the Court of Owls.
Upon re-obtaining the services of Hugo Strange, Kathryn sends Talon to obtain Nathaniel Barnes from Arkham Asylum so that Hugo Strange can weaponize the poisonous blood of Alice Tetch that was in him. Kathryn is later called up by the Sensei and informs her about the progress he has been making with Bruce. He reveals to Kathryn that he and Bruce will leave their locating the very night and that they will be returning to Gotham. The Court of Owls then test the weaponized blood on an unknown man. Gordon later visits Kathryn at an event where the Daughters of Gotham are holding an event. Kathryn has the Dispersal Unit placed in the room where the event is in order to test it out for Gordon who will be watching from the window. Before leaving, Kathryn tells Gordon not to interfere or else the Talon that is watching him has orders to kill him at first sight. When Oswald Cobblepot and Bridgit Pike arrive, the Talon is torched by Bridgit Pike as Gordon manages to clear the room while also telling Cobblepot that the Court of Owls will know that Cobblepot is behind this. Later that night, another Talon is dispatched where he knocks out Bridgit Pike and abducts Cobblepot. He is incarcerated in a cell that is next door to Riddler's cell. Figuring out that Gordon had a hand in the Daughters of Gotham event not being destroyed, Kathryn cuts a deal with Nathaniel Barnes to do away with Gordon.
Outside of Gotham City, the Sensei continues his work with Bruce Wayne. When Nathaniel Barnes has James Gordon brought to an abandoned building, Kathryn tells him she know that Gordon obtained a blood sample from Hugo Strange and she plans to deal with Strange later. She then takes her leave and has Nathaniel Barnes do away with Gordon. The police led by Harvey Bullock repel Barnes and rescue Gordon. After a failed attempt to get Bruce Wayne to mentally store away his mother's pearl necklace, Shaman shows Bruce a memory of his own past and how he reacted upon the death of Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne. Kathryn is brought in by the police as Gordon gets answers out of her about the location of the Court of Owls' weapon. During this time, she states that she isn't their leader. Alfred joins in on the interrogation and sends a knife into her right hand while demanding to know where Bruce Wayne is being held. Nathaniel Barnes attacks the Gotham City Police Department where he defeats most of the police officers present and then engages Gordon and Alfred in battle. When Kathryn tells him to stop this nonsense and get her out of the police station, Barnes ends up beheading Kathryn depriving Alfred of finding out where Bruce Wayne is. Minutes after Barnes' arrest, he escapes yet again. Gordon and Harvey discuss the fact that the Court will be even more determined to succeed with Kathryn gone, and that their true leader is still a mystery. Bruce Wayne stores the pearl necklace in the safe. Following that mental trip, the Sensei tells Bruce Wayne about how the Talons have been taken from orphanages and placed in the same mental training. He demonstrates the Talons' obedience by having the Talon present cut off his small finger and bandage it up.
With Bruce, the Sensei arrives at the main headquarter of the Court of Owls where its council is in session. While Bruce remains in the shadows, the Sensei asserts his rightful place as the Court's leader and addresses his fellow councilmen. He claims that three years ago, a great wrong was dealt by the Court's hands in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. One of the Court members accuses the Sensei of having left Gotham for years despite being the organization's leader and states that choices had to be made. After listening to the man's arguments, the Sensei asks Bruce to come forward. Reminding him that it were his parents who were killed, the Sensei tells Bruce to pass the judgement. However, he also urges Bruce to have the Court executed and when Bruce nods, the Sensei claps his hands, and a group of Talons emerge from the shadows and slaughter the leaders.
- † Sensei (leader)
- † Kathryn Monroe (representative)
- † 10 Unnamed members
- † Frank Gordon
- † Peter Gordon
- Jim Gordon (undercover)
- † Ra's al Ghul (benefactor; hidden; deceased)
- † Carmine Falcone (associate)
- Mayor Aubrey James (pawn)
- Wayne Enterprises
- Whisper Gang (formerly)
- The Talons
- Indian Hill staff
- 514A (formerly)
- Nathaniel Barnes (formerly)
- Bruce Wayne (formerly, manipulated)
- Prior to their full debut appearance in "Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles", the Court of Owls were foreshadowed and indirectly referenced to several times.
- In Lovecraft, Dick Lovecraft makes reference to a higher power in Gotham City to Jim Gordon, and that they are watching him. Before Lovecraft could elaborate any further, he was killed by Larissa Diaz.
- In the subsequent episode "Rogues' Gallery", Arkham Asylum director Gerry Lang told Harvey Bullock that he was afraid of authority and refuses to tell him any secrets that he knows, and warns Bullock not to dig any deeper.
- It is mentioned in "Rise of the Villains: Worse Than A Crime" that Bruce Wayne's favourite animal is owls.
- The Court of Owls were first mentioned in Batman #2 (2011). They made their first full appearance in Batman #5 as part of The New 52 reboot of the DC Comics Universe. The Court utilizes the Talons as their personal assassins.
- In the Batman universe, they are described by the old Gotham City nursery rhyme:
- "Beware the Court of Owls that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadow perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth. They watch you in your bed. Speak not a whispered word of them, or they'll send the talon for your head."
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