Batman 1 – 3
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
Since issue 1 of the DCnU, Batman has been focused on the Court of Owls, a mysterious group of Gotham’s elite whose motives, while unclear, are sinister. So far they’ve limited themselves to Batman himself, but in coming weeks the Court will attack Gotham City and spread to other comic titles including Batman & Robin, Detective Comics, and Batgirl.
I’m sure Batman is preparing for the Court of Owls’ attack by learning everything he can about his enemy, and we should do the same thing. Here’s what we’ve learned about the Court of Owls in Batman 1 – 3; issues 4 – 6 will be coming soon, but you can also read my overall thoughts on the excellent Batman 5 here.
Batman 1 gives us the first clue that the Court of Owls exists, when an unidentifiable man is found stabbed to death. The knives found inside the man are decorated with small owls.
As you can see, Batman’s not interested in the Court of Owls, he doesn’t want to even consider them. This issue also sets up the general theme of this book being about Gotham City itself, and Batman’s place in it.
With Batman 2, we learn much more about the Court of Owls. Three hired goons steal ten statues of some sort from the Hellenistic wing (of Gotham City Museum, I assume), tying the Court to Ancient Greece (and not for the last time). Later, Batman and Jim Gordon CSI the stabbing victim, finding an implant in his tooth that also has the Owl emblem on it.
That nursery rhyme will be repeated many times over the coming issues of Batman, it’s so ominous! We don’t learn much more about the Court in this issue, but the next day when Bruce is meeting with Lincoln March (who’s campaigning to be Mayor) they’re attacked by Talon, the Court’s assassin. Our first view of this new foe is intimidating, he’s as big as Batman and has a wide array of knives and other weapons.
At the end of issue 2, Bruce still denies that the Court of Owls exists, but he won’t be able to maintain that for much longer. Batman 3 is where we really start delving into the historical aspect of things. The book starts with Alan Wayne, Bruce’s great- great-grandfather, the man who built Wayne Tower. In the later years of his life, he grew obsessed with owls and convinced that they were living inside the walls of his own home.
We learn more about the Court of Owls in the second half of this book, when Batman realizes that they’ve been developing ‘nests’ in the 13th floors of buildings funded by an Alan Wayne memorial trust. Here inside Wayne Tower itself he finds what may be their very first nest, with a photograph dating back to 1891.
From there Batman goes from nest to nest, I’m not sure if he’s just collecting information or if he’s destroying them as he goes. We can see their weaponry, different setups but all involving a fascinating array of swords, knives, axes, and other bladed weapons. Each nest has a different Talon uniform in it, and there are nearly twenty likely buildings.
So what have we learned? The Court has remained hidden, even from Batman, for at least the last hundred years, and possibly several times that. They’re well prepared for all sorts of aggressive and illegal activities, and are invested in maintaining control of Gotham City behind the scenes.
I’m especially curious about the Ancient Greek connection, though maybe they just liked the symbol because it represents wealth and power. In issues 4, 5, and 6, we’ll see what happens when things get a little more real for Batman — issue 3 ends with Batman triggering a tripwire that explodes the building, and as the story continues the Court of Owls really brings the fight to Batman in new and exciting ways.