The Owl was created by Stan Lee and Joe Orlando and first appeared in Daredevil volume 1 - Issue #3 (Aug 1964). Vince Colletta was the inker and Sam Rosen provided the lettering. The cover artwork was done by Jack Kirby and Artie Simek with assistance from Mr. Colletta.
The Owl was the very first original villain created for the title. In issue #1, Daredevil encountered a gangster called "The Fixer", who died at the end of the story. And in issue #2, he battled Electro, who was created as an adversary for Spider-Man.
Leland Owlsley was a wall-street wizard and got the nickname Owl by his peers. The IRS started snooping and revealed his ties to the underworld. Depressed, he took a serum that gave him the ability of flight. He has had several clashes with Daredevil, Spider-Man, Black Widow, and even Doctor Octopus. Through the years, the serum has caused him to mutate further. He has recently resurfaced to take revenge on Daredevil. The Hood later seemingly killed Owl in order to gain respect among the figures of New York's criminal underworld and steal Deathlok from him.
Later, it turns out Owl survived the attack, as he is under police custody, but gets freed by Kingpin's henchmen shortly - in return Wilson Fisk wants Owlsley's services in order to distract Daredevil and takeover The Hand. That leads to capture of Dakota North, who Owl plans to torture, but his plot gets ruined once again by Daredevil, who shows no mercy to his long time nemesis - he cuts Owl's arms and legs with a sword, very likely crippling him by doing so. This also lead to the beginning of Shadowland event.
Later, it appears that he is fully healed and is in possession of the head of Silvermane which Boomerang's Sinister Six tries to steal.
Height: 5'11" (1.80m)
Weight: 200-220 lbs. (90-99 kg); with leg braces 240 lbs. (108 kg.)
Occupation: Crimelord/Professional criminal; former financier and business owner
Identity: Publicly known
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States with a criminal record. It has been indicated that the Owl has never been convicted of a serious crime despite being a known criminal, this may no longer be true.
Place of Birth: Unrevealed
Marital Status: Previously married; current status unrevealed
Known Relatives: Unidentified family; at one time claimed guardianship of two children but his connection to them remains unverified
Affiliations: Leader of the Owl Gang; briefly allied with the Chameleon, Shroud, Kingpin, Vulture, a branch of the Russian Mob, the Maggia, Mr. Hyde, Mister Kline and an unidentified criminal syndicate; former member of the Gang of Four
Base of Operations: Currently San Francisco, California; formerly New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco and the New Jersey Palisades. In the past, the Owl commonly referred to his various hideouts as his "Aerie".
Known Superhuman Powers
It is a common misconception that Owl is a mutant, but he is a mutate who obtained his powers through outside agents.
The Owl's main power is his capacity for limited flight. The source of this ability is a special serum he has used which originally enabled him to naturally glide for short distances (roughly 100 feet /30.5m); ultimately, his physical makeup has changed to a degree which allowed him to expand on these initial facilities. Typically, he must to leap from a height of at least 20 feet (6.1m) off of the ground to allow for enough lift, but he has occasionally started from a standing position - although he has not been seen to travel higher than 15 feet (4.6m) in this way. His distance and speed are variable depending on ambient air currents and the height of his original lifting leap. With a strong tailwind he can travel distances of several hundred yards/meters and reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour (48.3 km/h). Diving from a helicopter or skyscraper could increase his rate of flight even further, while jumping from a parked city bus or freeway overpass would result in a slower and shorter glide. The Owl might also intensify his flight efficiency through other methods, such as leaping from a moving vehicle. To aid in landing, his rate and speed will decrease as he loses altitude. Although the Owl's powers are most effectively used in conjunction with the surrounding airflow, there is very little to suggest that he cannot use them without one. The Owl has managed to achieve better control of his flying abilities through use over time. While airborne, he uses his arms and legs for balance and steering but is still able to perform complex midair maneuvers and engage in combat with little variation in his flight pattern (such as a free-fall followed by a quick ascension, allowing for a "swoop" attack).
The limits of his flying powers are inconclusive; he typically uses these abilities in short bursts, depending on the situation. While there may be an as yet unknown physical source aiding the Owl's abilities, his glide/flight ratio -the rate of drop compared to the distance traveled- coupled with other variances he has displayed suggests the presence of some type of psionic assistance. While some data has been presented concerning the Owl's anatomy, specific details concerning how his respiratory system has adjusted itself to the stresses of flight, how long the he can remain aloft before becoming fatigued, or how his body regulates the energy to do so are still vague. Information concerning the maximum altitude the Owl can reach is also unavailable. The Owl's powers are affected by his physical condition at the time, and any illness or injury would impede his ability to use them.
Aside from the flight serum, the Owl has used other experimental drugs and unique surgical procedures to enhance his flying ability over the years. The specifics of these methods and their relative effectiveness have yet to be shown.
The Owl acquired most of his powers through the regular use of a 'flight serum', the source and nature of which remain largely unrevealed. What is known is that, after prolonged use, the serum drastically altered the Owl's physical makeup; aside from flight, other abilities slowly began to manifest themselves, a majority of which were bird-like in quality. Because of the serum's mysterious characteristics, many of these abilities only began to be known after the Owl started exhibiting them. The Owl does not seem to rely on these secondary attributes as often as his power for flight, and their sporadic use and unusual origins do result in speculation as to their full extent and usefulness. (It's also unclear if some of these changes were caused by the serum or were attained in other ways.) Although it has been indicated that chronic use of the serum exacerbates at least some of these traits, exactly how it does so is not understood. Besides its unclear effects on his abilities, there are other factors that remain undefined. Little data exists as to how the serum is ingested, how dosages are regulated, if it exists in one form or multiple versions, or even if the Owl continues to administer it considering the damage it has done to his body. It is clear, however, that it has altered his biology to the degree that his DNA can be used in the production of M.G.H. It should be stated that while the Owl may rely on chemical agents for his powers, he has never displayed any symptoms of chemical addiction.
-Adaption to Flight: The Owl's body has undergone a series of complex changes over time that assists his ability to fly.
- Skeletal Structure- The Owl's bones are hollow, allowing for a lighter frame and greater midair agility. Although lightweight, they are strong enough to handle the stresses of taking off, flying, and landing. Considering the avian effects of the Owl's flight serum, in can be inferred -though not confirmed- that he has developed a pneumatized skeletal structure (or something comparable). This would mean that his bones contain hollow chambers accessible to air. These air pockets are honeycombed with crisscrossing struts or trusses, which increase structural strength while also reducing mass. His bones may also possess a greater degree of rigidity compared to that of an average human being, which could prevent fragmentation or splintering in the event of a fracture and so allow the bone to mend in a shorter amount of time. Though most of these traits are associated with bird anatomy, the Owl's unique situation coupled with his relative size would suggest a skeleton many times more durable than that of a normal person. This does not mean that his bones are unbreakable, only that they can withstand a greater amount of trauma before being damaged.
- Strength- Despite occasional changes in body shape, The Owl has a low fat-to-muscle ratio and possesses a greater proportionate muscle mass than a typical person. While he only engages in moderate exercise, he can still lift/press around 600 lbs. (272 kg.) with great effort.
- Internal Adaptions- The Owl's heart rate is considerably faster than the standard 72bpm. Although exact figures are not available, reliable sources have estimated as many as several hundred pulses in a single minute. His average core temperature has risen to 113 degrees (45 degrees Celsius), and his body no longer produces perspiration. To compensate for some of these changes, the Owl's lungs have expanded to contain air sacs that serve to cool his body and keep him afloat after takeoff.
- Enhanced Senses
The Owl's senses of hearing and vision, while nowhere near as acute as those of an individual like Wolverine, still operate at a range considerably higher than that of a normal human being. His eyesight is particularly strong in low-light conditions. He may have developed something akin to the tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer of tissue behind the retina, which reflects visible light, allowing for better nocturnal vision and creating the appearance of eye shine. He is apparently also able to move his eyes independently of each other. The Owl's eyes have adjusted to the rigors of flight and both possess a transparent nictitating membrane (an extra lid located on the side of the eye, allowing for additional protection, moisture retention and the removal of minute particles) with its own blink reflex.
- Other Adaptions
-The Owl can grow sharp, talon-like nails on the tips of fingers. While still breakable, the keratin in the nail plates is thicker, and the tissue surrounding it is more durable, enabling them to tear through flesh and muscle easily without harming the digits. (The keratin thickness extends to his hair follicles as well, granting each strand more tensile strength and greater resistance to damage.)
-The Owl also developed special vertebrae in his neck that permits him to rotate his head nearly 270 degrees. The musculature and vessels around the neck have altered to allow for this action without restricting the flow of blood to his brain. However, the Owl has only been seen doing this twice. It is unclear if he no longer retains this ability or only uses it in rare circumstances.
-The Owl has taken to consuming live rodents and small fowl. His digestive system not only processes these items, but also neutralizes any parasites or bacteria they might contain.
It has not been confirmed that the Owl possesses a true healing ability, nevertheless he has consistently displayed a resilience which suggests a greater than human muscle efficiency and metabolic control allowing for unusual endurance and extraordinarily rapid recovery from injury and fatigue. Although more severe injuries do require a longer convalescence period, he has managed to recover from trauma severe enough to kill or permanently incapacitate an ordinary human-being -including serious injury to his brain, spine and nervous system as well as gunshot wounds to major organs. It is probable that, due to the heavy damage done to his nervous system, he could have a greater-than-average threshold for pain, which he may use to his advantage in certain situations.
The Owl recently obtained the ability to assimilate data channeled through unrestrained photons directly into his brain, granting him "utter and total omniscience." The full extent of and ramifications from his acquisition of these powers has yet to be seen.
Earth 295: Age of Apocalypse
In the Age of Apocalypse timeline, Owl was a member of the Marauders (Human terrorists enhanced by Apocalypse), along with teammates Arcade, Kingpin, and Red (aka Norman Osborn). The four villains were sent by Apocalypse to destroy the land of Wakanda. Though they were able to murder Black Panther and destroy much of the land, Owl's life was cut short by Hawkeye, who blew him up with an explosive missile.
It is assumed that this Owl had the same powers as the one in the regular Marvel Universe (Earth-616). He was also equipped with wrist weapons and "air-steppers"; boot attachments that allowed him near-flight.