The Court of Owls has been a myth in Gotham City for centuries told through an old nursery rhyme that speaks of a figure named Talon.
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.
Each Talon posses the abilities of flexibility, intelligence, and are able to regenerate broken bones. Each are expert marksmen who work closely with blades. These Talons are hand selected by the Court for acrobatic children from Haly's Circus (which has been in practice for many years). Every Talon is trained very young breaking them down and building him/her back up. Once ready, they work closely with the Court until their death. The Court members are aware when a talon may die, so they control the variables allowing them to meet their passing. Once dead, they are collected to be injected with a compound in to their cells allowing their bodies to preserve. However, buried within a tooth is the Court emblem ready to be sparked sending signals to the body sending it back to life. Below city levels are where they are placed within coffins in a long hallway waiting. Their only known weakness are either cold temperatures slowing the regenerating process or severe death.
On Night of the Owls, each Talon was resurrected sent to assassinate an important figure of Gotham.
Starting from Batman, William's targets have been from running election mayor Lincoln March, Bruce Wayne, and to the newly discovered great grandson Dick. Born into poverty and hardships, William and his mother struggled to survive in Gotham. He did the only thing he could do which was street perform. After a miraculous display, a member of Haly's circus asked him to join them. After a few years, he gained some money and returned home for a show. There he met Amelia Crowne, and it was love at first site. They fooled around until the point marriage came up. One day when walking into her house, Amelia's father Burton asked to speak with him. He told William that there are only two people in life (the rich and the poor), no room for gray. Burton had banned William from ever seeing Amelia again, but not before William had impregnated Amelia. Being so torn at the time, he accepted an offer to join the Talons by Nataniel Haly. After making his rounds and becoming elite, he broke back into Amelia's house stealing his then born son. Outside of the house he met Nataniel, handed him the baby, and siad "Raise him with Haly in secret, Nathaniel... prepare him for legacy. My son. The Gray Son of Gotham". This baby would become John's father and Dick's grand father.
He meet his end when featured in Nightwing. His new target was current Mayor Hady in city hall until Dick stopped to interrupt him. The battle moved outside when thrown from the window into the streets. Badly injured, Dick crawled his way into the subways hoping the Talon would follow. Knowing his weakness, Dick revealed how the electric companies needed to cool the subway cables running the ceiling with Liquid Nitrogen. He cuts the lines releasing the nitrogen slowing William down to defeat him. He carries him away leaving the mask behind.
Batman Batcave & Office Infiltrators
Featured in Batman, these Talons were sent to finish Bruce Wayne and Lincoln March. All were no named, but some of the Court's finest. It all began when Bruce was trying to rest after being terribly injured from The Maze. He was home with Alfred when his eye optics gave off an intrusion alert. Paranoid, he sent Alfred to the Batcave as he scoped the house ( Wayne Manor). Not knowing, a Talon slivered in behind Alfred as another jumped Bruce by surprise. But shortly after Bruce knocks one down, three come in its place. His only move was to move to the roof. Meanwhile, the slivering Talon makes his way to Alfred and needs Bruce's help desperately. Cornered on the roof, he makes his way down an escape chute leading to the cave where the slivering Talon is in front of him. Near the large Penny, Alfred drops the Penny on this Talon. Bruce unmasks this Talon and steals her disk drive that stores every target for tonight. It is too late however as a swarm swoops in the cave (one of which releases Cobb). Both Alfred and Bruce are force to lock themselves in the armory. Already badly broken, Bruce ask for Alfred to drop the gave to below degree temperatures as Bruce leaves to step into the Bat Armor locking the door behind him. This is when Alfred puts out the call which triggers The Bat Family to step in.
In the following issue, he continues to battle. Bruce is still beaten/scared and the dropping temperatures does not help either. His armor proves to be tremendous help, but he is still out numbered. He is thrown to beneath his robotic T- Rex, which was triggered to squash a couple when they got near him. Slowly the Talons use their weapons to break open his armor. As all hope is nearly lost, Bruce remembers a story. Story goes, when the Wayne family built on this land, bats were a problem. This caused them to send hunting owls after them, however is only drove the bats deeper into hiding. As he remember this story, his swarm of bats come out to attack the Talons. Distracted, he kills each Talon and drives away to protect his city. First stop, Arkham Asylum (continued in Detective Comics). After the stop, he checks if Lincoln is okay. Busting through the door, Lincoln points a gun at him and fires. Behind the door was another Talon, but it was too late as he was already stabbed. Fading away, Lincoln hands him a list of names of donors he tracked down which leads to the headquarters of The Court. It is time for revenge.
Calvin Rose fled from home still very young, only to be found by Haly's Circus, in which he was trained to become a talented acrobat, escape artist and, most of all, an expert assassin. Later on, he escaped from the Court of Owls, as he didn't have the guts to kill a woman and her child.
In the first issue of the 'Talon' series by James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, Calvin returns to Gotham, as he needed to know if the Court was really gone after the 'Night of Owls' event. It turns out there are still Talons spread across the world, and one of them, at that moment, was watching him. After a showdown between the two, Calvin is victorious with the help of a man called Sebastian Clark. Clark kidnaps Rose, and tells him that many Talons are still alive, and as both of them seek vengeance, Sebastian and Calvin will begin a hunt to take down the Talons!
Featured in Batman: The Dark Knight, Alton's target was to finish Lincoln March. His origin too came from Haly's Circus. At a young age, he already knew how to tumble, hurl blades, and juggle fire. High Wires was next for him to learn however he was nervous and had the fear of death. Out of motivation, the ring leader locked him in a burning cart to escape. This taught him to rid fear of death but severely burned him. Twenty- Six years later he began to become messy as he was the longest Talon on record. They found their next Talon to be trained (Dick) so retirement was around the corner. On a mission, he experienced fear once again as Batman attacked him the first time. He fled the scene and the target. The Court laid him to rest but years later he would be woken again. Leaving off from being shot to the head by Lincoln, he survived and challenged his fear of Batman. He ponced on him and battled but was throw out of the window sending him straight down to the street. With his healing factor, he lived and crawled through the sewers.
Featured in Red Hood & The Outlaws, Xiao's was a Talon dating 1980's was to target Mr. Freeze regarding his deal in technology with the court in which he did not realize. As a child, he was taken by the court to be trained. He traveled with Haly's Circus as they set tent in Gotham's China town. In duel with Todd, he recognizes his form and calls him out. They connected due to both of them have been risen at one point. Xiao unmask himself then confessing to Todd saying he has been used. He pleads to Todd how he wants to die this time on his own terms and asks for assistance.
“Our Talon is from the 1980s, so I think it reflects a very modern look,” said Bobbie Chase, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS series editor. “Our character is also an acrobat, and Kenneth [Rocafort] did a great, dynamic job with the design.” - DC's The Source
Featured in Batgirl, Mary was a Talon dating 1940's was to target was primarily Gotham P.D. When her family was killed in Oregon by Japanese fire balloons (hot air balloons carrying bombs), it left her disfigured by the attack. She was later picked up by Haly's Circus, where despite her injuries, she became a talented aerialist. Mary however met her death when Babs went to check on her father from the balloon attacks. The battle took place on a rooftop across the department next to the bomb equipment. With struggle, Babs was pinned down on the ledge of the roof. Her last resort was to kick Mary over. When she fell, one of her own balloons set off next to her. Babs wanted to know why she didn't kill her initially, in blood unmasked Mary wrote "I Hav Mask 2, I Understand"
Clashing with BATGIRL, the 1940s Talon represented a different kind of design challenge for BATMAN artist Greg Capullo. “Scott’s direction was she was an African-American female,” said Capullo. “I freely admit that the design of the breastplate was inspired by the fact that she had breasts.” - DC's The Source
Featured in Birds of Prey, Henry was member of the Talons dating as far back as 1840's. Gangs ruled the streets and he was sent at the time to stop them. On his resurrection, he attacked Poison Ivy first leaving her damaged and parts of her outfit hung as a warning. Black Canary and Katana see this and follow the lead running into him. After long battle, they fall back into St. Francis Church as he shortly tails. At the door step, Starling comes from behind with her car hitting him through the building. She steps out to unmask him. Quickly he chokes her as the others girls move in. Starling rips away but Katana gets caught almost having her neck snapped. Batgirl suddenly moves to the scene wrapping her cord around his neck and hanging him in a noose from the top of the church. They try to run away, however, the cord snaps and he's released. Followed to Gotham Central Station, the girls are above a chilled meat packing train cart waiting to throw him in. As Henry is trapped inside, he finds the will to free himself to honor the court. Battle continues until Poison Ivy returns. She wraps him in vine and seals her and Henry in the cart. The girls are worried but she points out "plants have a hardening mechanism to survive extreme cold" and don't to forget to thaw her out when it's over.
“Now I’m thinking Jack the Ripper,” said BATMAN artist Greg Capullo of the mid-Victorian Talon that threatens the BIRDS OF PREY during the crossover. “Cloaks and lots of layers. A bird’s feathers are all layered. Perfect.” - DC's The Source
Featured in Batwing, Alexander Staunton was a Talon dating 1870's and was to target Lucius Fox. When a Talon, the Court decided to retire him early due to his loud and brash ways. When resurrected he was to infiltrate a summit at Wayne Tower. He locked the doors and trapping himself inside setting the floor on fire murdering random victims. David manage to escape to suit up. When arriving, they battled and he thought he won when shooting darts that can take down rhinos at Alex, but he awoke quickly to attack. Another move against Alex proved the regenerating factor. David manages to move the fight outside where survivors are standing and spectating. The Talon takes Africa's Prime Minister hostage in front of David. He doesn't support the actions of the Prime Minister and questions if he wants to take them both out. Batwing fires two small rockets exploding Alex's arms off causing him to go unconscious. He is wrapped and taken to Batman's armory to be placed in liquid nitrogen.
Of the steampunk-inspired Talon that will face-off against BATWING during the crossover, BATMAN artist Greg Capullo said, “It was like using a magnet in a junkyard. Just a lot of stuff that doesn’t mean much, but looks cool.” - DC's The Source
Batman & Robin Talon
Featured in Batman & Robin, this Talon is not named but is from the 1770's and was sent to target Major Benjamin Burrows. In 1778, a American Spy named Edwin Wilkins was sent to transfer information information to a Captain Alexander Hamilton within Gotham. General George Washington assigned the order himself and promised land to Edwin's family if killed. He was captured and was almost sentenced to death, but a prisoner trade was made with the British. The Talon was sent to kill Edwin before the trade and all his family so that the promised land would be lost and easily bought by The Court for their own interest. After all was done, one family member managed to stay alive. His name was Samuel (Edwin's son) and was taken to be raised by the Burrow's Family. Mission; to eliminate the true heir of the land.
During the Night of the Owls, Benjamin was running practice drills with his men until Robin arrived. He warned and try to protect Ben but he wouldn't leave his tower and men. The soldiers told him to leave as they would protect him from the Talon climbing the tower. Both Robin and Ben took off on Robin's jet-pack but the Talon ripped them off sending all three to crash. Benjamin unconscious, Robin grouped all of Benjamin's men and gave orders to form a square barrier. The Talon ran around the barrier taking out each men as they fired and throwing Damian to the side. Ben awoke to the Talon over him. From behind, Damian shot the para-cord through his eye, pulled him back, and wrapped on a tree to hang. Dangling, Robin grabbed the Talons sword and decapitated the Talon.
“Same approach as the 1660s owl, basically,” said BATMAN artist Greg Capullo of the 1770s Talon, who will be resurrected to menace BATMAN AND ROBIN. “I looked at that period’s military. I was happy to find less frilly stuff. Overall, the period looks more bad-ass, despite the stockings.” - DC's The Source
Featured in Catwoman, Ephraim was a Talon from the 1660's and was sent to kill Penguin. In Gotham during the year 1665, Ephraim assignment was to kill a defenseless man. He felt that lacked honor so he equipped him with one of his own daggers and a head start. He ran into the streets and was seen by British officers killing the man, so those men were killed too. The dagger given was never returned. The court at the time decided to retire him early due his unapproved sense of honor, lost of the sacred dagger, and being seen. He was buried disgraced. On his return, he awoke feeling ashamed to be a Talon again. The new court decided if he assassinated The Penguin, his honor would be restored.
At a steak out over the Iceberg Lounge, Catwoman and Spark wait to rob Cobblepot. Once his car leaves, they go over to his office roof to see him still inside. It's when they witness the Talon break down the door and kill his servants from inside. Ready to kill Cobblepot, he notices his lost dagger in a glass case. Cobblepot claims he collected it but Ephraim figures he could get his honor back if he takes it back. Sitting on the side lines, Catwoman breaks in. Spark follows behind jumping him to a shock making the Talon unconscious. Spark notices the value and wants to keep the dagger but Ephraim awakes to grab Spark around the neck. Nearly choking him to death, Catwoman pleads she can help restore his honor. Not paying attention, Penguin shoots Ephraim in the head. She feels bad for him so she put his body in proper honor with the dagger next to the Bat-Symbol Spot Light.
“I thought about owls for a minute, and the hooded owl sprang to mind,” said BATMAN artist Greg Capullo about the creation of the original Talon. “So I gave him a hood like an executioner. As for the lines of the suit, I let the thought of birds guide my hand. An owl design simply made sense.” For the earliest of the Talon designs – appearing in Gotham City of the 1660s, and resurrected to battle CATWOMAN – Capullo did some historical research to capture the proper aesthetic. “I Googled garb and weapons from the period to get the right feel,” said Capullo. “I mixed, I matched and modified what I’d seen into a design that looked dangerous.” - DC's The Source
All- Star Western Talon
Making her appearance in All- Star Western, this talon is not named but target is Thurston Moody. Being a threat to the Court, Thurston fled his house in Gotham to New Orleans to show good faith. The Court didn't buy it. After a great chase, she kills her target however is spotted by Hex and Arkham. Hex fires shots as she wall climbs away. Examining the dead body, he notes that she the moves of a circus performer similar to his ex- Chinese wife. They taking Thurston's body away.
"Though set in the 1800’s, ALL STAR WESTERN nonetheless figures prominently into the “Night of Owls.” With Jonah Hex planted in Gotham City, he comes into conflict with the Court of Owls, whose malevolent designs are part of the city’s very foundations. “I first went to Racinet's history of western costume. Then I looked a little harder at Ospery's armies of the Napoleonic wars,” teased ALL STAR WESTERN artist Moritat, tongue firmly in cheek. “After several sketches I leaned toward Prussian cavalry, specifically Borstell's Pomeranian brigade.” - DC's The Source
This Talon, while still not named, appeared in the series Talon where she attacks Calvin Rose after he breaks into the Court of Owls base of operations in Gotham. She of course, like all the other Talons, has been raised from the dead through Mr. Freeze's technology. After a very extreme battle she is finally taken out by Sebastian Clark with an icy liquid to her face, disposing of her.
The story makes a cameo appearance in the eighth issue of Justice League, where the Justice League manage to save a group of assassination targets on a plane, trying to flee Gotham. Making his bid to join the team, Green Arrow appears in order to help.