- I know plenty about bats, Alfred. Tell me what you know about owls.
- -- Batman
Appearing in "The Court of Owls, Part Three: The Thirteenth Hour"
- Whisper Gang (First appearance)
- Luka Volk (Single appearance)
- Gotham City Police Department (Flashback and main story)
- Gotham City (Flashback and main story)
Synopsis for "The Court of Owls, Part Three: The Thirteenth Hour"
In 1922, the police encounter a raving Alan Wayne, who seems to believe that someone is after him. While the officers debate on what to do with him that will spare him the most possible embarrassment, he disappears down a manhole.
Now, Batman interrogates Ukrainian mobster Luka Volk about the man in a dark costume who attacked him earlier. Batman has already deduced that the assassin used the rail tunnels that connect to Old Wayne Tower in order to gain entry. And so, one of these rail gangs like Luka's "Whisper Gang" must have allowed him passage and extracted a toll of some kind. There are five gangs for each of the five rail lines in Gotham City, and Batman has already investigated the other four.
Luka sics several of his thugs - men who have had metal masks soldered around their face, and have been trained in various weapons overseas - on Batman. Knowing about their masks, Batman disables all of them by activating a magnet which magnetizes an oncoming train, attracting all of the thugs faces to the side of the rail car as it speeds away with them stuck to it. Despite his defeat, Luca still professes to know nothing about the "Owl Man". Unfortunately, Batman's in-cowl lie detector shows that he is telling the truth. Frustrated, Batman tells Luka to get his gang out of his tunnels.
In the Batcave, Bruce runs an analysis on the recording of the attack for voice recognition. Despite a clear recording of the assassin's voice, there are no matches. Alfred Pennyworth warns that even bats need some sunlight once in a while in order to fly straight.
Bruce ignores him, noting that the assassin had stated that he loves killing Waynes. Alfred responds that no Wayne in the last 50 years has died suspiciously. Bruce indicates that in addition to that, the assassin seems to want him to believe that he is the Talon - an agent of an organization called the Court of Owls, which is supposed to be a folktale.
Reluctantly, Alfred divulges that near the time of his death, Alan Wayne had become obsessed with owls. He had become paranoid that owls were conspiring against him to the point that they were hiding in the walls of his mansion. He had drowned after falling into a manhole, and no foul play was suspected.
Bruce visits Lincoln March in the hospital, and asks about the something bad that he had warned him about before the attack. Lincoln explains that he had been getting warnings and threats to drop his bid for mayor. Two weeks ago, he woke up to find an owl in his apartment, perched in his closet atop a little pile of bones. Bruce doubts the existence of the Court of Owls, thinking that he'd have learned they were real by now. Lincoln responds that perhaps it wasn't until Bruce started making proposals to reshape Gotham that the Court of Owls decided to make itself known to him. Lincoln warns that if Bruce concerns himself with small dangers, he'll miss the bigger ones. In response, Bruce announces that he will have his own security people watch over Lincoln while he's gone. Marsh wonders who will protect Bruce in the meantime.
Bruce recalls that his great-grandfather Alan Wayne was a superstitious man, and had the thirteenth floor removed from Old Wayne Tower. However, according to superstition, there had to be a space - a half floor - built to hold the bad luck of the thirteenth floor. Likewise, owls are a rare species of bird that doesn't build their own nests. Instead, they simply steal other birds' nests once they've been abandoned. Bruce suspects that this Talon assassin has been using the space between the twelfth and fourteenth floors in Old Wayne Tower as a hideaway.
Bruce's suspicions prove correct. He discovers a room full of weapons and training apparatus. He finds a suit like that the Talon wore, and a photograph from 1891 showing a group of people all wearing owl masks. Instinctively, Bruce asks Alfred for the addresses of every building built by the Alan Wayne Trust for Assisting Young Architects. He suspects that each of them has a missing thirteenth floor, and that each of them houses a hideout for the Court of Owls.
Batman investigates each building and discovers a hideout in each one. The most recently built of these was five years ago, and it appears to be the home of this Talon. Bruce orders Alfred to open his great-grandfather's crypt. Alan Wayne was right. The Owls' nests were in the Waynes' homes.
Moments later, the building explodes with Bruce inside, as the Talon watches.
- This issue is reprinted in the trade Batman: The Court of Owls.
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