Wise Owl was an Apache Native American from the midwestern territory known as Echo Valley. He was the son of Grey Elk and the brother of Moon Fawn. During the 1770s, Grey Elk showed Wise Owl a mystical secret lodged within the very heart of Echo Valley. Trapped within a pillar of quartz was the disembodied essence of a plant elemental. Wise Owl didn't realize it at the time, but the essence was actually the time-displaced Alec Holland, aka, the Swamp Thing. Wise Owl studied the being intensely for many years, hoping to understand its power over the elements.
In 1800, Wise Owl and his sister Moon Fawn had cut away a fragment of the quartz-amber, but it was still mystically tied to the Swamp Thing. They sought to give it to a close ally, the frontiersman Tomahawk. Tomahawk's nemesis Lord Shilling likewise coveted the mystical amber fragment and the two fought one another for it in a cavern outside of Gotham Town.
During this time, Wise Owl and Moon Fawn had a chance encounter with the demon Etrigan, but Wise Owl crafted a cloaking spell that kept them safe from Etrigan's perceptions.
Time went on and Wise Owl continued to study the earth elemental. Ultimately, he was able to tap into the Swamp Thing's power and used it to become the most powerful medicine man in the tribe. The power slowly corrupted Wise Owl and he eventually used it to destroy Echo Valley. The surviving Apache exiled him from the tribe and Wise Owl moved further west into California.
During the late 19th century, a bank teller named Lazarus Lane was brutally assaulted during a bank robbery. Wise Owl discovered Lane's body and brought him back to his hacienda. He placed him before the fireplace and kept a close vigil over him for two days and nights. There was no ready explanation for why Lane was even still alive, but Wise Owl continued to care for him, administering aid in the form of strange roots and powders. Three nights later, Lazarus, like his namesake, seemingly rose from the dead. He became the haunting midnight rider known as El Diablo. The power of the imprisoned elemental in combination with his own natural mysticism enabled Wise Owl to maintain some level of control over the spirit of El Diablo.
On November 7th, 1872, Wise Owl used a piece of amber containing the essence of the Swamp Thing to repel the forces of German mercenaries hired by Otto von Hammer and Jason Blood. Jason hired the mercenaries to attack the Lazarus home so he could see the power of the elemental at work. Wise Owl used the power of the elemental to create a battlefield of thorny, spiked branches, impaling Blood's henchmen. The sole survivor of this particular attack was Jonah Hex who, by his own account, was only in the area out of sheer "dumb luck".
Wise Owl also used his stolen power to trap the Native American cult leader Black Bison inside of a tree. He then captured Johnny Thunder and tried to manipulate him into killing his nephew Hawk who was in possession of the Claw of Aelkhünd, the only thing that could free the Swamp Thing. Super-Chief, Madame .44, Bat Lash and Firehair joined forces and used the Claw to defeat Wise Owl and free the Swamp Thing. Wise Owl fell before Johnny Thunder and Madame .44's twin revolvers.
- Mysticism: Although most of Wise Owl's power stemmed from the imprisoned elemental, he also possessed his own brand of holistic magic, which he used to rejuvenate Lazarus Lane from an otherwise fatal injury.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- 7 Appearances of Wise Owl (New Earth)
- 1 Images featuring Wise Owl (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about Wise Owl (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Wise Owl (New Earth)