Dark Nights: Metal #2 hit shelves this week and, in doing so, successfully book ended one of the deepest running plot threads from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s New 52 Batman run. In an issue absolutely loaded with big reveals, one of the biggest was that the Court of Owls is directly at the heart of the DC Universe-spanning Batman epic.
Now that we know how closely Snyder and Capullo's epic run ties into their current opus, it's time to take a closer look at just who the Court of Owls are and what their plans might mean for the future of the DC Universe as Metal unfolds.
The Court and the Parliament
In the simplest terms, the Court of Owls is a secret society operating in Gotham City, while the Parliament of Owls is what they’re called when they work on an international level. The Court’s been operating just beneath the surface (sometimes literally) of Gotham for hundreds of years, passing membership in secret across generations of affluent families to influence the direction of the city’s political and financial future.
But shadowy plays for money and power are only one part of the Court’s sprawling puzzle. They’re also invested in the “spiritual,” or mythological, side of the city as well, believing themselves to be organized by a power that is almost divine in nature. To prove this, they’ve developed technology that borders on magical, using corrupted science and alchemy to build and hide sprawling labyrinths beneath the city’s sewers and transform people into immortal assassins they call Talons.
With the help of the Talons, they’re able to execute anyone who would stand in their way on those rare occasions where someone would discover they exist in the first place -- Which, as it turns out, is actually not an easy thing to do. See, the Court has been covering their tracks for centuries -- so much so that they’ve actually almost entirely faded into urban legend and folklore to be passed around at the slumber parties and campfires of Gotham’s kids and teens. They’ve even got their own spectacularly creepy nursery rhyme to really up the ante. It goes:
Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time,Ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime.They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed.Speak not a whispered word about them, or they'll send the Talon for your head
Of course, while setting out to actually discover the Court of Owls may not be the best course of action, there are other ways to pull them out of hiding. You could always rattle their proverbial tree on accident...which is exactly what happened to Batman. It turns out the Court didn’t take kindly to a costumed do-gooder swinging in out of nowhere to influence the direction of their carefully curated city, and something had to be done.
And that’s how Bruce and the Bat Family came face to face with an army of Talons and a laundry list of uncomfortable secrets brought to light.