Owlman was created as the evil version of Batman of pre-Crisis Earth-Three. Aside from super-intelligence and a small pistol, he had the ability to briefly control other people's minds, though it is unclear how he acquired this ability. When he was knocked out his sub-conscious mind was able to activate enough for him to say a word enabling him to travel to Earth-Three. He was also able to see in the dark. He, like the other Crime Syndicate members, were imprisoned between Earths One and Two after the clash against the Justice League of America (Earth-One) and the Justice Society of America (Earth-Two). He is the only member who has never escaped on his own to get his revenge, unlike Super-Woman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring (who all escaped in Secret Society of Super-Villains #13-14 (1978)) and Ultraman (who escaped in DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (1981)). He and the other Syndicate members were freed by Per Degaton (in 1982's "Crisis on Earth-Prime!" storyline) to help him conquer Earth-Two via time-travel, but they were thwarted by the efforts of the JLA, JSA, and All-Star Squadron. Owlman and the rest of the Syndicate returned to Earth-Three somehow and ended up among the first victims of the Crisis On Infinite Earths. Owlman was killed, along with Johnny Quick, as they tried to save civilians on a beach from the antimatter wall. The Syndicate was then erased from continuity, briefly appearing only in issues 23 and 24 of Animal Man. This Owlman also appeared with the rest of the Syndicate in the 2004 Elseworlds story "JLA: Another Nail".
The first post-Crisis Owlman was a Qwardian who appeared only on a computer screen in Justice League Quarterly #8 (1992). He wears the same costume as the pre-Crisis Owlman, but has larger eyes.
Antimatter Earth Owlman
On the Antimatter Earth, Owlman is Thomas Wayne, Jr., the older brother of Bruce Wayne. In this antimatter reality, Bruce and his mother Martha were killed by a policeman because Thomas Wayne Sr. refused to accompany the officer for questioning. Thomas Sr. was arrested while Thomas Jr. escaped the scene. Thomas Jr. befriends Joe Chill who mentors the boy in the art of crime and the thrill of success. Thomas Jr. becomes Owlman and he equips himself with everything similar to Batman except for his deductive intelligence. Owlman constantly takes a drug which gives him an enhanced intellect just like Johnny Quick takes a drug to make him super fast. Owlman enjoys committing crime rather than serving the law like Batman. Owlman becomes the world's greatest criminal and makes Boss Gordon (the antimatter version of James Gordon) his ally. Owlman takes control of Gotham's criminal underworld but he must contend with the police force because his father has become the chief of police. Owlman blames his father for the deaths of his mother and little brother while at the same time Thomas Sr. is well aware who Owlman is but he is determined to destroy his own son, to stop the rampant chaos that his son brings. As for Owlman's place in the Crime Syndicate, Ultraman (Antimatter Superman) is the leader of the Syndicate but many members of the Syndicate believe Owlman is the true leader who runs everything behind the scenes and allows Ultraman to serve as a figurehead. The actual relationship between Ultraman and Owlman is always depicted as constant friction because of Ultraman's desire to rule the planet through intimidation and violence, while Owlman simply wants controlled chaos. On occasion, Owlman secretly finances the Syndicate's enemies just to keep things interesting. Owlman has also carried a longtime affair with Ultraman's wife Superwoman (Antimatter Lois Lane). Ultraman becomes aware of the affair but Owlman blackmails Ultraman with photographic material provided by Superwoman and Anitmatter Jimmy Olsen, to maintain his compliance.
The antimatter Lex Luthor (a heroic version of New Earth's Lex Luthor) transports himself to New Earth to ask the Justice League for help. When the Crime Syndicate is transported through a dimensional rift, Owlman is transported to the Wayne Cementary on New Earth where he discovers the Waynes' grave. Owlman falls on his knees and has a startling epiphany that nothing in the universe matters since his father is dead thus robbing Owlman of his vengeance. The Crime Syndicate was supposedly destroyed during the events of JLA/Avengers and Infinite Crisis, but they later return in the 2008 maxiseries Trinity to kidnap hundreds of innocent people from Earth's 52 realities, in order to rebuild the antimatter Earth. However, Owlman gives the JLA a fighting chance to defeat the Crime Syndicate during that latest scheme.
The Crime Syndicate returns to New Earth yet again with the intent to find Alexander Luthor Jr.'s corpse. Owlman has recently been in contact with Dr. Impossible who has been instructed to recreate Alex Luthor Jr.'s Ressurection Machine in order to reverse the damage Luthor Jr. brought to the Multiverse. Owlman was instructed by Ultraman to find Alexander Luthor Jr.'s corpse in the Hall of Justice but naturally he faces off against Batman (Dick Grayson), who learned of Owlman's mission from the Tangent Universe's Green Lantern (who appeared at the Hall of Justice earlier to warn the team about the incoming danger). Owlman then calls out to Dr. Impossible, who has assembled a team of villains based on the New Gods (namely Orion, Metron, and Big Barda), to distract Batman while Owlman activates the machine. Owlman places Alexander Luthor Jr.'s corpse in the middle of the machine. Hunter, one of Impossible’s hired villains, steps on one side of the machine while Impossible places the kidnapped Blue Jay, a Justice League Europe member (and analogue to Marvel's Hank Pym), on the other side of the machine. The machine is activated but the process turns out to be a double-cross setup by Dr. Impossible. The machine creates the Omega Man, who disintegrates the other two members of Impossible’s crew.
Dr. Impossible intended to ressurect Darkseid but this plan failed so he decides to flee. Omega Man seemingly corrupts Supergirl and Ultraman joins them in their conquest to destroy New Earth. Owlman's percepton on bringing about non-existance apparently changes when he decides to help the JLA reverse the damage that Omega Man has brought. Owlman helps the JLA create a giant boom tube with dimensional shifting capabilities in order to scatter Omega Man's essence thus destroying him. As it turns out, Owlman sided with Omega Man and he betrays the JLA. Fortunately, Batman (Dick Grayson) had a contingency which was having Supergirl pretend to be a traitor while he altered Owlman's intended use of the boom tube. The boom tube scatters Omega Man's essence throughout the Multiverse which reverses the damage he has done and then Batman sends the Crime Syndicate excluding the recently deceased Power Ring, back to their Anti-Matter Earth.
Owlman (here a member of the Crime Society of America) unintentionally created the
by slicing his face into a horrid grin and killing his manager Harleen Quinzel. Like his counterpart
, Owlman has a sidekick named Talon who is similar to the Tim Drake version of
. This Talon also had a relationship with Duela Dent, the daughter of Jokester. Jokester kills Talon just like Joker killed Jason Todd except Jokester crushes Talon’s throat with his boot.
The New 52
Following the DC Multiverse's restructure during Flashpoint, Owlman and the Crime Syndicate have had their entire history rewritten. No longer do they hail from the Antimatter Universe; instead, they are once again native to Earth 3, a universe where villains, not heroes, are the dominant force. It was revealed in Justice League #23 that the Crime Syndicate of America has been behind the Secret Society of Super Villains' plot, and have been preparing since Darkseid's invasion to take Earth Prime for themselves. Owlman's butler, The Outsider concieved a plan to bring his master from Earth 3. Following the success of their plan, Owlman and his compatriots cross the barrier between the universes and step foot on Earth Prime. Owlman's costume has been altered, looking similar to the antimatter Owlman, but with certain changes, most notably his helmet.
His first chronological appearance was in Justice League #23.4 where it is revealed that his parents were murdered by their butler, Alfred Pennyworth. It is mentioned that he killed Talon's parents and after telling him, runs away. Owlman goes after the Joker, who gives him Talon's body, each limb wrapped in a different box. Alfred confronts Owlman about the death of his sidekick and questions if he was with Superwoman again. The Joker poisons Alfred using Joker Venom, but is quickly cured by a swift Owlman. In rage, he picks up the clown and trows him off of the building into a Helicopter propellor. While he is tending to Alfred, several coppers shoot at him, in a time of weakness, in an effort to break free from Owlman's control. Seeking cover, Ultraman tells him to report to "Ultraopolis" because the earth is under attack. The Syndicate send the Outsider and Atomica to Earth Prime where the two seek a way to form the Secret Society of Super Villains for the arrival of the Crime Syndicate.
After their arrival at the end of the Trinity War and all three Justice League teams are dead, he and Superwoman break into Arkham Asylum where Nightwing attempts to stop them, but fails miserably. They take him to Happy Harbor at the site of the grounded Justice League Watchtower and is unmasked on video broadcasted worldwide. Inside the Watchtower, Owlman and Superwoman talk about how she wants the world for their unborn child and how they worry about how Ultraman can hear the heart beat and will eventually find out it's not his. Owlman has Grid jump onto the Moebius Chair and leaves the battle, with The Justice League, Grail and her mother, as they are the last surviving members of The Syndicate. Owlman meets up with Metron and is accessing the secrets of the universe. He realizes He is here and Owlman and Metron are killed leaving only the Moebius Chair.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Owlman appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold TV series, in episodes "Deep Cover for Batman" and "Game Over for Owlman" voiced by Diedrich Bader. He appears as the leader of Injustice Syndicate, a gang of evil versions of recurrent heroes ( Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Red Tornado, Atom, Aquaman, and Plastic Man, among others) of the series.
He manages to steal the Phase Oscillator from Red Hood (a good version of Joker), a device that creates portals between worlds allowing the user to travel around different realities. When he activates the Phase Oscillator he then travels to the last location set up by Red Hood arriving in Batman´s reality--right in the Batcave. He hides in the shadows of the Batcave, but is discovered and begins fighting Batman. He is defeated and tied up, and Batman dons his costume and travels to his world posing as him.
Owlman unties himself and disguises himself as Batman (wearing an early Batsuit), commiting crimes in Batman´s name. Using Batman´s database he finds out the weak points of every hero, so he becomes unstoppable. Three weeks later, Batman returns from Owlman´s reality and finds Gotham in a mess because of Owlman's felonies. Owlman captures every hero that tried to stop him, exploiting their weaknesess. Partnering with villains of the series Owlman fights Batman who is reluctantly allied with the Joker. During the struggle Joker betrays Batman, throwing him to a machine that molds wax figures. Batman manages to escape using the Phase Ocillator to other realities and brings several Batmen of different worlds to his earth, and they turn the tide of the battle. The Batmans beat all the villains, release the heroes and stopped Owlman, sending him back to his reality.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Owlman also appears on the animated movie, Justice League Crisis on Two Earths. He was voiced by academy awards winner James Woods. This version has bionic enhancements and is a nihilist.
After a good Lex Luthor escaped into another dimension to get help, Owlman and his minions began look around the base of their earth's Justice League. While tearing the place apart, the main earth Justice League shows up and battles them. While the League attempted to escape Owlman used his jet to fight them. Wonder Woman fought him and stole his jet by pushing him off it. The jet was then used by the League to escape.
Owlman built a copy of Luthor's device that would allow them to travel to other dimensions. He gave it to Superwoman (with whom he has an open relationship with) and asked her to find the Quantum Trigger hidden on the Justice League Watchtower by their world's Lex Luthor. Once she was successful, he was able to bring his plan together.
He teleported a device called the Q.E.D (that can only be activated with the Quantum Trigger) to Earth Prime, the one Earth that connects all the other realities through its existence, since it is the original copy of reality and all parallel realities are merely copies of it. The Quantum Eigenstate Device uses a Heisenberg Uncertainty override to tap into limitless destructive potential, making it a direct threat to all realities (or the multiverse).
Batman followed him through the portal to Earth Prime. They first talked and then Owlman revealed his belief that man was the source of the condition of the barren planet and considers mankind a cancer and chooses to "cut out the disease" by destroying Earth Prime and everything that was or ever will be. Owlman considered it as " the only possible real choice".
Batman and Owlman engaged in a one-on-one fight. During the fight, Owlman started to compare himself to Batman and believed that he knew everything about him. Batman tried to talk him out of it, saying that he must have been a good person. Owlman coldly replied,
" No...not good...never good. After all, I'm only human."
Owlman then grabbed Batman by the throat, blaming Batman's failure for not trusting anyone (a characteristic that Owlman says that he has, too).
"There is a difference between you and me..."
Batman manages to get the upper hand and binds Owlman to the Bomb and grabs the Quantum Trigger of of Owlman's belt.
"We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us....you blinked."
Batman activates the Quantum Trigger and throws it before the bomb and Owlman teleported to another Earth. Owlman is transported to an arctic Earth, and Owlman finds the opportunity to abort the detonation, but declines saying to himself "it doesn't matter". With that, the bomb goes off, destroying the alternate and barren Earth along with him.