Within the pages of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, Bruce Wayne has slowly come to the realization that the Court of Owls, a clandestine organization that has embedded into Gotham City for centuries is very much real, and a large threat. Starting in May 2012, the Court of Owls will make their attack on Gotham and it's heros within the pages of various bat related titles. Despite being described as a "crossover" it's not a traditional cross over in the sense that the story continues from one book to another, instead, each book will have their own self contained story about the Court's attack on Gotham, and the hero who fights against them. Titles involved with the cross over are Batman, Nightwing, Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Batman: The Dark Knight (featuring Tim Drake,) Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Batwing, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and All-Star Western. DC would later announce that Detective Comics would indeed tie into the event, originally being solicited otherwise.
Prior to the night the Court of Owls attacked Gotham, they had been making themselves known to Batman, who initially never believed in the Court's existence. First they sent a message that Bruce Wayne would die through the mysterious death of a John Doe. The next day, the Talon attacked Bruce during a meeting with the mayoral candidate Lincoln March. Bruce would survive, and later begin to investigate the death of his Great-Great Grandfather, Alan Wayne, who in his old age went mad with fears of Owls watching him. In the sewers of Gotham, where Alan died, the Talon once again appears, attacking Bruce, stripping him of his utility belt and throwing him into an intricate maze beneath the city. Bruce would be trapped in the maze for eight days, with the Court silently taunting him, driving him to the brink of insanity before the Talon stabs him from behind. Though wounded, Bruce manages to defeat the Talon, and barely escape from the maze with his life. One elderly member of the Court of Owls later decides to "wake up" their army of Talons, individuals who have served as the Court's Talon from as early as the 1600s, who are resting in their graves within the maze. Being revived by a mysterious girl by the name of Harper Row, Bruce stumbles back to the Batcave, where Alfred finds him in the connecting sewers. Bruce is shocked to find the dead body of the Talon who he had fought, restrained in the cave, but eventually goes to work, analyzing the body. He finds that not only is the Talon a man by the name of William Cobb, but he is also Dick Grayson's great-grandfather and Dick was originally supposed to become a Talon. All while this is happening, the Court equips and informs their army of Talons of their mission, and sets their assassins free on Gotham.
Shortly after his escape from the Court of Owls Maze, the Talons come after Bruce Wayne while he recovers at Wayne Manor. Bruce manages to spot them coming in time, and tells Alfred to hold up in the Batcave. Bruce manages to deflect most of the multiple Talon's attacks, but they corner him on the roof of the manor. Meanwhile, a Talon has infiltrated the Batcave and begins to stalk Alfred. Bruce manages to enter the cave by way of a secret passage in a chimney, and with the help of Alfred, they manage to trap the Talon in the cave under the giant penny. Bruce pulls a microchip from the Talon's gauntlet, and flees with Alfred to the armory while more Talons enter the cave, cutting lose the captive William Cobb, the first Talon that originally attacked Bruce weeks prior. Bruce tells Alfred to decode the chip and lower the cave's core temperature to sub zero, so the Talon's regenerative abilities would not be able to take effect. To buy Alfred more time, Bruce dawns a suit of battle armor to confront the Talons. Alfred manages to decode the Talon's microchip, and finds that they have a list of nearly every public figure in Gotham, who've they sentenced to die. Bruce orders Alfred to send out a call to all his allies in Gotham, requesting their help, as the Night of the Owls just begins.
Though a valiant effort, Bruce begins to succumb to the sheer number of Talons attacking him, as they begin to pick apart his armor. He struggles to stay alive, as the Talons inch closer and closer to finally killing him. Bruce manages to survive long enough for the cave's temperature to drop below negative 20, which causes the resident Bats to attempt to flee the cave, creating chaos around the Talons. Bruce uses the confusion as an opportunity to take down the Talons, ordering Alfred to pump the same freezing liquid through their body, like he did to Cobb. Bruce then drives into Gotham, in an effort to save as many people who are on the Talon's hit list, as he can.
After saving Jeremiah Arkham (See: Detective Comics #9) Bruce then attempts to save friend, and mayoral candidate Lincoln March. Entering March's office, Bruce finds him shooting a Talon with an armor piercing round. Fatally wounded, March tells Batman that he has a message for Bruce Wayne, that needs to be delivered to him as soon as possible. Through researching some of his Donations, March believes he has found the name of three Court members. With his dying breath, he tells Batman to tell Wayne that Gotham can be a good place, and it's worth saving.
While Dick Grayson is investigating a double homicide where some of his escrima sticks were found at the scene, he gets the call from Alfred Pennyworth about the Talons attacks on key public figures within Gotham. Being closest to City Hall, Dick travels there to protect Gotham's corrupt Mayor, Sebastian Hady.
All while this is happening, the origin of first Talon who attacked Bruce Wayne, William Cobb, his great-grandfather, is told. William's father was killed during the explosion of the Cameron Kane bridge (taking place in Batman: Gates of Gotham) leading him to preform juggling acts on the street to help provide for his mother. One day he saved a Haly's Circus worker from getting their wallet pick pocketed, and would be recruited to join the circus. Years later, he would travel back to Gotham with the circus where he met and fell in love with Amelia Crowne, the daughter of Burton Crowne, a wealthy Gothamite. Cobb would describe this as the happiest time of his life, but at the same time, the beginning of the end.
In the present, at City Hall, the attacking Talon has already killed numerous security guards and one of Hady's associates, but Dick shows up in time to save the Mayor's life. He enters a brutal fight with the Talon, ending up shoving one of his escrima stick's through the already technically dead assassin's skull, leaving him unable to regenerate. Carrying the Talon's body out, Dick feels a sharp pain, and finds multiple throwing knives in his chest. His great-grandfather William has appeared, proclaiming he is there to kill his kin, Gotham's "Greatest betrayer."
Telling Hady to flee to a panic room, Dick tackles his great grandfather out a window and into the streets below, where their fight continues. All the while, William tells Dick about the legacy he betrayed. Years ago, before William became a Talon, he learned that his love Amelia had become pregnant with a son, to her father's disgust. To cover up the fact that a circus performer was the child's father, Burton made Amelia marry a second cousin, and would lock William out of his family's life from there on out. Depressed, William is offered an opportunity to change the situation, to change Gotham by one of the heads of Haly's Cirucs, it is here where he began his initiation as a Talon, and would eventually become one of the best the Court of Owls ever had. Knowing his time would eventually end, William wanted to cement his legacy, so he kidnapped his son, handing him over to be raised in the circus, proclaiming him the "Gray son of Gotham" as he was both a child of Gotham, but not, at the same time.
Back in the present, William scolds his great-grandson for abandoning the legacy set up for him, telling him that he's no different than himself, proclaiming Dick is an outsider to Gotham, just like him. Dick thinks different, telling William that Gotham can change, highlighting the liquid nitrogen coating to the subway power lines that had to be installed as the city grew. Before William can realize what is going on, Dick breaks open one of the tubes, freezing William, shutting down his reanimated body. As Dick picks up William's body, he tells his great-grandfather that if there's one thing he believes, it's that "destinies don't exist."
Still in Gotham after chasing his brother Massacre all the way from Africa, Batwing works with his mentor Matu Ba and Wayne Enterprises executive Lucius Fox on upgrading his equipment. Fox invites the two to a gala being held by Batman Incorporated where many international diplomats will be attending. The event later comes under attack by the Alexander Staunton, the Court of Owls' Talon from the 1850s, forcing Batwing to defend Fox and the rest of the diplomats from assassination. With out any ability to freeze Staunton in an effort to slow his regenerative properties, Batwing has a tough time fighting off the assassin. The fight spills into the streets of Gotham where Staunton takes an African diplomat hostage, calling for Fox to show himself. In an effort to spare innocent blood, Fox steps forward, but before Staunton can kill him, Batwing takes a drastic measure, using explosives to completely blow Staunton's arms from his body. Batwing then ties up his foe, with the intent to bring him to Batman's armory in order to freeze him.
Despite being advised to find safer ground, Jeremiah Arkham continues his rounds at Arkham Asylum, despite being notified of the impending threat, believing the facilities security to be enough to keep him safe. Despite that, a trio of Talon's infiltrate the Asylum, attempting to assassinate Arkham, leaving Batman to attempt to save him. Facing three Talons, Batman has a hard time fending them off. Arkham decides that they only way to save his own life is to trust an evil he knows, better than the one he doesn't. Arkham bargins with Roman Sionis aka Black Mask that in order to get his mask back, he has to use it's mental control to make the inmates fight the Talons. Sionis agrees, and shortly after, the inmates in Arkham are released, and attack the Talons. Batman manages to seal them all into one room, later finding Arkham, none too pleased with his methods. Batman takes Arkham from his asylum, leaving him in the care of Nightwing, while he continues on through out the night.
Responding to apparent bombings in a downtown Gotham district, Barbara Gordon comes across the Talon known as Mary prior to being alerted by the call sent out by Alfred. In a bizarre turn of fate, Mary doesn't kill Barbara when she has the chance. Meanwhile, when the Court's attack truly begins, James Gordon, Barbara's father, remains confined to his office, after having the life of his daughter threatened. When he attempts to make a call to warn her, the Court intercepts the call, and begins the attack on the GCPD building. Barbara receives Alfred's call, and rushes to downtown Gotham to help her father, finding Mary waiting for her. The two begin battle once again, but being briefed on the Talon's abilities, Barbara takes into account that the assassins are already dead, throwing Mary off the roof, into one of the many floating bombs, surrounding the building. Feeling pity for the fallen assassin, Barbara asks why her life was spared, and Mary, who due to events in her life prior can't speak, writes in her blood that she saw some of herself in Barbara. Meanwhile, Gordon attempts to light the Bat-Signal, only for the Court's Owl insignia to light up the sky.
Batman and Robin
While Damian Wayne is on patrol, he receives Alfred's transmission from the Batcave. Despite his wanting to help his father, Alfred suggests he helps defend one of the targets, an Army General by the name of Benjamin Burrows. Damian arrives at the army base to find it already under attack. He attempts to fly Burrows out of harms way, but is brought down by the attacking Talon. With the general injured, Damian desperately tries to transport him to a unit of his men within the forest, as the Talon pursues. When the Talon finally catches up to him, Damian does the best he can to direct the soldiers when and where to attack, but the Talon proves to be too much for them. Singling out Burrows, the Talon reveals that he had been contracted to kill Burrows' colonial ancestor and family, but one of the boys managed to survive the attack, thus why he was picked specifically for this target, so he could finish the job. Before he manages to do, Damian shoots a grappling hook through the assassin, stringing him up by a tree branch. Damian grabs one of the Talon's swords, telling the assassin that he somewhat sympathises with him, seeing as they were both used to do other's biddings, relating his own situation to his mother, Talia al Ghul, before he decapitates the Talon, ending his pursuit once and for all.
Birds of Prey
Very soon after learning of the night's events and seeing that Poison Ivy had been attacked, Black Canary and Katana are attacked by the Talon formerly known as Henry Ballard. The two struggle desperately to fend off the Talon's attack, to no avail. Canary and Katana retreat to a nearby church, but before Ballard can follow them in, Starling appears, running down Ballard with her car. Not knowing of the Talon's regenerative abilities, Starling approaches Ballard's body, who grabs her, luring the other two to him. Before he can do any permanent harm, Batgirl appears, stringing the Talon up by his neck. Knowing how to stop them, Batgirl suggests they retreat to the nearby train station where they can trap the Talon in a refrigerated freezer car. The team struggles to keep Ballard in the car, until Ivy appears, wrapping him in multiple vines, trapping both of them in the car, telling Canary to live up to her promise, to take her to the Amazon, to the heart of The Green if anything bad was to happen to her.
Catwoman and her new partner in crime, Spark, fail to steal a set of five ancient daggers, only because the fifth is in the possession of Gotham's notorious gangster, Penguin. On the night they set out to steal the final dagger, just so happens to be the same night where the Court of Owls sends out their assassins to kill some of Gotham's public figures, and Penguin is on the list, turning Catwoman and Spark's simple heist mission upside down. When Catwoman and Spark go to Penguin's office, they see him being attacked by the Talon, Ephraim Newhouse, who has a history with the set of daggers, as he shamed himself years ago by losing one in an assassination attempt. Despite Spark wanting to leave, Catwoman jumps in, defending the Penguin, knowing it isn't a "fair fight." The fight proves difficult for the duo, as the regenerative properties of the Talons are too much for Catwoman and Spark to handle. Newhouse eventually begins to strangle Spark, which leaves Catwoman to try and reason with him. She offers the full set of daggers to him, in an effort to restore his honor, an offer he begins to listen to. But while Newhouse is distracted, Penguin shoots him through the head, killing him again. Despite Spark wanting take the daggers, Catwoman opts to leave them with Newhouse's body, as she leaves it next to the bat signal for Batman to find.
Red Hood and the Outlaws
After dealing with the situation involving Suzie Su in Gotham's hospital, Jason Todd, Roy Harper, and Starfire intercept the call to arms from Alfred about the Court's attack. Tim Drake notices someone is eavesdropping in on the transmission, and directly please with Jason for help. Jason takes a moment to think, and ultimately decides to stay in Gotham, to defend Mr. Freeze. Jason finds Mr. Freeze in a frozen china town, as he's fighting a Talon. Freeze believes Jason to be working with Batman, and attacks him in return, proclaiming he doesn't need any help. While this is happening, the Talon flees, leaving Jason to give chase, and having Roy and Starfire keep an eye on Freeze. When checking on Freeze, Starfire gets blasted with ice, angering her to no end, leading her to attack Freeze, who reveals that the Court paid him off to use some of his technology to resurrect their Talons. Jason chases the Talon to an abandoned lot where Haly's circus used to stop, where the Talon was recruited by the Court of Owls. Jason begins to level with the Talon, who introduces himself as Xiao Loong, telling him he knows what it's like to come back from "the other side." Xiao tells Jason that while he gave the Court his body, he never sacrificed his soul, and rather than "starting over" he asks Jason to end his life, so he can go out on his own terms. Later that night, Jason drops Mr. Freeze off on the roof of the GCPD building, where he meets Batgirl. Given the circumstances, Batgirl lets Jason go free, as he gives her a message for Batman, telling her to tell him "he's welcome."
Batman: The Dark Knight
Telling the story of Alton Carver, the final Talon to hold the mantle prior to the Court's selection of Dick Grayson, it begins with his murder of Lincoln March, the mayoral candidate of Gotham City Due to Carver holding the mantle for longer than usual, his skills began to dull with time, and the Court began to plan to retire him when they found Dick. The Court decided to finally retire him when his final assassination was thwarted by Batman, years ago. When he was brought back to life for the Night of the Owls, his skills never recovered to their peak, allowing Lincoln to shoot Carver through the head. His regenerative properties would kick in, just as Batman was tending to Lincoln's body. Carver attempted to gain his revenge on Batman, but due to his dull skills, he was sent plummeting to the streets below. Come the end of the night, neither Batman, Nightwing, Red Robin or Robin could find him, as he escaped into the sewer to live another day.
Not actually part of the event set in the present time, Jonah Hex will come across the Court of Owls in the 1880s. Hex had travled to New Orleans with Amadeus Arkham, hunting for a would be estranged Court of Owls member Thurston Moody, who had hired Hex, only to have his underground slavery ring discovered by the bounty hunter. After Hex helps Nighthawk and Cinnamon defeat an anti-immigrant terrorist organization known as the August 7, they help Hex find Moody. But when they finally find Moody, a Talon has found him first, killing the man, then escaping. Hex would then travel back to Gotham, where he'd find his former lover, Tallulah Black, attacking members of the Religion of Crime, a faction at odds with the Court of Owls.
Firmly establishing Mr. Freeze's place in The New 52, Batman will learn just why the Court attacked his cold foe.
The Fall of the House of Wayne
Years prior to the actual Night of the Owls, Alfred Pennyworth's father, Jarvis Pennyworth panically writes a letter to his son, as he attempts to leave Wayne Manor, while unbeknownst to him, a figure stalks him as he leaves. In his letter to his son, Jarvis describes the manor as a cursed place, and despite his initial wishes, he wants nothing more for Alfred than to not begin his service under the Wayne family. He flashes back to a memory of Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne talking, as Martha was none too pleased with a corrupt Mayor, saying something really needs to be done. As he nears the exit of the Manor, Jarvis' letter reads that he's hesitant to blame everything that is about to happen on Martha, as he knows in his heart, that he is the one who has doomed them all. The gate to exit the manor is locked, as Jarvis' car crashes into it. He looks above to find a Talon, waiting for him.
|4 p.m.||4:30 | Batwing is at Batman Inc. Research and Development working with Mr. Fox|
|5 p.m.||5:24 | The Court wakes their Talons up|
|6 p.m.||6:02 | Batwing is entertaining at a Batman Inc. Gala|
6:07 | Batgirl is attacked by her Talon (Mary) in the Little Jakarta village. Talon runs away
|7 p.m.||7:01 - Past 7:51 | Batman is attacked on Wayne Manor|
7:04 | Gordon is walking down the street until a messenger says to stay out of the way tonight
7:14 | Batgirl pieces together what is happening meanwhile phone calls flood in at Gotham PD
7:40 | "The Call" goes out by Alfred
7:40 | Batwing is attacked by his Talon (Alexander Staunton)
7:40 | Robin receives the call and moves to defeat his Talon
7:45 | Nightwing arrives to protect Mayor Hady and to attack his Talon (William Cobb)
|8 p.m.||Sometime After 8:18 | Gotham PD is attacked and Batgirl faces Mary again to defeat her|
8:18 | Red Hood is steaking-out Chinatown before he faces his Talon (Xiao Loong)
8:20 | The Birds of Prey are attacked by their Talon (Henry Ballard)
8:22 | Battle continues with Nightwing until he defeats his Talon
8:26 | Cops arrive to watch over Arkham Asylum
8:36 | Batman is done protecting his house and moves to Arkham Asylum
8:51 | Batman arrives at the asylum to protect it
8:53 | Red Hood runs into Batgirl at the spot light to drop Mr. Freeze off
|9 p.m.||9:03 | Batgirl reunites with The B.O.P. to finish off the Talon|
9:49 | Batman is done at the asylum taking Dr. Arkham with him to drop off
|11 p.m.||11:02 | Batman arrives at Lincoln March's office|
|2 a.m.||2:03 | Catwoman tries to rob Penguin when her Talon (Ephraim Newhouse) attacks|