Owl (Marvel Comics)

Owl (Marvel Comics)
The Owl
The Owl
Art by Alex Maleev.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Daredevil #3 (August 1964)
Created by Stan Lee
Joe Orlando
In-story information
Alter ego Leland Owlsley
Species Human Mutate
Team affiliations "Owl Gang"
Gang of Four
Abilities Enhanced strength, endurance, resiliency/resistance, reflexes/reactions
Superhuman sight and hearing
Can glide short distances
Has natural razor-sharp fangs and talons (with attachment devices)
Criminal genius and master manipulator

The Owl (Leland Owlsley) is a comic book supervillain who frequently menaces Daredevil and other heroes - notably Spider-Man and the Black Cat - in Marvel Comics' universe.


Publication history

The character first appeared in Daredevil #3 (August 1964).

Originally Bob Layton, writer of the first five issues of X-Factor, had intended to use the Owl as the Alliance of Evil's mysterious master (mentioned in X-Factor #4 (May 1986). The final page of X-Factor #5 initially featured Owl, however as Layton was removed from the book and replaced with Louise Simonson, the final page was changed to feature a new character named Apocalypse instead, as Simonson and editor Bob Harras wanted a new villain for the book. Harras explained, "As soon as I saw the sketch by Walter [Simonson] and heard Louise's take on him. I knew we had the character I wanted. Jackson [Guice] re-drew the page, patching in the shadowy Apocalypse where the Owl had been. But the genesis was clearly Walt and Weezie's."[1]

Fictional character biography

Leland Owlsley was once a successful financier and financial investor, nicknamed "The Owl of Wall Street" for his financial wisdom, until his criminal connections were exposed by the IRS. After this event he abandoned his profession and became a professional criminal and eventually a formidable crime lord, battling Daredevil in his first appearance.[2] Though he later got a serum which gave him the ability to fly and slowly mutated him further, he was primarily a criminal mastermind and used his shrewd tactical intellect as a weapon more than his other abilities. He has used his powers in attempts to eliminate Daredevil. He has no criminal record outside of minor misdemeanors despite his once vast criminal enterprise.

The Owl kidnapped the judge who had previously sentenced him, and battled Daredevil using a giant mechanical owl.[3] Owl later moved his base to San Francisco, and allied with Mr. Kline. He attempted to capture Daredevil, but was foiled by the Black Widow.[4] The Owl then moved to Chicago, and acquired the technology to drain human brains of knowledge, and battled the Cat.[5] The Owl returned to San Francisco, and briefly captured Daredevil and the Black Widow.[6] The Owl was later stricken with a debilitating ailment resulting in the paralysis of his legs. He returned to New York, and recruited the Man-Bull. The Owl attempted to kidnap a neurologist to cure his ailment, but was foiled by Daredevil.[7]

The Owl was later rescued by his henchmen, and fitted with a neurological pacemaker to cure his ailment. He battled Daredevil and Spider-Man, and was incapacitated when his pacemaker short-circuited.[8] The Owl was confined to a life-support module designed by the Maggia. He schemed to loot New York under cover of a city-wide blackout, but was captured by Spider-Man, the Black Widow, and Simon Stroud.[9] No longer confined to the module, the Owl later engaged in a gang war against Doctor Octopus in an attempt to usurp the Kingpin's position as the crime boss of New York's underworld. The Owl encountered Spider-Man and the Black Cat, and was beaten by Doctor Octopus.[10] The Owl was later mystically summoned to Winnipeg, Canada, by Llan the Sorcerer. There, he battled Alpha Flight and Gamma Flight with Nekra, the Asp, and the Scorpion.[11] The Owl was later among the criminals assembled by Doctor Doom to battle the Fantastic Four in Washington, D.C.[12]

Over the years the Owl has become less and less human as a result of bizarre experiments he has subjected himself to in efforts to improve his natural ability to glide and repair damage to his spine that rendered him a paraplegic. The Owl once needed to use an exoskeleton to walk but has since recovered from this injury. The Owl was revealed to be a mutant many years after his first altercations with Daredevil.[volume & issue needed]

Although the Owl was Daredevil's arch-nemesis for much of his early career, he is no longer as prominent as some of Daredevil's other enemies, primarily the Kingpin and Bullseye. The Owl has started to re-establish his presence in the criminal underworld with the absence of the Kingpin. He began to enlarge his criminal empire by refining Mutant Growth Hormone from his own genetic material, though Daredevil was able to get him arrested (Despite some sources, the Owl is NOT a mutant. MGH has been refined from non-mutants in the past, such as Mattie Franklin, the mystically-powered Spider-Woman). During the Acts of Vengeance, Owl was one of the villains who attacked Alpha Flight. He was also seen attacking the Fantastic Four with other villains.[volume & issue needed]

More recently so, he managed to manipulate behind the scenes and get the Kingpin arrested for a past murder when it looked like Fisk was going to make a deal with the FBI. As the Kingpin sauntered into his jail cell, the Owl taunted him with "Payback's a bitch."[volume & issue needed]

The deal in question involved Matt Murdock being arrested for being Daredevil. When Foggy Nelson, representing Murdock in court, visited him in jail, he was apparently killed by the other prisoners. The Owl later taunted Murdock about this, and Murdock, who had become unhinged due to his friend's death, brutally beat the Owl. (Unbeknownst to the two of them, Foggy was alive at the time and in witness protection.)[volume & issue needed]

Later, the Owl escaped prison and stole Deathlok from S.H.I.E.L.D., killing four agents in the process. He sets up an auction in hopes of selling him off to the highest bidder to other supervillains. However, he did not ask permission of the self-established 'kingpin of supervillains', The Hood, and the Hood subsequently stole Deathlok from the Owl and shot the Owl.[13]

Owl was seen alive and purchasing a product called Ebony which came from the glands of Corruptor. He planned to synthesize it into a street drug only for Daredevil to arrive and steal it.[14]

The Owl has since then appeared in police custody. He was subsequently freed by Wilson Fisk, Kingpin, who sought to employ him as part of his plan to take revenge on The Hand.[15] He takes Dakota North captive and implies he will torture and sexually assault her in order to get information on Daredevil, who then appears and cuts every nerve in both his arms and legs using a sword the Owl had tried to attack him with.[16]

Members of Owl's gang were shown fighting in a gang war with the Maggia at a scrapyard. Hammerhead shot the gang while Silvermane was fed to a metal crusher.[17]

It was later revealed that Owl received his henchmen from Taskmaster who had trained them.[18]

Powers and abilities

The Owl has ingested a special serum which enabled him to naturally glide for short distances, though he has to leap from a height of at least 20 feet (6.1 m) off of the ground to do so. He is able to perform complex mid air maneuvers while he glides which would be impossible for ordinary humans. The Owl's gliding ability is assisted by a weak psionic ability to levitate his body. Under the right conditions, such as favorable air currents, the Owl can glide for at least the length of a city block. He uses specially designed capes to allow him to do this.

His bones are hollow, and he possesses a greater proportionate muscle mass than normal. Though the Owl only exercises moderately, his strength, endurance, resistance/resiliency to injury and fatigue, and reflexes/reaction are enhanced as a result of his mutation (he is physically stronger and tougher than any Olympic weight lifter). His vision and hearing are superhumanly acute, his head can rotate 180 degrees, and his eyes can move independently of each other in their own sockets and have greater visual range than an ordinary human. His teeth and nails are essentially fangs and talons which can tear through human flesh with relative ease. Most of his adversaries assume that he is just a normal human as he almost never engages in physical struggles; he relegates this to his underlings, like the Vulture and Electro.

Over the years the Owl has taken a number of experimental drugs and subjected himself to experimental surgical procedures to increase his ability to glide. These experiments have met with mixed results and a by-product of them is that he has been mutagenically altered in a way that has negatively affected his sanity and made him more animal like. For instance, he enjoys eating live mice with his vintage six hundred dollar wine.

The Owl wears a set of metal razor-sharp steel-tool talons attached to each forearm (closely resembling Wolverine's claws) and a specially designed cape designed to resemble an owl's outstretched wings to assist him in steering during flight, and often uses various other bird-themed weapons and pieces of equipment (not unlike Batman's foe, the Penguin). This special equipment was designed for him by the Terrible Tinkerer. Although the Owl is somewhat deranged, he is an extremely skilled criminal organizer and money launderer and has yet to catch a criminal charge beyond a misdemeanor.

For some time, the Owl was unable to stand or walk without a special leg-brace exoskeleton.

The Owl also possesses a gifted intellect.

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse timeline, the Owl is shown to be a member of the Marauders, a terrorist group composed of humans have betrayed humanity and joined Apocalypse. This incarnation of the Owl is killed by Gwen Stacy and Clint Barton, alongside fellow Marauders members Dirigible, Red and Arcade.

Marvel Zombies

In Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness, the Owl makes a cameo appearance in the second issue of the miniseries. The Owl and Hammerhead, here lackeys to the Kingpin, are gunned down by the Punisher despite the zombie apocalypse literally raging right outside.

Ultimate Marvel

He is mentioned, name only, in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #7, for working with corrupt police.

In other media


Video games


  1. ^ http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=23092
  2. ^ Daredevil #3
  3. ^ Daredevil #20-21
  4. ^ Daredevil #80-81
  5. ^ The Cat #3
  6. ^ Daredevil #116-117
  7. ^ Daredevil #144-145
  8. ^ Marvel Team-Up #73
  9. ^ Marvel Team-Up #98
  10. ^ Spectacular Spider-Man #73-75
  11. ^ Alpha Flight #79-80
  12. ^ Fantastic Four #336
  13. ^ New Avengers #33
  14. ^ Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Jackpot #2
  15. ^ Daredevil Vol. 2 #118
  16. ^ Daredevil #500
  17. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #618
  18. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #32

External links

  • Owl at Marvel.com
  • Owl at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe

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