<i>by Vaneta Rogers</i> <p>This week, the prequels to <b>The Night of the Owls</b> began the countdown toward May's event that spins through much of the Batman universe. <p>If you're reading a Bat-related book, chances are you're going to be reading about the "Night of the Owls" next month. So what do you need to know? And if you want to jump on board with any of these books now, what are the key elements to understand about "Night of the Owls?" <p>Working in conjunction with Batman Group Editor Mike Marts, Newsarama has compiled our Top 8 Things to Know about "Night of the Owls." <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
Just about every Batman-related comic is tied into "The Night of the Owls" in May. But none of them actually "cross" into another story. They are each a separate story that take place in front of the backdrop of "Night of the Owls." <p>The event will include the #9 issues of <i>Batman</i>, <i>Detective Comics</i>, <i>Batman: The Dark Knight</i>, <i>Batman and Robin</i>, <i>Batwing</i>, <i>Batgirl</i>, <i>Birds of Prey</i>, <i>Catwoman</i>, <i>Nightwing</i>, <i>Red Hood and The Outlaws</i>, and <i>All-Star Western</i>, as well as a special <i>Batman Annual #1</i>. In fact, the only Bat-related comic in May that won't be participating is <i>Batwoman</i>. <p>"Unlike a lot of other events I've worked on in the past, this ended up being a real easy sell to all the writers involved," said Batman editor Mike Marts. "The fact that we started this storyline so well in advance meant that we weren't really interrupting storylines that writers already had in place. So it was real organic, natural way of setting up the shared storyline. Looking back, I don't think we really had any blips at all. <p>"On the flip side, we had a few occasions where we had people come in and ask to play where they weren't previously. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are one example with <i>All Star Western</i>, and also originally, Tony Daniel had a different storyline planned. And then after seeing how much fun we were having, he came back and was like, 'Hey, guys, can I get into this party?'"
The "Night of the Owls" takes place in Gotham City, where a slew of villainous Talons have been released to take over the city. <p>That means that even when the Bat-books aren't based in Gotham, their heroes end up in the city for at least May's issue. For example, although <i>Batwing</i> is usually based in Africa, David Zacimbe has just pursued a villain into Gotham when "Night of the Owls" begins. And in May, Jason Todd and his supporting cast in <i>Red Hood and the Outlaws</i> will happen to be in town when they hear Red Robin needs their help. <p>"The one exception is the one issue that takes place in the past, which is <i>All-Star Western</i>. And that takes place in New Orleans," Marts clarified.
Until the New 52, Haly's Circus was just the place where Dick Grayson and his acrobat parents happened to work before he was orphaned and adopted by Bruce Wayne. <p>But it's just been revealed that there's a lot more significance to Haly's Circus. In <i>Batman #7</i> and <i>Nightwing #7</i>, it was revealed that the Gotham-based villains known as The Court of Owls has been using Haly's Circus as their traditional way to select their highly trained soldiers called Talons. <p>"When the circus comes to Gotham [each year over history], one of them is chosen by the Court in secret. And then they're trained to be these amazing killers," Snyder said. <p>According to Batman editor Marts, there may be more secrets about the circus to come. "We're learning that Haly's Circus has a much bigger role in the history of Gotham and the history of the Batman mythology than we previously thought," Marts said. "And I don't know if we'll get all the details on this during the month of May, but we're certainly going to learn some new things about Haly's Circus."
Along with the revelation that Haly's Circus was so central to the selection of villainous Talons, Bruce Wayne discovered that Dick Grayson himself once a young performer with the circus was originally supposed to be a Talon. In fact, his tooth had already been treated with a compound that marked him as a villain for the Court of Owls. <p>Had it not been for the death of his parents and his subsequent removal from the circus by Bruce Wayne Dick Grayson would have been trained as a Talon. <p>"This boy was supposed to be this evil bird, owl, but instead became a good bird under the wing of the Bat," Snyder explained. <p><i>Nightwing</i> writer Kyle Higgins <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/kyle-higgins-nightwing-spoiler-sport.html">told Newsarama</a> his "Night of the Owls" story will reveal even more. "Some of the specifics about how the circus recruited their Talons over the years will be answered," he said. "And there is something very specific to Dick Grayson's role within Haley's Circus, and I'm not just referring to the fact that he was chosen and then his parents died and he managed to avoid that fate. In addition to that, there's something else that's very specific to Dick Grayson that will make a lot more sense in issue #9 of <i>Nightwing</i>."
The entire storyline of "Night of the Owls" takes place during one night. As revealed in <i>Batman #7</i>, the evil organization known as The Court of Owls has released a slew of assassins called Talons into the streets and skies of Gotham City. <p>"Now you see the scope of the attack," Snyder <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/scott-snyder-batman-night-of-owls-spolier-sport.html">told Newsarama when the news broke</a>. "If Gotham is 400-plus years old, that means there's been a Talon every five to 10 years for all of that time. So you really wind up with 50-60 Talons."
These Talons that have been released onto Gotham City are more than just well-trained assassins. <p>They're actually reanimated corpses who will be almost impossible to kill. "Each one of these Talons is going to have a healing factor," Snyder explained to Newsarama. "And each one of them is brought back from the dead and has these incredible fighting abilities. <p>"Plus they're from a different time period, and that's one of the fun things about Night of the Owls," Snyder said. <p>"Scott created this whole complex mythology of how there was only one Talon per generation, and they were specially trained to be who they are. As one was cycled out, another was cycled in," Marts explained. <p>Of course the one exception to the "animated" rule will be <i>All-Star Western</i>, although it's possible they'll have a Talon from the past who is live and in person. "In the Court of Owls, we've hinted that their reach goes back into the history of Gotham City," Marts said, "so it's conceivable that they could have been around 100 years ago during the time of Jonah Hex." <p>And that leads us to our #2 thing you should know...
The "Night of the Owls" event will be riddled with tidbits of historical information from Gotham's past. After all, each Talon featured in one of the Bat-book stories will be from a different era of Gotham City. <p>"The parameters for this event were that the writers would pick an era of Gotham's history that excites them, as a writer, whether it's the 1880's or the 1700's, or the 1950's in Gotham. And then the writers create the Talon that's coming after their character," Snyder said. <p>"Once we started talking about doing an event that would take place over all the different Bat-titles, we got really excited when we realized it was a place to showcase all these different Talons from history," Marts said. <p>The Batman office has been forced to keep records of what Talon was recruited during which year in Gotham's history, Marts said. <p>"We have a timeline we've been building for the last several months. It's one of those secret documents that's like the Ark of the Covenant that we keep hidden here in the DC offices," he said with a laugh, "and we switch its location every week so that no one knows exactly where it is."
Probably the most important thing to know about the "Night of the Owls" is that there is an evil, powerful organization known as the Court of Owls that is pulling all the strings. <p>"The Court plays a big part in this, obviously," Marts said. "They give the orders to take back the city at the end of <i>Batman #7</i> and their presence will be felt throughout the entire event." <p>And although the Court has mostly been seen in <i>Batman</i> where their story will continue through issue #11 Marts told Newsarama that other Bat-titles have found ways to relate their stories to the Court as well. <p>"In <i>Catwoman</i> specifically, there is a storyline taking place right now where Penguin is involved, and Judd [Winick] figured out a real clever way of tying the Penguin storyline to the Court of Owls," Marts said. "And in <i>Detective</i>, Tony was planning on covering some story beats that tackled Arkham Asylum and the director of Arkham, and we were able to fold those ideas into the Court of Owls as well. <p>"So there were a few different cases where writers' storylines that they had planned were able to be incorporated into the Court of Owls storyline."