5787 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Owlman of the Crime Syndicate (JLA enemy) (DC Comics)


(Pre-Crisis version)


Owlman is sort of, kind of an evil Batman. He existed on the pre-Crisis Earth-3, along with other villains who amounted to an evil JLA. This seedy bunch first appeared in 1964.

A much more modern version of Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate of America appeared decades later. This version also had an Owlman, who was markedly more Batman-like.


  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed, presumably single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Crime Syndicate of America (CSA).
  • Base Of Operations: The Eyrie of Evil, near Metropolis on Earth-3.


Powers and Abilities

The schemer and dreamer of the team, Owlman usually formulates the CSA’s plan of attack.

Owlman’s plots are fairly simple, but they give the CSA’s actions at least a semblance of coherence. They also include a pre-planned response in case of defeat.

While he possesses a broad range of skills, Owlman’s strongest assets are :

  • His mechanical aptitude (in DC Heroes RPG terms Gadgetry, Scientist (Computers)).
  • His hypnotic ability (Hypnosis, Telepathy).

He could also see in the dark, but with very limited range (Ultra Vision).


On Earth-3, history repeats itself in a reverse way ! Columbus was an American who discovered Europe ! Colonial England won her freedom from the United States in the Revolutionary War of 1776 ! Actor Abe Lincoln shot President John Wilkes Booth !

And here every one of the rare superbeings — Johnny Quick, Owlman, Power Ring, Superwoman, and Ultraman — is a supervillain, part of a group called the Crime Syndicate of America !


(Unlike the later iteration, the pre-Crisis CSA was not a dominant force on their world. Indeed, even ordinary police forces challenged them in many cases and they seemed to be considered more of a major nuisance than a dangerous threat by their fellow Earth-3 denizens).

The CSA found themselves to be the victims of their own success. Without worthy opponents (other superbeings) to test themselves against, they were becoming increasingly sloppy. When Ultraman gained the power to see other dimensions, he discovered the CSA’s heroic counterpart. These were the Justice League of America (JLA), on Earth-1.

Crisis on Earth-1

Seeking a challenge to get back into fighting trim, the CSA hatched a plan to test themselves against the JLA. They first brought the JLA to Earth-3 by trickery and imprisoned them. The CSA then did the same to the Justice Society of America (JSA) on Earth-2.

The CSA then released the JLA on Earth-2 and fought them there. By choosing Earth-2 as their field of battle, neither group would have the advantage of fighting in their home dimension.

Owlman (DC Comics) of the pre-Crisis Earth-3 Crime Syndicate, feet on table

Contrary to the CSA’s hopes, they lost to the JLA. The CSA was then unceremoniously dumped into a dimensional barrier jail, left to languish in limbo . (JLA vol. 1, #29-30)

Occasionally, members of the CSA would escape from their imprisonment through unknown means and return to Earth-3. Thus, Johnny Quick, Power Ring, and Superwoman escaped for a brief time. They were captured and re-imprisoned by Captain Comet, who was on Earth-3 pursuing the Secret Society of Super-Villains at the time. (Secret Society of Super-Villains #13-14)

Cross-dimensional capers

Ultraman escaped at a later time and teamed up with Lex Luthor of Earth-1 and Alexei Luthor of Earth-2, both of whom had fled their foes by journeying to Earth-3. This terrible trio was stopped by the Supermen of Earth-1 and -2 and Earth-3’s Alex Luthor, who became Earth-3’s first superhero. (DC Comics Presents vol. 1, Annual #1)

The whole of the CSA was freed by the time-traveling Per Degaton as part of his plan to take over Earth-2 during WWII. An assemblage of Earth-1’s JLA, Earth-2’s modern-day JSA, and Earth-2’s All-Star Squadron during WWII managed to defeat Per Degaton and the CSA. The CSA was returned to their prison with no memory of their escape. (JLA vol. 1, #207-209, All-Star Squadron vol. 1, #14-15)

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Radio reports on Earth-3 indicate that the CSA eventually escaped their prison yet again. Ultraman and Owlman were arrested after attempting to vandalize the Statue of Liberty, and placed in the Superhuman Rehabilitation Program initiated by now-Vice-President Alex Luthor. The rest of the CSA had apparently already been captured and enrolled in the program. (Swamp Thing #154)

The CSA had left the rehabilitation program and returned to their criminal ways by the time of the Crisis, as they were free and still villainous when the wall of anti-matter reached Earth-3. The CSA was helpless to stop the wall from destroying Earth-3. They perished along with their world. (Crisis on Infinite Earths #1)


Owlman is an average size white male with a slender build. His costume consists of a loose-fitting gray body suit with blue boots and trunks and a yellow belt. Over this ensemble, Owlman wears a blue ankle-length robe with a hood; he usually wears the robe open and the hood down, unless he’s trying to hide.

Owlman usually had a self-satisfied grin over his age-lined face, looking every bit the wise older man in comparison to the more youthful looking members of the CSA.

John noted that the grin made him look more like a child molester than anything else. And also that during the pre-Crisis crossovers, Owlman looked younger. This may or may not be deliberate.


Conversations with Owlman invariably revolve around his intellect, which is impressive though not so much so as Owlman believes. He does have the sense to use his hypnotic powers subtly, which keeps his mental influence from being immediately apparent.

For example, when battling Green Lantern, Owlman did not try to impose direct control over him. Instead, he planted small suggestions in Green Lantern’s mind. Such as having Green Lantern leaving gaps in the bars of the ring-construct cage imprisoning Owlman that were large enough for him to slip through.


“Why should I go searching for him — when with my superior brain I can force Dr. Mid-Nite to come to me ?”

“EEYAH — going to crash-land on the bottom where not even my great brain can save me !”

“The rest of the Crime Syndicate is probably in custody (…) Just as well — Owlman works better alone !”

DC Universe History

The current DCU does not have that same types of multiple Earths that the pre-Crisis DCU did. But individual campaigns could easily re-introduce Earth-3 to the dimensional mix or have the CSA appear due to the vagaries of Hypertime .

A flashback sequence with the post-Crisis CSA depicted them wearing the pre-Crisis CSA’s uniforms earlier in their careers. However, their differing abilities and the nature of the current anti-matter Earth compared to Earth-3 are sufficiently at odds as to preclude the post-Crisis CSA being a simple continuation of the previous continuity.

The two continuities might still be connected. But the GM should make alterations as necessary to explain the discrepancies between the Pre- and post-Crisis versions.

The pre-Crisis CSA might also appear as the products of some villain’s plot to produce evil doppelgängers of the JLA’s or JSA’s heavy-hitters.


These open a new page on Facebook, Twitter or G+. This is because we don't let social networks track you on writeups.org.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Owlman (CSA, pre-Crisis version on post-Crisis Scale)

Dex: 06 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Power Lust
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 06 Occupation: Supervillain
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 012
Init: 019 HP: 035

Hypnosis: 14, Telepathy: 03, Ultra Vision: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • In addition to the normal limitation that hypnotic commands cannot be in total violation of the subject’s values, Owlman also suffers a Persuasion Attitude Adjustment modifier to his Hypnosis Checks based on the target’s likely attitude toward the command Owlman is giving.
  • Owlman can never get better than a Neutral response (+0 CS to OV/RV) to any command he gives (-2FC).
  • Hypnosis is limited to the same Range as Telepathy (-1FC).
  • Telepathy can only be used to convey commands for Hypnosis (-2FC).

Acrobatics: 04, Gadgetry*: 08, Martial Artist*: 06, Scientist (Incld. Computers)*: 08, Thief (Stealth)*: 06, Vehicles*: 06, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 06

Expansive HQ (Eyrie of Evil), Genius.

Crime Syndicate of America (High).

MIA (Bragging about his intellect).


  • Illumina-Gun [BODY: 04, Energy Blast: 10, Limitation: Energy Blast only affects targets that can see the blast, so visual defenses such as Shade will protect targets against the Illumina-Gun’s Energy Blast; the standard defenses against Energy Blast still apply as well (-1FC)].
  • Knockout Gas Grenade (x2) [BODY 03, Fog: 04, Knockout Gas: 08, Grenade Drawback, Bonus: Fog and KO Gas can be Combined, R#03].
  • Owl Pod [BODY: 06, Flight: 07]. This open-topped man-sized hovering ovoid allowed Owlman to keep pace with his colleagues. It only appeared in the Elseworlds mini-series Another Nail and thus might not be a canon part of the pre-Crisis Owlman’s répertoire, but is added here for completeness’ sake.

Home Field Advantage

In the Crime Syndicate of America’s (CSA) first battle against the JLA, each group suffered a disadvantage when fighting against the natives of the universe they were in. The CSA had a -2CS penalty to the OV/RV of all actions while fighting the JLA on Earth-1 and the JSA on Earth-2. The JLA had the same penalty to all actions when fighting the CSA on Earth-3.

For this reason, the CSA chose to fight the JLA on Earth-2 for their final battle. There, no one would be at a disadvantage and the CSA could demonstrate its superiority in a fair fight. Unfortunately for the CSA, the JLA proved themselves to be superior to their respective counterparts when all other things were equal.

This imbalance only existed in the CSA’s first encounter with the JLA and JSA. In the CSA’s subsequent adventures, these penalties no longer applied.

By Roy Cowan.

Source of Character: DC Comics.

Helper(s): Sébastien Andrivet, John Colagioia, Chris Cottingham, M.A. Ficklin, Jay Myers.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .