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Owl (Marvel Comics) (Spider-Man enemy) (1980s) portrait


(Leland Owlsley) (Profile #3 - 1982-1992)

Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game


This profile is part of a chronological series, which should be read in order. The series goes :

  1. The Owl (Leland Owlsley) part #1 – 1964-1975. Start there.
  2. .
  3. The Owl (Leland Owlsley) part #3 – 1982-1992. This here profile.
  4. .

This way, everybody can use their favourite version of Owl. And we have room to digestably discuss his ever-changing gear, bases and medical issues.



  • Real Name: Leland Owlsley.
  • Marital Status: Presumed divorced.
  • Known Relatives: Jubula Pride (daughter), apparently two ex-wives (names unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Leads his own criminal crew.
  • Base of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 5’11” Weight: 220 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Reddish brown.

Powers & Abilities

In 1982 he starts using steel claws. These are three blades affixed to a bracer, looking not unlike Wolverine’s claws. They’re sharp enough to slash through Spider-Man’s webbing if it didn’t have time to harden. The Owl excels at using the additional reach for fast melee attacks.

In 1989 he experiments with a system that can also shoot his claws and bracers as a surprise ranged attack.

The Owl has recovered enough to walk – but only with leg braces on. This is slow and stiff, but still much better than before. Since the Owl is seen delivering kicks whilst in flight, or landing from a height, the braces presumably have shock absorbers.


Other assets

At this point, the Owl can clearly see in the dark. Based on his later mutations, we’ll assume it was a new power he gained over the years. Rather than, say, wearing special lenses.

He also clearly demonstrates falconry-style bird handling skills for the first time, using owls. Which is indeed a thing that can be done. Though it’s not the same techniques as with other raptors.

As the owl nests (part 3)

In 1983 at the latest, the Owl has regained control over his original Aerie, on the Hudson Palisades.

It housed by far the largest Owl Gang so far, with at least 30 men. Some of these guys were armed with batons ending in owl-like talons, which seemed super-heated.

By 1987, it also sported a vast collection of taxidermied raptors. Plus fast steel shutters to close windows, and a freezing gas trap.


Some signature 1982 music for that chronologically correct atmosphere…

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing definitely counts. It’s… very early 1980s, stylistically. But a surprising range of people still like it to this day, not all of them olds.

Available for download on Amazon .


This section starts right where the previous entry ended.

Talons vs. tentacles

By 1982, the Owl had rebuilt a large Owl Gang.

He also made progress to ally with Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius) and his gang. In the Owl’s view, such an alliance was the only way to take the Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) down. The Owl also sought to capture Boomerang (Fred Myers) who had inside info about the Kingpin’s staff, but Spider-Man (Peter Parker) foiled that.

However, Octopus ultimately rejected the offer. A war erupted between the Owl Gang and the Octopus Gang. They both raced and fought to procure the triggers to a nuclear warhead, with which to blackmail New York City. The Owl was furious, feeling that Octopus had stolen his plans and preparations.

Then a wild card came in. Black Cat (Felicia Hardy) stole one of the triggers. She had realised that Octopus wasn’t planning blackmail, but to detonate the weapon.

The war to get the triggers escalated, with the Octopus Gang storming the Aerie. Given the odds, the Owl fought Octopus. Though he gave a good account, he was overpowered and severely wounded. Octopus was in turn mauled by Spider-Man, furious over Octavius having wounded Hardy.

A family of trees wanting to be haunted

A flashback then depicts the Owl clashing with Knightress (Jessica Jones), Luke Cage and Iron Fist (Daniel Rand-K’ai).

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Spider-Man enemy) (1980s) vs. Doctor Octopus vs. Spider-Man

A heist-for-hire had gone wrong. After a clash with the NYPD the Owl and his contacts were defeated in a warehouse by the three responding heroes.

The Owl’s car had two little kids on the back seat, which were thought to be his. This is an important plot beat, since it leads to Jones and Cage dating.

This story doesn’t fit well with continuity (Bennndiiiiiissss !!). Here’s a few No-Prize Hypotheses to unruffle these feathers :

  1. The heist wasn’t done as a contract as the NYPD thought. The Owl was stealing some research to exchange against advanced devices he wanted. This is much more in-line with his normal M.O..
  2. The kids weren’t his. Later on, the Owl is shown torn by regret about having abandoned his life as happy, not-evil Leland Owlsley. So perhaps, during such a depressive episode, he kidnapped two kids one of his wives had much later. As a symbol of the life he never had or some such.
  3. Also, replace the knife the Owl slashes Knightress with with the claws, but that’s venial.

(Ms. Jones ensured that the kids could sleep safely and would be spared a night at the police station before they could be returned to their family. They seemed fine, and were mostly interested in watching a movie on Jones’ VCR.)

Birds and reptiles

In 1987, the Owl kidnapped Martha and little Billy Connors. This was to force Curt Connors to give the crime lord the Lizard regenerative formula. The Owl intended to use it to finish healing his legs, and perhaps gain more impressive powers.

However, he didn’t know that Dr. Connors had gained significant control over his Lizard alter-ego in recent months. The Lizard and Spider-Man thus attacked the Aerie.

The Lizard was forced into hibernation by the freezing gas the Owl had prepared. But his human willpower allowed him to recover in time to protect his family.

The Owl might have been arrested after the Lizard manhandled him. Or he might have escaped.

Chase the devil

In 1989, the Owl attempted to steal millions from crack cocaine traffic. This was to fund the implantation of artificial wings that could turn his gliding power into full flight. To do that he hired the Bombers, a “this is your brain on drugs” youths gang with specific demolitions expertise.

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Spider-Man enemy) (1980s) vs. Doctor Octopus

The Owl had extensively documented the dead drop locations of the Cannibals gang. He thus had the Bombers steal the bags of cocaine, and replace them with identical bags filled with talcum powder and small quantities of explosive. The Owl and Bombers would then demand $5M to give the coke back and defuse the bombs.

Howbeit, Daredevil (Matt Murdock) got involved. Though the Owl got some licks in, he was defeated. But the villain then shot his claws at a random homeless guy. This forced Daredevil to let the criminal escape so as to save the unsuspecting target.

Random happenstances

The Owl, Nekra, Asp (Cleo Nefertiti) and Scorpion (Mac Gargan) were magically influenced by Llan the Sorcerer to go to Canada.

They had no idea why they had this sudden urge. Given this motley lineup, it is possible that they share some obscure mystical commonalities. Like a prehistoric star sign or something.

However, Alpha Flight was magically forewarned. They thus intervened before the rampages could truly begin. The Owl was overpowered by Vindicator (Heather Hudson) then Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski). Witchfire (Ananym) then dispelled the Sorcerer’s spell, knocking all the villains out.

Mere weeks later, in 1990, the Owl was caught in a similar misadventure. Mind control technology had sundry villains attack the Fantastic Four in Washington, DC. They were all too dazed to pose much of a danger.

When the control was broken, none of them had any idea of what they were doing there.

Mutatis mutandis

Over the following two years, the Owl’s serum-induced mutations suddenly accelerated, warping him. This led to a turning point in his career… OR DID IT ? 😺


By the close of the 1980s, the Owl has recovered enough that his medical condition is not as overriding a concern. He starts thinking of himself as an older, classier breed of criminal. An elegant villain from a more civilised age, as it were.

He also develops an interest in having more raptor-like abilities, which he considers beautiful and pure. In fact, this may have led him to experiment with his serum anew, not having learned the lesson from decades of severe medical complications.

To be continued

This entry continues in part #4 !


Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

The Owl (Classic)

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Power
Int: 05 Wil: 06 Min: 04 Occupation: Professional criminal
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Wealth: 009
Init: 016 HP: 045

Gliding: 03, Jumping: 02, Regeneration: 01, Ultra-vision: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Regeneration is Form Function, but cannot regrow tissues beyond what’s humanly feasible.
  • Ultra-vision is Night Vision Only.

Animals handling (Owls “falconry”): 04, Evasion (Aerial only): 06, Martial artist: 05, Thief (Stealth): 03, Vehicles (SEAL): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04, Weaponry (CLAWS): 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Evasion only when he can maneuver, which normally requires his CAPE.
  • Thief only whilst in the air.

Familiarity (High-tech devices operation), Headquarters (Specifics by story), Scholar (Finance), Stroke of Genius (Knowledge drain machine).

Underworld (Low), Odd technology providers (Low).

See below.


  • CAPE [BODY 02, Flight: 05, Limitation: Flight can only be performed along suitable air currents].
  • CLAWS [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 07), Descriptor: Slashing]. If the launcher is in place add Projectile weapons: 04, with Ammo: 02. Spending one Ammo lowers the final dice rolls for his attacks with the CLAWS by one. Spending two Ammo deprives him of the CLAWS entirely.

Owl (Marvel Comics) - Schematics of his talons/claws from the handbook

The serum and the damage done (1980s)

By 1982, the Owl has recovered enough to walk when he has his leg braces on. But this is stiff and slow. He has a Partial Loss Vulnerability that limits his DEX to 03, STR to 02 and land speed to 01 when walking.

However, these penalties are lifted when in the air.

He still has an SPR, but his braces limit that to an MPR (fatigue, can’t do certain movements, etc.) when worn.

(His Jumping power being about cancelling gravity, he can use its full APs even with his legs badly damaged. So those APs aren’t diminished by the Partial Loss Vuln.).

By 1989, the Owl didn’t seem too hindered. DEX 03 STR 03 and land speed 02 plus an MPR, perhaps.

1982 gear

  • The usual with helicopters, spandex-clad henchmen, etc..
  • Possible stats for the seemingly heated, clawed batons — [BODY 03, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 08), R#03, Descriptor: Slashing, flame].
  • The steel shutters likely had BODY 07 and no Hardened Defenses. Since Spider-Man was confident he could have forced them open had both his hands been free.
  • The freezing gas trap may have had something like Ice Production (damage only): 04, tested straight against BODY/BODY unless the trap is spotted before it fires (08/08 Perception Roll, maybe). But the point was more to exploit a vulnerability of the Lizard than do RAPs.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel comics.

Helper(s): Sean MacDonald, Darci, Dr. Piispanen.

Writeup completed on the 7th of October, 2019.