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Owl (Marvel Comics) (Daredevil enemy) 1990s head rotation header


(Leland Owlsley) (Profile #4 - 1992-2003)


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. The Owl (Leland Owlsley) part #2 – 1976-1981.
  3. .
  4. The Owl (Leland Owlsley) part #4 – 1992-2003. This here profile.

(We keep the “episodes” short so they don’t take too long to read. And so everyone can use their favourite version of the Owl.)

This entry corresponds to an era with relatively few appearances. But during these, the character was evolving in a markedly different direction.

Then in 2003, he mostly rubberbanded back to the 1960s concept.



  • Real Name: Leland Owlsley.
  • Known Relatives: Jubula Pride (daughter), apparently two ex-wives (names unrevealed).
  • Group Affiliation: Gang of Three/Four.
  • Base of Operations: New York City.
  • Height: 5’11” (1.80m). Weight: 190 lbs. (86 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Reddish brown.

Powers & Abilities

Circa 1991, the Owl’s gliding serum mutated him. This was faster, and much more thorough, than the previous damage to his legs.

Notable changes included :

  • Bulging eyes that can move independently of each other. Though his brain apparently can’t fully cope with two fields of vision.
  • Nictitating membranes. These are transparent, protective eyelids between the eyeball and the actual eyelids. Lots of animals have that.
  • Heartbeat circa 120 bpm.
  • Body temperature circa 110°F (43°C).
  • The Owl likely has an increased metabolic rate, needing to eat more often.
  • No perspiration.
  • More, smaller neck vertebrae allowing for 180° rotation of the head.
  • Hollowed bones, which do not seem to diminish his durability.
  • Atrophied, melted-looking ears since these are no longer needed. How well the Owl hears without his goggles (below) is unclear.
  • Talon-like nails. But his steel claws are clearly more efficient.
  • New partitions within his enlarged lungs. These air sacs help him glide. This in turn means an enlarged ribcage.
  • Increased aggression, speed and accuracy – albeit not to superhuman levels. The Owl can easily kill even experienced brawlers. During this era he essentially defeated Daredevil in a fight, though that was made possible by a nasty surprise attack.
  • Sharper teeth, though these aren’t immediately apparent. The Owl’s bite can wound people, or kill small animals, slightly better than a human can (human bites can be nasty). He can also eat small animals (like mice or pigeons) raw.

Many of these characteristics aren’t exactly those of owls. He’s mutating toward a hybrid form with nocturnal raptor characteristics, but not precisely a horned owl.

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Daredevil enemy) (1990s) mutated face

Mutation, demon magic, or both

In 2001, the Owl seems to have mutated a bit further. Possibly maybe. It’s hard to say, and there’s a sense that the mutations were cancelling the more animalistic traits.


  • His gliding cape is still there.
  • As are the Wolverine-style clawed bracers. The system to shoot them seems gone, but one model he uses in 1994 is retractile.
  • A more modern set of leg braces. They allow for lurching rather than walking – but his legs would otherwise be useless. The micro-motorized braces entirely encase his legs, feet, hips and crotch. Which makes it look like he’s got full-on cyberlegs.
  • Electronic, motorised goggles that help him use his senses. They seem to :
    • Help him pinpoint the source of sounds.
    • Help him handle one field of vision per eye.
    • Add heat source mapping (infravision) to his night vision.

During his 2001 appearance, the Owl wasn’t using his goggles or steel claws.

As the owl nests (part 4)

The 1992 Aerie is the top of an unfinished skyscraper in Queens, its construction suspended by a strike. The Owl lives here much like a homeless man in an alley. There’s even a campfire-within-a-metal-drum, for warmth.

The Owl brought there a number of crates, cardboard boxes and suitcases. These are filled with money, drugs, weapons, jewellery, spare clothes (all the same), personal items, etc..

Part of this stuff is from his old HQs, part is tribute and plunder from ex-Kingpin mobs.


There was a The Cure album in 1992, so it’s chronologically correct. Their music fits the Owl.


After his horrific mutations, the Owl remained in shock.

But he escaped in 1992, not long after the fall of the Kingpin.

Almost reflexively, he attempted to take over. But the chaos was too complete.


Frustrated, the Owl stalked a subset of the Kingpin’s former lieutenants. He murdered them one by one as they refused to serve him. The unhinged Owl thought of this as preying on pests to maintain ecological balance.

Daredevil (Matt Murdock) narrowly saved one such lieutenant. But the Owl escaped, in small part due to DD’s shock upon seeing his enemy’s alterations.

Mobster Pete London then allied with Daredevil to trap the Owl. But a surprise face-biting, followed by claws slashes, left DD bleeding and reeling.

Murdock thus had to improvise another trap, having dogs attack the Owl and force him back.

He then captured Owlsley in his Aerie. Having an identity crisis, the Owl more or less surrendered.

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Daredevil enemy) (1990s) prototype goggle

Original version of the goggles.


In 1994, the Owl escaped.

This spread fear among the underworld, as they expected him to resume preying on them. But he was busy dealing with maudlin resentment over how the existence of society was curtailing his freedom.

This led to a tentative alliance with the Vulture (Adrian Toomes).

The gentleman or the raptor

The rejuvenated Vulture was in the process of rejecting all ties to the old man he had been. The Owl thought that the Vulture had some sort of age-erasing tech to achieve this.

In actuality, the Vulture’s method was to murder most of New York City using a super-virus. If all persons who had known Toomes or Owlsley were dead, then the Vulture and the Owl would be free from Toomes and Owlsley.

The Owl balked at this. But the Vulture forced his hand. He poisoned Owlsley’s old rival Paul Greyson, and gave the Owl an alleged antidote. As the Vulture hoped, the Owl let Greyson die – rather than save him as Leland Owlsley would have.

However, the plan was foiled by Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Daredevil (Matt Murdock).

Flying away, the Owl left the supposed antidote behind to save Spider-Man’s life. He claimed that it settled his debt toward Daredevil, for having helped the Owl back in 1992.

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Daredevil enemy) (1990s)

Later, sleeker version of the goggles and costume.

The quick and the dead

The Owl apparently had a major breakdown during the late 1990s. This may have followed another round of physical mutations.

While interned in a high-security asylum, he met with Gladiator (Melvin Potter) and Stilt-Man (Wilbur Day).

This “Gang of Three” became a “Gang of Four” when Copperhead (Lawrence Chesney) joined. But he was some sort of undead demon, and used magic to influence his allies.

Demon days

A clash with Daredevil and Spider-Man degenerated as a small army of the Kingpin’s thugs, then the NYPD, came in.

Copperhead used the death and chaos to open a portal to an infernal realm. Demonic influence spread.

However, the Owl had realised what was going on. He rushed the undead Copperhead for having manipulated his mind. This attack saved Daredevil’s life, but the Owl and Copperhead were both sucked into the portal.

When Daredevil tried to save him, Leland Owsley declined. He instead went through the portal so as to take Copperhead with him. Before he vanished, he told Daredevil that he now wished to pay for the Owl’s sins.



In 1991, the Owl shaved off most of his hair due to shock. He eventually let it regrow, returning to his usual hairstyle.

In 1992, his goggles looked like prototypes. By 1994, they were much sleeker. Both versions hid his ravaged ears.

In 1994, his clothes/costume was tailored to hide the leg braces, the enlarged ribcage, etc.. Between that and the goggles, he didn’t look mutated.

By 2001, his appearance had degenerated.

  • He and his clothes were dirty and worn.
  • His nails were even more clawlike, and his teeth more visibly pointed.
  • The hair on his head was much longer and more featherlike.
  • His eyes were often red.

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Daredevil enemy) 2001 altered appearance

Altered appearance in 2001.


In 1992, the Owl seems to be at a turning point of his life, torn between :

  1. Decades of burning criminal ambition, ingrained mob habits, and his ever-present desire to rule New York City.
  2. His sanity rupturing due to his transformation and new instincts. He’s tempted to just let go and behave like an animalistic predator.
  3. His growing realisation that his life has gone horribly wrong. And that he was far happier as Leland Owlsley, before he started laundering money. Of course, this only hits him *after* his mutations have made it impossible to turn back.

He eventually comes to grip with his sanity. But the main conflict of this era remains between Leland Owlsley and the Owl. It feels almost dissociative, as these two paths are so radically different.


Over the years, the Owl comes to recast his life as Owlsley as good and happy, but devoid of energy and freedom.

Of course, as often, “energy” and “freedom” are defined as the ability to freely harm and terrorise those of lesser wealth and power – and never respect anyone.

Thus, that he would again reject Owlsley and seek to be a “purer” Owl became inevitable. In 1994, he seemed to have made his choice.

Curssse the Copperhead

In 2001, he evoked a wild-eyed axe murderer from the Bates Motel, the Overlook Hotel, or both.

But when he broke the demonic influence, he also briefly reverted to his Leland-Owsley-the-contented-family-man persona.

DC Universe Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).

During this era, the Owl also feels like a recurrent Catwoman villain.

Owl (Marvel Comics) (Daredevil enemy) (1990s) claws and Vulture

DC Heroes RPG

The Owl (1990s)

Dex: 07 Str: 03 Bod: 04
Int: 05 Wil: 04 Min: 02
Inf: 05 Aur: 05 Spi: 02
Init: 019 HP: 045


Extended hearing: 01, Gliding: 04, Jumping: 02, Regeneration: 01, Skin armour: 02, Ultra-vision: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Regeneration is Form Function, but cannot regrow tissues beyond what’s humanly feasible.
  • Skin armour only to protect his eyes from corrosives, gas, irritants, etc..
  • Ultra-vision is Night Vision Only.


Animals handling (Owls “falconry”): 04, Martial Artist (EV): 04, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (SEAL): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Martial Artist is a Powered Skill, and Form Function.
  • Thief only whilst in the air.


Familiarity (High-tech devices operation), Headquarters (Confined), Lightning Reflexes, Scholar (Finance), Misc.: Head can rotate all around.


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


Distinct Appearance, SPR (Inert legs), MPI (Identity crisis), Misc.: The Owl is -1CS OV easier to detect using Thermal Vision, but +1CS OV harder to detect using Analytical Smell.


Power Lust.


Professional criminal.




  • LEG BRACES [BODY 04. These turn the Owl’s SPR into a MPR. His max land speed is 01, there are many kinds of movement he cannot do, and his DEX would drop to 01 if it were impossible for him to be in the air.]
  • CAPE [BODY 02, Flight: 05, Limitation: Flight can only be performed along suitable air currents. But the experienced, mutated Owl can use even faint and complex currents, limiting him little in most circumstances.]
  • Claws [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 07), Descriptor: Slashing]. It is possible that the 1994 model couldn’t be Taken Away.
  • Goggles [BODY 01, Directional hearing: 03, Extended hearing: 01, Thermal vision: 04, Note: Extended hearing APs can be AP-added to the Owl’s own, Note: these can only work for the Owl.]. The sleeker version, when combined with specially-tailored clothes, hides his Appearance Drawback.

Design Notes

A key point in his 1992 fight with Daredevil is to rotate his head around and bite Daredevil, who is Wrestling him. This comes as a Blindside Attack, and the Owl pours a bunch of Hero Points into it.

This attack is made even more decisive since bleeding rules are being used.

The Martial Artist (EV) represents his somewhat talon-like hands. Claws: 04 would have been more intuitive, but using MA works better with Descriptors and for stacking with his Claws Gadget.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel comics.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 10th of November, 2019.