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Owlman (DC Comics) (1964 Crime Syndicate) face closeup

Owlman

(Pre-Crisis version)


Context

Before reading this profile, be sure to peruse :


Background

  • Real Name: Unrevealed.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Crime Syndicate of America.
  • Base of Operations: Eyrie of Evil, Palisades Mountain, USA, Earth-3.
  • Height: 5’6″ Weight: 138 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Unrevealed.


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Powers & Abilities

Owlman reportedly sports an enhanced brain. As such he’s the planner and dreamer of the Crime Syndicate, coming up with their strategies. In particular, Owlman often has devious ideas about contingency magic for Power Ring’s ring to implement.

In practice his plans are rather simple. But planning seems harder on Earth-3.

Applications

Owlman’s super-brain has further applications :

  • His mechanical aptitude (in DC Heroes RPG terms Gadgetry, Scientist and Thief Subskills).
  • The power of hypnosis.
  • The power of telepathy. This can only be done once a mental link has been established through hypnosis.
  • The power of confusion. Owlman uses his hypnosis to make an opponent fumble an action, or take a nonsensical initiative. When focusing on a single person (even a strong-willed one such as Batman), Owlman can have them fail at anything they attempt.

Gadgets

He could also see in the dark, but with very limited range (Ultra Vision). Because owls see in the dark, yes ? One suspects this is done with contact lenses in order to justify his “Owlman” monicker.

His main gadgetry are gas grenades, and an “illumina-gun” who can easily knock people out using bright light.


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Discrepancy

Owlman is once seen shooting a blast of energy from his left palm as Hawkman seizes the gun in his right hand.

The simplest explanation is that Owlman used his hypnotic power to make Hawkman think the illumina-gun was in his other hand. Thus, the blast comes from the illumina-gun but Hawkman cannot see it, whereas the hand Hawkman is “disarming” is empty.


Description

Owlman is a short-ish White man with a pudgy 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, making him look more like a child molester than anything else.

Between the lines of age

Originally, Owlman sported an age-lined face. This made him look every bit the wise older man in comparison to the more youthful looking members of the CSA.

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

Later on he seemed decades younger, though still a bit older than his partners in crime. This was never explained and may not have been deliberate.

In a Silver Age  super-hero context, that he came up with a campy scheme to erase part of his aging might be the simplest No-Prize Hypothesis . After all, he’s supposed to be real smart and never lose while on Earth-3.


Personality

Conversations with Owlman invariably revolve around his intellect, which isn’t as impressive as Owlman believes.

Owlbeit, he does have the sense to use his hypnotic powers subtly. This 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. A telling example was having Green Lantern leave gaps in the bars of the ring-construct cage imprisoning Owlman that were large enough for him to slip through.


Quotes

“But on the slight chance we don’t win, I have a suggestion…”

“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 !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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Owlman (pre-Crisis Earth-3)

Dex: 06 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Power Lust
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 06 Occupation: Supervillain
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Wealth: 012
Init: 021 HP: 040

Powers:
Hypnosis: 14, Probability control: 07, Telepathy: 03, Ultra Vision: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • 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. This is in addition to the normal limitation that hypnotic commands cannot be in total violation of the subject’s values.
  • Furthermore, Owlman can never get better than a Neutral response (+0 CS to OV/RV) to any command he gives.
  • Both Hypnosis and Probability Control have No Range, but can use Telepathy as their Range.
  • Probability Control is Contingent Upon Hypnosis, and attacks the same AV/RV as Hypnosis.
  • Probability Control can only affect living beings (or sufficiently advanced undead or artificial beings).
  • Probability Control can only induce effects that can be ascribed to lack of focus, confusion and absent-mindedness. It is not affected by the Luck Advantage or the Unluck Drawback.
  • Telepathy can only be used to convey commands for Hypnosis (-2FC).

Skills:
Acrobatics: 04, Evasion: 14, Gadgetry*: 08, Martial Artist*: 06, Scientist (Incld. Computers)*: 08, Thief (Locks & Safes, Stealth)*: 06, Vehicles*: 06, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Evasion is Linked with Hypnosis, and is a Powered Skill.
  • Evasion only against attacks launched by targets that can be affected by Owlman’s Probability Control.
  • Evasion only against one person Owlman is focusing on, which requires an Automatic Action every Phase.
  • Using Evasion prevents use of Hypnosis, Probability control and Telepathy during this Phase.

Advantages:
Expansive HQ (Eyrie of Evil), Genius.

Connections:
Crime Syndicate of America (High).

Drawbacks:
MIA (Bragging about his intellect).

Equipment:

  • Illumina-Gun [BODY 04, Energy Blast: 10, Limitation: Energy Blast only affects targets that can see the blast. 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: 06, 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. It is added here for completeness’ sake.
    This vehicle likely is the analogue of the “whirlybat” ultralight helicopter Batman used back during the Silver Age.

Design Notes

These stats are closer to the Mayfair statting approach than the writeups.org one. So they assume heroic values, rather than the numbers demonstrated in the story.

This is in part to keep Roy’s old estimates whilst rewriting the entry many years later. And in part since, as a Silver Age character, Owlman and his ilk work fine with cookie-cutter, highballed stats. These do not interfere with the four-colour  stories they appear in.

Batman once turns to trick Owlman into controlling the wrong side of his brain, leaving the opposite side of Batman’s body free of Owlman’s interference. I assume this is simply a rationale for Batman spending Hero Points to resist Owlman’s Power.


The power of unfocusing people

Owlman’s ability to make people clumsy and prone to stupid mistakes was original written as a modified Flash plus Hypnotism. But to prevent weird side effects, it needed too much verbiage. It was still okay-ish, but complex enough for a simpler solution to be considered.

It thus ended up broken down into three different Powers, each representing a different facet. Evasion for the main use (making it impossible to catch/hit him), Probability Control for secondary uses (raise OV for actions that aren’t directed against Owlman) and Hypnosis to induce less-than-optimal decisions that do not involve a dice roll.

By Earth-1’s Roy Cowan and Earth-C’s Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Pre-Crisis DC Comics (and scattered post-Crisis stuff).

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

Writeup completed on the 23rd of September, 2019.

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