Right at the beginning, before The Bat, there was The Owl.
Bruce Wayne is tired of your shit.
One of the best panels of the arc
The Court of Owls is an ancient conspiracy that controlled Gotham for centuries. The Court is a violent cabal that uses architecture and murder to wield political influence throughout history. To carry out its interests, members employ a breed of highly-trained assassins known as Talons. The leaders of the organization appear to be human and wear owl masks on their faces. The rest, however, are mutated and appear to actually be hybrids of humans and owls. Batman is one of the coolest heroes, but he also has the most interesting enemies. It doesn’t matter how great a character is if he doesn’t have good villains to fight. On the surface, the Court seems like another group of typical bad guys tryin’ to make a name for itself, but it’s more than that. Bats might be the World’s Greatest Detective, but he refuses to believe the Court’s existence ‘til a killer targets Bruce Wayne. The idea that a mysterious cult is hiding under Batman’s nose is pretty scary. Talon isn’t just some lunatic the Dark Knight’s used to dealing with. For Batman to be in the dark makes it clear just how much of a challenge the Court of Owls is. He’s always able to rely on his contingency plans ‘gainst known enemies and allies, but with an assembly of foes he doesn’t know anything about, there’s no way he can be fully prepared…
The Court of Owls, by Drake Tsui.