Talon #0 announces the arrival of a new player in town. His name is Calvin Rose. His superhero name is Talon. His background is with the circus and his training comes from The Court Of Owls. The first spinoff of writer Scott Snyder’s epic Batman story arc sees the light of day with issue #0. Don’t be fooled by the top billing on the cover, Talon isn’t written by Scott Snyder, but rather James Tynion IV, a former student of Snyder’s who has been writing back-ups for Batman. So, how does Tynion do on his first outing on his own?
The story of Calvin Rose is one born of fear, abuse and darkness. The opening few pages detailing the brutality of Rose’s childhood sets the scene perfectly. It not only gives us an idea of how tough Rose is but also of his calculating nature. Rose escapes his abusive father and, as all little boys dream of doing, joins the circus. A kindly old escape artists takes the boy under his wing and teaches Rose how to free himself from any trap. As time goes on, the boy surpasses the master to become the star of the show.
Cue The Court Of Owls who, as we’ve learned in both Batman and Nightwing, arrange with said circus to see their most promising boys. Rose is taken from his traveling home and trained to become a Talon assassin. On his last day, he slaughters the old Talon, then escapes from the Court’s labyrinth in a matter of hours (something even the Dark Knight couldn’t do). Having proven himself, Rose is sent on his first mission. Instead of the criminal element he was promised to slaughter, Rose finds himself set up to kill a small child. Refusing to go through with it, Rose becomes a fugitive from the Court’s justice.
First, let's talk what works. I like that Tynion manages to avoid clichés while still skirting dangerously close to them. Yes, Calvin Rose is an abused child, but he doesn’t act out in some violent way and then escape into the night. Instead, he uses his intellect just to escape, his power is more in his cunning than his fighting. Rose joins the circus and becomes an escape artist. A cliché for sure, until the Court Of Owls comes along to claim him. Rose’s knack for escaping and thwarting traps is perfect for the new hi-tech world the Court is entering. Tynion manages to keep everything intertwined so that the deus ex machina doesn’t get too out of hand.
Talon is a good story, a solid combination of The Fugitive and Batman. Tynion has given Rose an interesting backstory and solid motivations for everything he’s doing. I also like that he’s trying to grow something out of the Court Of Owls story. I only hope Talon doesn’t get lost in the DC Universe shuffle. A skilled and clever crime fighter with a cool costume is not exactly in short supply over there. Batman, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, the list goes on.
For me, the whole Owl Man aspect of Court Of Owls worked because there’s a mirror reflection of Batman, just as smart, cunning and trained, who will stand as his enemy. Now, with Talon, there’s a third Court Of Owls combatant entering the ring. How will his story add to what’s going on in the DC Universe? I’m also curious on the timeline. Talon #0 takes place before superheroes had presented themselves to the world at large. Is Talon like Batman in that he’s always been around acting in secret, or is there something in the current timeline that drives him to join the superhero ranks?
Gullem March’s art fits perfectly with the kind of story Tynion is telling. March has a throwback style, there’s a subtle hint of eighties comic book art in his pencil strokes and thinner lines. I see some Neal Adams in what he does, as well as John Totleben. Don’t get me wrong, March has his own thing going on, but when you vibe his detail work and how he draws faces and action, his inspirations leak out just below the surface. Talon feels like it uses those gifts well and the combination of art and text is harmonious.
Talon #0 is a solid beginning to a new hero. It’s now up to James Tynion IV to carve out a niche for him in a crowded superhero world.
(4 Story, 4 Art)