Plot by James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Script by James Tynion IV
Art by Guillem March
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics
Talon is, at its heart, a slightly odd book at a glance. It’s a book that has obliquely spun out of the last year’s worth of Batman issues and its Court of Owls storyline, but the main character didn’t actually appear in any of those issues. But at its heart? Talon #0 reminded me of not one but two different past DC Comics series, and has merged them into a title that I think can end up working quite well.
The Court of Owls, introduced in Batman #1-11, is a shadowy organization with assassins known as Talons. Calvin Rose was once a Talon for the Court, but unlike the others who have left the service only by death, chose to escape being a hitman. But of course, like all super-secret groups that employ killers, Calvin is quickly learning that the Court doesn’t take "goodbye" for an answer. It’s a very simple set-up, one that’s easy to follow. With the Court’s connection to Batman and Calvin’s own experiences as an escape artist, though, it’s hard to stop from thinking about past titles Azrael and Mister Miracle; the former about a former-brainwashed assassin for a secret organization in the Batman titles, the latter about a escape artist who finally escaped from the evil place where he was raised. Fortunately, Talon doesn’t feel like a copy of either, but rather sharing some elements from each. The similarity-yet-difference from those titles is something that I think can work in Talon‘s favor; it gives an easy "this is what it’s about" jumping on point, but avoids any direct elements from copying over.
This is James Tynion IV’s most high-profile project at DC Comics to date; he’s been writing and co-writing some back-up stories in Batman as of late, but aside from a co-plot credit from Scott Snyder Talon #0 is his baby. It flows well in his hands; as the book shifts back and forth you get Calvin’s life story, and a clear example of Calvin’s voice as narrator. Calvin’s by no means a perfect person—after all this is someone who killed for the Court of Owls—but Tynion gives us a character that is clearly wanting to be free of that past. It’s not quite a drive for redemption just yet, but you can see that lurking around the corner. For now, it’s a solid introduction.
Guillem March over the past few years has become so associated with the ladies of DC Comics (first in Gotham City Sirens, then Catwoman) that it’s a breath of fresh air to see him as the regular artist for Talon. When you get him away from the scantily-clad big-chested women and the reader expectations that seem to come with them, March is actually a strong artist. His use of thick heavy lines for shading and texture reminds me of the late great Joe Kubert; he’s excellent with the usage of shadow and darkness to help frame his pictures, a>nd little details like circus posters have a nice art nouveau feel to them. Layouts are good and easy to follow, with March only changing things up when the story warrants it (like a still-groggy Calvin having his world at a slight tilt).
Talon #0 was a comic that could have easily gone wrong, but succeeds thanks to the strong creative talent helming the title. It’s got a road that’s wide open to it, and with the hint that this might be a book with a moving setting, that feels apt. Things could easily change, but for now Calvin Rose feels like a protagonist that could carry a title. That path to redemption feels like it’s going to be stepped on sooner rather than later, and it should be a good journey for both character and reader alike.