Today sees the release of the "Talon" Volume 1: Scourge of the Owls trade paperback, collecting issues #0-7 of the series from DC Comics. This spin-off from the incredibly popular "Batman: Court of Owls" storyline is co-plotted by "Batman" writer Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with scripting by Tynion and art by Guillem March with additional pencils by Juan Jose Ryp and inks by Vicente Cifuentes.
"Talon" follows Calvin Rose, a Haly's Circus escape artist recruited by the Court of Owls secret society years ago to be their assassin. However, after completing his training to become the Court's Talon, Rose quickly determined the Owls were not what he was promised and fled Gotham City to escape them. After years on the run, Rose sees a weakened Court after the events in the Batman event "Night of the Owls" and realizes if he finishes them off, he can finally stop running.
"Talon" works on many levels. Firstly, Snyder and Tynion have crafted a unique new hero with instant relevance as a significant piece of the "Court of Owls" epic. After one volume, "Talon" has already established itself within the Batman family of titles, DC's most popular line. Pitted against the Court of Owls, arguably the most intriguing thing to come out of the New 52, Talon is the first line of offense against the biggest evil in Gotham City. The book is also able to expand on the rich history of Gotham City, its famous families and the Court itself, continuing the overall Owls storyline even while the "Batman" title is focused on other stories (i.e. "The Death of The Family," "Zero Year"). As a Batbook, "Talon" is able to provide a level of familiarity that most new books with new characters lack. Readers will recognize locales, heroes and villains providing them a connection to Talon, a character whose first appearance was the start of this series.
That said, "Talon" also works on its own. Since Calvin Rose is not an agent of Batman, he and his associates operate according to their own agenda and their own methods. While continuing the overall "Court of Owls" storyline, "Talon" is not forced to tie into every Batman family crossover. While there is a level of familiarity within the book, the creators have also carved out an original supporting cast, explored new corners of Gotham and developed new elements of the Court of Owls, including introducing some new adversaries.
The writers continually play off the theme that Rose is an escape artist. It plays into his childhood, his reason for Talon recruitment to begin with and, as the only escapist ever recruited, his being the sole Talon to ever leave the service of the Court alive. And, hey, since super-villains always tend to set traps for heroes, it may just be the most useful skill of any costumed hero. Escape is always at the core of Rose's character, even down to his movements and equipment as masterfully depicted by March.
Speaking of March, "Talon" is an incredible example of graphic storytelling. From the aforementioned "escape" elements, to the depictions of the various Court associates, to the impressive detail March puts to every page, especially those meant to illustrate the extravagance of Gotham's elite, the art excels on all fronts.
Given the specific direction of this title, Rose permanently taking down the Court of Owls, one may question the life expectancy of it before it starts losing its way. Fortunately, not only have Snyder and Tynion jammed a great deal of story in this collection, but have also added enough layers and twists and turns along the way to keep the direction moving for some time. By the end of the book, the only question one will be asking is, "What happens now?!"
Whether a Batman fan or just looking for a new quality super-hero book, "Talon" Volume 1: Scourge of the Owls delivers and is a great value, collecting eight issues for $16.99. In comic shops everywhere today, to find one near you, go to www.comicshoplocator.com.