Talon 1

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Talon 1, originally released October 24th, 2012.

Shelby: It’s not easy meeting someone for the first time. There’s a lot of business you have to get through before you can get to the really interesting stuff. All of the “where are you from? what do you do for a living? etc.,” stuff is boring and awkward, but it’s also necessary to establish base for the relationship. Even though this is really the second issue of Talon, we’re still firmly in the “getting to know you” camp. That means a lot of exposition, and while it doesn’t make for the most compelling reading experience, I find I’m really intrigued by what I’m learning about this new addition to the DCU.

The issue opens with Calvin sky-diving into Gotham. He generally avoided Gotham like the plague, because of that whole issue of an all-powerful secret society trying to kill him, but since reading about the Night of the Owls in the paper, he needed to see for himself if the Court was really defeated. If the Court was gone, he could live like a normal person again. He breaks into their H.Q., triggering an alarm being monitored by an old man across town as well as a surprise attack from another Talon. A fight ensues, and Calvin flees to an abandoned train station to…well, I’m not sure what his plan was, since the station used to be controlled by the Court. Anyway, the Talon follows him, and another fight ensues. He stabs her through the head and zaps the knife with a tazer, which is cool. The old man shows up to take the wounded Calvin to safety. Turns out, the old man is Sebastian Clark; when he was a boy, his father wrote a Court of Owls tell-all, which ended poorly for everybody involved. Sebastian had devoted his life to building up the resources to take the Court down; with their weakened state and the arrival of Calvin, he had a perfect opportunity. Calvin suits up, ready to be the Talon to tear the Court to shreds.

How is it I never considered that Calvin would not be privy to news about the Night of the Owls as it was happening? I don’t know why, I just always assumed Calvin was aware of what the Court was up to, which of course he wouldn’t be. Another thing I hadn’t considered: the Court would still be active.

Maybe I just didn’t put enough thought into where this title was going to go. I really like the idea of Calvin as Talon, facing off against the Court’s remaining active Talons. This gives us opportunity for secret, political machinations, as well as totally bad-ass fight scenes: can’t really complain about that. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have obviously put a lot of thought into where they want to take this character, it’s just unfortunate that the story is so exposition-heavy. I don’t know that there’s a better way to do it, we’ve got a lot of information to get through before we can really start adventuring.

Guillem March’s art is not my favorite; he seems to prefer crazy eyes and angry mouths.

There’s just not as much expression as I prefer in my art. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say there’s TOO much expression; the gaping jaws of the ragescream are not an especially common sight in the world, I don’t see any reason to see them multiple times in one issue. I do like how owlish Sebastian looks. It’s enough to make me wonder if maybe he’s not being completely honest with Calvin…

It’s hard to talk about this issue at this point in the game. It’s off to a solid start, but at only 2 issues into a completely new character, I can’t really get a good feel for it. I am liking what I’m seeing so far, and am definitely looking forward to seeing where Tynion is going to take it. What about you Drew, was this issue able to pique your interest, or was the exposition way too much to slog through?

Drew: Far from a slog, I thought this issue was about as perfect a statement of purpose as we could have hoped for this series. The zero issue effectively established the “who” of this title, and this installment effectively establishes the “what” and “why.” After the zero, I was under the impression that this title might be The Fugitive story with a zombie-ninja twist (which, for the record, would have been AWESOME), but it turns out Snyder and Tynion have a much more directed plan for the series — more like Kill Bill with a zombie-ninja twist.

A fixed list of villains feels much more limiting than the typical superhero comic, where rogues lists can be as numerous and varied as imaginations will allow, but that’s actually the thing that has me most excited about this title. While I love Batman’s emotional motivations, how it relates to individual villains is incredibly abstract. Talon inverts that formula, making Calvin’s relationship to his enemies much more concrete than his motives for pursuing them. It runs the risk of making every mission the same, but I think Snyder and Tynion have given themselves enough room to vary the “assets” the Talons are protecting, as well as the specific ways the Talons have adjusted to life away from the court. They might all dress the same, but I fully expect them to behave in wildly different ways, and look forward to the establishment of an arch-nemesis, who we can look forward to returning time and time again.

Even without strong personalities, these Talons are pretty badass. Did I mention that they’re zombie-ninjas? They’re fight scenes are like the best T-1000 sequences, only EVEN MORE BADASS.

Sometimes Talons play catch with knives, just because they can.I understand abstractly that seeing a million scenes like that should get boring, but I think I’d need to see it to believe it. I would probably still buy this book if it was titled “Just Talon Fights.” I don’t think this shit will ever get old.

To their credit, Snyder and Tynion show a great deal of restraint with their deployment of ZOMBIE-NINJA FIGHTS, limiting the action to just one (albeit extended fight scene). The rest of the issue is focused on Sebastian’s story and Calvin’s own trivia regarding Gotham’s Metropolitan Terminal (which I think is the Owl HQ, Shelby). That last bit stuck out to me in particular, as the idea of a large, abandoned metropolitan train station reminded me quite a bit of Detroit’s own infamously abandoned train station. Sure enough, the buildings look remarkably similar:

train station comparisonMaybe that’s coincidence, maybe that’s a common train station design, but I like to think that the creative team is aiming to evoke the kind of urban decay Michigan Central has become such a symbol of. As someone familiar with that station, seeing it referenced is a very effective shorthand for what the Court of Owls means to Gotham, how deep and insidious their roots.

Much like Snyder’s other titles, Talon promises to be a blast, but doesn’t shy away from being incredibly intelligent, as well. It’s an exciting mix, and has been deftly handled thus far. At the end of the issue, Calvin winkingly asks “Where do we start?” Shelby’s right to suggest that it may not actually be until the next issue, but this one has me very confident that it’ll be worth the wait.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

13 comments on “Talon 1

  1. This didn’t feel like too much text at all. Honestly, when I opened the first page I was slightly bombarded by all the text, but when I was actually reading the title it didn’t slow me down at all; there was just so much awesome stuff going on that I wanted to read each and every word to get more and more of the story. I think this is a really great title so far. The fights are awesome, Calvin’s skills are unique, there’s a very cool mission statement, and as always, the Court of Owls stuff is fascinating in its own right. I can’t wait to see where this one goes.

    • Yeah, I agree completely. I was sorta down on the zero, but largely because I didn’t care to be told the same “THIS IS HOW A TALON IS MADE” story again. There may have been a lot of exposition, but it was written with swift, engaging prose. The fact that Calvin has like half the information and needs Sebastian to deliver the other half to him means that there were never characters telling each other things they already know (I would have hated that).

    • I read a lot of 80’s comics still so a title with this much text doesn’t turn my head very often… it’s usually the decompressed narrative that has 24 pages of someone opening a fridge and getting out the orange juice that turns my head 🙂

      • The trick – as I see it – to any amount of compression or decompression of the narrative is just to find purpose and grace in the execution. If the writer and artist can deliver some sad insight into a character’s emotional state in the those 24 pages of juice-getting, then I’m all for it. CONVERSELY, if a dense page of text is interesting, and reveals real pieces of the characters, then I’m all for that too. I think the only reason Shelby and Drew mention it here is because we’re used to seeing the over-exposition done POORLY. Dun’ have to be that way.

        • With anything in the creative realm it never really is matter of what you do but how you do it, brilliant folks have turned dreaded creative trends into thrilling material many times over indeed

  2. I tell you what I loved was seeing an example of how the escape artist training can be applied to a combat situation. Last month I complained that the series could get old if the baddies were just going to find an excuse to tie him up in each installment. But his trick with the high-tension-wire-noose was awesome: really inventive way to take out an opponent.

  3. I too wasn’t very keen on March’s crazy eyes through the entire book. It’s like each character only had the emotion of “surprised anger” when I was expecting something… more.

  4. Tynion confirmed that the Metropolitan Terminal was, in fact, inspired by Michigan Central Station. Not that authorial intent makes a difference here — that connection was already meaningful to me — but sometimes it’s nice to know that I “caught” something intentional, rather than just making it up. It helps that he said we were the first to catch it.

  5. I loved this issue and can’t wait for more! I’m really intrigued by the Owl’s history book. Snyder loves to go into history a lot so I’m hoping we dive deeper into the past of the Owls.

    Also, did anyone catch the “Zur En Arh” reference on the first page? That was cool, I wonder if Batman was hanging out in that old train station when he went crazy that one time.

  6. Pingback: Wizard World Philadelphia 2014 Day 1 | Retcon Punch

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