Talon 3

talon 3

Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Talon 3, originally released January 2, 2013. 

Mikyzptlk: Trust is both extremely hard to gain and to easy to lose. One can work for years to gain the trust of another simply to lose it all in a single encounter. The main characters of Talon, Calvin and Sebastian, have both been put in a position where they need to build trust between one another. In the world they live in, dealing with the enemies they deal with, that can be a very hard thing to do. It’s funny then that series writer James Tynion IV also finds himself in the position of building a trust with his audience. Getting new comic book characters to catch on with audiences is tough, especially considering all of the well-established characters that are out there. Convincing your audience that you have an interesting character with a story worth telling is essential for the success of  said characters. Even having Scott Snyder (who is, admittedly,  very hot right now) on board with a story credit doesn’t guarantee success, so it’s important that Tynion quickly builds trust with his audience and convinces them to stick around for the long haul. As for myself, I’m not sure if Tynion has convinced me quite yet, but this issue certainly goes in the right direction. 

The issue begins six years ago in New York City, where Calvin explains to Casey Washington that he intends to leave the city in order to protect Casey and her daughter Sarah. Calvin is sure that an evil Talon knows where he is and he wants to lead him away from Casey. Casey protests, saying that they should fight the Talon, but eventually relents. It’s implied that Calvin and Casey were involved for over a year and that they were doing something to work against the Court. In the present day, we find Calvin back in New York for various reasons. Calvin wants check on Casey and Sarah, but Sebastian wants Calvin to rob Hudson Financial, a bank the Court uses for funding.

Against Sebastian’s objections, Calvin has set up a meeting with Casey on the Brooklyn Bridge when he is attacked and knocked out. He awakens in front of two toughs who turn out to be working for Casey. Since Calvin left, she’s been building up quite the resistance against the Court, helping innocent people escape their evil clutches and gathering the best covert operatives from various organizations, including the League of Assassins, along the way. Calvin wants her to leave, knowing that the Court knows her location and fearing that it will stop at nothing to get retribution for his actions against them, but Casey refuses. She wants to prove to Calvin just how strong they’ve become by helping him and Sebastian rob Hudson Financial. In exchange, Sebastian will fund Casey’s organization with the stolen funds. Calvin sneaks into the bank while Casey’s team creates a distraction that allows Calvin and Sebastian the access they need to begin one hell of a funds transfer. Calvin begins to escape through the window when he’s suddenly stopped by one of the most intimidating Talons to date, Felix Harmon AKA “The Gotham Butcher.”

So, Calvin and Sebastian still aren’t quite on the same page with the whole “let’s take out the Court of Owls” thing. While it’s important to both characters that the Court be taken out, Calvin has a living, breathing stake in things with Casey and Sarah. With that, his immediate goal is to ensure their protection. On the other hand, Sebastian has already lost everyone he cared about, making his immediate goal the eradication of the Court. This is causing a clear divide between the characters and is hindering their trust quite a bit. Calvin also seems to have lost some of the trust with Casey since he left her on her own. Unless of course, she just has a funny way of showing trust.

Not so kinky

While it’s clear that Casey no longer trusts Calvin as she once did, she is still willing to work with him and even wants to earn his trust by helping him rob the bank. Which, incidentally, is my favorite part of this issue. I really enjoyed seeing what Casey has gotten up to these past few years. It’s pretty incredible to see all that she’s accomplished and the company that she’s gathered. I love the idea that she’s rescued people from such groups as the League of Assassins and that is probably just the beginning! The concept of an organization whose sole purpose is helping to rescue from evil groups like the League is extremely promising and could very well be a book of its very own. I only hope that Casey and her crew continue to be an ongoing part of Talon. 

Guillem March continues to illustrate in his unique style. I’m still not quite sure where to pin him. While some characters are drawn fairly realistically, like Calvin, others look more like cartoons, like this guy.

Whoa

While it does make for some fun diversity, it can be a bit of a distraction. One thing is for sure though, March definitely has his own style that is easy to follow and full of detail. Take a look at the following panel.

Is that Jughead?

Is that dude reading Jughead?!? I’m not sure, but I love that it’s there! He could have easily drawn some colored squares to show that it was some kind of magazine or something, but instead he went the extra mile and gave us a comic within a comic! Similarly, take a look at this.

People rarely ever look up

That’s a PAINTED CEILING. March could have easily just made that a regular old white ceiling but he chose to go the extra mile instead. While I may not be the biggest fan of all of his character designs, his overall style and attention to detail is really growing on me.

All in all, I think this book is doing the right things. I’m starting to trust Tynion’s ability more and more with each issue and with the introduction of Casey Washington’s “anti-evil organization organization,” I’m really starting to get on board with this book in ways I may not have been before. So Drew, how about you? I’m really starting to enjoy the various elements of this book like Casey’s group (boy, do they need a name). Is your interest in this book growing too?

Drew: The thing that fascinates me the most about this series is the difficulty I have pinning it down. Is it going to be about a former Talon on the run from the Court? Will it be a two-against-the-world buddy drama? Will it be a jet-setting case-of-the-week procedural about taking the Court down? Each issue, I think we’ve settled into exactly what the series is going to be, but Snyder and Tynion keep pulling the rug out from under me. This issue alone cycles through spy novel intrigue, Ocean’s-style high-tech heist, and monster movie, but I no longer suspect any of those to be the status quo for this title.

I personally find the “not knowing what each new installment will bring” paradigm to be thrilling, but I know it’s not for everyone (hence the low ratings for Community). I suspect that this is simply part of the series finding its legs, and that things will start to solidify (hopefully incorporating all of these elements into its DNA), which is kind of exciting in its own right. Then again, I remember saying the same thing about Green Lantern: New Guardians, and that series still hasn’t settled into any kind of formula.

I enjoyed your thoughts on trust, Mik, but I think Tynion is aiming for something even subtler here. It’s not that Casey doesn’t trust Calvin — I don’t think she would want to be part of his plan if she didn’t — but that she resents him for leaving. Or maybe (inelegantly): she trusts him with her head but not her heart. Their disagreement over his leaving is interesting — he’s ostensibly doing it to protect them, but she’s convinced they can weather the storm together. It’s not entirely clear that she hasn’t been the target of the Court since then, or if she would have been if Calvin had stayed, but it does seem like she’s equipped to take care of herself.

Calvin and Casey

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first suggestion we’ve gotten that Casey was more to Calvin than the person he decided to save from the Court, right? I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this development. Don’t get me wrong — I like that Calvin has reason to come back to New York and interact with the crack team Casey has put together — I’m just not sure this personal touch makes Calvin a more sympathetic character. It’s a weird objection, because I’m generally a fan of these more personal connections, but since I was already on board with the idea of “Calvin taking down the Court for the sake of saving people,” the addition of “…people he CARES ABOUT” actually makes his mission less heroic.

But is Calvin a hero? With only four issues, we’re still learning his motivations, let alone how he handles profound moral dilemmas. It may be a while before I’ll really recognize something as feeling more or less like what Calvin would do. In that light, bringing in more people (and more people with a personal connection to Calvin) is a great idea — we can only learn so much about his character through interactions with other Talons and Sebastian. I certainly hope Casey and her covert squad are permanent additions.

I’m with you Mik, I’m not sure I’m a die-hard fan just yet, but I totally agree that this series has a lot of promise. That’s not the most conclusive sentiment, so I’ll just point out how huge the Gotham Butcher must be. Even if Calvin is somehow super short, this guy is clearly coming at about eight feet tall, right?

Calvin and the Butcher

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?

24 comments on “Talon 3

  1. thanks for pointing out some of those extra artistic details like the ceiling and the comic book, Myxy, I hadn’t noticed them but they’re super cool. I’m definitely giving March some extra credit for that; and while there’s still some weird faces and one very bizarre pose from our female assassin, I thought this was the best looking issue drawn by March yet.

    Drew, I agree with you that I’m still getting to know Calvin, I suppose four issues isn’t much for a new character and he’s got no personal life for us to glimpse into, but so far I like him and I’m really enjoying this book.

    • That poor League of Assassins woman is drawn so strangely in this issue – especially when she mock-holds up the bank. I like the arabesque detail in that painted ceiling, but a) it’s covered partially by speech bubbles, and b) it takes March’s attention way from the characters – which aren’t entirely up to snuff.

      I’m going to have to scour back through his work to determine what it is, but I think I have a bigger aversion to March’s artwork than most. Everything just seems to stringy and dark. NO I DON’T KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

        • Hahahaha, I know! I think it was Shelby who made a comment a few issues back that she thinks it makes him look “Owl-ish” which made her think there might be something more to him than he’s revealing. In that light, I can dig the artistic choice, but otherwise, yeah…it’s figgin’ weird.

      • I think this March is just in this strange place where I honestly don’t think he’s a terrible artist (I reserve that for artist’s like Liefeld), but there is something off about it. I really do think it’s unique and not just “bad.” I mean, just look at the last few issues of Superboy and Supergirl for example…THAT is bad art. I feel that at the very least, March is going for something. What that something is and whether or not that something is, well, any good, I’m still not quite sure.

        • He reminds me a lot of Tony Daniel — it’s generally competent and occasionally fantastic, but expressions and postures sometimes get exaggerated to the point of cartoonishness. I think if he just rained it in a bit, he’d be fine.

        • Two hang ups I have with March’s artwork in this issue are… 1) characters are perpetually scowling and grimacing with unnecessary lines on their faces 2) Sarah Washington’s lips look like she had bad liposuction done.

  2. It’s interesting that in staking out New York City, Snyder and Tynion have all but insured that there won’t be any interference from other (perhaps Bat-related) heroes. The Gotham Butcher’s history (and heck, even his name) suggests that the threat he poses might be MUCH larger than just to Calvin, which suggests that the next few issues might be devoted more towards taking down a rampaging baddie than systematically dismantling the Court. It will be a much more traditional superhero comic, but that might just help establish Calvin’s sense of duty.

    • New York is an interesting setting if for no other reason than it starts to put these characters more in the context of the real world than the rest of the DC characters. Or, if not the real world, at the very least outside the world inhabited by our heroes (bat-family or otherwise). Like, I almost expect them to run into Daredevil or Spider-man or some else I know to be in New York.

  3. I have to admit that, while nothing about the first 3 issues offended my sensibilities, I didn’t pick it up this month out of a general decline in my interest. Based on Batman Annual #1 I had said on a few different messageboards something along the lines of “Give Tynion IV a shot at it”, but he hasn’t electrified me in the way I was hoping. Not that its immediately bad to have your expectations subverted, but I feel like I gave it a fair shot and would just put the three bucks elsewhere. The big thing about it all to me is that the more I learn about the Court and the Talons and the more of their mystery becomes less shrouded then the more they lose their appeal to me; I believe the concept of this book makes the Illuminati-esque organization less scary to me by design and I decided to bail. Also, considering the top-billing Scott Snyder gets, I’ve become convinced that that credit is merely a co-sign. Not much about the plot or scripting here gives me the feeling of his signature style. I get the feeling that maybe I liked Batman Annual or Batman backups written by Tynion more than this because of there may have been more Snyder involvement

    • Dude, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Snyder gets top billing on the cover but he’s really only credited for the “story” which could mean any level of involvement right? I also agree that the more we know about the Court the less interesting they are becoming because one of their biggest strengths was that they were so mysterious that not even Batman knew about them. Additionally, I think it’s frustrating that the Court is essentially operating under Batman’s nose yet again. I know that he’s busy with the Joker right now but I’ve got to think that if the Court was up to anything Batman would be right on their tail. Now, if Batman knew about Calvin and his goal to stop the Court, that would be one thing, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. I really don’t hate this book by any means, but I’m not sure if it’s doing the Batman mythos any good as is.

    • Snyder has personally said on Twitter multiple times that he has very little to do with this book, beyond allowing Tynion to pitch the concept and doing some very basic work on the story. Synder’s own words were that this book was Tynion’s baby. I think his top billing is just a move by DC to help up the numbers on this book.

      • Yup, this. Snyder gets a credit on it because the only reason the series exists is that DC offered it to him. He didn’t have a story, but Tynion did (or very quickly came up with one when he realized there was a Talon-shaped hole he could be filling). It’ll be interesting to see how long they keep Snyder’s name on the thing.

    • I think the only home run from the Third Wave was Sword of Sorcery. I’m still reading Phantom Stranger and Team 7 (despite the fact that Retcon Punch dropped them), and I like Talon quite a bit more than either of those. Weirdly, Talon feels the most insulated of all four of these titles, striking out at its own identity instead of leaning on existing characters and worlds.

      Here’s my ranking of the 3rd Wave: 1) SoS 2) Talon 3) Stranger 4) T7. Mogs?

      • That’s exactly how I’d rank them. I had already dropped Team 7 after the zero issue, and Phantom Stranger an issue ago as well. I’ll actually be picking Stranger back up the second J.M. DeMatteis and Gene Ha come aboard.

  4. That’s the thing about a book like this, one that stems from such a strong title or brand like the Batman franchise. It’s good to have a set of guidelines that help maintain the mythos and cohesiveness towards said mythos. Especially if you create a spin-off from the likes of ‘Court of Owls’. I don’t know if Tynion is trying to get out of the shadow of the Bat, so to speak. If that’s the case, one should still be able to create a world that’s set apart from Batman’s while still respecting the structure that the story stemmed from (if that makes sense). I hope the Court doesn’t completely lose it’s mystique, because I think it’s one of the best things to come out of Batman in the New 52.

    • It really is, which is why Mogo and I (and I’m sure many others) are concerned with if this book is going to ruin their mystique. I feel that if anyone is going to take the court down for good, it should be Batman so I’m not sure where that leaves Calvin. I’d almost prefer if Calvin was an agent of the Bat as opposed to his own agent. With Batwing and Batman Inc. out there, it may seem cliche or overdone, but hey, this is a Bat-book after all, so you may as well go all the way with it.

      • I haven’t picked up Talon yet, mostly because by the end of Night of the Owls I was willing to let the Court rest for awhile while my attentions turned to new arcs. I’m reading reviews of Talon to see if my interest in them will be rekindled enough to pick up another monthly/trade (so thank-you for the reviews!). But the comments here do have me thinking that (and this is probably an odd thing) it seems to me that some of the weaknesses of certain issues/books aren’t in the creative team’s control. For example, the creators working on Red Lantern cannot control that that kind of sustained rage is, as pointed out, an un-relatable motivation. The creators working on Talon cannot control that, in their fight against the Court of Owls, the protagonists of the book (and likely not Batman) will lower the Court’s level of mystique. A difficult (or novel) concept does not excuse poor execution (for example, I feel that Dial H has such a concept but it has been written wonderfully), but I can understand where some books will have a more difficult time establishing or retaining an audience than others. (And even books that have both difficult/novel concept and good execution aren’t doing very well in numbers—while I enjoy the book I’m not too optimistic about Dial H’s longevity).

        So my question is this: is there anything this team (or any other team) could have done to convince you to pick up this issue/the next issue or is there something in the concept (i.e. rogue Talon and allies fight against Court of Owls) that isn’t appealing?

        I also have a feeling that Batman will show up sooner or later – even if he wasn’t involved at all with the Court of Owls, at the very least he seems to be the go-to character to boost numbers (Batwing, JLI, Hawk and Dove…) or to just show up in other bat-books even if their sales are doing well (Batwoman, Batgirl…).

        On an unrelated note, would Retcon-Punch be willing to pick up books/review an issue or two once there is a change in writers? For example, Jim Zubkavich is taking over Birds of Prey as of #18, and Jeff Lemire starts his run in Green Arrow #18.

        Thanks!

        • I think it’s a fair point to make that sometimes a concept (like the Red Lanterns) just shouldn’t be realized as it’s own book. Some concepts just fizzle out but, at the end of the day, a creative team should be good enough to pull something of value out of any concept. I think Red Lanterns would be better off if they either started exploring the more human side of Atrocitus (since his rage is fueled by love) and/or focusing on Rankorr’s transformation from man to monster to perhaps man again? I think Rankorr would have been a much more interesting character if his origin were executed better with a more tragic or compelling element. Basically, I should have liked the man before he became the monster. Then they could have created a struggle for him to return to his humanity and atone for any sins. We all give in to rage sometimes and even do things out of rage that we regret. I think we also then try to make up for those mistakes. I think seeing that in Rankorr would dramatically improve this book. But at the end of the day it’s all up to the creative team to come up with those concepts. In the case of the current Red Lanterns book, Milligan just isn’t pushing himself. I’ve seen what he can do (X-Statix) and I know he’s capable of compelling stuff so that makes Red Lanterns an even bigger disappointment.

          As for Talon, Drew and I both said that we hope that Tynion continues to utilize Casey Washington’s organization. I think that Casey gives the book a lot more heart which is always something good to have in your narrative.

          As for your last question, while I don’t want to speak for the whole team here at Retcon Punch, I know that we are always looking to follow fantastic books and are definitely keeping an eye out on the new things to come. I can’t make any promises, but I know we all LOVE Jeff Lemire so I’d imagine we are are going to start covering Green Arrow again when he takes over.

          What do you say team?

        • Yep, Mik has it exactly right: we love Lemire too much to not cover Green Arrow. Patrick excitedly pointed out to me that Birds of Prey was getting a new writer, and while we hadn’t explicitly agreed that we would be covering it, I think we’re fond enough of the characters to check it out. I’ll very publicly vote “yes” on both of these, so I guess the ball is in Patrick’s court.

  5. Pingback: Talon 4 | Retcon Punch

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