Today, Shelby and Mikyzptlk are discussing Talon 5, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Shelby: Anytime there’s some sort of big upheaval, you usually here the phrase “a return to normalcy” bandied about. When some serious shit goes down, we the people just want things to go back to the way they were before everything went wrong. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s just no going back, as proven by the history of the phrase itself; it was first used by Warren Harding in reference to World War I. Instead of the return to normalcy he was looking for, we got the Great Depression and World War II. So, what do you do when, try as you might, there’s just no going back to normalcy?
Batman has finally begun to take notice of Calvin and Sebastian’s work, and he’s not thrilled about it. His biggest concern is that, instead of subtly drawing out the Court like he has been trying to do, these acts of aggression will turn the Court into a cornered animal: something far more dangerous and difficult to control. Calvin has been putting off the next step of the plan, not because he’s worried about the Court, but because he just likes hanging out with Sarah and Casey. He’s also concerned Casey will be displeased to learn their next target is her father’s security company, now in the Owl’s control. Naturally, she’s eager to root the Owls out of the nest her father built, and she, Cal, and Sebastian come up with a plan to break into the most secure building in town. Things go wrong, and Calvin is captured. Meanwhile, The Butcher is waiting for Cal to make his next move. He’s tired of the Court sqwaking in his ear, so he decides to go rogue and start a killing spree.
Everyone in this issue has got something they’re trying to get back to. The most obvious is Calvin putting off his next mission just to enjoy the simplicity of eating breakfast with his adopted family. For the first time in approximately forever, he’s not running scared, he’s just living. It’s sweet and sad, since we all know it can’t last, and not just because this is a comic book and that would actually be a little boring. Casey is also itching for a return to the regular, it’s just that for her, that means secret ops to destroy the Court. She can’t enjoy the simple life knowing the Court is still out there ruining people’s lives. People like these guys:
Unfortunately for them, the Butcher is also looking for a return to normalcy. For him, that amounts to horrifying murder. I really appreciate Guillem March’s work on this title. Just look at the care he took in drawing those people’s limbs pointing in all the wrong directions! As monstrous as this image is, there is something about it I find visually very compelling. I think it might be the camera angle; even though we’ve established that Harmon is unrealistically huge, we are still looking down on him from above. It raises the question of where we are as viewers, and I like images that can very clearly convey the scene while still making me question how I’m seeing what I’m seeing. I also like Harmon as an additional villain in this book. As a villain, the Court of the Owls is intriguing, but very hidden, very passive. Sure, Cal fights the Talons the Court produces, but we never see a real encounter with the Court itself. Harmon, on the other hand, is a very visceral, tangible threat, and in the short term he’s probably a more dangerous threat than the rest of the Court. If the Court is a pot of water slowly coming to a boil, Harmon is the stick of dynamite thrown in to speed things up; he lends an urgency to the story.
That “urgency” is exactly what Batman is looking to avoid. Even though he only has a couple page cameo, Bruce is trying to get back to normal, the way things were before the Joker and Death of the Family. He’s trying to bounce some ideas off Dick (who’s doing some repairs to the cave) about this Talon stuff, but Dick does not want to talk about it, or anything else. He makes it very clear he’s there to do his trapeze welding, and get out.
James Tynion and Scott Snyder have been really smart with the pacing of this story in relation to the rest of Gotham. Even though these characters and this particular universe originated in Batman, we’ve gone six issues without mention of our favorite Dark Knight. Not only has that given some in-world time to let the Joker stuff go down, it’s given Calvin a chance to gain a firmer foothold as a character. Holding off on Batman until this issue made it a Batman cameo in an established story, instead of turning this book into a Batman support title. If Talon is going to be a long-term book, it’s important to establish a solid foundation for it now.
I’m really happy with the way this title is progressing. Calvin is turning into a very sympathetic character, and even Sebastian’s curmudgeonly rough patches are smoothing over a bit. What about you, Mik? Were you happy with the way Batman was introduced to this title? How do you feel about the way the title is advancing as a whole?
Mikyzptlk: I think the title is definitely starting to come into its own at this point. The main characters are really beginning to gel as a unit and I’d have to say that the brief time they shared in the bunker together was probably my favorite part of this issue. Tynion, Snyder and March painted such a cozy picture of their time together and, besides frying a few eggs, we didn’t even get to see any of it! Shelby, you mentioned that too much of this coziness would be boring and you are absolutely right, however the fact that I actually wanted to see more of this proved to me that Tynion and Snyder have crafted characters worth investing in. Additionally, how sad is it that Casey is unable to enjoy a little down time with her new “family?” I completely understand her resolve, but I felt bad for Casey seeing that she’s unable to enjoy the pocket of relative safety for the short time they had it. It seems that the Court has taken a lot more from her than she even realizes and that made me want to see them taken out by our heroes even more. It made the following speech from Sebastian that much more inspiring, if not heartbreaking.
Shelby, you also mentioned that you enjoyed seeing Harmon as an additional villain outside of the Court and I’ve got to agree as he certainly makes for an excellent foil. He debuted as a terrifying threat but I wasn’t convinced until this issue just how terrifying he could be. Seeing him murder that couple was effectively unsettling. Hell, just seeing him standing in the doorway was unsettling!
I know that Calvin is going to confront him soon enough and that he’ll most likely defeat him (unless this series is ending a lot sooner than we all think), but I hope that when Harmon is defeated, it isn’t a permanent defeat. There’s something fascinating about this guy and he’s got a boatload of potential. I’d even go so far as to say that the creative team wouldn’t have to work too hard to turn The Butcher into Calvin’s own personal Joker.
Lastly Shelby, you asked me how I felt about the introduction of Batman to this title and to answer your question I’d have to say that I think it was played pretty smart. I hadn’t even considered that Bruce wouldn’t like Calvin’s war against the Court but the way it’s explained here, it makes a lot of sense. Plus, ya know, Batman is fairly territorial so I’m sure that doesn’t help. I’ve always been interested to see Batman and Talon meet for the first time, but the creative team has managed to pique said interest even further. To put it simply, go team!
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