Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Talon 10, originally released July 27th, 2013.
Patrick: There’s a moment during this issue where one of Bane’s mega henchmen, code-named The Wolf-Spider (because he’s terrifying), tells Calvin that there’s nothing he can do to stop Bane’s army from destroying the Court of Owls. Calvin gives his blessing – there’s nothing in the world that would make his life easier than the utter annihilation of the Court. It’s a funny moment, and one that seems like it is frustratingly close to a workable armistice between the Talon and Bane’s henchmen. Alas, we’re talking about characters named Talon and Wolf-Spider, so the fists keep flying. Back in Gotham, Casey escapes from Harmon’s torture dungeon and gets herself arrested by honest cops in order to protect herself from the Court. It’s an issue of unlikely alliances teased, embraced and broken.
Last we saw the Talon Calvin Rose, he was locked in combat with the aforementioned “Wolf-Spider,” and when we pick up with that battle here, Calvin’s getting his ass handed to him. Wolfy (“Spidey” is taken, sorry) shares a quick, grotesque origin story before Anya, Joey and Edgar — Casey’s heist team from issue 3 — come to tip in the scales in Calvin’s favor. That’s all well and good until Bane decides to just come back and take care of the Talon himself. Meanwhile, back in Gotham, Casey proves to be even more resourceful than… I guess anyone. Using the lockpick Calvin tongue-smuggled to her last issue, she escapes her bondage and steals a cop’s gun, pretty much assuring that the G.C.P.D. will be taking her downtown – which is worlds better than being tortured by the Gotham Butcher.
Casey’s on fire in this issue – and the supporting cast seems to know it too. When her goons come charging in, they directly tell Calvin that, even though he’s good, he’s nowhere near as good as Casey.
It’s funny – when we started reading this series, one of the worries I had was that Calvin was going to be eclipsed by the inherent coolness of the Court of Owls. Granted, this was in the aftermath of the of the whole Night of Owls thing, which was the first comic book event I ever followed as it was happening. I also maintain that it was pretty cool. REGARDLESS, James Tynion IV has found multiple ways to convince us that this series has more to offer than simply “more Owls.” Casey’s so smart that she’s able to bring real-world intelligence to a comic book situation. I know that shouldn’t be some kind of revelation – but it is. Instead of being saved by crazy technology or circumstance or superpowers, Casey finds a cop, steals his gun and shoots it into the air. It’s such a smart badass moment, and it’s so fixed in reality, that she seems like the real hero of the issue. It helps that artist Szymon Kudranski draws the heroic panel with those anime-esque action-lines in the background.
It’s also hard not to love the rough borders Kudranski gives these panels, imbuing a sequence that’s light on action with a real scene of chaos and unpredictability. Plus, does this red splatter thing that highlights the desperation of the move. But Casey’s face is still stoic and calculated as hell. Hot damn, she’s so cool.
The artistic duties are split up strangely in this issue – the first 14 pages are done by the new series-regular artist, Miguel Sepulveda. We had a few problems with his work on the previous issue, but most of those concerns seems to have sorted themselves out by making his load lighter for this issue. Sepulveda even pulls of some really effective visual storytelling, especially in the fight between Talon and Wolfy, always making Calvin scramble away while Wolf-Spider overpowers him from above. There does seem to be some wonky shit going on with scale — just how big is Bane supposed to be anyway? — and his crowd scenes all devolve into stick-figure sketches, but when it’s coupled with a handful of stunning pages by Kudranski, who am I to complain?
Mikyzptlk, it’s been a while since you and I talked about this series. If I recall correctly, you had already been won over by the Calvin / Casey relationship, but I think it’s taken me until this issue to really invest in the character. What can I say? I love strong women. Also, what do you make of the lame brainwashing the Court is putting Sarah through?
Oh no. O is for Owl. I’m pretty sure my four year old niece would tell me that – and she’s adorable.
Mikyzptlk: I found that scene to be laughable, but like, I think I was supposed to? Alright, so I’m obviously not so sure, but whether it was intentionally funny or not, I got a laugh out of the Sesame Street style brainwashing. Patrick, you’re right. What sold me on this series initially was Calvin and Casey, and the character dynamics therein. We are now nearly a year into this title and that is certainly still the case. That said, this series has been notoriously difficult to pin down since its inception. I mean, what was this book going to be about exactly? The good Talon versus all of the evil ones? If that was the simply the case, it may have been a decent book, but to be honest, the more I read this title, the more I’m beginning to think that Casey may be its biggest draw.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Calvin Rose, but it’s becoming clear to me now that Casey is the emotional center of this book. Yes, Calvin wants to take down the Court in part because they are a bunch of evil wads of…of evil (I’ll think of something harsher to call them in the comments), but Calvin also wants to take them out to give Casey and Sarah the lives they deserve. This story could have easily functioned with Calvin Rose acting as the kind of Punisher figure of the DCU. Ya know, Calvin escapes from the Court, meets Casey, and has a family. Then, during a fateful trip to the aviary, the Owls find the Rose family and kill everyone in sight, leaving only Calvin alive and thirsty for revenge. He is…The Talon!
Okay, so I may have taken the theme a bit too far with the whole aviary bit, but Tynion could have easily set the rest of the story up that way. Like I said, this book could have still worked if it was just about Calvin’s revenge, but I’m glad things didn’t shake out that way. Casey is the driving force in Calvin’s life and no matter what the Court does to him, even going so far as killing the dude, there’s nothing that he wouldn’t do to protect Casey and Sarah. That is what makes Calvin a hero, and why I’ve become invested in this book.
The best part is, Casey doesn’t even need saving. She’s always proven herself to be incredibly capable in this series, but you’re right Patrick, Tynion really turned Casey up to 11 in this issue. Her side of the story was definitely the highlight of this issue, and it was rewarding to see Casey show off her own skills as an escape artist. Honestly, I think Calvin may need to start taking some lessons from her!
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?