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TPB Review: Talon: Volume 1 – Scourge of the Owls

Talon Volume 1Collects: Talon #0-7
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Guillem March


Beginning in a flashback, this book opens with a young Calvin Rose locked up in a dog kennel due to his father. For three days, Calvin attempts to escape by bashing a rock against the lock and chains. Eventually Calvin calms down enough to realize the weakness of the chain, one quick bash and he runs free. Flash-forward an unknown amount of years, but 5 years prior to the present New 52 continuity, finds Calvin now acting as a construction worker working on the Trigate Bridge in Gotham City. After a quick exclamation from his co-worker, Calvin notices an attempted suicide jumper below them.


Swinging into action, Calvin drops down in an attempt to save the man…unknowingly falling into the trap of Talon sent by the Court of Owls. It is revealed that Calvin Rose was once a Talon of the Court and he has been sentenced to die. Trapped in a car alongside the dead jumper and co-worker, Calvin is hurled into the river below. It is here that we get Calvin’s origin: after escaping from the kennel, Calvin runs until he is discovered by an escape artist working for Haly’s Circus. Eventually the old man trains Calvin in his art and the boy becomes a rising star within the circus. Set to star in The Gotham City Spectacular, Calvin is instructed by Haly to give a private performance the night before.


Thrust into his usual routine, but this time with the lights out, Calvin escapes dramatically…and the Court of Owls is impressed. Eventually agreeing to help purge Gotham City of its rats, Calvin is trained for many years by the Court. In the end, Calvin is granted his own set of Talon armour and is instructed to kill his predecessor Alton Carver (previously seen in Night of the Owls attempting to kill Lincoln March). With his death, and subsequent escape from the labyrinth Calvin is sent on his first mission.


Breaking into the apartment of Eric Washington, the former CEO of a major security company, Calvin is instructed to end the family blood line. Unknowingly the new Talon must kill Washington’s daughter and granddaughter. Unable to bring himself to kill a two year old girl, Calvin knocks out Casey Washington and escapes with them both…intending to hide them from the Court.


Returning to the present and using a trick from Harry Houdini, Calvin escapes the sinking car and confronts the Talon sent to kill him. The Talon explains that the Court wants Calvin back dead or alive, and Calvin responds that he will never stop trying to be free. Climbing away from the secured Talon, Calvin escapes in a truck and thinks that “like it or not (he is) and will always be a Talon.”


Flash-forward once again to the present time, Calvin Rose believes he is free. The Night of Owls has just past, and the Court has met its demise due to the actions of the Batman. Breaking into an old hideout of the Court of Owls, Calvin is confronted by another Talon. Successfully defending himself, Calvin manages to get away but is uncovered by Sebastian Clark. Clark explains that his father was a writer and had uncovered (and attempted to publish) many secrets on the Court. His father was eventually killed, and Clark sought his revenge. He asks Calvin if he will help him take down what remains of the Court of Owls. Calvin agrees and Clark presents him with a new set of Talon armour.


Throughout the remainder of the book, Calvin goes on several missions in order to take down different aspects of the Court. Stealing the mask of the Grand Master as well as running dry all of the Court’s monetary accounts. Along the way Calvin reconnects with Casey Washington and her daughter Sarah. Over the years Casey has developed her own secret covert ops team, whose mission is to save people from societies like the Court of Owls. Casey agrees to help both Calvin and Clark in the mission.


The Court meanwhile begins to notice the resurfacing Calvin Rose, and decides to send one of their disgraced Talons against him….formerly known as the Gotham Butcher. This Talon, Felix Harmon, engages Calvin on several occasions, with their last encounter seemingly killing him when Calvin floods Casey’s base of operations via the Gotham River. This of course proves false as the Butcher survives.


After recovering from his wounds sustained in the battle, Calvin goes on another mission infiltrating the headquarters of Securitus formerly run by Casey’s father. Sneaking inside Calvin is confronted by yet more Talons: this time a grandfather-father-son family. During the break in, Casey continues her investigation into the Court and makes a startling discovery: Sebastian Clark was a former Grandmaster of the Court of Owls, and the man who recruited Calvin Rose. Calvin is eventually subdued by the Talon trio and brought before John Wycliffe the current Grandmaster. Wycliffe explains that Clark was using Calvin in an attempt to retake control of the Court for his own…rather than dismantling it. Meanwhile Clark confronts Casey on what she has discovered but she manages to subdue him. She attempts to contact Calvin to warn him, but there is no answer.


Calvin, along with the youngest Talon who turns traitor, begins to fight against the other Talons. Wycliffe manages to escape with Calvin in hot pursuit. Losing the trail of Wycliffe, Calvin stumbles across Batman, who has been investigating the murders being committed by the resurrected Gotham Butcher. Batman believes that Calvin is being reckless with the lives of innocent people every time he engages the Court. Calvin eventually escapes from Batman and rushes back to Clark’s apartment to save Casey and her daughter.


Finding the two gone, Calvin confronts Sebastian Clark who explains their unique connection to each other, and then reveals his true partner to retake the Court of Owls: Bane. With a quick attack, Bane snaps Calvin’s neck as he puts him through a wall. The book ends with Sebastian Clark standing over a broken Calvin Rose, stating that he will “see (him) in the next life…”


So obviously this book is a spin off from the Court of Owls/Night of the Owls storyline originally written by Scott Snyder. And Calvin Rose was originally debuted during the Zero Month event that occurred September 2012. This book is actually quite interesting, yes it’s starting to feel a little bit redundant talking about the Court of Owls, but personally I find the character of Calvin Rose really cool. Calvin being a former Talon and having the escape artist angle is truly unique. All previous Talons that we’ve seen have been excellent fighters, hulking brutes or sadistic killers.


Calvin’s origin story I believe is probably the best issue of this book, with the remaining stories slowly being less and less interesting. The idea of a former assassin turning against the group he worked for has been played out many times across a vast array of media. However the part that I find interesting is the history of the Court of Owls that gets dished out every so often, and personally this keeps the story interesting for me. Additionally I like reading about the different Talons and their personal stories: finding out that the Court has its own section of disgraced Talons was a neat twist, and the trio of Talons from the same family line was also unique.


I did think that the reveal of Sebastian Clark as the “big bad” of the series as well as the person who recruited Calvin in the first place was both a bit shocking and typical. Honestly I didn’t see that coming, but upon reflection it makes sense that they would introduce Calvin’s nemesis very early on within his book.


With Calvin’s “death” it will be interesting to see where the book goes, although I’m sure that the Court’s magical healing serum will play a part in his recovery. And introducing Bane was an interesting choice…was he brought in to tie back to the main Batman stories? Or because he starred in The Dark Knight Rises? Whatever the answer, it’s good to see Bane being utilized somewhere within the New 52.


Overall it was a pretty decent story, covers and art by Guillem March were very well done which also helped keep this book interesting.


Talon Volume 1:


3 out of 5 Batarangs


Reviewed by Ryan Blair

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