Batman: The Dark Knight #9 was written by Judd Winick and drawn by David Finch. This issue brings together the story that runs across the entire Bat line—up this month, the Night of the Owls.
Dark Knight #9 opens to a view of Lincoln March being stabbed through the chest by a Talon. The Talon narrates the issues, explaining that his body is beginning to fail him in much the same way it did before he was put it into the cold sleep. It's the reason Lincoln March was able to pull a taser on him, and then a gun. Lincoln March manages to get a shot off, blowing it clean through his head.
That's where we start the flashbacks. We see the Talon in his beginnings at Haly's Circus, where he was known as Alton. He started as an aerialist before he was selected and trained as a Talon. The ringmaster ends up shoving him into a trailer and lighting it on fire, telling him he will fear nothing when he knows death. Talon tells the readers he screamed for what felt like days, but then the heat died and he felt cold because something had died and something else was born. Only then was he worthy to be the next Talon.
We see him at his job, and he tells us how he was the best. He held the job longer than most but as his skills became dull, he began to slip, even going so far as to have to kill three police officers because they stumbled on the crime scene. His decision to dispose of them was equally foolish, as their deaths could have been staged to look like a crime scene shooting to avoid suspicion. His errors have been piling up and he is informed that he will likely be retired soon. When he asks if they've groomed another Talon already, the court informs him the next candidate has been found and unless Alton can prove himself worthy, he will be retired.
Alton shows the brightly colored tents of the circus, saying that's where everyone is made and it's been that way since the beginning. Though Talon is supposed to be on his way to a mission, but he had to see who was going to replace him. It doesn't take much investigation before he sees him. For the first time in decades, he feels fear.
Talon performs his task, but the delay forces him to change his plans and because the attack happens on the street, he comes face to face with Batman. For the second time that night, he feels afraid. Explaining himself later to the Court, they decide that his tenure is over. He is put to sleep, not a restful one, but one full of dreams of giant bats.
Years later, he is awaken for the Night of the Owls. All the talons were awaken and he was given the name of Lincoln March as his target. Although Talon isn't given a reason, he recognizes that he doesn't need a reason. When Lincoln gets the drop on him, all his past failures fall on him like shadows. Talon ponders that he doesn't feel strength, which is what the court promised, but fear. He sees Batman again and his nightmare is real once more. For a moment, when the bullet hits him, he thinks it's over and there's peace. It's too short, because he regenerates right away and realizes Batman is just that, a man. And men can be killed.
Talon begins to attack Batman, telling him they're the same, they're just like one another. Batman says they're nothing alike, Talon says he's met his brothers, Batman confirms they invaded his house and he left them broken. Talon scoffs at the idea because to them, death is a wound. And Batman tells him he'll be wounded.
Talon, realizing the battle is over, that Batman has won, allows him his victory. He crashes to the ground after jumping to the streets. Allies of Batman surround him and he tells them the Talon he just fought is out there and injured, but not for long. They must find him.
Talon takes the sewers, realizing he has awaken twice tonight. Once from the cold sleep and once from death. As before, something died and something was born. He feels cold and he feels no fear.
One of the things I don't do before reading a comic is look at the creative team. That made this issue all the more delightful to read. As I was reading further along in the book, I was trying to figure out why I was enjoy the story so much more than previous issues. Imagine my delight when it turned out to be one of my favorite writers. Judd Winick took the book, gave it a new perspective, and wove the story into the larger crossover event. Each book has given us different talons and different perspectives on those talons. This shows us the Talon feel things, that they are attached to their own lives.
The art was back to the detail orientation we've come to expect from David Finch. Perhaps he took last month off to make sure he could pull off this story. I'm not sure, either way, I loved the look of this book.
I don't know if my rating is directly affected by the lack of White Rabbit in this storyline, and I don't care. I just know this issue is one of the first ones in a long time that hasn't made me wish I were reading another book.
Batman: The Dark Knight #9:
Reviewed by Melinda Hinman