BatWatch Review: Talon #11 - True Strength

True Strength

Talon #10 is probably the worst issue of the series, but even so, it was still a solid story, so that's actually quite a compliment for the amazing integrity displayed by the newest series in the Bat Family. Still, I do hope this issue avoids the pitfalls of the last. The story of last issue lingered on one long fight scene which ended up feeling like inconsequential filler. The latter part of the book had the Calvary arrive to help Talon escape Bane's forces, but even so, it wasn't the most compelling of tales. On the other hand, Casey Washington managed a daring escape that required her to flee into the arms of police custody which is a risky position since the Court of Owls have contact everywhere. Now, both our heroes have to escape, and while Casey will seek solace in the cape of the Bat, Talon will have to use his new found strength to tear an opening through Bane's men and make it to safety.

Does Talon #11 provide a satisfying second round between Talon and Bane or is this young series already running out of ideas?

In this issue, Casey Washington's rogues take on Bane's generals, Talon faces the Breaker of the Bat and Casey Washington gets an assist from Batman when face to face with the Butcher.

Back on Track

I'll admit that I was a little bit nervous after the last issue. It wasn't bad, but it was a step down from Talon's regular quality, and I've been so disappointed in James Tynion IV's work on RHATO that I was beginning to worry about this series as well. Thankfully, Tynion reminded me that he still has what it takes to produce good adventures stories.

This issue is almost all action, but it has a nice mix of dialogue to go along with it. The balance between the two is about right, but I did feel that some of the dialogue was a bit too wordy. I know that heroes and villains have a tendency to smart off to each other before a battle, but some of these conversation went on for a page or more, and that's a bit excessive. There were many moments ripe for a line like, "Are we going to fight or are you just going to talk me to death?" but despite this, it was still pretty fun. Another minor quibble is that we see a lot of Casey Washington's crew but it has been so long since we've seen them that I can hardly remember their abilities or personalities. It's hard to know how to take comments and actions from heroes who are mostly unknown. Still, it's as good a time as any to get to know these characters, and I enjoyed their scenes even as I struggled to remember who they were.

Calvin is the guy who really shines in this issue. Last issue, he got his butt kicked even with his enhanced strength and healing and he didn't even put up much of a fight. This issue seems to start off that way as Bane gives Calvin a rather good smack down, both verbal and physical, but by the end, Talon reminds you of why he's the star of the show.

There were some other mistakes here and there, but nothing that broke the story.

1. I don't usually like Szymon Kudranski's (former artist for Detective Comics, Pain and Prejudice, and Streets of Gotham and current artist for The Dark Knight, Detectitve Comics, Talon, Image's Spawn and Avatar's Farmhouse) work, but I found I did like it acceptably here. It's still a bit loose on details and over reliant on shadows for my taste, but it worked well enough to be enjoyed. I think a big part of that probably goes to Jeromy Cox (former colorist of Catwoman and Vertigo's DMZ and current colorist of Talon, Superman Unchained and Justice League Dark) who is one of my favorite colorists. Whereas Kudranski's work in The Dark Knight feels like little other than bright whites and dark blacks, Cox finds a way to give Kudranski's work some more dimension.

2. Bane stands like eight feet tall in this. He could have a great career in the NBA.  

3. Anya seemed to talk a bit too much to her opponent. That's one of those examples of a whole page just being used for taunts. It did give a little back story though, so I understand why it was done, but it just felt a little off.  

4. We should never see another editorial reference in a comic ever again. My patience for them is all gone. They completely break the flow of the story.

5. I can't decide if the poor transmuted Green Beret is more funny or sad. I think it ends up being sad, but a monsesterous hulk breaking through a wall and singing a garbled Star-Spangled Banner is...well, it's hard too take seriously. It was a mixed moment.  

(Spoilers) 

6. It was cool to see Bane be defeated because of his pride. He is so emotionally tough because he was put through the fire at a young age, yet he think all others who are not like him must be weak. Underestimating Talon was his undoing.

Conclusion 8/10 

This wasn't my favorite issues of Talon, but it was a fun ride and a nice transition point for the next arc. One of the best things about this series is that it constantly shifts the status quo. I can't wait to see what happens next.  

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Talon #11 - True Strength

 

BatWatch Review: Talon #10

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All Sorts of Fun

Ah, Talon. How I love thee. Let me count the ways. Thy protagonist is clever and witty with the perfect blend of light and dark. Thy powers and skills, though formidable, have not yet become tired nor overused. Thou always doth manage to surprise me with twists and turns that make my feeble heart go all a flutter, and thou brought forth one of the best women in all of comics in the form of the fair, though now mangled, Casey Washington.

Enough with the faux poetry bit. There is a lot to love about Talon, and I hope more people give it a chance since it is not doing well in sales, but I'm tired of yakking and ready to read this bad boy. When we last saw him, Talon was on the island with Bane and his goons, and I'm eager to see how this conflict will play out.  

Does Talon #10 prove that Calvin Rose can go head to head with the greats or is he heading for yet another fall?

In this issue, Casey gets ready to make her move while Talon tangles with Wolf-Spider.

If You Can Dodge a Wrench, You Can Dodge a Ball! 

The first quarter of this issue is great. After that....meh.

I really enjoyed the are following Casey Washington. At one point, I theorized that Casey Washington's thug sanctuary program might be a good direction for this series to explore, and this issue makes it appear that we might see something like that happen, but I'm drifting off topic a bit. What I was getting at is that Casey is awesome, she has been from issue 1, and I'm glad this series continues to do her due diligence. I thought the scene where Casey watched the indoctrination of Sarah was done strikingly well in what amounts to pretty much a one panel story. The conclusion to Casey's arc in this issue made sense to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it though (Spoilers) it's reasonable to assume that the Court has contacts in the police department, so Casey will need to break free of custody pretty quickly.

Obviously Talon gets most of the attention here, and his story does not fair as well. For the first half of the issue, he just let Wolf-Spider wail on him. I did think his dialogue was kind of funny as he pointed out that he really doesn't give a crap about Wolf-Spider's secret origin, but his actions were pretty dull as he fought about as well as a punching bag. When Calvin was human, he was able to dodge vicious attacks from physically superior opponents all the time and he even managed to take out some Talons along the way, so why does Calvin let Wolf-Spider brutalize him? It simply made our boy look incompetent to fail to land even one blow.

Bane, at least, is well represented in this issue, and when you see the forces he is about to bring to bear on Gotham, you can easily imagine that, unless Calvin manages to sabatoge Bane's plans, Gotham truly will experience the fury of war in the upcoming Arkham War. In fact, it's even harder to imagine Scarecrow holding a candle to Bane. One minor gripe I do have on Bane is that he appeared to kill a henchmen who had displeased him, and that is just so overdone that I hate it almost every time I see it, but Bane especially should be better than that.

(Spoilers) The back half of the issue does Bane and Casey solids, but Talon is still made to look like a shrimp. Calvin quickly recovers from what should have been death and pulls out some swords from nowhere, and just when he should be getting his shot at a redeeming second round with Wolf-Spider and company, Casey Washington's group of lieutenants arrive and pull Calvin's tush out of the fire. Again, it really makes Calvin look incompetent.  

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Making things worse, the art changes for the last third of the book from Miguel Sepulveda, (former artist of Red Lanterns and current artist of Talon) who I love, to Szymon Kudranski, (former artist for Detective Comics, Pain and Prejudice, Streets of Gotham and Image's Spawn and current artist of Talon) who I've just about decided I hate. (artistically. I'm sure you are a great guy Szymon, but your art is not my cup of tea) In general, I hate obvious artistic shifts, and this one is very, very obvious as the two styles do not blend at all. We go from Sepulveda's detailed work to what appears to be a two gens old comic style cut scene from a video game. Character models look overly smooth and some are not even rendered correctly. Calvin, drawn by Kudranski, looks like a teenage dork wearing bad Halloween makeup, and the two Talons who try to stop Casey look like they are evil, twin, french police officers.

Conclusion 7/10 

I really enjoyed the story elements of Bane and Casey, and parts of Calvin's tale were good, but the issue made Talon look rather incompetent and the art shift at the end pulled me out of enjoying the issue even further. If you've been keeping up with the series, then this is worth buying, but go in expecting a sub par issue.

Recent Reviews:

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Talon #10

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BatWatch Review: Talon #9

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Uneasy

Woo! All my hard work on comic book reviews has finally been rewarded. I've sludged my way through The Dark Knight and Teen Titans, two series which are not my favorite, and I even endured the mental ravages of Catwoman, but now I've finally made my way to the bottom of the pile in terms of sales to the book which is by far one of my favorites, Talon!

The tale of Calvin Rose has been a tricky one to predict. (other than Sebastian Clark being evil. That was super obvious) Calvin started as a runaway kid, became a circus performer, was drafted by the Court of Owls to become an assassin, escaped his destiny as a serf and became a free man yet an exile, formed a sort of loose family relationship with Casey Washington, confronted his past, fought against the court, died at the hands of Bane, resurrected as a fully formed Talon, was blackmailed into working for the Court once more, attempted to carry out an assassination, stopped himself at the last minute and became an ally of the Birds of Prey. It's a pretty crazy amount of ground to have covered in a mere nine issues.

In the latest issue of Birds of Prey, it appeared as if Talon had formed an understanding with the Birds, and together they would confront the Court, yet the solicit says that Talon will be going to Santa Prisca in this issue at the Court's order, so what gives? There's only one way to find out.

Does this new resurrected Talon fill this series with fresh life's blood or is it time for DC's doctors to declare this series dead?

In this issue, Calvin fakes Strix's death before infiltrating Santa Prisca.

Some Things You Can Still Depend On

I was actually a bit nervous about this issue because I had seen a snippet of a bad review on some random comic book site, but you know what, whoever said this issue was mediocre was a moron because Talon continues to be awesome.

The Birds of Prey story line is wrapped up fairly quickly but in a manner that makes perfect sense. Casey Washington, thank goodness, has not been relegated to the status of mere damsel in distress. The plot continues to thicken, and things are still moving at a break-neck pace when you consider the constantly shifting status quo of the series. If you like your comics to be well thought out and unpredictable, I don't see anybody in the Bat books doing a better job than James Tynion IV (current writer of Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Batman) is with Talon.

Minor Disappointments

If you bought this issue for the Birds of Prey crossover expecting lots of Bird action, then you are going to be disappointed. No Birds are seen past the fourth page, and even then, it's really just Mary. Personally, I wasn't overly concerned, but I can see how people expecting a true team up might be let down.

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The only other significant problem I noted was in Calvin's infiltration of Bane's camp. (Spoilers) Talon jumped out of a plane and then separated from his parachute at high altitude using his air wings (I have no idea when the proper name for those little wings actual skydivers use to control their fall is) to land on a different part of the island. The problem is that those wings will give you some greater control in your trajectory, but they are not really going to slow you down a significant amount, so how did Talon land safely? Granted, he has a nice healing factor now, but he's no Wolverine. Talons have been shown to take more than a few minutes to heal from fatal woulds, and falling at terminal velocity would probably all but obliterate a body. We know separating a head from a body kills talons so a straight drop to the ground is not a plausible explanation. Even if Talon did have some piece of tech to slow his fall, it still does not explain how he managed to land at the base undetected. Even if he came in at terminal velocity, I think there is a decent chance that might be noticed in an enemy stronghold. It would almost certainly be noticed if he came in at a more reasonable speed.

Bat Droppings

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1. I'm still greatly enjoying Sepulveda's (former artist of Red Lanterns and current artist of Talon) art on this book. It has the right blend of darkness and light for the series. Things feel rough, yet it is not the depressed, steeped in darkness motif of Batman. Also, whereas in the last issue I thought his work was good yet none of the panels really impressed me, here some of the artwork definitely did impress. The last page and one of the panels with Bane, for instance, looked especially cool.

2. I actually think Strix's costume looks better with half the mask ripped away. I think it well represents the way Strix is caught between two worlds right now. I wouldn't mind seeing a permanent version of this costume.

3. Is it really necessary for the Grandmaster to wear a mask when Calvin knows who he is?

4. It does indeed look like Casey Washington lost her eye. In the scene where Calvin and Casey kiss, I found myself thinking, “Ah, that's sweet...and gross...and I bet he passed her a lock pick.”

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5. I wonder if Tynion designed Bane's lieutenants to mimic different aspects of Bane himself. There is somebody with a big pulsing brain who is obviously supposed to be intelligent, and there is a hulking muscle bound bruiser. These two could easily represent the physical and mental threats of Bane. However, I have no idea what the others would represent. Perhaps if my speculation is correct, the aspects that the other villains represent will become clear later.

Conclusion 9/10

There were a couple of bad choices, but as far as I'm concerned, this issue is delivering the same great Talon action I've come to expect. This is a great series that is in danger of cancellation and this is a good jumping on point for the series, so I'm begging you to give it a shot if you have any interest and money because I'd hate to see this book fail.

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Talon #9

BatWatch Review: Talon #8

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Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Talon has been on a whirlwind adventure all of which leads him...to the grave, or so it would seem. Bane snapped his neck in the last issue, and he appeared dead in the preview as well, so will he be resurrected as a talon or has he managed to cheat death completely. Only reading will tell.

Does Talon #8 deliver another excellent issue or is this where the series finally falls apart?

In this issue, Casey Washington is captured and tortured and Calvin Rose gets a new lease on life.

Give My Creation...Life!

The results are in. Calvin Rose does indeed become a resurrected talon of the Court of Owls. The only chance of reclaiming any of the resources Calvin and Sebastian Clark stole from the Court rests in Calvin's broken frame, so the Court boots him up once more.

I'm not completely sure how I feel about this. Calvin has felt like a very likable and relatable character, and all other resurrected talons have been standoffish and seem less than human. I would hate to see Calvin lose his humanity. Also, this change makes Calvin metahuman which doesn't fit very well into the Bat Family. Calvin can now, presumably, break through metal doors and resurrect from just about anything just like other talons. It's a little disconcerting, and it seems to take away the vulnerability that makes the Bat characters such underdogs.

However, it looks like James Tynion IV (current writer of Talon, Red Hood and the Outlaws, and Batman) is handling this concept in the best possible way. (Spoilers) Talon stills seems like his old self in terms of personality which is a relief, and the powers, though a big change, are not to the level of someone like Superman or Green Lantern who are essentially unstoppable. It does still upgrade his challenge level though. Why bother being stealthy anymore when he could accomplish most tasks with brute strength and endurance? Part of the answer might come in the form of a new substance that breaks down a talon's healing ability, but that would only make Talon vulnerable to very specific types of attacks mostly controlled by the Court of Owls. I admit, I'm still a little concerned how this powerset will affect the tone and flow of the story, but as for this particular chapter of the story, it was handled well, and I'm willing to bet Tynion can keep things exciting.

Superb Sepulveda

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Miguel Sepulveda (former artist of Red Lanterns and current artist of Talon and cover artist for Red Lanters) is the new artist for the book replacing Guillem March, and though I thought much of March's work on Talon was grant, I think Sepulveda (former cover artist for Gotham City Sirens, Catwoman, Huntress, and Azrael and interior artist for Batman and Batman and Robin and current cover artist for Talon) has already won me over as the superior artist. My problem with March is that while some of his panels looked great, some looked a little odd. His characters did not always look quite right, and how characters moved from one place to another in action scenes was not always clear.

Sepulveda's work is not as extravagant as March's in some places, but it's very good, and it's a lot more consistent in terms of quality. I don't know that anything made my jaw drop in artistic wonder, but the art told the story and told it well, and that's all I really want. It's slick where it needs to be slick, brutal where it needs to be brutal, and when the story demands an army of a hundred warriors be on panel at once, they are all drawn in quite nicely. It's good stuff.

The one thing about the art that did strike me as...surprising was the size of the Butcher. He felt like he went from being about twice as big as any real human to being about three times as big. It's not really a fault, but it did stick out to me.

Bat Droppings

1. I'm not sure how the Butcher found Casey. This might be a plot hole.

2. Here's a quick question, what is the point of wearing masks in the Court of Owls if everybody knows the name of the Grandmaster?

3. It looks like the Butcher ripped out one of Casey's eyes, but maybe that is just her eye swollen shut. Either way, her battered appearance is a good way to show Talon and readers that the Court is not messing around.

4. During his resurrection, Tynion and Sepulveda managed to go over the plot thus far in just a couple of pages. It's a nice way to get new readers on board without actually spelling everything out.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

5. Calvin is once more acting as an agent for the Court. Interesting. I'm curious how long the series will stay in this vein before Calvin is able to find an out. With the conflict with Clark and Bane, the hostage situation with Casey, and the indoctrinating of Sarah, the series has set up a lot of future plots to explore.

6. It was cool how the issue ended with the same scene as Birds of Prey #20 only with reversed perspective. Instead of being on the ground looking up, the panel is framed from higher up looking down.

Conclusion 10/10

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I'm loving this series. I have a few teeny, tiny nitpicks, but the overall quality is fantastic as I'm kept guessing every issue. It seems odd to recommend people start reading the issue after the protagonist died, but this is actually the best jumping on point since issue #1. If you do not pick up Talon, you are doing yourself a disservice.

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BatWatch Review: Talon #7

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Revelations

Talon has been solid from the beginning and it's been great since issue #3, but now, we are drawing near the end of the first arc. Calvin Rose is face to face with the Grandmaster of the Court of Owls, Sebastian Clark appears to be a traitor, and Bane is coming to break Talon. It's a shame that more people aren't buying this series, but I am hoping that the introduction of everybody's favorite back-breaking luchador will give this book some much deserved traffic.

Does this issue prove a grisly end for Talon or does our hero still have some tricks up his sleeves?

In this issue, Casey turns the tables on Sebastian Clark and Calvin takes a trip on a rocket.

This Is How Comics Should Be

If you want to find the way to my heart, surprise me. I love a good narrative twist, and this issue delivers.

Though there were certainly a few things I saw coming, there were just as many surprises in store. Casey Washington continues to be an admirable character by refusing to play the part of a victim. Calvin has an encounter with another hero in this issue that I simply did not see coming, and their encounter was extremely satisfying. The appearance of Bane would have been a complete shock if not for the cover and Tynion's (current writer of Batman, Detective Comics, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Talon) story in Detective Comics #19, and the end of this issue will almost certainly leave you in shock.

Marching Backwards

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I was not as happy with Guillem March's (former cover artist for Gotham City Sirens, Catwoman, Huntress, and Azrael and interior artist for Batman and Batman and Robin and current cover artist for Legends of the Dark Knight and interior artist for Talon and cover artist for Vertigo's Django Unchained) pencils as usual. March has never been in the running for my all time favorite artists, but he has done a solid job and created some flat out beautiful images over the course of this series. Here, March also has some nice images, but quite a few panels felt off or simply not as polished as usual. For instance, the image where Calvin is thrown from the rocket looks a little bit goofy.

The End? (Spoilers for This Section)

The issue ends with Calvin having his neck snapped by Bane implying the Calvin Rose is dead. Now, I happen to know that getting your neck snapped does not equate to death, but most writers don't seem to know that, and a snapped neck does mean you are paralyzed, so even in the best case scenario, this is still a game altering move against Talon if all is as Calvin's frozen in shock stare would imply.

Normally, I would say that Calvin cannot possibly be dead. Though the Talon series has not been a hit by any means and is definitely one of DC's poorer selling comics, it still has sales well high enough to keep it from fear of cancellation, and we know many future issues are already solicited, so Talon must go on, mustn't he? There is obviously the chance that Bane somehow faked the injury or managed to do some extremely difficult blow that merely simulates the effects of death. Writers can always pull out the, “I had a special piece of armor that saved my life, and I just pretended to be dead,” move. However, it is actually possible that Calvin has bit the dust.

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What makes this a plausible scenario is that invincibility has always been part of the Talon myth. Granted, you have to go through some sort of process and be revived, but if Tynion decided to take the story that direction, he would have a fairly easy method. However, I hope this does not happen because this would seem to take away from Calvin's fundamental humanity, and at the moment, he seems very human and very relatable.

Bat Droppings

1. It was pretty obvious that Calvin had convinced the other talon to join him, so Talon's escape from the intro trap was pretty predictable. It did provide for a nice little fight scene though.

2. I'm betting that the rocket would launch quickly enough to have ripped Calvin's arm out of socket.

3. Between Sebastian Clark being evil and the attempt to make Skitter evil, the message comics teach is pretty clear. If you look evil, you are evil.

4. I did appreciate that the creative team remembered physics which is sometimes rare in comics. When an object you are riding on suddenly slows, you get thrown forward.

5. Casey Washington might be the coolest mom of all time.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

6. The entire interaction with Batman was amazing. Bruce so needs to be taken down a peg every once and a while.

7. How did Clark get the special Headmaster Owl mask? I thought it was destroyed in issue #2. Also, I thought Clark was probably going for the special mask because he wanted control of the Court for himself way back in issue #2, but I failed to put it in my review, so I can't claim bragging rights. Take my word for it.

Conclusion 9/10

It doesn't get much better than this. Good action, crazy twists, fun characters and a solid story? What more can you wish?

More?

Want more Bat related goodness?  BatWatch has tons of News Articles, In Depth Reviews, Commentary, and Image Galleries for the whole Bat Family, and it's updated every day, so stick around and have some fun. Follow on Twitter and Facebook to get updates as soon as articles are added to the site.

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Review: Talon #6

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Grandmaster

After seeing my favorite characters, Tim Drake, once more butchered in the pages of Teen Titans, I am looking forward to Talon and James Tynion IV (former writer of Batman and Detective Comics and current writer of Talon) to ease my headache and put my little heart at ease. I've been very happy with Talon thus far, and if anything, the series seems to be getting better with time. I should probably not get my hopes for the series too high since it is but a fledgling, but I think there might be great things in store for it. The last issue left our hero, Calvin Rose, trapped inside an amazing fortress along with a slew of talons and the leader of The Court of Owls. Could Talon finally have the chance to land a mortal wound to the Court? Also, how will Batman play into this arc? From what I've seen of the preview, it appears that this issue is going to be a blast, so I'm strapping in and getting ready to enjoy the ride.

Does Talon #6 prove to be a wonderful escapist adventure, or is this series trapped by bars of its own inflated ambitions?

In this issue, Calvin takes on a trio of talons while The Butcher targets Batman.

Bat Droppings

I greatly enjoyed this issue, but I do not really have any major thoughts to contribute, so I'll do a bunch of little thoughts instead.

1. The pace of the story stays fast and intense for the entire first half of the story picking up exactly where the last issue left off. Calvin's escape from the cage was clever, and though it was a bit odd at first to hear some personality development from the talons, it is actually quite a welcome change to see them as something more than heartless killers.

2. Guillem March does a good job with this issue as usual, but he goofed up on the cage. On the first panel showing the cage (and in last issue too unless I am mistaken) it is circular, but when the cage withdraws into the ceiling, it is square.

3. I enjoyed Calvin's converting of the talon to his cause. Like I said, it's nice to see these villains as more than mere sociopaths. There is something somewhat compelling about his character though I do not expect it to be developed longterm.

4. The Butcher has definitely grown on me as a villain. I'm still not to the point of seeing him as a great villain, but he is a good one. It will be interesting to see what route he takes. The series almost seems to be building him up as an ongoing character though I'm not sure how that would work. The scene with The Butcher also gives a potential answer as to why the talons are staying loyal to the Court. It is not clear if all talons are implanted with freeze bombs in their head, but if so, that would explain the loyalty. It does reflect badly on the chances of the newly converted talon though, and it raises questions as to how Strix is able to operate independently.

Spoilers until Conclusion

5. It seems pretty obvious that Calvin allowed himself to be “captured” by the talon. I hope this is not supposed to be a big reveal.

6. Despite his most likely evil ways, I have some sympathy for Sebastian Clark having to listen to young Sarah Washington describe her Pokemon style game. I've had to endure those sorts of conversations.

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7. The last six pages seemed a bit drug out to me since the whole thing was meant to reveal that Sebastian Clark was the old Grandmaster of the Court of Owls, but though I did not know his particular status, I always figured Clark was evil and trying to weaken the Court for a hostile takeover, and I am not the only one to draw that conclusion from issue #1, so it seems a bit odd to have such a build up in two separate scenes, to reveal something that was already pretty obvious. It's such a long buildup that it actually made me wonder if maybe Clark really is a reformed member of the Court. Anytime a story is trying to push me too strongly to one conclusion, I get suspicious unless it is at the end of an arc. I think this part of the story was probably just elongated to make Clark's role clear, but I will not be fully convinced until I see the next issue.

Predictions?

I made a list of predictions about Talon awhile ago, and I promised I would hold myself accountable regarding how well I called things, so let's see how I did. My predictions were mostly incorrect this month. I did predict that Sebastian Clark would be revealed as a traitor, but I also thought that Calvin would try to use lethal force and Batman would try to stop him, and that did not happen. Maybe next month will prove me right on these predictions, but at the moment, it's looking like I would make a poor soothsayer..

Conclusion 9/10

Despite the fact that I do not have as much to say about this issue as usual, I still really enjoyed it. If you are a fan of Talon or interested in giving the series a try, pick it up.

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Hold Up! BatWatch is more than just comic book reviews. We also host News Articles, Commentary, and Image Galleries for the whole Bat Family. Stick around and check it out.

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Review: Talon #5

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Churning

I've really been enjoying Talon, and the preview for this latest issue looks promising. The last issue appeared to be a turning point as Calvin met his arch nemesis and finally partnered up with Casey Washington and her daughter Sarah. I also expect, based on solicits, for Sebastian Clark to be a traitor by April, so I'm eager to see how things play out in this issue. Does Talon #5 deliver a thrill a minute, or has this escape artist ran out of tricks?

In this issue, Batman and Nightwing try to track down Talon, Calvin, Sebastian and Casey plot the next step of their attack, and The Butcher lives up to his name.

Expanding, Building, Constructing

Talon pretty much does exactly what I wanted it to do by expanding on the universe it has already created. Unlike Teen Titans where there seem to be infinite loose ends, everything in Talon appears to be done with great care and purpose. Writer James Tynion IV (former writer of Batman and Detective Comics and current writer of Talon) continues to move the ball down the field going...somewhere. It's not completely clear where yet, but I'm confident this series is going good places.

Casey Washington continues to grow as a character, and I greatly enjoy her. From the way the trio of main protagonists were talking in this issue, it sounds as if Casey might be entering the field herself which could be fun, but this raises questions as to her abilities and whether or not she will need to adopt a persona of her own. We learn a lot more about her history and her connection to the Court of Owls in this issue which adds a lot of intrigue to her past and sets up for a perfect challenge for Talon and his team which will, based on future covers, be the focus for the next two issues. Casey's daughter, Sarah, does not get as much development, but we do see a little of her, and it will be interesting to see how this odd family develops. If I am right about Sebastian Clark's coming betrayal, it could be very interesting to see Calvin, Casey and Sarah on the run without a support network.

The Butcher

One of my complaints about the last issue was that The Butcher felt like a pretty typical, villain but it seems like we might be getting a little more from him in this issue. He made a couple of gestures which imply that he might be breaking from the Court, and really, why wouldn't all the talons be going their own way? What do they owe the Court of Owls at this point? This is an aspect of the entire Court of Owls structure which really needs some clarification. Back to the Butcher though, he shows some signs of being a more interesting villain, but if there is more to him than simple bloodthirsty killer, that aspect of his personality has not been fully revealed yet. For the moment, I cannot help but think of Venom every time I see him based on some of his physical characteristics, the mass, pointed teeth, and gaping leer, and in terms of the way he interacts with people using a menacing, mocking tone.

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The Broken Scene

I have one real complaint about this issue, and that was everything on page 6. This scene is just plain broken, and spending three minutes on this nearly wordless page did not help clarify the confusion. Basically, Calvin is training as an escape artist by...you know what? You don't need a play by play. Here are the problems. Calvin's training would kill him if he messed up in the slightest. The comic panels are not constructed in a way that conveys the action well because it took me several rereads to understand what was supposed to be happening. Finally, the scenario was way too specific to be of any use in practical training. Unless this is preparing for a specific trap known to be coming later, this whole setup is ridiculous. In fact, I cannot think of an instance where a villain is likely to hang Calvin upside down in a straight jacket over a narrow beam and a floor of nails while various mechanical swords slice him apart while a waiting trapeze perch looms ten feet away, so if this exact scenario pops up later, that makes this scene even more stupid.

Bat Droppings

1. Batman and Nightwing are in this issue, but they are not used in the way I expected. Still, I suspect at least one of them will play a role in the next couple issues.

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2. At first, I thought Grayson was being a dick (pun intended) via being short with Bruce because he was upset over the events of Death of the Family, but after rereading the scene, I think he was just saying, “Hey Bruce, this is not my case, so I really don't care. I'm leaving. Bye,” which makes Grayson seem his usual fun self.

3. Seriously, Sebastian Clark just looks way evil. If he is a hero, he will be the most evil looking hero of all time.

4. The setup for the next issue looks awesome! I love how Tynion IV is continuing to incorporate death traps without overdoing them. (forgetting page 6) Good work, James.

Predictions

I made some predications in an article the other day about the future of Talon, and I said I was going to keep record of how well or how poorly I did, so here we go. Spoilers since I will be talking about relevant events from the issue. You can click Here for my prediction article.

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It was a pretty mixed bag this week with me batting about fifty percent, but the half I got right were fairly easy. First, Butcher, unknown to Talon, is still on Calvin's trail. Calvin does infiltrate a Court's secret base, and it is an important base, and he is captured by talons. Oh, and there is an important water scene. On the other hand, the job Talon pulls, or tries to pull, is not a bank job, and he is not taken to Gotham after being captured by the Court. Also, Calvin doesn't seem particularly ticked off about The Butcher trying to kill him and the Washingtons.

Conclusion 9/10

Talon continues to be a fun ride. If you are looking for a high quality adventure series, look no further. This is a fair jumping on point for the series if you are interested.

More Recent Review:

Batman, Incorporated #8

Teen Titans #17

The Dark Knight #17

Talon #5

Legends of the Dark Knight #37

Legends of the Dark Knight #38

DC Universe Presents #17

Catwoman #17

Birds of Prey #17

Review: Talon #4

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Nightmares

I've really been enjoying Talon. So far, there has not been a bad issue. There have not been some less than stellar issues, but all of them have been at least fairly good, and some, like last month's have been great. A lot happened in Talon #3 with Calvin reuniting with his old girlfriend and tangling with a crew of ex-villains before coming face to face with a talon awakened just for the sole purpose of killing Calvin Rose. Does this issue deliver another high quality tale, or does this series plummet to an untimely demise?

In this issue, everything goes wrong for Talon and his crew as Calvin faces down with a monstrous threat.

Lights, Camera...

This issue is almost all action, so it is fortunate that the actions is high quality. This new villain, Felix Harmon, is a formidable threat boasting amazing strength and bulk advantages over Calvin while also having a significant intellect to go along with his physical threat. The art department does a great job of conveying the action making you feel every broken and dislocated bone as Talon gets thrown around like a rag doll.

I actually find it kind of refreshing that Talon is not an expert fighter. The physical accomplishments of many heroes, especially Batman, make most heroes a nearly unstoppable fighting force, but Calvin, though formidable, is not somebody who can win in a straight up battle between this hulking behemoth. I enjoy that Calvin has to engage in the occasional “tactical withdraw” and use his brains to overcome an enemy.

Casey's crew also engages in a brief battle with a talon, and though brief, it is also quite satisfying.

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Bat Droppings

I don't think I have any more major points, but I do have several minor points, so I'll do this Bat Dropping style.

1. Though I enjoy Felix Harmon as a physical and mental threat, his dialogue was almost completely bargain bin villain material. If he is going to be Talon's arch nemesis, he really needs some character development beyond, “I want to eat your spleen!” ...not that he ever actually said that.

2. Though I generally like the art in this book, I think they are trying too hard to make Sebastian Clark look like an owl. He almost looks cartoonish.

3. I love the panel on page nine where Calvin gets knocked over the sign. I don't know why, but that really stuck with me.

4. If he does not turn out to be evil, perhaps Sebastian Clark can become the new Oracle for the DCU. He seems to have the skills.

5. I enjoy action as much as the next guy, but this issue was pretty much rush, rush, rush without much time for character development, and that is always a little disappointing.

6. Casey Washington is still a very admirable character. It is nice to see a female lead who is not a physical threat but is still quite heroic in her own way.

Conclusion 8/10

It's another solid issue of Talon though not quite as good as last week's due to the overly long fight with the one note villain. Still, there are a lot of things happening with this series, and there is a lot more to love than hate. If you have enjoyed the series so far, pick up this issue and enjoy.

Other Recent Reviews

Batman and Robin Annual #1

Teen Titans #16

The Dark Knight #16

Batman, Incorporated #7

Talon #4

Legends of the Dark Knight #35

Review: Talon #3

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Sting of the Past

The last issue of Talon left something to be desired. It was okay, but there were several things that held it back from greatness chief among them a poorly drawn scene which did not make the flow of the action clear. Still, Calvin Rose is a promising protagonist in my eyes, and I have high hopes for his series. Does this issue maintain the status quo or bring Talon to new heights?

In this issue, Calvin travels to NYC to meet up with his friend Casey Washington and get her to safety, but Calvin runs into some villains, and it soon become clear that Casey has her own plans which do not include leaving New York.

Miss Casey Washington

James Tynion IV, the author of Talon, said in an interview that Casey is one of his favorite characters he has ever created, and I agree that she is fascinating. She obviously has strong feelings for Calvin, yet she has her own mind and she is a proactive hero in her own way though I will not elaborate on that and ruin the surprise. It is rare to see a non-spandex wearing female in a comic who does more than play the victim, and I enjoyed seeing that Casey doesn't fit the typical mold. Casey seems to play things smart, and she does not guilt trip Calvin near as much as she could for leaving her. This is a character I can greatly respect, and unlike most super heroines, she manages to act reasonably and heroically while wearing clothes.

It's So Beautiful

I complained a lot about the art in the previous issue. The problem was not that it looked ugly but that it was hard to follow in spots. In this issue, Guillem March takes over the primary artistic responsibilities, and he does an excellent job. I had no problem following anything that happened in this issue, and it all looked beautiful. His colors are especially rich. I hope that March stays on this title for a long time.

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The Secret Society of Ex-Super Villains

(Spoiler) I really enjoy the idea of Casey's underground railroad for super villains. This could actually spin off to be a really exciting series in and of itself, and I hope Tynion does not plan on having this new and creative idea simply destroyed by the Court of Owls. Casey obviously hoped that Calvin would join their ranks, but I have a feeling the Court will be claiming too much of his attention. Still, I have said that I hope Talon becomes more than just Calvin vs. the Court, and this home for wayward thugs could provide just that.

Conclusion 9/10

This issue gets Talon rolling back on track, and I greatly look forward to the next issue. If I had to make any complaint, I would say that it would be nice to have seen a tad less action and a tad more exposition since there were so many great plot element in play, yet with action as satisfying as what was present in this issue, I can't really complain.

Review: Talon #2

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First Strike

I have been a big fan of Tynion IV’s work on the backup features for Batman, and though I was somewhat skeptical with the idea behind Talon, the first two issues have made me a believer. Calvin seems to be an interesting and likable character with a fairly unique set of tricks, and though I hope his series becomes more than just a quest to overthrow the Court of Owls, I do not mind them being the starting point for Talon’s superhero career. Does Talon manage yet another great caper this time around, or does the master escape artist get tangled in a few narrative traps?

In this issue, Calvin breaks into the Court of Owls largest treasury in attempt to cripple the court financially and steal some secret files.

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen!

Considering the brief run of this series, I suppose that heading is a bit melodramatic, but I still cannot help but feel extremely let down by this issue. Most of the problems are in the first couple of pages, so let’s break it down.

When we first see Talon, he is balancing his entire body on one arm above a laser grid which is ready, presumably, to sound an alarm. At first, this scene might seem really cool until you take the time to actually think about it and ask yourself how Talon managed to get in this predicament. Apparently, Sebastian Clark had not managed to disarm the security in this section of…ventilation? Did Calvin see the grid was still up and decide to leap into the middle of it just for fun? In the very next panel, we see Sebastian watching Calvin via hologram in a completely different pose which he could not possibly be making without tripping the grid from the previous panel. Even the image of Calvin itself presents a problem. Is Sebastian pulling this image from security…holograms, and if so, who puts security holograms in the unoccupied ventilation shafts? Oh wait, Sebastian must have access to this scene via the security system for in this same hallway/ventilation shaft/wall space, there is a video camera apparently capable of imaging in three dimensions which has a nicely mounted screen beside it that lets any who might pass by it know that the security camera is being overridden which is a feature I am sure all security cameras possess…especially those mounted in unoccupied wall space.

On page three, we see Calvin drop into another hallway into a guard patrol. The laser grid that was a predicament was never shown as being disabled, but I presume it must have been guarding this access point and that Sebastian must have finally disabled it. However, even these two assumptions do not explain why Sebastian failed to warn Talon of this impending danger. Throughout the rest of the caper, Mr. Clark manages to keep an eye on Calvin even in the super secret Court of Owls treasury, so why couldn’t he verify that the hallway was clear?

There is at least one more major flaw which I  will not point out simply because my point has been made; this issue has some plot holes

But Wait, There’s More!

These first few pages feature the most confusion, but there are more scenes which deserve derision.

Calvin is supposedly supposed to be a master escape artist who specializes in espionage challenges, but when a truly interesting scenario pops up requiring Talon to find and unlock a specially made vault, Calvin solves it without missing a beat. Where can it be found? Under this rug! How do you open it? By pushing on it? Genius!

Another vault scene that struck me as stupid was when Calvin saw a stuffed white tiger among the Court’s valuables and declared, “This is disgusting.” Really? You are dismantling an organization which takes young children and trains them from grade school to be heartless assassins who brutally destroy any who oppose their all controlling, money-grubbing crime cartel which has enslaved all of Gotham City and much of the world for their own selfish purpose and who have slaughtered innocents on more than one occasion just to amuse themselves, but you find it disgusting and surprising enough to voice your concern that they would kill an endangered species? Really?

The Devil Is in the Details

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This issue also struggles from an artistic point of view. There is the already mentioned contradiction between Talon’s poses on pages two and three, and Talon’s headfirst plunge into the hallway in the same scene does not really make much sense. Every action in the ensuing fight scene is surrounded by white goo which I guess is supposed to look cool but utterly fails. Talon’s face often looks extremely awkward. (page 3 panel four, page seven panels two and four) Even things like lettering seem off. Calvin uses a noise maker that makes no sound effect noise the first time it is used but makes a very loud “Crash” the second time. On page sixteen, Sebastian Clark clearly has a conversation with his own leg based on the placement of the speech bubble. Talon unlocks a secret panel by hitting a series of markings on a Court of Owls seal, but there is no clear indication of where the panel pops up in the room, and I am just guessing that Talon is pressing on the seal because it is impossible to actually tell from the artwork.

Believe it or not, I hate ragging on any creative team, and I especially hate criticizing the artists since they have skills I could not possibly begin to match, but I feel like the artist really phoned it in on this one, and I do not know what the letterer was thinking.

Go Purchase Your Copy Today!

My heavy criticism of this issue is not due to a tremendously low amount of quality but rather because of the enormity of my disappointment. I was just beginning to have high expectations for this series when this issue somewhat dashed them. Despite my disappointment, there is still a lot of good stuff happening here.

The chemistry between Calvin and Sebastian is great. This is definitely an odd couple style pairing in terms of personality. They both have a shady past with ties to the Court of Owls and skills which are less than legitimate, but Sebastian is like the professor who never actually puts his theoretical skills to real world practice, and his lack of job experience cause things to go awry. At the same time, Calvin is more of a Nightwing style improviser as opposed to Sebastian’s “stick to the plan” attitude. The two come to a head over their differences, and I rather enjoyed their back and forth throughout the issue.

Talon’s conflict with the Court of Owls seems to be shaping up nicely too. Calvin, Sebastian, and the Court all seem to be behaving in a reasonable fashion though they are all advancing different agendas. Talon also gets two new enemies in this issue, and despite the fairly generic nature of Talon’s new arch nemesis (the assumption that this character will become an arch nemesis is based on comments from an interview with Tynion), I am excited to see what he will be like in practice. The other talon in this issue was also an interesting character even if his arc was rather brief.

Despite my complaints regarding the art, I do have to give the team credit; the design of the Court’s vault was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the last few panels showcasing the room. Also, though I still have serious complaints about Talon’s costume, it is growing on me a bit, and considering how much I disliked it, it is no small accomplishment for the art team.

Conclusion 7/10

Despite the very real problems with this issue, it still manages to be entertaining, and I can look past the poor scripting elements and technical mistakes to appreciate the overall story this issue presents. If you have enjoyed this series so far, pick up this issue, but be warned that it is a dip in quality.

Talon #1

The Gotham Trap

Transient

The zero issue of Talon was a solid story, but it left me with one main concern. Can a series about an escape artist really go the distance? In last month’s issue alone, Calvin made four masterful escapes. That may be fun for a time, but how long can a series continue to produce death traps for its hero? At the same time, Calvin obviously has more going on than just his escape artistry even if that is his headlining feature. Does this issue round out the character and show that Talon can thrive in a monthly feature, or does it continue to be little more than a showcase for a sideshow attraction?

In this issue, Calvin returns to Gotham City for the first time in years in order to confirm that the Court of Owls has been dismembered by Batman. Calvin quickly discovers that the Court is not completely dead when a Talon comes for his head. Now, Calvin is fighting once again for his very survival.

Costume Change

I am sure I should be talking about the dialogue, conflict, and presentation, but there is really one thing that sticks out to me, Talon’s frickin costume! I do not believe we really got a good look at the entire costume last issue, but I cringe every time I see it on the cover. It is not a horrible design, but it is far from great. I think I would actually be okay with it if we could just remove the gaudy orange mail from the arms and the odd yellow eye designs on the mask which look as if they were designed to mimic eighties glam rock makeup. I actually thought Calvin looked much more striking at the beginning of this issue with a simple jumpsuit and angled orange goggles than he did in his full getup.

The Substance of the Issue

I am glad that this issue did not end with a “To Be Continued…” I believe that the first issue of a series should do a solid job of giving the basic idea of a series. Tynion IV does this perfectly setting up the basic motivation for Talon. I was actually quite impressed by the balance of action to dialogue in this book. I think it was a perfectly designed intro to the series. The first twelve pages give nearly constant action, and the last eight pages are all exposition, yet they both manage to be equally engaging.

Transient

Speaking of the action, Calvin demonstrates a very unique fighting style throughout this issue which was something I did not expect this early on. His use of surroundings, off the wall antics, and quick-witted improvisations give a very Jackie Chan feel to the action. The final moments of Calvin’s fight with the Court’s talon brought a very large smile to my face.

Bat Droppings

Let me a throw out a few random thoughts not really worthy of a long discussion.

1. Though the court is a suitable main nemesis for Talon, I do hope that Tynion IV takes the time to develop some other villains for Talon. He will need his own rogues’ gallery.

2. Obi-Wan Kenobi rescues Calvin on page 12.

(Spoiler)

3. I suspect that the true nature of Sebastian Clark will be a plot element for many issues to come. The truth of his story is suspect in my mind. Perhaps he could be a member of the Court looking to use Calvin to wipe out the other power players, or perhaps he is telling the truth. Time will tell.

(Spoiler)

4. I am not sure if the True History of the Court of Owls really makes any sense. If everyone who saw a book about a conspiracy died, that would only add validity to the theory that there was a conspiracy.

Conclusion 9/10

I have greatly enjoyed Tynion IV’s work, and I had a lot of faith going into this series, but Tynion IV still managed to impress me. This is a very solid start to the series, and all who are interested in the premise of the story should pick up this issue.

Review: Talon #0

The Long Run

I have a confession to make. I have not read “The Court of Owls.” I know this is a shameful admission, but until last month, I was spending my comic budget on back issues, and I have just recently discovered the joy that is Snyder’s Batman. I am in the process of trying to read all the DCNU back issues of Batman, but I have not yet managed to read them all.

Consequently, I had less idea than most about what to expect from this issue. I have done some research on “The Court of Owls” story arc, but I am still in the dark on a lot of issues. Before even reading it, I can tell you that the premise for the story is not particularly original, and the design of Talon’s costume is less than impressive, and neither of these facts indicate that I should have high hopes for the series. On the flipside, Talon is written by James Tynion IV who has done an excellent job with backup stories in Batman and Detective Comics, so that gives me hope that the series will be of a high quality.

In this issue, readers see the early life of Calvin Rose as he goes from abused child to Talon for the Court of Owls. Interspersed among the flashbacks, Calvin is attacked by another talon who was sent to kill him for abandoning his duties with the Court.

An Awesome Assassin?

The story is well told and well paced. One of Tynion’s strengths as a writer is delivering solid dialogue which feels genuine and relevant. This is as true in Talon as it is in all his other writing. Talon delivers a hero who has a distinctly Batman feel in the respect that he possesses no superpowers, operates primarily via stealth and martial arts, and utilizes gadgets, yet Calvin feels distinct in that he has blood on his hands, he is primarily an escape artist, and he has a distinct visual flair in both his actual physicality and his costume. As a new reader to the Court of Owls, I was definitely left with some questions about the organization, but it is to Tynion’s credit that I did not feel like I was missing any crucial information.

An Awful Assassin?

Nothing about this story leaps up and grabs me as especially amazing. The art is fine but nothing exceptional. Calvin seems like an admirable guy, but I do not yet know enough about him to have any real investment in his character. The Court of Owls, at this point, feels like a fairly generic Bilderberg with assassins style conspiracy.

The Problem with Escape Artistry

In addition to all of this, Calvin’s skill set as an escape artist creates some potential problems. Any story which focuses on escape as its primary plot mechanism runs into problems with creating scenarios from which the hero can escape. For instance, Prison Break was a television series based on the idea of escaping from prison, but by the end of the first season, the cast had escaped which left the writers searching for new situations from which the characters could escape. The writers and characters managed to do just that, and Prison Break is one of my favorite TV series, but I will quickly admit that it became convoluted as in subsequent seasons the heroes escaped federal pursuit, escaped each other, escaped pursuit while bringing down a Presidential conspiracy, escaped prison again, escaped pursuit again, worked for a government conspiracy while eluding capture from a corporate conspiracy and other government authorities, escaped each other again, and escaped prison for a third time. God help us if they try to do something like this with Talon.

The escape gimmick was also tried in DC comics once before with the publication of Mister Miracle back in the 1970’s. The series only lasted twenty-four issues. How often can you put a hero in a deathtrap before it becomes tired?

Of course, Talon possesses skills beyond the escape arts, so perhaps this will not become an issue, but with Talon already engaging in four escape feats in the first issue, it certainly appears that the series is starting off in that direction.

Conclusion 7/10

I have no doubt Tynion IV can write an excellent comic; he has already proven his ability. The question is whether he can create a good original intellectual property. For me, the jury is still out, but Talon makes an okay first appearance. If you are a huge Court of Owls or Batman fan, then enjoy, but everyone else should approach with a little cynicism.