In last month's Talon #0, we were introduced to Calvin Rose, a former escape artist for Haly's Circus and a one-time Talon Assassin for Gotham City's evil secret society known as The Court of Owls. We saw how he was indoctrinated into the Court and the crisis of conscience that made him go rogue. Now, in Talon #1, we find out just what Rose is going to do with his life now that he's free – or at least as free as you can be from a shadowy council of manipulators with connections everywhere.
We open with Rose returning to Gotham City fo the first time since his escape, having heard the reports of the death of the Court of Owls at the hands of Batman's crew, and he had to see for himself whether or not those reports were greatly exaggerated. When investigating an old base of theirs, he's confronted by the same Talon that tangled with Jonah Hex back in All-Star Western #9 – a great note of continuity that makes me appreciate the creative team of James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder and Guillem March for actually paying attention to All-Star Western.
Thus, the reports are exaggerated, yes, but as Rose soon finds out once he manages to win the fight and an old man shows up on the scene to recruit him into a greater battle, they are not greatly so. It seems the Court is hurting badly after Batman managed to best them, but they're licking their wounds and healing to come back stronger, and now is the time to strike – before they can complete that process.
That, of course, leaves the question of just who this old guy is. His withered face looks slightly like a jungle cat and somewhat like a spotted owl, although still quite human, so don't start thinking this has something to do with Cheetah or anything. He calls himself Sebastian Clark (although you'd think DC people would steer away from characters whose names include 'Clark' or 'Wayne' or 'Bruce,' since even back in the day, they changed Two-Face's real name from Harvey Kent), and he claims to have been spying on the Court for years, and that Rose is the only one who can do the job that Clark knows needs to be done.
It's mostly set-up here, and it's interesting, because one has to note the similarity to the structure of Batman Beyond, where the grizzled old Bruce Wayne helps guide the young, new-look Bat Terry McGuinness. The difference is that these aren't bats, they're owls. Bitter, angry ex-owls out for revenge. March's art is particularly compelling when depicting Clark's pitch, as he looks so strangely animalistic through only the use of eyebrows and liver spots, and we can't help but believe this guy isn't telling Rose the whole truth.
It's not the most exciting issue, but it's cool, and this is certainly a solid foundation for what's to come. I'm just not sure I like the design of the Talon costume. Maybe it'll just take some getting used to, but I'm a vocal opponent of the '90s headwrap, and this is dangerously close.