Talon #0: The Art of the Escape

The Court of Owls gets a spinoff character in the first man to ever escape their labyrinth of madness, Calvin Rose.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Talon #0

One of the better things to come out of the New 52 is Scott Snyder's Batman and his big-time Court of Owls arc, rewriting the history of Gotham City to flummox the Caped Crusader something fierce.True, Snyder had been building to that before the New 52 over in Detective Comics and Gates of Gotham, so you can't really credit the New 52 for giving us that – just for not denying it to us.

Now, one of Snyder's writing students, one James Tynion IV, has taken the lead on continuing that story of the Owls, with co-plotting help from Snyder, in Talon #0, the story of one of the Court's highly-trained foot soldiers who managed to get out from under their thumb. It sounds a little trite on first pitch, but the fact that Calvin Rose had to have dedicated his entire life to becoming an escape artist to pull off the feat gives it a bit more weight.

Talon #0 is the first issue in this series, and gives us a feel for how the whole New 52 should have started, instead of just dropping us all in mid-stream and leaving us wondering what's canon and what isn't. Hindsight is 20/20, and, of course, DC has already lost track of continuity less than a year in, so they didn't even know the answers themselves. Anyway, this is the origin of Rose, who started life with an awful childhood, with the main thing he remembers is being locked in a cage by his father, whom he never saw again, and affecting his first of many escapes from danger.

From there, he joined Haly's Circus, where the Court has connections, which means this book will almost assuredly guest-star Nightwing at some point in the near future, as Dick Grayson and Calvin Rose may have been carnie-mates. Rose mastered the escape artistry and succeeded his mentor in the circus, drawing the attention of the Court, who quickly recruited him under the guise of being cleansers of evil in the world. After going through their rigorous training to become a Talon, the elite secret assassins who, until recently, only existed in folk tales and rumor, it's not until he is forced to take his first life that he begins to doubt the validity of the Court's claims. When he is charged with ending his second and third lives – one of which includes a two-year-old girl – the doubts instantly become action, and it puts Rose on the run.

Tynion's story is certainly involving, and the Court of Owls being after him gives it a really cool base to launch from, and it'll keep these guys relevant now that Batman's moving on to deal with the Joker. Guillem March's art is really good as well, as he's great at capturing very powerful emotions on the faces of his characters when it's needed. We saw some of that in his Catwoman issues, and the disgusted sneer Rose has for his Court-appointed assailants shows us just how much he's in contempt of that court.

It's a good start for Talon, although that costume on the cover is highly suspect. It's dangerously close to being one of those '90s headwrap things I hate so much, but funky cool goggles help balance that out. The jury's still out on that, but it's obviously designed to show us that owls don't always have to be creepy.