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Anarchy in the US
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After Scott Snyder's massive and sprawling entire "Court of Owls" arc (from Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52) and Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52), we got to see firsthand this new organization and just how powerful they really were. But like all great things, it came to the end with Batman severely beating the Court back with very little resources left and giving readers an open-ended question that the Court is still out there in some shape and form. And with that, came the end of Scott Snyder's tale of the Court of Owls. End of story. Move on.
Snyder's own pupil writer, James Tynion IV, likes the Court of Owls story. He likes the idea of a secret organization, so he wondered about all the years of secrets, influence, and power has the Court had on Gotham and the worlds itself (much like us readers thought about too). And somehow, Tynion was able to create a story of a rouge Talon who gets away and is about fighting back the Court. Snyder is impressed with this story and behold: we have our own spin-off series. But in the world of comics, these types of series are not new. Many spin-off series can be seen as "cash-ins" from a popular event and don't last long. Is Talon one of those "cash-in" comics? Thankfully, no. Talon is a worthy companion series and solid stand-alone series as well.
TALON VOL.1: SCOURGE OF THE OWLS collects issues #0-7. Calvin Rose is/was a Talon for the Court of Owls, but unlike other Talons before him, Calvin is an escape artist. A rarity for a Talon. And his first mission as Talon was to break into an un-bleachable home and kill the tenants, but Calvin's has a change of heart and decides to save the tenants and flee the Court forever. But the Court have been hunting Calvin for years over his betrayal, and when Calvin hears the news from Batman weakened the Court from the Night of the Owls event, Calvin returns to Gotham and finds out the Court is not done yet. So Calvin teams up with Sebastion Clark, another victim of the Court of Owls and has vast knowledge on the Court, to find and seek out the remaining fractions of the Court of Owls throughout the world and end their reign forever.
First things first: Although Scott Snyder's name is credited on the cover first, he only does the plot (meaning he does the general story), whereas James Tynion IV does the plot with Snyder and the script (the actual wording). Second: Scott Snyder admitted at Wondercon 2013 (I was there) that after issue #2, the plot is mostly Tynions work and influence. So although Snyder's name is clear as day on the cover, the book is mostly in the hands of James Tynion. So do not try to get your hopes up for that notion, but I think Tynion does a wonderful job here seeing as Tynion is one of Snyders pupils. The man has done some great backup issues and done-in-one issues since the beginning of the New 52, and this being his first time as writer, I am impressed.
Tynion could have made this series a rinse-repeat series with each few issues Calvin going around the globe taking out Talons, but thankfully, the book is full of action, suspense, and surprises every turn of the page. Calvin goes from being hunted, to being the hunter, to joining an anti-Court of Owls brigade, to taking on a legendary "super" killer Talon, and going after the Grandmaster of the Court of Owls. It's a wild and crazy ride for Calvin and it all ends on a massive game changing ending that makes Talon a surprisingly fun read, with or without any prior knowledge to Snyders Court of Owls arc.
Beyond the twist and turns of the breakneck story, Tynion still gives readers glimpse of these characters to better flesh out the story. Calvin is a likable character who was raised to be a killer and is a guy who simply wants to be free in life, so seeing Calvin put into scenarios where most characters fight, we have a character that rather use his wits and abilities to get around obstacles and living for the moment. Tynion also gives supporting characters better meanings with the world, as well as further knowledge of the Court of Owls and it's grasp on Gotham and the world itself. And the Talons? Much like the Night of the Owls event, Tynion makes it so some Talons are cold and merciless killers, while others are deeply conflicted beings that do not like the Court than Calvin. This gives the book a good balance of story and character building.
As for art duties, Guillem March does issues #0-1 and #3-7. March's pencils are beautiful with a sense of free-flowing action and major details throughout. It's nice March has toned down his cheesecake shots from his work on Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game (The New 52) and Gotham Sirens, but he does do some occasionally over exaggerated bodies. None the less, his art and style flow greatly for the series. And Juan Jose Ryp does issues #2 as fill-in artist, which does a commendable job in doing intricate detail and rendered characters. Though not as strong as Marches art, it's still solid.
Besides the slight change up in artist, I do not have any complaints for Talon. The only thing I can think of that might not gel with readers is the chemistry between Calvin and Clark and another character I will not mention for spoilers. There does seem to be a great deal of bickering from Calvin and whoever is monitoring/guiding him.
Other then that, I enjoyed TALON VOL.1: SCOURGE OF THE OWLS. A spin-off series from Scott Snyder's Court of Owls story may not be original, but I feel it's handled nicely for readers who might be interested. This has action, fun, some good character development, and some solid surprises. It's a series you can read by itself and without any prior knowledge to Snyders Court of Owls arc. So I do recommend this series, especially the cliffhanger ending and possible run ins with the Bat-family in Talon Vol. 2 (The New 52).