When DC Comics tapped Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to take over their “Batman” title as part of the New 52 launch, the publisher likely knew it had a hit on their hands. But over one year and at least one event story later, and what that book birthed is the first “new” New 52 title: “Talon.”
Focusing on a rogue assassin from the mysterious “Court of Owls,” the monthly title is scripted by James Tynion IV with a plotting assist by Snyder and drawn by Guillem March. This week, issue #2 of the series (actually its third as the book debuted with September’s issue #0) shipped to comic shops and completed the introduction of Calvin Rose, who after five years on the lamb from the Court is now taking the battle back to the villains who trained him with the help of shadowy benefactor Sebastian Clark.
CBR News spoke with Tynion about the next phase of the series which sees Talon set out across the country to take the battle with the Court to them. Starting in December’s issue #3, the hero will take on other Talon operatives in New York City while reconnecting with a mother/daughter team he saved from the Owls’ knife in #0. As the writer explained, the story is only the first step towards more characters, more villains and more mysteries for “Talon” as Batman and family wait just around the corner.
CBR News: James, the overall question I’ve had reading the opening issues of “Talon” revolves around two threads you can explore in the book. First, there’s the life of Calvin Rose as he was on the run from the Court of Owls for five years and what that did to him. Then there’s also the potential of exploring the Court’s own history from the inside. What pole have you been leaning towards more in the series?
James Tynion IV: Actually, it’s a bit of a balancing act. I think there’s a lot to play with on both ends, and they can also meet each other in the middle quite a bit. That’s part of what we’re doing in the next storyline. At the end of issue #2 and into issue #3, we see Calvin go to New York City, and he’s actually going back there. We’ll find out that this was one of the first places he went when he escaped Gotham City with Casey and Sarah Washington -Â the two women he was ordered to kill by the Court and then refused to do so. We’re going to dig in a bit and see what life he was building and what led him to start running again as well as who he left behind.
At the same time, We have the opportunity to dig deeper into the Court’s reach beyond Gotham City. We saw a bit in issue #1 that they have assets in other cities, and there is going to be a major asset in the middle of New York City that ties in with Calvin’s past. It’s a nice balance of those two big things we’re trying to explore in this series. The next batch of issues is where we’ll really see those conflicts converge.
When the first wave of the New 52 launched, the books were much more focused on single-issue stories rather than arcs. Your opening issues have followed that pattern. Can we expect some longer stories coming up?
We are building longer arcs now. The first three issues – #0, 1 and 2 which are always confusing to talk about with the numbering -Â are very much “one and done” kinds of stories. I was thinking of it in terms of #0 establishing who Calvin was, #1 establishing what his mission would be in this series and issue #2 finally let’s us see him go out and shows functionally what his mission will look like. It shows how he operates with his new partner, Sebastian Clark. Everything gets rolling at the end of issue #2 with the Court bringing out a very formidable threat who’s going to loom large in the issues to come and who ties very deeply into the secret history of the Court – the stuff Batman would have no means of knowing. This is the kind of stuff that even Calvin has only heard rumors of, and it’s going to come to bite him in the ass. It’s really exciting.
The New York storyline will be two issues, but it spins directly out of issue #2. And that then sets up our first three-issue arc. It all forms up into one big story. I’ve been thinking of it like a TV season where you have these self-contained stories, but everything is still a part of the bigger story that started in issue #0. All of this is leading towards a very specific endpoint, at which point we’ll have “Season 2.” But for now, Season 1 is still going strong, and there are a lot of twists and turns coming in the next few months.
With New York coming up in issue #3, I assume we’ll also meet the Washingtons, who we only saw briefly at the end of #0. To say the least, meeting a man when he shows up to kill you and then decides to help you go on the run is an auspicious beginning to a relationship. What’s it like for them to have Talon back into their lives?
One thing I’ve been finding is that Casey Washington in particular, the mother, has been probably my favorite character I’ve ever written. She is awesome. And her relationship with Calvin is very complicated because it came from this dark place. I mean, he saved them, but he saved them not exactly in any way that she had any control over or desire for. She was unwillingly saved, and we’re going to see what the repercussions of that have been on their relationship because they have spent a lot of time together in the early days of being on the run from Gotham. There are a lot of great moments to come from that relationships. It starts right from the top of issue #3, and it’s going to be something special.
Now that we’ve established Calvin and Sebastian Clark, we’re going to be seeing a lot of expansion in the cast. We’re going to be seeing new villains who are unique and different from the kind of modular Talons that showed up in the first issues. They’ll be guarding the individual assets of the Court, and we’ll be seeing guys who come back and start to develop and antagonism with Calvin. We’ll also meet some new allies who may have a connection from his own hidden past.
One thing folks at DC from Dan DiDio on down talked about in describing the “Talon” book was that idea that this is a whole new franchise for the DCU. With that in mind and all these other new supporting cast showing up, what’s been your rule on bringing in other classic DC characters from time to time? Is there a chance members of the Bat Family will appear eventually?
I think it is very safe to say that we’re going to be running into a few members of the Bat Family in the next handful of issues. But in a very general sense, this is Calvin’s book, and we want to establish where he is and who he is in the DC Universe. And we also want to establish more about the Court of Owls after what Scott did in his huge “Batman” epic. I want to really dig into their history without taking away from the shadows and mystery of the organization because I think they’re inherent in those characters and their effectiveness.
But we’re coming at the Court from a different angle. We’re coming at them through people who actually know about them. The big thing that happened with Batman in Scott’s story was that he was totally taken off guard that these people existed. He had no idea they existed. But Calvin and Sebastian have known that the Court has existed for years, and they’ve been working to fight against them. They’ve got more information in their pockets. But that also doesn’t mean that since the end of the “Night of the Owls” storyline that Batman hasn’t been digging around as well. And we’ll sort of catch up to him and see what he has learned in the meanwhile over the next few issues.
On the collaborative end, you got the ball rolling with Scott Snyder to establish a tone and feel for where the series would go, and you work each month with artist Guillem March to further define that style. How does all that feed into where the series goes next?
Guillem is incredible. I’m blown away every single day I get art in my inbox. I got a page today that’s not even the most action-packed page, and it just hit me. Guillem gets the tone of the series. I started the book really trying to set things up a bit more, but I’ve grown to just trust him, where his head’s at and what he’s trying to build. And it can’t be overstated how good our colorist, Tomeu Morey, is. It really is somehting seeing how their work comes together into what I think is one of the most striking books on the stands right now. It really stands apart from a lot of the other superhero work, and it’s a perfect tone for this book. It sets things apart right from the start from what we know of the Court of Owls and shows that we’re not just copying what Scott and Greg Capullo did in their first appearances.
And Scott is my mentor and one of my closest friends. I can’t stress how much help he gives me and how much guidance he gives me, but he gives me a lot of room to really develop these stories and characters he helped usher into this world. He’s helped me take the book to a place where we’re really both very happy about the direction and what we’re doing with them. So it’s been an incredible collaboration on both sides.
“Talon” #2 is in stores right now from DC Comics.