The court of owls arc of Batman was easily the best story of the new DC 52 series. There was excellent writing by Scott Snyder and brilliant artwork by Greg Capullo. Now we have the third wave of new DCU titles to keep the number to 52, with recent cancellations. It is co-written by James Tynion IV who was a former student of Scott Snyder and has been writing with Snyder for the past few Batman issues. Guillem March comes on the book as the artist after his work on Catwoman, which was on the whole good. He is known as a pin-up artist as he draws women very beautifully and sexily. The first Catwoman issue was extremely erotic and stunning but the final panel was too graphic for the tone and writing of the comic. The new combination of writer and artist is mouth watering, especially as Talon is one of the first new protagonists in a comic in a long time. The court of owls has a highly trained assassin called Talon, this book tells the tale of one of their killers, an escapologist called Calvin Rose.
Snyder and Tynion are essentially indistinguishable and I do not think we will see Tynion’s style develop until he continues the book lonesome. It’s a well written tale balancing present time with childhood experiences and training to become as assassin. The plot is interesting as Calvin’s youth was troubled, exploring the path taken to overcome his obstacles. The dialogue is narrative heavy and is written from a first person perspective. He describes his feelings to the difficulties he encounters and rationalizes his decisions to the reader. It works very effectively as it helps us to decide how grey his morality is. The artwork is very detailed and has numerous poignant panels, especially of Calvin locked in a dog cage as a child. The action sequences are believable and Calvin’s face shows his torment, unfortunately every other character is wearing a mask. It is quite a grim looking comic as the shading is quite dark but this fits with the protagonist being an assassin and having conflicting feelings throughout.
The book does well to explore the origin of Calvin from his childhood to his adolescent assassin training. An abandoned child who becomes an escape artist is wooed by the court of owls with promises of ridding the world of evil. The sacrifices he would have to make were not revealed until they needed to be made. He learnt how to run and escape but with the owls protecting him, he stopped needing to. When the sacrifices required of him became to high, he carries on running from the court and his life, until both catch up to him. How far down the morality ladder has Calvin descended and when does he stop falling? This leads to my main criticism of him as though he was an abandoned child he seems to have been well raised by the circus. Then he was tempted by the court by a promise to help rid evil, though this was never an obvious motivation, especially when the training involves immoral activities. I cannot see why he would descend to murder and the evilness of the court. This is a zero issue explaining the background to Calvin Rose, set in Gotham and before the title launch. As we have yet to read the first issue, the escaping theme may not be pertinent in the first arc, but we do know he is undergoing a reformation. To what end has yet to be seen but hopefully this will be a worthy revelation.
“The only thing I remembered from my childhood is the moment I knew I was going to die” 8/10