In which Calvin Rose and Mary Turner develop a bond and desecrate a body; Bane rules Santa Prisca with an iron fist; and Casey Washington gains the key and tooth to her freedom.
As a friendly reminder for those who may have forgotten, Talon crossed over into Birds of Prey 21 earlier this month. If you haven’t read it yet then I strongly suggest you do. It had some great exchanges between Calvin Rose and the mute Talon, Mary.
In Talon #8 Calvin Rose was resurrected by the Court of Owls and pulled back into their clutches, and forced once more to become their Talon. I was worried these new developments could make Calvin less relatable, at one point during an inner monologue Calvin even says that it’s hard not to think how much less of a man he is after his resurrection. However, it’s that same reflection upon his current humanity or lack thereof that manages to keep Calvin relatable. It wasn’t being alive or his lack of powers that made him relatable but who he was at his core, his emotional drive and determination, and that hasn’t changed.
After realizing he couldn’t bring himself to kill Mary Turner, the former Talon leads him to an underground laboratory where they come up with a plan in order to trick the Court of Owls into thinking he killed her. In the short time they have together, Mary and Calvin have an obvious connection. They quickly gain each others’ trust, and realize they’re looking at reflections of themselves. Each of them has refused to resign themselves to the fates the Court would have for them and instead make their own.
The plan works as the decoy body Calvin brings John Wycliffe is enough to fool him into thinking that Calvin is completely under his thumb, and he receives his next assignment. Right from the start his next assignment sounds like a suicide mission, with Wycliffe expecting Calvin to infiltrate Pena Dura and capture Sebastian Clark. It doesn’t end there though, as Calvin must also discover what Clark has planned with Bane and then execute Clark, Bane, his Lieutenants, and anyone else who knows about the court.
Before his next assignment, Wycliffe allows Calvin to see Casey Washington, where he lets her know that Sarah is alive in a brainwashing facility of the Court, and that he thinks they’re planning on killing Casey. Calvin manages to slip Casey a lock pick so that she can escape and have a fighting chance to live. Casey has allies of her own, and manages to use a device built into a false tooth to contact Anya and Joey.
I’m very impressed by the way Tynion has been handling Bane’s intelligence and planning, showing in this issue that he hasn’t just taken over the Prison he was raised in, Pena Dura, but the entire Island City of Santa Prisca. His brutality is also on display as much as his mind, as when he savagely murders one of his men for failing to find the intruder, Calvin Rose. Once Calvin gets inside the prison we find that Bane has been running experiments on people and pumping them full of Venom. There’s a lot going on there and it left me wondering what Bane and Clark have planned, and as to which one of them is really the pawn in all this.
The cover of this issue is more than a bit misleading. I understand putting “Guest Starring Birds of Prey” on the cover to attract more readers, but the book should have actually used The Birds of Prey. The only BOP member to actually have a role in this issue was Mary Turner, who was in the first four pages, while Batgirl is only in a single panel and Black Canary is completely absent.
The issue seemed to move very fast, seemingly cutting away to something else every other page. Over all I enjoyed Sepulveda’s art but there were some panels that looked really off. It never took me out of the story, but it was something I noticed a few times.
This issue certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either. It felt as though it were trying to rush through too many things: ending the story from Birds of Prey 21, setting up things for future issues, and then starting the next story all in one issue. The story would definitely be best read in a collected format as opposed to on its own.
Though the Talons and Court of Owls may have originated with Scott Snyder, James Tynion is really making it all his own, fleshing out and defining the Court while adding something new to the mythos almost every issue. He’s also built a fantastic stable of characters, both new and old, to populate the title. When Talon was first announced I felt it was a title that wouldn’t last for more than a year, but nine issues in Tynion has already created a book that, despite its flaws, could be around for years to come.