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Talon #5 – Review

TALON #5

By: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV (story), Guillem March (art), Tomev Morey (colors)

The Story: Always check before you let a recently revived serial killer in.

The Review: With the cancellation of both Sword of Sorcery and Team Seven, that leaves Talon as the only “Third Wave” title left on my pull list (for better or worse, I’ve always avoided the Dan Didio-penned Phantom Stranger).  Considering that I also see Talon as a fairly uninspired series across the board, I think I can safely conclude that DC’s “Third Wave” has been the weakest set out of the new 52.

In the case of this series, it’s always suffered from a lack of originality or even freshness.  Even if you can set aside the fact that it’s mostly an attempt to strain every last drop of excitement generated by the Night of the Owls storyline, there really hasn’t been much about Talon that’s distinguished it as a must-read: the characters aren’t memorable; the plotting is thin at the best of times; and none of the concepts have been particularly thought-provoking.

Over the last few months, you’ve gotten the sense that Tynion has been trying to re-orient the series into something different with every couple issues.  At first, we had Calvin, solo, as a man on the run.  Then, with Sebastian, the title became a special ops thriller.  The return of Casey and her own team of hired hands dabbled with the heist and caper genre, and now, with the rest of her gang gone, Tynion is aiming for a more family-oriented story.

While Calvin, Sebastian, Casey, and her daughter Sarah breakfasting together is undeniably a sweet scene, it also allows Tynion to avoid the effort of actually having to develop their relationship to that point.  It’s a family dynamic that’s mostly unearned, especially on the part of Sebastian, who suddenly looks kinder and gentler than he ever has on this title.  It’s something of a Jekyll-Hyde transformation, given how crusty he used to be, and the change is even more noticeable when he and Calvin have a heart-to-heart about the future, apparently dismissing all the tension between them after his betrayal in #2.

Besides the problematic character work, the plot suffers from a double-whammy of the predictable.  Given the nature of the title and its creators, you knew Batman would get involved sooner or later, and I suppose some credit is due for the fact that Tynion-Snyder managed to wait a whole six months before getting the Dark Knight involved.  Despite having every reason to admire Calvin’s work, Batman manufactures a reason to want to shut the former Talon down (i.e. concern for the casualties if the Court is driven to all-out war).*

And then there’s the current set of antagonists.  Obviously, the Gotham Butcher survived the events of last issue and is now biding his time before his next attack by senselessly murdering whomever catches his eye—very complicated.  Quite frankly—and I know how silly this sounds given that I’m reading a title called Talon—I’m pretty tired of Calvin going up against various Talons and Court-minions all the time.  It’s gotten pretty dull, no matter what setting Tynion places them in, even if that setting happens to be a “completely impenetrable” fortress called, imaginatively enough, “The Fortress.”

I’m just as exhausted with all the constant, tight, larger-than-life close-ups we have to deal with in March’s art.  It’s not entirely his fault; if the script didn’t call for so many talking heads, March wouldn’t have to draw so many of them.  But you can also say that these textual failings are the real test of an artist’s mettle, and March’s lack of variation in perspective and distance make for a visually monotonous read, no matter how beautiful and appropriate Morey’s colors.

Conclusion: I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’m getting the feeling that Talon may well join its Third Wave brethren in my Dropped List if it doesn’t get its act together very, very soon.

Grade: C

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * That said, it’s really Casey and Sebastian driving a lot of the aggression against the Court, a fact which I’m sure will leave Batman nonplussed.

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