New 52 – Talon #7 review

Since Bane was hyped up to return in a big way in Talon #7, I made sure to add the book to the review rotation this week. Not only that, but I spent the entire evening reading every issue of Talon #1-6 (I already read #0 and reviewed it months ago) so that I would understand what exactly was going on in the world of Calvin Rose. It took quite a while but thankfully the series is actually very fun and I highly recommend everyone check it out. Either find some back issues or pick up the TPB whenever that is released because taking all these chapters in at a single sitting was a highly enjoyable experience.

But I suppose the most pressing topic I should address is the question on everyone’s mind: “If I haven’t read a single issue of Talon before, will I have any clue what’s going on in this comic if I buy it just for Bane?” The answer to this is a resounding NO. You will be totally lost and have major plot points built since issue #0 spoiled for you if you buy this just for a glimpse at Bane. As cliche as this may sound, Talon #7 is an issue that “changes everything” for this series. It’s going to be an entirely different book after these events and it would be a shame to spoil your enjoyment of issues #0-6 by picking this up simply because you want to imagine Tom Hardy’s voice in your head for a few panels.

And that brings me to my next point: While Bane is portrayed very well here and his new character design is more Dark Knight Rises-esque…he’s only in the comic for 2 pages + 1 panel where we can see his arm. It would have been a glorious, jaw-dropping reveal if they hadn’t plastered him on the cover and broadcast his arrival in Detective Comics #19. But at the same time I can guarantee that this will be one of the highest selling issues of Talon and a cover with Bane on it will be 100% responsible for that. The idea of a respectful interpretation of Bane excites people. Just look at me, I was going to trade wait this whole series and save anymore Talon reviews until then but I just had to see this!

Would I have enjoyed it as much had I not read the previous 6 chapters? Absolutely not. I would still have appreciated the terrific pencils by Guillem March and Bane’s guest appearance would still be very cool to see but without the prior knowledge of what the heck is going on you won’t grasp the severity of the situation in the same way. There are big revelations here. Huge. And fans of this series should find it all rather thrilling. However, the main villain in this episode really wasn’t a very good surprise and I would hope that fans of the series saw the reveal coming a mile away. Other twists (and there are a few) in this book are indeed shocking, but the outing of the big bad shouldn’t make anyone gasp.

Really? The mysterious old man who looks like a speckled Owl was a member of the Court of Owls all along? You don’t say!

My only real problem with issue #7 is that it does use some all too convenient tricks to help the protagonists overcome their obstacles. And that’s really, really annoying to me. It’s a problem I had with earlier issues of Talon as well.

The worst example would be a moment when in part 4 a group of heroes was confronted by an evil talon (whose weakness is cold) and then out of NOWHERE a character pulls out a freeze ray and makes a wisecrack about how easy it is to find Mr. Freeze’s tech online. How is this battle against the Court not a total cakewalk now?! You have the perfect weapon for fighting the talons. It shouldn’t be a big deal. And yet the freeze ray is never seen again. After taking out the one baddie the freeze ray vanishes from the collective memory of our entire cast and the reader is supposed to buy back into the struggle on the page. I couldn’t. I couldn’t shake it. That single moment really hurt the series for me because now I’m always wondering why the heck they aren’t all wielding freeze guns.
James Tynion does a great job with set-up and pay-off when it comes to the larger plot (as we can see with the big reveals in this issue), but when it comes to the action some sort of deus ex machina crops up or Calvin will have a 2 minute heart-to-heart conversation that turns a villain into an ally even when they’ve gone through a lifetime of brainwashing. One small example from this issue would be that Talon uses a disruptive gadget that’s never been referenced before in order to make a grand escape. It happens in Batman comics pretty often too where Batman just so happened to have brought shark repellent that day or whatever.
Something that had been set up somewhat before but still frustrated me was that Casey had indeed used voice controls in buildings before so it made sense how she was able to lock the door in Clark’s room. What didn’t make sense was why Clark would keep Rose’s training equipment in the closet of his penthouse that’s off-limits to everyone or why he would walk inside the dungeon-to-be when he’s the one holding the gun. Why wouldn’t he order her to step inside and get in the containment device? If you’re holding the gun, you shouldn’t be the one backing yourself into a corner, especially when you’re old, feeble, and aiming at the girlfriend of the world’s most resilient man.

But the great thing about this series is that even though there are these all too convenient escapes, the characters always find themselves in a whole new heap of trouble IMMEDIATELY. And when you couple that with a fast moving narrative it’s easy to let all that slide and just have fun with it. It would indeed get frustrating if these “Oh hey, there’s a tunnel downstairs I never told you about that would be perfect for defeating this bad guy” moments were the solution to an over-hyped problem with several issues of buildup, but that’s never the case. So much thrilling stuff is always happening in EVERY SINGLE ISSUE that you can be more forgiving than usual. Yes, we got out of that last dilemma rather easily but the new threat is so juicy that you won’t really mind.

You probably noticed that I haven’t gone into too many specifics about the story of this issue and have instead talked about the series as a whole except for a few spoiler tags. Well, that’s because I don’t want to ruin anything. Pretty much everything that happens in this story would count as a great big spoiler. So basically I spent the evening prepping to write a review for a book that I can’t talk about about without giving everything away.

All you need to know is that longtime Talon fans should be pleased and newcomers should wait for the trade. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, well illustrated, and Bane does indeed come back in a big way with an act that shoots him way up the ranks of New 52 villainy.

SCORE: 8.5/10