It’s a new arc, a new artist, and the beginning of the end for writer and creator James Tynion IV, who will be leaving the series in January. Last issue saw the conclusion of Calvin Rose and Casey Washington’s assault on Santa Prisca, Bane’s own private island. In the final pages Casey had been rescued but was beat all to hell by Felix Harmon, little Sarah was abducted by the Court of Owls, Bane killed Sebastian Clarke and teamed up with The Outsider instead, and the march to war with Gotham began as ships embarked for the US. Of course, we also had a month-long break due to Villains Month which saw the start of Forever Evil which made it clear that Bane’s invasion would indeed be successful so how would that affect the tension in Talon? Would we see Bane’s invasion as it happened? Would we flash forward in time to the post-Forever Evil world?
Talon #12 slows things down quite a bit. Since it’s the start of a new arc, this chapter has been made as new-reader friendly as possible so it can be accessible to the folks who have been eager to hop aboard. These pages deal primarily with the aftermath of the previous arc and telling the origin of the villain, Felix Harmon. It makes for a decent recap of all things Talon (even if the reunion of Batman and Talon is totally skipped over, an odd choice that made it feel like the book was missing something) that even found a way to knit itself closer to Batman lore by explaining the history Casey Washington has with Lucius Fox, who is helping to create Case a prosthetic limb (I told you she got beat to hell).
Felix Harmon’s origin was something I could have done without. Just hearing the horror stories passed down from generations of Owls was more than enough to enrich his story. Actually seeing the flashbacks and getting a precise account of what he did takes away all the mystery and no matter how disturbing these acts were, they cannot measure up to what readers of this 12-part saga have imagined themselves at this point. I believe it was Stephen King who said that the scariest thing in the world is what could be behind the door, not what is actually behind it. Harmon’s history had passed into legend and I think it should have stayed there. Especially in that first page where we see a young Harmon dropping a locomotive engine from some scaffolding and onto a crowd of unsuspecting people below. What. The. Heck? Never mind the fact that such an object is too heavy to carry, but even if we accept that Harmon had super strength that doesn’t explain how the heck this scaffolding would support a damn locomotive. Come on! That scene was ridiculous.
But back to the actual present (or should we consider Forever Evil the present?) we see Batman and Talon trying to figure out where Bane could be. Talon was able to make it back to Gotham ahead of the ships, but now Batman cannot find any sign of the ships or even the island of Santa Prisca– this detail felt like a bit much to me. Bane’s island can move? What is this? LOST? This search for Bane really lacked the sense of urgency I felt it required. This series has a great history of being very fast paced so when we see Gotham on the verge of an invasion it feels incredibly off to have such a steady pace broken up by flashbacks about a supporting character. I like to think that if Batman learned that Bane was on his way to Gotham with an entire army he would be throwing more effort into a defense than this.
While Talon has struggled to keep a consistent artist who can create a proper look for this series ever since Guillem March left, Emanuel Simeoni joins the creative team with this issue and will be illustrating at least through issue #15. While there isn’t really much action to speak of in this issue to fully test Simeoni’s take on Talon I thought that he did a decent job. The page 2 shot of the Robats flying was a real highlight that certainly gives me hope for how he’ll handle action in the future. However, there were some rather warped angles that reminded me of the work of Rafa Sandoval’s Catwoman and there were a few facial expressions that could have been better. One shot that I found particularly odd was Batman touching Talon’s face during a lecture… that was really odd. But again, I have a feeling Simeoni will handle fights much better than these quiet moments. It feels like there’s a lot of pent up energy here waiting to explode.
- You dig the villain Felix Harmon and want to learn more about his past
- Team-ups are your thing
- Your’e eager to check out what new artist Simeoni has to offer
- You’re curious about the fate of Casey Washington and a few other supporting characters
- You’re a new reader who has been eager to try out this series
Besides what I thought was a really ridiculous first page, Talon #12 is a solid albeit slower read than I expected. Since we’re already 2 months deep into Forever Evil and are well aware that Bane invades Gotham issue #12’s showcase of Batman and Talon trying to uncover the mystery of what Bane is up to seems quite dull. If anything, it would have been more exciting to see Talon on the front lines in a Batman-less Gotham as the invasion begins. We’re long overdue for a comic that shows how one of the B-list heroes reacted to the rise of the villains. Still, while Talon #12 does feel like a time-out, Tynion and Simeoni do a fine job of catching new readers up on who everyone is and what’s going on in the plot.