The original creator of the series is gone, the whole Calvin Rose epic that began with issue #0 felt like it was nicely wrapped up 2 months ago, the last issue that was also written by an all-new writer was utterly pointless, and now we have what appears to be a totally unnecessary 2-part storyline before the series is officially canceled and off the shelves for good. So is it even worth your time and money to pick up Talon #16?

Yeah. Kind of. But mostly yeah, I think.

If you like the Talon series, and seeing as how you’re reading a review about this I’ll assume you do, then I think you’re going to like what writer Tim Seeley and artist Jorge Lucas have cooked up. And if you’ve never read Talon before then this actually serves as a nice sampling of what the previous 16 issues have had to offer because the first 3 pages serve as a well-executed recap of all that you’ve missed. The one thing that worries me about this 2-parter and causes me to hesitate to give it my recommendation is that, well, it’s just a 2-parter. After next month the series is done. Finished. We had what seemed to be a solid ending already and this new storyline feels awfully ambitious for only 2 chapters. Then again, Seeley may be perfectly capable of sticking the landing. It’s just that in my experience with New 52 comics, compressed storytelling seems to have become a lost art form.

Why do I find part 1 of “Dead Man’s Party” to be ambitious? Because it’s about Calvin Rose fighting his way through the League of Assassins, Lord Deathman, and Doctor Darrk to get to Ra’s al Ghul’s secret supply of Lazarus! Yeah… Forget the Court of Owls, The League of Assassins make The Court look like a middle school bully by comparison and seeing as how Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t just cheat death but actually “Whimpers in fear of it” (Name that reference in the comments below) the Lazarus supply should be The Demon’s Head’s most closely guarded treasure. Speaking of which, this comic makes it sound as if Lazarus is a man-made chemical and Ra’s needs scientists to concoct batches that fill the pit. Is this simply because the existing pits have been exhausted or are we trying to say that this is how it’s always been? Because that would directly contradict things we’ve seen in Red Hood & the Outlaws and about 40 years of Batman comics. I mean, if Ra’s needed a team of scientists to make the stuff for him there would be no way he could’ve survived for hundreds of years.

The comic’s greatest appeal is Calvin’s motivation and the villains in his way. Rather than it being a simple matter of “I want to be alive again.” Seeley offers up a far more interesting aspect of Calvin’s immortality. As an escape artist (an important part of Talon’s character that’s been missing lately) Calvin relied on there being the possibility of death as a means of motivating him toward a way out of his chains and locks and without that? Well, you’ll have to see the horrifying possibilities for yourself. As for the villains, Doctor Darrk is only shown briefly and in my opinion gets a far too over-the-top makeover for The New 52. Darrk has been around in comics for an exceedingly long time as one of Ra’s top men, but our featured baddie, Lord Death man, has endured for much longer even though most casual fans won’t know his name. Lord Death Man was made popular in the Japanese Bat-Manga of the 60’s and only recently has seen a resurgence in Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc. run and the short-lived but fantastic “Batman: Brave and The Bold” animated series.

Seeley does a fine job of capturing the same zany voice that Morrison established, giving Death Man’s speech a quality that seems like it has been broken or re-translated from another language. Of course, the greatest thing that Lord Death Man has is his novelty factor. He shows up, reviewers like me rave about “Oh there’s such history to this character!” but hopefully someone will come along soon with greater plans for this villain.

Artist Jorge Lucas does a fine job of telling the story through his visuals. The recap and escape sequence were far and away the most impressive pages of the comic and Talon himself looked quite good. There’s also a great underwater scene (I guess 2 great underwater scenes when we take the escape into account) where Talon is even confronted with a shark that was not only good for a laugh, but it was just an all-around fun sight to see! The colors by Jeremy Cox went a long way to giving every setting just the right atmosphere. However, on the negative side I found Lord Death Man’s musclebound frame and Doctor Darrk’s entire look to be slightly off-putting since they were so over-done (much like the recent bad guy Batwing is facing) and Casey Washington appears to have her eyeball back (we can just say it was a glass eye though).

Recommended If…

  • You’re in it for the long haul and want these final 2 chapters to complete your collection
  • You love old-school baddies like Doctor Darrk, Lord Death Man, and The League of Assassins
  • You want to see Calvin Rose go back to basics with daring escapes from death traps and nearly impossible break-ins to villainous facilities

Overall

It’s a fun issue that does a great job of summing up the 16 issues that came before it and sets up a really fascinating storyline involving Lord Death Man. However, I have doubts that the next (and final) issue can bring this tale to a satisfying conclusion. Readers may want to wait it out and see if issue #17 makes it all worth their while. Still, on its own, issue #16 is a fairly enjoyable one and writer Tim Seeley has a great handle on these characters.

SCORE: 7/10