James Tynion IV had a front row seat for Scott Snyder's writing on Batman the last few months.
In fact, he got to be part of the team, co-writing the Batman back-up stories since April and working with artist Jock for next month's return of The Joker in "Death of the Family."
Now, Tynion is being given a new title in the Bat-family as he launches Talon, the newest addition to the Batman line-up. The comic, which releases its #0 issue this week, introduces a new character to the Bat-mythos, spinning out of the popular Court of Owls storyline seen in Batman earlier this year.
Tynion, who once worked as an intern at Vertigo, took a writing class from Snyder in college, impressing him enough that the two became friends and collaborators. Snyder is helping guide the plot for the early issues of Talon, but he told Newsarama that the concept came from Tynion.image from TALON #0 "He came up with something fantastic," Snyder told Newsarama when the new title was first announced. "[Tynion] told me the premise, and I was so surprised. And right away, I said, 'You know what? I'll put my name on that with you. I would love to see you write that.'"
The comic focuses on Calvin Rose, a former deadly Talon who betrayed the Court of Owls. An escape artist as a kid in Haly's Circus, he was recruited into the ranks of the Court's henchmen, but he's the only person who has ever escaped their fate.
Newsarama talked to Tynion to find out more about what he's doing for
Newsarama: James, let's just start with a general description of the story in Talon. Give us a set-up for what people will see in next week's #0 issue as we're acquainted with the premise of the comic.
James Tynion IV: Calvin Rose is a man who has spent his life on the run. He ran from his family, he ran from the life he was building during his time in Haly’s Circus, and ultimately, he ran from The Court of Owls. He, like many others before him, was trained to be the sacred killer of the Court… The Talon… But when he realized what kind of monster they were twisting him into, he knew he had to get away.image from TALON #0 The Zero Issue will explore that story of running, and the fear that drives Calvin to act. The interesting thing about him is that unlike any of the Talons we saw during Scott’s epic Court of Owls saga, Calvin Rose was an escape artist. Being able to get away has always been his only defense against his greatest fears. image from TALON #0 Issue #0 will introduce the readers to the character and show us why he’s so broken and fearful, but also what makes him strong. Issue #1 will bring us to the present, where Calvin has been living in constant fear of being trapped and killed by The Court for 7 years. The series will explore Calvin learning to deal with that fear and move past it, as he finds the strength within himself to fight back for the very first time.
Nrama: Most people probably identify you with Scott Snyder, but who would you say are your biggest influences as a writer?image from TALON #0 Tynion IV: There are so many incredible comics writers out there who have in some shape or form influenced me over the years… But it was probably Neil Gaiman’s Sandman that really showed me what you could do with a comic book, that you could create these incredible worlds that tie together your most disparate interests into a comprehensive and cohesive story that’s ultimately driven by the characters. Reading that series was what made me realize I wanted to write comic books more than anything else. image from TALON #0 Aside from him, I’d say the big ones are Warren Ellis, Brian K. Vaughan, Garth Ennis, Geoff Johns, and Mark Waid. I spent years pouring over everything those six writers did, and from their work I started really to get a sense of what I might want to do with a comic series should I ever get my hands on one.
Nrama: Now that you're a few issues into writing it, how would describe the style of the Talon series? What type of series will readers get from the series if they jump on board now?
Tynion IV: At it’s core, Talon is an action thriller, with a bit of an espionage sensibility thrown in. There’s going to be a lot of breaking into places with crazy security, and slipping out of impossible traps. But ultimately, I don’t think that would be fun or interesting to the reader without a central character that you can really feel for and empathize with. This is Calvin’s story, and it’s a personal story… Mind you, that story involves lots of action and punching and undead bad-guy Talons with samurai swords and all sorts of goodness like that, but when it comes down to it, I want to take the readers on an emotional journey with Calvin. Especially since he’s such a new figure in the DCU, it’s imperative we build something that people really care about and want to come back to, month after month.image from TALON #0 Nrama: As you've developed the lead character in Talon, what do you think defines him as a character? And what makes him a compelling lead for this new title?
Tynion IV: As I discussed above, Calvin is a man driven by his fear, which I think is something we can all relate to. Everyone has had periods in their life where they’ve been completely conquered by fear. With Calvin, of course, this fear is manifest in an incredibly powerful organization that has existed for Centuries and very clearly wants him dead. So that’s a bit different than the trials an average person is facing day to day… But overall, I think seeing a man learning to conquer his fear while trying to become something more… trying to become a hero… is a very human story that I think readers will really connect with.image from TALON #0 Nrama: We've read the ending of the Court of Owls and we know about the status of the Court going forward, including Lincoln March, the alleged Thomas Wayne Jr. What role will those characters play in your series?
Tynion IV: With Lincoln making his big play at the end of the "Court of Owls" storyline, we felt it was best to leave him be for a while, particularly since he makes more sense to play against Batman… But the end of Scott’s story hints that The Court of Owls is still out there, lurking in the shadows, licking their wounds until they’re ready to strike again, and that is a thread we’re definitely picking up on starting with Issue #1. The aftermath of that night is the launching point for this series. We’ll also see several of the Talons from the various "Night of the Owls" crossover issues over the course of the series.image from TALON #0 Nrama: Does Calvin Rose have a supporting cast? Can you tell us anything about them?
Tynion IV: He absolutely does! The groundwork for the cast starts in zero, and a particularly central character comes into play in Issue #1… I’m five issues into the series and Calvin definitely has a great and vibrant supporting cast who will be around for a while. I ease them into the series, because at the start, it’s very important to establish our lead and not let the series lose its focus. I’ll leave the details out for the moment, but one hint is that a small figure in the Zero Issue will ultimately become one of the main supporting characters of the series.Nrama: How much will Calvin and other characters interact with the Bat-family?
Tynion IV: All I’ll say here is that there are definitely plans. Coming from the present and not the past means there’s definitely a story in his Haly’s Circus days, and what his relationship with Dick Grayson might have been like. And I can’t imagine Batman is going to be thrilled when he finds out a Talon is running around Gotham and the larger DCU.
Nrama: We've been told that we'll see a lot of the DCU. Is that still the plan? Can you describe some of what we'll see?
Tynion IV: We’ll definitely be seeing the Court’s reach outside of Gotham, and one of the first stories will take us to another major city in the DCU, so absolutely. Our primary focus at the start is to build up these characters and the world they inhabit, and a lot of that involves Gotham, but there are absolutely plans to show off the world far beyond Gotham’s shores.
Nrama: Will Talon be involved with Death of the Family? (If so, how?)
Tynion IV: Nope! The story we’re telling in Talon will be totally self-contained. There could be some small character crossovers down the road, but for now, our buddy Calvin will be keeping his nose out of some of the bigger Gotham troubles.
Nrama: How has it been working with Guillem March on the series?
Tynion IV: It’s been incredible! Any day I get emailed a page is absolutely amazing. Guillem has an incredible style that he brings to the table that highlights the kinetic energy of the series, while making it distinct from every other book on the stands. And our colorist, Tomeu Morey, is equally amazing… I really think we’re putting together one of the best-looking books of the fall. You can tell that this world spins out of what Scott and Greg Capullo built over the last year in Batman, but Guillem and Tomeu help give this series its own voice which I think will help make it really stand out from the crowd. I couldn’t be prouder of the work everyone on Team Talon is bringing to the table. It makes me want to work even harder to make this the best book it can possibly be.Nrama: How involved has Scott Snyder been with the series?
Tynion IV: Scott is a tremendous friend and mentor, and we talk through everything constantly. He’s a part of my creative process, from spit-balling future story-ideas about 15 minutes after I wake up in the morning, and sending 5 page emails at three AM about the best way to explore Calvin’s character arc even better than we’d previously planned. I do the writing, and talk it through with Scott before sending it in. He gives me a lot of lee-way to do what I think is right when we don’t agree… But that hasn’t really been an issue. The two of us have very similar taste and style. Scott has been incredibly involved every step of the way, but more as a friendly advisor with great ideas than a dominating force. It’s a great collaboration, and I couldn’t be happier to have him on the team with me.
Nrama: Let's talk about your work on the Batman back-ups. I know you guys are heading toward "Death of the Family." How much do the back-up stories have to do with "Death of the Family?" Can you describe their role in the story?
Tynion IV: I can’t go into too much detail on these just yet, other than to say that the backups will deal with The Joker interacting with some of Gotham’s most notable rogues. They’ll be stand-alone pieces that should add something to the scale of the story, while keeping a smaller and spookier focus. There’s always something electric when two iconic villains are on a page with one another, and when one of those characters is The Joker, that electricity is quite a bit more deadly.
These little vignettes are coming to life with art by the incredible Jock, who is exactly the guy you want to draw a tense little horror story. Scott and I are really proud of these backups, and I think the fans are going to love them.
Nrama: How much have you guys been working with other Bat-writers on Death of the Family, and what's that experience been like for you?
Tynion IV: We had a big meeting earlier this summer with a bunch of the writers, which was a lot of fun. Scott has been leading the ship here, and it’s a crazy and brilliant ride he’s taking all of us on. From what I’ve seen and heard from the other Bat-Writers, everyone’s bringing their A-Game to this story, and I really think it’s going to be one to remember.
I think the real power of this “crossover” is that it’s very personal… It’s not just a brawl that bleeds into the other books… The tie-ins are going to deal with the real human implications of what happens when The Joker comes to town.
Nrama: Can you give us any indication of what else is coming up for the Batman stories you're writing?
Tynion IV: Readers are just going to have to wait and see! There are a lot of incredible stories coming up in Gotham, though, and I think readers are going to love what we have in store.
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