BATMAN-TALON Writer Talks New Bat-Series, Joker Return
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.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.
Nrama: Most people probably identify you with Scott Snyder, but who would you say are your biggest influences as a writer?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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