Snyder-Protégé JAMES TYNION IV Spreads His Wings on TALON
The new series, which just had its #2 issue released this week, has introduced DC readers to Calvin Rose, a former Talon for the Court of Owls. The organization, which saw its genesis in Batman during the last year, is being targeted by Calvin and his newfound friend Sebastian Clark.
This week's Issue #2 introduced Calvin's arch-nemesis while expanding the "Owls" mythos and setting in motion the title character's mission. Beginning in Talon #3, the series will travel to New York, the first of many trips Calvin will be taking around the world of the DCU.
Tynion, who once worked as an intern at Vertigo, was one of Snyder's students at Sarah Lawrence College, and the pupil apparently impressed his teacher enough that the two became friends and collaborators. Tynion has been co-writing the back-up stories in Snyder's Batman series and assisted on the Batman Annual #1 earlier this year.
Newsarama talked to Tynion about his approach to the "Court," why Guillem March took a break this month, and what readers can expect next from Talon.
Newsarama: James, I think you surprised reviewers and fans in Talon so far by finding a fresh approach to the Court of Owls that feels new and different from what we saw in Batman. What was the key to accomplishing that?
James Tynion IV: I think the key to how we've been approaching that question in this series is really in the characters themselves. The role the Court served in Scott's work on Batman in the last year was something Batman never expected and had no idea what was out there. He thought they were a fairy tale.
With Calvin and Sebastian, after issue #1, we now have people who have been aware of the court for years and know many of the Court's secrets, and that gives them an advantage right from the top. These are two are the only people who are capable of really going after the Court in a level similar to Batman, in that they can come at them from angles that they would never expect. They're coming at it from the inside.
They're the boogieman to him. These are the people that ruined his life, and he's been running from them, terrified, for years. And this is the moment where, when he finds out that people he cares about are in danger, who he thought were safe, he's finally willing to stand up and fight.
And it's not going to be an easy process. Calvin isn't someone who set out to be a superhero, or a hero of any type. He is someone who has a deep moral center, but he's never gone out seeking the glory of it. He's more of the opposite, having sought out anonymity.
So this is going to be a very striking change for him, and it's something he's going to have to adjust into, which I think is the heart of the [this week's] issue, Talon #2.
And then in issue #3, we're going to see what happens next with the people who he cares about. We're going to meet Casey and Sarah Washington, who were in the #0 issue. They're going to come back front-and-center, and we're going to dig deeper into Calvin's emotional past with people who know him very intimately and really let the character develop from there.
I'm really excited about where we're going with this series. There's a lot of great character work and big set pieces.
I wanted to make this a book that I would want to read. That was the main goal. It's something that Scott taught me all the way back, years ago, when I was one of his students. He told me, it's not worth writing something if it's not the thing you want to read most. And that's where I came at this.
Nrama: Let's talk about how the cast is growing. You mentioned Casey and Sarah Worthington, and we've seen a little of Calvin's supporting cast introduced in issue #1, when we met Sebastian. I assume we'll learn more about him eventually too?
Tynion: Yes. And the cast will increase over the next several issues.
Nrama: Will we get to know Calvin's arch-nemesis? Is that who we met this week in the final pages of Talon #2
Tynion: Yes. The final pages of Talon #2 introduced a major threat, someone who is the complete opposite to Calvin. He's been part of this story since I first came up with it. And he is a terrifying, terrifying character, and I have so much fun writing him.
He's really the opposite side of the coin from what Calvin is.
We're going to really start digging into him in the next couple months.
Nrama: As we learn more about these characters, you've also been revealing more of the mythology behind the Court of Owls, particularly in this week's issue with the introduction of this "Tomb of the Unworthy." Is the plan to both delve deeper into the characters while also expanding this mythology?
Tynion: Absolutely, and that starts right in the next few issues. Issue #2 revealed key pieces of the Court's own internal mythology, the stuff that's not a part of the fairy tale, the stuff that's much more a part of their own tradition, the things Batman would never know about.
So I'm digging deep into that well and finding out what their private horrors might be.
Nrama: Calvin is going to be traveling. Is he going to encounter other DC heroes and villains?
Tynion: Right now, the plans are to stay a bit more focused on Calvin's personal history. New York is going to be a place where — rather than somewhere that he's going to run into other heroes — he's going to run into people from his own past.
There are plans for some guest stars coming up, but they might be a bit more in the Gotham set, because I know there is a certain superhero who is going to be very curious about a Talon running around Gotham City, in the wake of the "Night of the Owls."
But right now, no concrete plans to bring in teams or characters from around the DCU. It's much more about establishing our protagonist's history and digging deep into that.
Nrama: You mentioned earlier that Scott has been a mentor and teacher to you as a writer. And you can see some influence in your style on Talon as well as, obviously, your work on Batman. But I'm wondering, as you take on more and more of the scripting and get further into writing your own series, do you feel like your writing is evolving, and if so, can you describe how? We saw a lot of narration in the first issue, and I know that's a Snyder trait. Is that still part of your style going forward, or are you finding your own voice as a comics writer in Talon?
Tynion: I think that's absolutely the case. I find myself a little more in every issue.
But I think as the issue has gone on, and especially as the cast has increased, I'm finding that the pace is shifting, and it's becoming easier to write every successive issue because I'm finding more about the core of the series. And I'm absolutely confident that each issue of the series is better than the last. And I'm having more fun writing each issue than the last.
There's some really special stuff to come that I think is going to start being more definitively me than definitively Scott, although it's still very much in Scott's wheelhouse, because we're still playing in Scott Snyder's Gotham right now.
But there's nothing wrong with that. I mean, Scott is an incredible writer, so to be compared to him is awesome. And it's definitely something that I've tried to instill in myself.
But I think people are going to start seeing a shift toward it being a bit more "me" over the next three issues in particular.
Nrama: Is it definite that Guillem March is coming back to the series? This week's issue didn't have his work.
Tynion: That was always a part of the plan. Guillem has a few other projects that he's been working on. Guillem was our artist from the second the series was approved. He is currently drawing issue #5, and issues #3 and #4 were drawn right prior to that.
He's still my core collaborator on the series. But I was thrilled to have Juan José Ryp on issue #2, because I think he did an incredible job on Calvin and the world we're establishing here.
Nrama: Then to finish up, any final word on what readers can expect in coming issues? With Talon #3, they're off to New York, but you also hinted that the pace might change a bit. Can you kind of summarize what's coming up for Talon readers?
Tynion: I think that now that the stage has been set, the series is going to start picking up. In the first two issues, in #0 and #1, what we saw really was who Calvin is and what his mission is going to be. Starting with issue #2, his mission begins. And that is key because now he's out there fighting, which means people are going to come fighting back at him.
We're also going to be seeing how a certain caped crusader feels about Calvin's mission in Gotham City and abroad. So I think there's a lot of cool stuff to come.