At first, when Scott Snyder was asked to expand his "Court of Owls" storyline from Batman into a Talon ongoing series, he said, "No." He couldn't think of another story he wanted to tell.
But that all changed when someone else pitched him a story idea he had never thought of before. Thanks to a new twist provided by James Tynion IV, Snyder is enthusiastically jumping on board with the new series, which launches in September.
Talon is one of four new series from DC Comics that will debut in September with a new #0 issue. The series, which will feature art by Guillem March, is being co-plotted by Snyder and Tynion, who currently work together on the Batman back-up stories and co-wrote last month's Batman Annual. The two writers met when Snyder was his teacher at Sarah Lawrence College.
In our ongoing discussion with Snyder about what's coming in the world of Batman and the Court of Owls, Newsarama talked to the writer about why he decided to put his stamp of approval on Talon even though he'd originally hesitated.
Newsarama: Scott, how did this story about an anti-hero connected to the Court of Owls come about?
Scott Snyder: DC approached me because of the popularity of the Owl storyline in Batman, and they said that they wanted to know if there was any way to do a series about any of the Talons that had already been introduced. And my reaction was no. The story of all the Talons was done. And I really didn't think there was more story to the Court, even though in my outline, I do have more story to them and their history and moments in Gotham's history in which they've played a part. And DC was very cool about that.
But I mentioned it to James Tynion IV, my co-writer on the Batman back-ups. I told him I was disappointed to have to say no, but that I just thought my story was done.
So he said, "well, do you mind if I think about it?" And I said, of course not, although I didn't think he'd be able to come up with something I hadn't come up with already. I was very skeptical.
But I was wrong! He came up with something fantastic. He 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."
So I can understand why people might be skeptical and say, "oh, they're trying to milk the Court of Owls storyline for more." But that was my attitude before I heard about this story. I initially refused, but this idea was one that I couldn't resist.
Nrama: So who is this Talon?
Snyder: Calvin Rose is a real anti-hero that I think people are going to really fall in love with from go. I loved him as soon as I met him.
He's a new character that we haven't seen in the Court of Owls storyline. But he has a long and twisted relationship with the Court because he betrayed them and left.
In the past, everyone who has become a Talon was working in the circus at some point. And Calvin was a kid escape artist, and the Court turned their eye on him very early as someone who might be useful to them.
But when we meet him, he's someone that the Court has been hunting for a long time. He's the only guy who ever escaped the fate of the Talons. And so they've been hunting him for years.
So he's this escape artist, a guy who can get out of any trap, but he's essentially trapped by the Court and he can't see a way out. But finally, he does and he takes his chance. And ever since, he feels like he's been in a straight jacket, trying to escape. He's a really compelling character, and I love how James writes him.
Nrama: So he's completely different from the Talons we've seen so far?
Snyder: Oh, he's totally different. The Court is very good at choosing people who are easy at that age to convince that they are an organization that does what's right. They believe they're an equalizing force in Gotham that essentially makes things the way they should be for the city. And they take very young and impressionable people with very little roots in the world, who have very malleable psychologies.
This character reacts to that in the way that I imagine Dick Grayson reacting. Someone who isn't bendable to their will and who winds up turning on them. And in rage, they have been hunting him.
So he's not the classic Talon that you've seen that has died and comes back. He's a man who's on the run from the Court and is hoping, because of what happened with "Night of the Owls," that they're gone. But I think he'll have a rude awakening.
It's a really, really cool story. It's not just a story about someone who's on the run. It's going to turn it around and be this huge, epic adventure where he gets the opportunity to free himself from being on the run from them.
Nrama: So as he's running, will we see familiar places?
Snyder: Yeah, you'll get to see things all over the DCU in really, really fun ways. because of what happened in "Night of the Owls" and the way that some of the Talons that survived are scattered because of that, they will take you to cities all over the DCU with him. That was another thing that really excited me about the comic.
But I do want to stress that it is not going to be Gotham-based. Even though the Court itself isn't something that we're interested in expanding into a syndicate beyond Gotham. That's never been part of the plan. It's always been something where their roots are in Gotham, and they are a Gotham organization. They're just who you think they are in that way. But they do have deeper and scarier layers to them.
So one of the exciting things about Talon is that it's a Gotham-based story, starring a character with roots in Gotham, but it's a book that isn't necessary wedded to Gotham, even though the Court stays in Gotham. It's something that touches all these points in the DCU. Even though the Court's in Gotham, it doesn't mean they won't hunt you if you go someplace else.
To me, it has that sort of "Bruce Banner on the run" feeling. I loved that TV show when I was a kid, about showing up in different places and hoping you don't get caught. That sense of a drifter in the DCU really appealed to me.
Nrama: Can you reveal any part of the DCU that he'll see?
Snyder: It will touch a lot on places that you'll recognize and love all around the DCU. It's not going to feature tons of DCU characters all the time. We didn't want to make it a cameo book. But at the same time, the Court of Owls organization is sort of a Gotham "ghost." They live on the other side of the mirror that way, as this personification of the past of this city.
So as this character is running away from the Court, he would obviously run away from Gotham. But in the same way the Court is about this landscape of Gotham, we wanted this new comic to be about the landscape of the DCU, as something real and physical that you travel across.
Nrama: So you're reuniting with James because this is, basically, his story?
Snyder: Yeah. I mean, it's a series I'm extremely proud to have my name on. And I'm very proud of James for what he's producing with the series. He's got a terrific first arc planned. I'm really only helping him with the story for the first four to six issues. It's really his book, and I'm super proud of him for it, because he was my student at Sarah Lawrence College when I was teaching fiction and comics. Now I just teach straight comics. And it's a really great feeling to see someone who you always thought had promise and who's just a tremendously diligent and wonderful worker about sending scripts over and over to me over the years, trying to hone his craft, really being determined, to finally get a payoff and to see him given a chance. So I'm really rooting for him.
And believe me, if I didn't think it was a really great comic, not only would I not put my name on it, but I wouldn't let James do it. I don't want to see him do a book that winds up not doing well for him as his first book. So I'm trying to be protective of him as well.
And Guillem March is one of the guys I've always liked in the Bat-family, as he worked on Catwoman, and I'm super excited to have him on board. He has such a kinetic and interesting, fluid style. I think it sets the book up perfectly.
Nrama: So is there anything else you want to tell fans about Talon?
Snyder: I just hope people love this series as much as we do, honestly. I'm aware that it sounds like it's just another Talon like the ones you saw in "The Night of the Owls." But I guarantee you that this is different. And I hope people give it a try and give it a chance, because I feel like it's really a great story.
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