Calvin Rose didn't have that great of a childhood, as when he was 8, his dad locked him in an old kennel, and left him to die. After three nights, and seemingly accepting his fate, Calvin managed to escape from the kennel in a last ditch effort to break the chains with a large rock. Since then, he's been running.
Five years ago, working on construction of one of Gotham's bridges, Calvin and his partner see what looks to be a man about to jump off the bridge. Instead of calling the police, who wouldn't arrive in time, Calvin goes down to try and prevent the suicide himself, only to find a few owl blades in the man's chest, and one in his side, as Alton Carver, one of the Court of Owls' Talons, has finally caught up to Calvin.
Carver puts Calvin into the trunk of a car, stripped down, and chained up, in hopes to have taken any device to help him escape away. Flaunting the situation, Carver takes his sweet time, while Calvin tells him to get it over with and "say the line." Carver abides, and informs Calvin that the Court of Owls has sentenced him to die, pushing the car into the river below. Calvin has one more trick, an old one of Houdini's, keeping a lock pick in the callused skin under his feet. While Calvin attempts an escape, we see his life up until that point.
After running from his parents' home, Calvin eventually joined Haly's circus, after being taken under the wing of an old escape artist. By the time he was a teenager, the Court of Owls had taken notice of him, and soon enough, they had him believing in their cause, and training to become a Talon. One of Calvin's final test was to be put into their maze, where he'd take the life of his first victim, a Talon who had failed the Court. Despite begging for his life, Calvin does what he is told, and slits the man's throat. Calvin is then left to survive in the maze, where the gravity of his situation sits in, and he begins to become haunted by the murder he had committed. Miraculously, Calvin escapes from the maze, within a day, leaving the Court very impressed, as they give him his first mission.
Calvin is asked to eliminate the blood line of a recently deceased corporate exec who stood in the Court's way. In order to do so, Calvin had to kill the man's 23 year old daughter. Thinking that perhaps these tasks would become easier, and perhaps erase the pain he had caused himself when first taking a life, Calvin plans to do what he's asked. But when he sneaks into the apartment, he finds the young woman has a two year old daughter, who would have to be killed in order to complete his mission. Calvin draws the line, and in his shock, becomes discovered by his target. He knocks the girl out, and takes her and her daughter away to hide them, all while having the same feeling as the day he escaped his father's death trap: run.
Calvin manages to emerge from the water, and knock Carver unconscious. While tied up, Carver tells Calvin that the Court wants him back, dead or alive, and he was just testing to see if there was still something special about him. As Calvin begins to leave, he's told that the Court has some big plans, and he'll never be able to escape their grasp.
Well, shit... there goes my shorter format... there was a lot to explain, especially with a new character! Anyways...