Wednesday, September 26, 2012


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...

The Good:

There was a lot of good to be had here, a lot. It had to be a challenging task to launch a book with a character who hasn't graced a single panel of a book yet, but James Tynion and Scott Snyder did that perfectly. We get everything we need to know about Calvin, who he is, what he believes, and so on. The scene of his first kill is really deep, and you really get it for him after that. It was a risk to start pretty much from scrap with Calvin, but I'm sold after this.

The art? Guillem March is a favorite of mine, that goes with out saying. He's flat out perfect for this title. Aside from Greg Capullo, who designed most of the Court stuff, I think March's style fits right up there with all the stylistic sensibilities Capullo put into the Court. Tomeu Morey's colors remain fantastic, with a sort of noir-ish, sepia tone to them. With the New 52, I've really started to notice Morey's work, and he's jumped up there as one of my favorite colorists. 

The Bad:

Ha! Hahahaha! Yeah, no.

Bottom Line: 

Of all the new books this month, this was by far the most successful launch. I was sort of worried as how some books would fair launching from zero issues, and I have to say, this one felt more like a zero issue than the others, which felt pretty much like #1s. We're left with a taste of Calvin Rose and the life he's gone through, and wanting more. Even if you believe the Court of Owls has run it's course, and should probably be rested, pick this up, I'm willing to be it'll prove you wrong.


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