Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SPOILERS: Talon #16

Picking up where the previous arc left off, Calvin and company are set up in Gotham, and for once, have some down time, so Calvin goes back to practicing his escape methods... wrapped in chains... in a coffin... hung from a crane... with the line burning away... over Gotham Bay. Despite Calvin's best efforts, he isn't able to escape, and drops to the water below, and while waiting to be rescued by Casey's allies, has a startling realization.

When everyone heads back to the Securitas island, Calvin goes to clean up, noticeably a little off about something... Well, noticeable to Anya, at least. Anya follows Calvin into the showers, and despite what it looks like, she tells Calvin it's the only place they can speak without security systems hearing everything they say. Anya has some ideas about why Calvin failed to escape, and it's because he's dead. Calvin feels nothing anymore, thus lacks the finesse needed for his escapes, but it's not just that according to Calvin. Death was a motivator for Calvin during his escapes, but it was also what kept him calm, because if he failed, death would come and it'd be all over, he'd have nothing to worry about. Now, because Calvin is eternally dead, if he fails, there's no escape, and he's trapped forever, which naturally freaks him out a bit. You may ask, "What does Anya have to do with all this?" well, she is an ex-League of Assassins member, and while she has no friends left in the League, she has debts to be paid towards her, and may know of an escape from death for Calvin. Anya's one condition is that Casey must not know, because for her, Calvin being dead means she doesn't have to worry about him dying again.

Elsewhere, in a League of Assassins lab, Lord Death Man's blood is being harvested in efforts to manufacture the liquid that fills the lazarus pit, headed by an unseen Dr. Darrk, who apparently has also come back from the grave. Problem for the scientists is, Lord Death Man seems to have had enough, and uses his ability to stop his heart beat as an opportunity to play dead, and make his escape, leaving countless bodies in his wake.

Unaware of what's happening in the lab, Calvin and Anya have made their way to the Pakistani coast thanks to Anya's contacts, and swim to the secret entrance of the lab, below the sea. Unfortunately for Calvin and Anya, as they enter the cave system that leads to the lab, their timing is pretty poor because Lord Death Man's rampage has also lead him to the caves, while Dr. Darrk realizes his project has been ruined, and all those who failed him don't deserve to live. While being trapped in a cave system with Lord Death Man is pretty bad, things get worse when Casey hacks her way into Calvin and Anya's radio, asking where they are, and making just enough noise for Lord Death Man to hear.


The Good:

If you've read various reviews, one of my biggest annoyances in the New 52 is the complete vanilla turn some of Grant Morrison's Batman villains have taken. Be it Pyg or Flamingo, they're pale comparisons of their fucking insane former selves. While Lord Death Man isn't technically a Grant Morrison villain, he was recreated by Morrison, and gloriously insane. Luckily, Tim Seeley must have read those Batman, Inc. issues with Lord Death Man in them, because he's just as fucking nuts as he was before, which I love. Just being nuts, indiscriminately killing people, and talking about doing the polka. That's my Lord Death Man!

To address the actual story, I really did enjoy it a great deal. The way Seeley writes Calvin's reasoning for wanting to be resurrected (in a way) is really clever. It would have been all too easy just to say Calvin is tired of being a legit Talon and wants to be alive again, and using the excuse of not having to worry about death is ruining his escape attempts would be too easy as well. Instead, we get the somewhat macabre motivation of Calvin needing death as a safety net, ultimately wanting to die (and stay dead) if need be, instead of the "curse of immortality." Again, in a case where there were some rather easy shots to take, I think this motivation was really clever, and believable for Calvin.

The Bad:

Sort of concerned to see if this can be wrapped up well in just two issues. The way this story was introduced makes it feel like it would be a perfect three issue arc.

Also, this isn't a knock against the issue, I just want to get this out there... with the way Batman, Inc. #13 ended with the League and Lord Death Man, as well as "The Hunt for Robin" coming up, I was hoping we might get a little hint towards that, maybe just an offhand remark by the scientists or something. Again, not an actual criticism towards the specific issue, just an easter egg I would have liked to have seen.

The Bottom Line:

With Calvin Rose's solo adventures wrapping up next month, it's hard to say where this final arc will take him, and whether or not he'll be granted life once more, but Tim Seeley's conclusion to the series has definitely started off well. As I mentioned above, this plot was ripe with easy opportunities for Calvin's motivation towards becoming "alive" once more, but instead of the easy way out, we're given a deeper motivation that feels authentic by playing towards Calvin's life as an escape artist and what makes him tick. Keeping in theme of taking the easy way out, what makes this issue more satisfying is by paying that extra attention to the details, it's easy to believe that unlike many New 52 titles that have just ended on an abrupt, flat note, Talon could possibly end with some well thought out closure, which would be great, given how consistently good this title has been.


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