Artists: Guillem March & Juan Jose Ryp
This is a series that I was considering getting when it started but eventually decided not to. I have however every now and then been interested in it again considering getting the comics that had been out but decided to wait till the first volume was released.
With the Court of Owls being weakened after the Night of the Owls former Talon, Calvin Rose decides that now is the time to strike aligning himself with Sebastian Clark to take down the Court once and for all.
This was a fantastic book and I was very happy that I got it. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV do a great job on the plot of this story, with Tynion IV then expanding on that with the finished script. Now although I enjoyed A Court of Owls, but this series has managed to follow on from that in a amazing and refreshing way, giving a brilliant alternative to the other DC series. Tynion IV and Snyder also do a terrific job of building this character up, as well as the characters around him, as although his motives are rather simple, the depth of the character is what makes this story so brilliant, along with the suspense and drama throughout. The story also has an amazing tone and depth to it, and the action sequences really add a lot of excitement. I also loved the character interaction in this story as bar the energetic tone this was the thing that interested me most about this story.
The artwork was also amazing with Guillem March doing some of the best artwork that I've ever seen from him. The detail in his art was simply astonishing, as everything looked simply perfect. I also really enjoyed the layout of March's artwork as it managed to add a lot more depth to the story, also being very dynamic and impactful, adding a lot of energy to the story as well. March also did a fantastic job of showing the characters emotions throughout this story, with this adding more realism and tone to the story. Where March excelled the most however was with the more than impressive fight sequences that were simply awe-inspiring, being extremely exciting and entertaining. This volume would also see one issue that featured artwork from Juan Jose Ryp, and although Ryp's art didn't surpass March's, it was still very highly detailed, having some very explosive and exciting sequences.
What I enjoyed most about this story was that although it was expanding on the Court of Owls concept that was introduced in the Batman series, it would become it's own unique entity, to the point where the main character was someone completely new. I felt that this helped the story so much, as it allowed it to be so fresh and unique, making it even more user friendly. I also loved the fact that this story starts during Zero Month, allowing for Calvin's origin to be told before the main story starts. On top of this I found Calvin to be a very interesting character, and the way that his past experience as a Talon drives his goals made this even more interesting.
Calvin would however need a bit of persuading when it came to going up against the Court, and the person to do that was the mysterious Sebastian Clarke, a man who knows every dark secret of the Courts, wanting revenge against them himself. Sebastian has to be one of the most interesting side characters that I've seen for a long time, as bar from his obsession to take down the Court, the mysterious nature, and the way he seems slightly untrustworthy makes him that much more interesting than a lot of side characters, as you know that there's more to him than meets the eye. I also really enjoyed the interaction between Sebastian and Calvin throughout this story, and how it was extremely obvious that although they shared the same goal, they had different objectives.
The main villain in this story would be a Talon by the name of Felix Harmon, who is better known as the Gotham Butcherer. Now they may have went a bit overkill when they decided on a villain to put up against Calvin, but I have to say that Snyder and Tynion IV couldn't have made a better decision, as what better way to derail someone who's on a role than by putting something seemingly unbeatable against them. I also loved how this showed the lack of control that the Court had over their Talons, as Felix's murderous background wasn't all approved hits from the Court. I did however find it very interesting how the current Court took measures against Felix turning on them. The only negative thing I can say about Felix as a villain in this story was that I wished the fighting between him and Calvin was longer.
Batman would also make appearances in the latter part of this story. Now although I really enjoyed Batman's appearance in this story, I did feel that it was ever so slightly forced, and that it may have actually been better for the series to have kept him out of it for it's first story at least. I did however like how it was in continuity, showing the lack of trust in the Bat-Family, with Batman and Nightwing (Dick Grayson) having a rather awkward argument. I did however like that this was only a small cameo, and that Batman didn't take over the series, as although I'm a huge Batman fan, it's never nice to have a huge character steal the spotlight from a smaller characters series.
This was a fantastic opening story for this series, which is easily one of the freshest series in the New 52 being very unique and dynamic. The story itself also had a lot of depth, with brilliant suspense and drama. The characters were also extremely interesting and overall I was very happy with the quality of this story, also being slightly surprised. Due to this I'd highly recommend this volume and I personally can't wait for the next one to come out.