Comics

Human Target #1

Is Human Target a thinly veiled marketing ploy to bring the comics-market on as a regular viewing audience for the John E. Steinberg show?


Human Target #1

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Writer: Len Wein
Contributors: Bruno Redondo (penciller), Sergio Sandoval (inker)
Publication Date: 2010-02
Amazon

Secretly, the thrill of reading the new Len Wein-scripted, Bruno Redondo-penciled Human Target limited series has nothing to do with Human Target creator Len Wein being back in the saddle. Secretly the thrill of reading Human Target is reading a Human Target backup-story in a Human Target comicbook.

There is an inside joke here, of course. Created by writer Wein and legendary artist Carmine Infantino, the Human Target (aka Christopher Chance) began its publication history as a backup-story in Action Comics, circa 1972. To read a Human Target backup-story in the pages of Human Target the comicbook, in many senses that's just a dream come true for longtime fans.

But unlike the Human Target of yesteryear, this is a Christopher Chance squarely based on the John E. Steinberg adaptation of the character for television. Like the Steinberg TV show (aired on Fox on Wednesdays), the character has turned away from makeup and acting to completely subsume himself in the identity of a client targeted for assassination. Instead, the character newly returned to mainstream DC from the adult-themed Vertigo branding, adopts a cover identity that will put him close to the professional life of his client at all times. From there, he lures the assassin into exposing himself, and invariably neutralizes the would-be killer with much physical mayhem.

The comicbook follows the same sensibility, and logical conventions as the TV show. The main story relates a single case of Christopher Chance, rollickingly titled "The Wanted: Extremely Dead Contract". This 'contract' (Chance ostensibly deals in contracts, not cases) seems primed to continue the course the limited's entire run of six issues, as the lead story. With Human Target backup-stories filling out the required 22-pages, the limited promises a redefinition of the character for a mainstream DC audience. And of course for the audience that comes to the comics by way of the TV show.

While the re-conceptualization of the character is a definite benefit to longevity (noughties-era reboot writer, Peter Milligan, seemed to have exhausted his model of psychological crisis with the character's closing Vertigo storyarc, "The Stealer"), there is a certain slickness in the TV show, seemingly missing from pages of the comicbook. Or is this intentional?

Writer Len Wein seems to go blow-for-blow with the McG executive-produced TV show; filing in backstory by switching to narrative elements during high-intensity fight sequences. And penciler Bruno Redondo and inker Sergio Sandoval seem to frame each panel in much the same way shots are lit on the Steinberg drama. But rather than read as an homage, or a cheap ploy to lure comics-fans of the character to the viewing audience of the TV show, the comicbook seems a genuine attempt to coordinate the launch of the latest reboot for the character. Without the psychological dissonance, without the perpetual identity crises, how is this Christopher Chance even the same Human Target as before?

With the most recent character reboot, Wein and Steinberg seem to introduce an entirely new and completely engaging psychological depth. What is presented, is the psychology of the employee, and the psychological fortitude it requires to break with the very seductive model of selling your skills for apparent lifelong employment.

If anything is at stake here with the newly rebooted Human Target, if anything is in this Target's line of fire, it is the illusion of permanency of employment. The Wein-Steinberg reboot lays bare an old truism of motivational speaker Tony Robbins, that it is never a question of resources, rather a question of resourcefulness. With the intellectual resources to understand the complexities of almost any job, the new Human Target is able to perfectly mimic any employee. And with concerted resourcefulness, he is able to lure any threat into the open. The real drama of the comicbook and the TV show then, is not the psychology of an actor preparing, but of an active mind, willing to embrace the full complexity of life.

6

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.