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

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image