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

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

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.