THE HUMAN TARGET
Another man’s poison
RELEASED OUT NOW! Publisher Dc/black Label
Writer Tom King
Artist Greg Smallwood
Writer Tom King’s quest to bring unexpected depth to the DC Universe’s lesser-known edges continues with his latest 12-issue Black Label miniseries. Following up his unsettling dissection of pulp sci-fi in Strange Adventures, King is here targeting the comedic ’80s Justice League International saga, but with a darker, melancholic perspective.
The focus is Christopher Chance, a master of disguise who earns his living by acting as a double for potential assassination targets and then cheating death when the attack occurs. Unfortunately, his latest assignment goes wrong; a slow-acting poison targeted at Lex Luther means Chance has only 12 days to solve his own murder, and a member of the Justice League International team may be the culprit…
Instead of channeling the original ’80s style of the JLI stories, King pitches The Human Target as a ’50s-style mystery thriller, complete with a pulpy narrative hook and plenty of suspects. It’s a characterful and compelling tale that’s more about atmosphere than action, and these first three issues have already found interesting layers to explore in the characters, especially the doomed Human Target himself.
There’s a major storytelling and visual debt here to the late, great artist Darwyn Cooke, but Greg Smallwood’s visuals also draw on a host of other mid-century influences to create a deeply stylish and intoxicating mood. The climax may be nine issues away, but King and Smallwood are already making this a cool and intriguing ride that’s well worth taking.
There’ve been two short-lived Human Target TV series; in the 1992 show, Chance was played by singer Rick Springfield.
A ’50s-style mystery thriller, with a pulpy narrative hook