For the uninitiated, Human Target is a classic DC Comics series, dating all the way back to Action Comics #419 published in December of 1972. The premise: Christopher Chance, The Human Target, takes on clients who are being targeted for one reason or another, disguises himself as the target, takes their place, and waits for the threat to reveal itself. Part bodyguard, part private investigator, Chance puts himself directly in harms way to achieve his goal. And he likes it!
Jump forward to 2010. The Human Target has just started it’s second shot at a TV series (This time on Fox, the first time around back in 1992 on ABC), and to go along with it, DC Comics is doing a 6 issue mini-series to launch it back into the spotlight.
I’m hooked on the TV series, even just 5 episodes in. Mark Valley (as Christopher Chance), Chi McBride (as Winston) and Jackie Earle Haley (as Guerrero), hot off the success of Watchmen, make this a show worth sitting down for each week. The pace, the humour, and the encapsulated storytelling is a breath of fresh air in today’s current TV climate of heavy mythology and serialized drama (See Kevin’s UHF Reviews of Lost). So, naturally, when I heard there was a new comic series (oh, and an old one published by Vertigo, to boot), I figured I’d give it a shot. If I was lucky, it would capture what makes this show so great. If I was unlucky, well, I’d get what makes up about the first 20 pages of this issue.
Overall, I’m giving this series a big miss so far. They’re way off the mark, and for fans of this fledgling new series, it’s not going to leave a good taste in their mouths. Even for people who haven’t watched the TV show, I highly doubt that anything in the first issue is going to make them tune in Wednesday nights at 8pm on Fox (Shameless plug, I know… I expect a nice big cheque, Fox).
So where did they go wrong? Well, first off, the main story by Len Wein (one of the original pair that created The Human Target) is very close to the story of the fifth episode of the TV series, which just happened to air the same day that this issue hit newsstands. But more importantly, he fails to capture the true wit that the TV show is pulling off in spades. In particular, the voice of our main character, Christopher Chance, isn’t quite to the quality of Mark Valley’s performance from week to week, and for me, that’s a major selling point in the series, especially considering there’s no stable villains or nemesis’ (at least not yet…). The next point of contention is the art. Bruno Redondo (Penciler), along with Sergio Sandoval (Inker) do an alright job at the art in this book, but nothing that blows you away. In my opinion, when you sit down to do a 6 issue mini, you should be firing on all cylinders, as it’s generally a test to see if the concept can go to a full monthly series. The lackluster, generic style doesn’t add any bang for you buck, but it gets the job done better than the writing, I suppose. My last point, which is simultaneously a plus and a negative, is that they split the book up into two stories. The negative: they don’t give enough of the A-Story to get you really hooked into it. The positive: the B-Story is great character development (Thanks to writer, Peter Johsnon), and it’s backed up by an awesome artist (Chris Sprouse).
All in all, I’m not sure that I can recommend that you pick up this issue, even at just $2.99. On the other hand, it’s only a 6 issue mini, so it’s not like you’re making a huge investment in an on-going series. Better yet, why not head over to the DC Comics site and check out their free preview of Issue #1. What it really comes down to is whether or not you’re looking for a standard action/intrigue comic to fill in the time between episodes of the TV series.
Check back next month for my review of issue two, where I’ll let you know if this series is getting better, or worse as it goes, and if you’re a fan of the series, might I also suggest you check out Blending In: The Human Target Podcast, available on iTunes or through Skynext Podcast’s website.