Human Target #10
Christopher Chance is a dead man. After ingesting a poison meant for Lex Luthor, the Human Target finds that he only has twelve days left to live and nice have passed so far. With three more days remaining and a new mystery at the forefront of his mind, will Christopher Chance find out who actually killed him after an apparent red herring? Or will the poison take him over completely before he's able to avenge himself?
The mystery behind the murder of Christopher Chance has taken something of a twist.
Readers were left stunned at the end of Issue six when Christopher Chance and Ice kill Guy Gardner after the Lantern attacks chance for making a move on “his girl.” When the series resumes after a break, Fire, Ice’s best friend, tells Christopher that Gardner was the person who gave the poisoned liquid to Lex Luthor in an attempt to kill him; A convenient out for a recently deceased man. In any other mystery, this is where things would have ended – with Chance and Ice riding out into the sunset and their deadly affair leaving none the wiser, if not for one tiny detail – Batman never coming after them.
Tom King has done an excellent job with the mystery of this story so far in that he’s made readers question who has been the true culprit with every single issue of the book. While things are leaning towards one member of the JLI after this issue, King has allowed Chance to sus out who had the proper motive to kill Lex and who had the ability. We thought that with the mystery solved, things would be able to conclude succinctly, but right at the eleventh hour, King has thrown a wrench in the works. This works from a narrative standpoint as having Guy be the true culprit would have been too easy with his death and too convoluted for a guy who solves almost all of his problems with his fists and dumb luck.
One aspect of this series that I love is that Chance, who always needs to hide behind a veneer of cool as part of his job allows himself to become emotionally attached to Ice and throughout this series has been prone to small fits of anger towards Leaguers like Rocket Red and Guy Gardner, but the one part of him that’s most interesting has been his fear. In one of the previous issues of Human Target we see that Chance took on his career path after seeing his father murdered in front of him, thinking that if he were stronger, then he could have protected him. He dedicates his life to that pursuit with the underlying fear of the same thing happening to his clients acting as his main driving force. And here, now that he’s facing the end of his rope, his attention turns to who he’s leaving behind; Ice. She’s one of the few women he’s ever allowed himself to fall in love with and one of the only ones to break through his detached barrier and the exploration of that has been one of the best parts of this book so far.
Greg Smallwood is probably one of the most golden artists in comics right now and each issue of The Human Target proves as much. His charcoal brushes produce some of the best lines in the business, making for excellent backgrounds, body language and character expressions in this issue and all of the ones that came before. While most of his backgrounds are minimal, the portrait that he draws of Chance stepping through a portal into Oa is one of the best representations of the planet I have ever seen with high rises and circular architecture. The body language that Chance displays with G’nort is that of a guy who’s being friendly to get the information he wants, Chance’s facial expressions are drawn playfully aloof to contrast against G’nort genuine oafishness.
Smallwood’s coloring is probably one of the most understated aspects of his art. While his colors usually carry a thematic element, there’s less of that in this particular book due to it taking place mostly on Oa. There’s a cool green glow to everything that feels almost alien in comparison to most of the environments that we’ve seen Chance in and around over the entirety of this series, but it still works in setting a noir tone in the book through the use of shadows. One of the best uses of this green color occurs when Chance is looking through his file and we see that they use a darker tint, showing the more shadowy and dark nature of his career with lots of stippling for extra shading – it looks absolutely amazing.
Clayton Cowles lettering is some of the best in the business right now. His work in The Human Target has been nothing short of exceptional. As with every issue, Cowles makes use of the empty space that Smallwood leaves open for him and makes every single word and thought bubble easy to follow. When G’nort sits drunk in the archive hall, his word balloons are surrounded by bubbles to convey his inebriated state and when Chance is looking through his various exploits, his thought boxes are situated in the corners of the panels, giving the focus to the images and blending in excellently with the gutters thanks to the lack of borders.
The Human Target is the noir mystery of the year. Tom King, Greg Smallwood and Clayton Cowles have put together an excellent story full of drama, some action and a lot of romance. For a character that hasn’t been used in any capacity in years, this is definitely one of the best stories he could have gotten. While I don’t expect this to be a complete revival of the character, I surely would love to see more new stories about his exploits and how he interacts with the further superhero community.
Human Target #10: A Good Guy
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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