01/04/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books/Vertigo. 200 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £ 9.99 (UK. ISBN: 978-1-84856-637-8.
check out websites: www.titanbooks.comand www.dccomics.com
The last time I read 'The Human Target' was back in the early 80s where Christopher Chance would masquerade as an assassin's target so he could stop the murder and get the bad guys. A very neat premise from his creators Len Wein and Carmine Infantino which worked well for an eight page story. It's also the premise for a new Fox TV series which hasn't reached British shores yet.
Now, some thirty years later and the stories in this graphic novel was originally released in 1999, I found myself being re-acquainted with the character under new creators and a much older Christopher Chance who is semi-retired and another chap, Tom McFadden doing the role and getting rather unhinged as to who he really is when he drops the identity. Chance essentially clears up the mess and restores things to something like they should be as well as avoiding assassin's bullets, no less from one particular lady called Emerald The first story was originally published as a mini-series and has a Tarantino feel to it. Peter Milligan plays it out like, well, like a film relying on only sufficient dialogue to keep up with the art. If I have to put my critical eye on this, I think the story would have been helped if the characters didn't all have the same voice. It would certainly have helped Chance and McFadden to show how much they take on characters. It'll be interesting to see how the TV series copes with the make-up jobs a'la 'Mission: Impossible' with no one figuring that the skin is latex.
The second story, 'Final Cut', was originally released as a graphic novel in its own right and is the follow-up to the first one. Essentially, without giving too much away, it is Chance getting back to doing what he does best, being a human target. He's in Hollywood masquerading as various people who have contracts on them and discovering that there is a common thread which draws them all together. I hope from that statement you realise that if I say any more then you'll be in my sniperscope's sight. Hey, relax, though. I'm sure you can afford to pay for Christopher Chance fee to protect you from harm.
As with the first story, the Spartan approach seems to work and Javier Publido, following Edvin BiukoviŠ's art style keeps things pretty basic, which is at odds with the cover art by Tim Bradstreet also displayed. I'll have to leave it to you to speculate as to whether or not a more realistic approach to the art would deter or help the pace. An interesting romp to pass a couple hours.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA