There is something so seductive The human target. This series, from DC Comics, immerses you in the dark universe of Christopher Chance. Chance, who works as “The Human Target,” investigates Justice League International. These characters, who all played in the popular 1987 race, look bright, fun, and at times a little straightforward. But Chance is not fooled by anything. He has a head start, a force to be reckoned with. Yet under Chance’s cold facade, he can still be a self-destructive fool. Writer Tom King, artist Greg Smallwood and scholar Clayton Cowles will play with your mind and heart in Human target # 3. Because, after all, can’t we all be a little bit self-destructive?
On Human target # 3 (from DC Comics)
Christopher Chance is a man on a deadline and works to solve a crime that may be unsolvable. Despite his better judgment, he falls in love with his prime suspect, and her abusive ex-boyfriend is not happy about it. Oh, and this ex? It’s a green lantern.
Christopher Chance, the human target, is a professional. You can see it in the way he is. You can hear it in the freshness with which King writes Chance’s thoughts. But Ice is cool too. And King shows us in this issue just how under Chance’s skin she is. At the beginning of this issue, Chance receives a visit from Ice’s “violent ex-boyfriend”, Guy Gardner. Gardner is everything Chance is not. He’s a brash, quick judgmental guy, like “shoot first, ask questions later.” He’s the kind of man who can ruin everything when he gets down to it. So it’s funny that the next time we see Chance, he still has Ice going with him. King makes it clear to us: Ice is a problem, whether it’s his fault or not. If Chance wants to solve this case before her imminent demise, it is better to shake her up. But that’s exactly what King is saying. Chance cannot shake it. And the self-defeating voice at the back of his head – the auto-pilot voice his conscious mind complains about – tells him that maybe he shouldn’t even try.
Art and coloring
When we first see Guy Gardner, he’s a huge presence. Smallwood shows Gardner chin down, as he smiles a little. With this, Smallwood does two things. It makes Gardner feel very tall on the page. And it creates a power dynamic between them. Gardner is above Chance. He looks down on him. Then, as the problem progresses, Smallwood puts Chance and Gardner on the same level. Sometimes Smallwood even makes Gardner look small and weak on the page. He shows signs of Gardner standing in the distance, so all of his threats seem a little less threatening. But that’s just one of the many ways Smallwood tells such a fluid story in the visuals of The human target. In fact, these pages look more at home in a museum pop-art gallery than in a comic book.
Smallwood’s colors have amazing depth. When Chance parks his car on the street late at night, his headlights create a beautiful pattern on the panel. Smallwood’s incredible use of Impressionist-style light is breathtaking. But he is also playful with his coloring. When he creates a full-page Booster Gold gag, each panel is a flashback to a recent jaunt back in time, the colors are flat but bright. Smallwood drops any sense of realism in these panels to help this moment pop. It’s whimsical and funny. Even the return to reality, in the two panels at the bottom of the page, gives the impression of laughing. Smallwood’s art and coloring together is one of the most breathtaking works in comics. He’s on a whole different playing field. His peers aren’t even legends like Kirby, Lee, or Ditko – they’re Warhol, Cezanne, and Turner.
The sound effects in this issue blend seamlessly with the art on each page. When Chance punches Gardner and he’s blocked by a brick wall, the “THUD” noise almost seems to crash against the wall too. The U and D get much thinner than the TH, stopped by Chance’s fist making contact. But there is so much more to Cowles lettering than the brilliant sound effects. For one thing, the placement of Chance’s Legends tells us a lot about him as a character. On one page, he fights with Gardner. Its captions are all in the upper left corner of each panel. But when the fight is over and Ice takes the stage, her legends drop to the bottom of the page. Cowles shows us how Chance seems to relax around Ice. He lets his guard down and takes a seat. Cowles shows us that Chance isn’t the bitter bastard he’d like to be. He has a heart that beats behind that rough exterior, and his thoughts are proof of that.
DC Comics’ The human target is delicious. You’d be hard pressed to find a team that works together as brilliantly as Tom King, Greg Smallwood, and Clayton Cowles. With fluid script, stunning pop-art style visuals, and a subtle lettering rhythm, what’s not to love? Human target # 3 is just another example of the unparalleled brilliance of this creative team. Pick it up at DC Comics on December 28 at a comic book store near you.