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Human Target vol. 1: Chance Meetings by Peter Milligan

4/10 A disappointing relaunch of the series.

Christopher Chance is the Human Target. Chance has a unique approach to providing his clients with protection. Adopting their image, voice, lifestyle and mannerisms he is all at once a decoy, a bodyguard and a private investigator. Originally appearing in DC comics as a backup feature for flagship characters Superman and Batman, the Human Target has now been re-imagined under DC's Vertigo imprint which markets its comics at a mature audience. Containing sex, violence and crude language this is not a comic for the younger reader. Chance Meetings collects the four issue comic miniseries Human Target and the graphic novel Human Target: Final Cut.

In Human Target, Chance is employed to impersonate a priest whose life is under threat from a violent gang in his community. At the same time, Chance must avert the threat of an assassin who is determined to claim the price placed on his head by an unknown source. The miniseries was difficult to like. The urban American setting is cliché ridden and the portrayal of the gangs, all young black Americans, felt like an awkward and outdated stereotype. The story is full of twists and turns and we can never take for granted who is impersonating who. This seems like a obvious direction for the Human Target to take but it is poorly executed and becomes confusing. The art is functional but little more and at times the bold lettering becomes frustratingly difficult to read without squinting.

Thankfully, Human Target: Final Cut is more rewarding. Final Cut follows Human Target in continuity, moving the action to Hollywood where Chance is recruited to investigate the kidnapping of a film director's son. Again there are twists in the tale but this time they feel less forced and the story avoids becoming convoluted. The more mature content is still present but in contrast to the first story arc it feels more natural than gratuitous. The art is very different too, stylized with a more subtle colour palette, and the lettering is noticeably clearer.

It is intriguing that these stories share a writer and yet one is so much more successful than the other. Peter Milligan aside, the creative team behind Final Cut is entirely different from the one behind Human Target, a reflection perhaps of the important contribution the rest of the creative team can make to a successful comic. Chance Meetings is very much a book of two halves and although there is a marked improvement in the second half of the book, this is a disappointing relaunch of the series.

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Edvin Biukovic, Javier Pulido
Colourists: Lee Loughridge, Dave Stewart
Letterers: Robert Solanovic, Todd Klein
Original Series Covers: Tim Bradstreet, Javier Pulido
Publisher: Vertigo

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