Just Who Is … The Human Target? A Doc’s Corner Special Report

November 3, 2021 Uncategorized

THE HUMAN TARGET #1     DC COMICS (BLACK LABEL)

Since DC’s decided to bring back the Human Target, I thought it only fair to explain who the Human Target is and where he came from. Fred Venable made his first appearance in Detective Comics #201 in November of 1953. He was … Hmmm, what? What do you mean, I’ve got the wrong Human Target? Trust me, when you have been around as long as I have … Hmmm, what? Oh, you wanted to talk about the other Human Target, Christopher Chance. Got it, ahhh, where was I?

The Christopher Chance version of the Human Target first appeared as a back up feature in Action Comics #419 with the cover blurb of “Action-Plus with: The Human Target!” And action it was as the suave and debonair Christopher Chance was lovingly brought to life by writer Len Wein with Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano on art duty. He would remain as a back up feature at Action Comics for 8 issues before jumping ship for a pair of Brave and the Bold adventures in 1978. Then finally settling in at Detective Comics where his skill at discovering who was trying to kill his client were spotlighted. After bouncing around the Batman universe for a while, he reappeared in two Vertigo titles from 1999 to 2003. He also proved to be so likeable that he was given two different television programs. One on ABC-TV in 1992 and one for the Fox Network in 2010. He even showed up in the Arrow television show on a few occasions. This is one of the few instances where DC actually understood what made a character work and doled him out in small doses.

Tom King and Greg Smallwood’s incarnation of the character follows in that grand tradition. A mini-series where the still dapper Christopher Chance has taken a job impersonating and talking a bullet for Lex Luthor provides a wonderful behind the scenes look at the character. Luthor believes that Chance is all chummy with the super-hero community which Chance denies. However, after it is discovered that Chance has been poisoned, it is the super-hero community that comes in to help. With Doctor Midnite doing an exam and discovering that Chance has 12 days to live. And the choice suspects are the members of Justice League International! Plain and simple, this is a pulp detective story with super-hero cameos. And that’s what is great about this story. Christopher Chance has been operating in the backround of the DC Universe for almost 50 years. And while he appeared in books featuring Superman and Batman, he never really interacted with them. He is never called upon when there is a multiverse crisis and isn’t an infamous JL emergency member. He knows Batman and the Martian Manhunter (an appropriate idea as all these characters appeared in Detective Comics.) but doesn’t show up at the Batcave for cocktails. He is his own man and is happy to be operating outside of the panels in the world of DC. The Human Target is an amazing tertiary character and the creative team understands this. This one looks to be an excellecnt read. I give it 9 out of 10 Grahams. Now are you sure you don’t want me to talk about the second DC Human Target from Gangbusters #61 in 1958?

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