Human Target by Peter Milligan and illustrated by the late Edvin Biuković , published August 2007, 104 pages, suggested for mature audiences and published by Vertigo, US $12.95. Human Target is a min-series that was originally created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino, about a bodyguard who impersonates his clients to remove them from harm’s way. Peter Milligan brings back Christopher Chance, “master of disguise” who becomes so immersed in his client’s lives that he doesn’t even recognize himself anymore.
Christopher Chance is the human target. He is a bodyguard who essentially puts himself in harm’s way to protect his clients. I find that rather intriguing and a bit different from your typical bodyguard duties. The only problem is that once the work is over, it’s kind of hard to just shed someone else’s life and go back to your own world and reality. When the story opens, Chance is impersonating a black minister, Earl James, who has made himself a crusader against the gangs in his neighborhood who are destroying the community with drugs and violence. While this may be just another assignment, Chance finds himself completely immersed in the life of Earl James that even the minister’s wife forgets who he really is underneath all the make-up.
After a month of impersonating the minister, Chance is asked by an unknown masked man to impersonate him because he has an assassin named Emerald after him. However, Chance is faced with a surprise after an assassination attempt on his life: he is not who he think he is. The story has many different and interesting threads with plot twists and surprises galore. One interesting thread that I enjoyed most was Chance’s nemesis: a beautiful young woman named, Emerald. In the first few pages of the graphic novel, Emerald describes herself as being a “reputation” and an “assassin” who never fails to get her target. Her life as an assassin is juxtaposed with her “normal” life of a wife and mother. Her husband is an aspiring writer whose main character is Emerald. He doesn’t know that the inspiration of Emerald’s character comes from his wife’s own adventurous life.
It’s difficult to find good crime fiction in the graphic novel arena. I’m glad to have found this one. It’s very good. The mystery and suspense part of the novel kept me turning the pages quickly. It also has some psychological elements in that the characters are always assessing their roles and status and their identities. We see that it takes a heavy toll when pretending to be someone else. Chance has spent thousands of dollars on therapy to try to understand why he can impersonate someone else’s life so brilliantly and be a failure in his own. The secondary characters add some spice in the form of D’Noyz, a gangsta who the Revered Earl James was fighting against to restore order to his community. A gangsta with a moral compass that isn’t always in the wrong direction.
As for the artwork and story flow – very good. I see that there are sequels out that I must track down. If you enjoy mystery and suspense, then you should certainly pick this one up. This is a quick one sitting read. I would have liked to have known more about Christopher Chance, what his life was like before he did this kind of work on a whim. There were a few vague moments relating to Chance’s private life that I didn’t quite follow. Overall, this story is good and met most of my expectations and then some. My grade, B+.
[tags]Graphic Novel Review, Peter Milligan, Bodyguards, Assassins, Secret-Identity[/tags]