Human Target: Living in Amerika

Writer Peter Milligan uses human chameleon Christopher Chance to explore the nature of identity. Chance is the world’s best impersonator, and he takes the place of people in danger. In the first story, he’s pretending to be Father Mike, a priest whose charity work among America’s undesirables — HIV patients, the homeless, immigrants — has made him a target.

Next, in the book’s longest story, Chance is required to take the place of someone who’s himself living a secret life. John Charles has been undercover for over 30 years, ever since his student radical group set off a bomb. Then, in the last chapter of the book, Chance does an old buddy, an escaped convict, a favor. His impersonation will draw the cops’ attention and allow the buddy some time with his wife.

Human Target: Living in Amerika cover
Human Target:
Living in Amerika
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The reader often finds the stories twisting on themselves, with events needing to be reinterpreted as further revelations occur. They’re modern fables, parables about our culture revolving around a false linchpin, the impersonated.

Milligan’s plots raise significant philosophical questions of direct relevance to today’s society. Chance finds that pretending to be a good man means doing good, which makes him a better man than he was. Where does one draw the line between deeds and intent? Can action based on pretense have some of the same effects as true belief? Ultimately, can a bad man do good?

Illustrator Cliff Chiang is an immensely talented artist with a deceptively simple style. Art is particularly important when characters are pretending to be each other, and Chiang does a fabulous job. His style is minimal, like an adult version of the animated cartoon style used for Adventures books, but nothing essential is left out.

He’s terrific at distinguishing between characters and setting up resemblances, capable of both action and reflection. He captures just the right moment of action to give pages flow and movement, and he’s able to draw almost anything beautifully. His notes and sketches that conclude this collection are the icing on a very tasty, thought-provoking cake.

4 Responses to “Human Target: Living in Amerika”

  1. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Charming and garrulous B. Clay Moore signed my Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise, and I got my copy of Human Target: Living in Amerika signed by Cliff Chiang. I especially wanted that one because it’s got his behind-the-scenes section on how he creates each page. We talked about the Baltimore Convention, coming in September; I hope he’s able to attend. […]

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Given that I don’t review many DC and Marvel titles, does it make sense to have separate sections for them by publisher, or should I rearrange things such that I have one “Superhero Comics” category? In the latter case, a number of the DC books (titles like Human Target and Scene of the Crime) would be moved into the general Graphic Novel Reviews group. […]

  3. Human Target Debuts Tomorrow » DVDs Worth Watching Says:

    […] (before it moves into its Wednesday timeslot starting January 20). It’s loosely based on the DC Comics character, starring Mark Valley (Boston Legal, Swingtown, Fringe) as bodyguard-for-hire Christopher Chance. […]

  4. The DC New 52: Reviews of the Rest of the Week Four Books » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] and various Batman and Superman storylines (Joker, For Tomorrow). Cliff Chiang has illustrated Human Target, The Creeper, The Spectre, and Green Arrow/Black Canary. The two collaborated on a eight-part Dr. […]




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