Saturday, July 31, 2004

Human Target: Strike Zones
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Javier Pulido
DC Comics/Vertigo 198 pages $9.99

Christopher Chance is the world's greatest impersonator, who makes his living by taking on the lives of those in trouble until he can get them out of it.

The first story in this collection apparently deals with the ramifications of a past story, where Chance's job didn't go well. Not having read the prior story, I'm not entirely sure of its exact details. Yet apparently while pretending to be a movie director whose son was kidnapped, things went wrong and everyone involved was killed or badly burned.

While not being able to grasp all of the conflicts, the main one about the sense of identity was clearly on display. By the nature of his job Chance has to lose himself into his role, and this time he'd gone too far and it led to a split of his mind.

When he finally comes to himself he must deal with the ramifications, but is still left with the uncertainness of who he really is and whether what he feels is real or not.

Following up on this is so far the only storyline involving the events of 9/11 that doesn't seem exploitive. As Chance takes on the role of a man who faked his death during the event, and is now trying to take on those in power who caused him to take such a drastic measure.

Then to end the volume has Chance taking on the role of a pro baseball player, dealing with the steroid problem that seems ripped straight out of sports headlines. I thought this was the weaker of the three given its rather bland straight ahead storyline, that played only token care to there being other choices.

Still the overall series is very intriguing. The action and violence is well done and made consequential but not the overblown "Importance" that other lesser talents use in attempts to shock the reader.

The art tells the story well for the most part, the action scenes flow well and facial expressions are very strongly done. If I had a quibble with it, it's that during the most emotional impacting moments it tends to pull back too far. This could be by writer design though, but for me it leaves me feeling too distant.

The key element of the series I like though is the exploration of the nature of identity. This series is more direct about it by having Chance's job being about being different people. Yet it is something all can understand, as every one of us has different faces we show people. How we are to friends is different than how we are to family and both can be different to how we are at work.

Through Chance's exploration of who he truly is, we too as readers can examine ourselves to try and determine who we truly are.

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