Sunday, January 30, 2005

Human Target: Living in Amerika TPB
Peter Milligan & Cliff Chiang
DC Comics, $14.85, 128 Pages

The strength of this series for me is how it questions the notions of identity. Chance, the lead character, is a master of disguise who has taken on the various roles to such extents that he no longer even knows who he really is. Evidenced by how even when he tries to be himself, he must put on a disguise in order to do so.

A lot of people don't really know themselves, which keeps them from knowing anyone else. Chance's job is to become others, so he has to have unique insights into the individuals in order to become them. Yet he seems unable to train the same keen eye on himself.

In this volume Chance takes on the role of a preacher whose life is being threatened, himself in a three parter in a small city with people with secrets, and a prisoner who is a ladies man looking for one last big adventure.

The stories range from thought provoking looks at the low points of humanity, to action packed adventure and finally light comedy. The book made an impact on me as a reader because it has a diverse feel to each story, staying true to the basic concept while keeping it fresh and relevant to the world today. In fact the feel of many stories being prompted by today's headlines, reminds me a little of the CSI television which does similar things.

The art by Cliff Chiang, is good at building a unique world that fits together while giving the individual cities a sense of atmosphere. With a star that's look changes from issue to issue, it must be hard to keep coming up with distinctive looking characters each time.

Yet it does that masterfully, and showcases a good sense of understanding of an individuals body stances. Especially on the scenes where Chance reveals himself while in his roles, that clearly comes through the art wordlessly showing who he is to the reader.

It is a shame that the series didn't find a bigger audience, as it is very intelligent and different from any other series out there. Which of course is probably why it didn't work in today's comic market place.

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