Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Human Target #2 Review

And then she walked in...

Written By: Tom King
Art By: Greg Smallwood & Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 30, 2021

Human Target #2 continues the detective noir motif by introducing a staple to the genre - the femme fatale - in the from of Justice League International (JLI) member Ice. When Ice pays Christopher Chance a visit out of the blue, it's clear she has more on her mind than a friendly chat, and Chance will ultimately consider whether Ice is more dangerous than the poison slowly killing him.

Was It Good?

Human Target #2 is a slick, entertaining, and at times, surprising entry in Tom King's take on D.O.A. set in the DC universe. I've been hard on King's morose, often hyper-miserable, re-imaginings of DC characters that often don't fit the characters' personalities. While there's some creative license going on here with the "voice" of Ice, its not too far off the mark to be off-putting, it fits within the story, and it comes off as enjoyable if you view the story through the lens of DC characters playing versions of themselves in a stage play.

That's the best way I could think to describe this. It's as if you're watching a stage production of a classic Hollywood detective noir story with DC heroes playing themselves in fictionalized roles. 

I opined in the review for issue #1 that this story is a direct translation of the 1950 film D.O.A. Nothing in issue #2 changes that opinion. If anything, Ice's entrance and distinctively different "voice" as a femme fatale who's as beautiful as she is untrustworthy reinforces that opinion. Ice has never been depicted (that I could find) as a demure siren using her feminine charms to get information out of somebody, but here, she's as seductive, charming, and dangerous as a cobra.

Ice's depiction is definitely not consistent for her history, but it completely works in this issue, and it fits the story perfectly.

The banter between Ice and Chance is snappy, clever, and dripping with undertones that make it fun to read. This story is playing out like one of the better detective noir films from classic Hollywood, and credit where credit is due, King may have a winner here.

On top of the skillful writing is Greg Smallwood's stellar art. The mid-century style set in modern times creates a slick neo-noir aesthetic that's visually stunning and fits King's story to a tee.

Bits and Pieces

Human Target #2 is a sharp, clean, clever homage to classic detective cinema with one of the better introductions of an unexpected femme fatale you'll likely see in recent memory. Smallwood's art is phenomenal, and the surprise twist at the end shows exactly why Christopher Chance may give Batman some competition for World's Greatest Detective.


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