Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Human Target #6 Review

The (Character) Assassination Of Guy Gardner , Part 2

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Greg Smallwood
Colors by: Greg Smallwood
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Greg Smallwood
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: March 22, 2022

The Human Target #6 is a simple chapter in the maxi-series with Christopher Chance and Ice enjoying some afternoon delight when jealous, abusive ex-boyfriend, Guy Gardner, arrives to kill the mood.

Was It Good?

Perplexing. The Human Target #6 is perplexing because Tom King is a skillful writer. He knows how to put words together, set up a plot, and get the whole thing to flow. However, what Tom King doesn't like to do is write characters with any sense of canonical consistency. Christopher Chance isn't Christopher Chance. He's Tom King's re-imagined version of Christopher Chance, who doesn't act or talk like any version you would recognize.

That brings us to the crux of this issue. It's effectively three scenes. First, Chance and Ice have a blowup when Chance reveals he needs to look into Fire as a suspect. It makes sense in the context of this series, and Ice's reaction is consistent with her relationship with Fire.

Next, Chance pays a medical checkup visit to Doctor Mid-Nite. The Doctor provides some tidbit about the poison, which Chance finds useful, and then the two have a brief talk about faith. It helps inform readers about King's version of Chance's character and background (especially with his father). The issue is relatively sedate and event-free up to this point, and then it happens...

Guy Gardner shows up at Ice's house while Chance is there to make amends for the earlier argument. If you thought the character assassination of Guy Gardner in #3 was terrible, it gets so much worse here. There is no talking. There is no trying to calm things down. Instead, King's version of Guy goes into full rage attack mode after getting his ring back against Chance AND Ice. Why does King feel the need to make everyone a terrible person? Is this all he has left in his creative tank? Is he just tearing characters down in unnatural ways for cheap, pulpy thrills?

"Wait, wait, wait," you say. "Chance and Ice aren't that bad. Isn't that worth mentioning?"  Oh no, my fine Weirdos. I would agree before this issue, but without spoiling it any further, Chance and Ice never let a dead body get in the way of some lovemaking. Oy!

Now you see the perplexing feelings created by this issue. It's skillfully written, but everyone in it is tragically flawed. There are no heroes here, only terrible people doing terrible things to each other. It verges on misery porn, which significantly drains the entertainment value out of the story. 

Either way, Smallwood's art is phenomenal. There's not enough praise in the world for the mid-century style, the hip/cool lines, or the neo-modern coloring. Smallwood captures everything about the mid-50s perfectly. You could make the case Smallwood is too good for King's story (or much of anything DC is putting out these days).

Bits and Pieces

The Human Target #6 drops a little clue about Chance's killer and thoroughly decimates any respect or good feelings you might have had for Guy Gardner. The writing is incredibly skillful, even if the character reinterpretations are downright distasteful. In any case, Smallwood's art is beyond reproach and worth the price of admission.


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