The Human Target Volume One
Tom King, writer; Greg Smallwood, artist
DC Black Label, 2022
This collects the first half of a twelve-issue maxiseries that brings back Christopher Chance, the Human Target. Created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino and introduced in 1972, Chance is a private detective and bodyguard who assumes the identities of his clients in order to protect them. My history with the character dates entirely from the Vertigo minseries, graphic novel, and ongoing series written by Peter Milligan, with art by Edvin Biuković, Lee Loughridge, Javier Pulido, Dave Stewart, and Cliff Chiang.
As the story opens, Chance is impersonating Lex Luthor. As always, he manages to capture everything: Luthor's physical appearance, voice, and mannerisms. Chance is so preternaturally good at this that it is almost a superpower. But in this case things have gone seriously sideways: someone has poisoned him (thinking he was Luthor) with an exotic, slow acting poison. He has twelve days to solve his own murder. And his suspects must all be members of the Justice League International, as they are the only ones who could have had access to the deadly compound.
Chance finds himself romantically involved with Ice, which puts him in conflict with her jealous ex, chauvinist Green Lantern Guy Gardner. He and Ice meet with the JLI members one by one, looking for clues about who hated Luthor enough to assassinate him. Everything about this is radically different from the Vertigo series, which had no connection to the larger DC Universe. But the classic detective noir tone is present, so the character of Chance feels real. And the mystery is waiting to be solved. King and Smallwood present a recognizable Chirstopher Chance, one who could be expected to solve the mystery. I look forward to reading the conclusion.