Human Target #9 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Which Way the Wind Blows: Part Three – Bring It All Back Home

Written by: Peter Milligan
Art by: Cliff Chiang
Colored by: Lee Loughridge
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Assistant Editor: Pornsak Pichetshote
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: Vertigo > DC Comics

With the recent release of the trade paperback collection Human Target: Strike Zones I’m hoping this series gains some much deserved readership. Just about everyone is raving about this title, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, not to mention several of us at 411Mania! Peter Milligan’s telling superb stories every single month, stories that never stoop to blatant ambiguity, or decompressed space wasting. Milligan’s stories always carry maximum psychological and emotional impact. In short, Milligan’s uncoiling a modern classic that is truly befitting this lofty praise.

As I said, Milligan hasn’t wasted a single issue so far. Christopher Chance continues his disturbing adventures through the depths of sin in America. Chance, is a master of disguise that usually sells his services out as a trouble-shooter of sorts. Of late, he’s become quite disillusioned with his life, and during the current arc he’s attempted to lose himself in Middle America. Nothing is ever easy for Chance, and Milligan has thrown a doozy his way, by making him, the master of disguise, fall victim to a case of mistaken identity. Leading him into some major troubles with an American terrorist named Malloy and his former cronies.

In issue #9, Milligan amps up the heat for Chance, forcing him to impersonate John Charles, a man he killed last month. Charles used to be tied up with Malloy’s band of terrorists, The Weathermen. This month Chance is caught between Malloy, Charles’ wife, Charles’ long lost brother and an apparent government agent. Milligan brings this arc to a close with some twists and turns and, as seems to be a regular occurrence, all expectations are exceeded. The lead character may live in a grainy world of gray areas, and shattered trusts, but Milligan never shatters the trust the reader has in him!

Cliff Chiang’s simple but engaging artwork serves Milligan’s stories wonderfully. Chiang’s art never overpowers, and always heightens the tension and desperation of the stories. Lee Loughridge continues to add fantastic colors that enhance Chiang’s pictures. Considering we’re talking about a world of gray tones, you could easily expect a bleak color palette. Thankfully that’s not the case. Loughridge lends Chris Chance’s world a pastel tone that amplifies these oh so quirky escapades.

Unlike far too many books that launch and aimlessly meander through a needless extended arc, Milligan has told four separate, and complete, adventures before the series has reached double digits. This current arc is over in three issues, where many writers would stretch it out to 4 or even 6! How’s he do it? Well it all goes back to that idea of not wasting space. Much like Robert Kirkman and Geoff Johns, Peter Milligan doesn’t phone in a single lazy panel, ever! Don’t think that these are simple stories that come together because of a lame deus ex machina either. Each has had the necessary build-up and Milligan has yet to stumble with a conclusion. We’re talking about top talents creating the best possible product on a monthly basis. Now that’s something that any comic fan should be able to appreciate!