Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Issue Review- "Human Target" vol. 3 #5

(August 2010)

"The Wanted: Extremely Dead Contract! pt. 5- Havoc in Hong Kong!" "Scars pt. 5- Not Really"

Robbie Thomspon and Len Wein (writers), Bruno Redondo and Chris Sprouse (artists). Cover by Ryan Sook.

Summary- The Human Target (Christopher Chance) continues his international trek to recover the secret ledgers of Don Morelli, a repentant mafia crime lord who has decided to turn himself over to federal prosecutors in the United States. Now on the home stretch, Chance finds himself in Hong Kong, with Morelli and the Dons daughter Angelica in tow. As usual, Chance almost immediately finds himself attacked by a squad of mob hitmen. It seems that there's a mole in Chance's operation, an enemy who may be right under his nose. In the back up story, a woman Chance has been seducing reveals herself to be yet another assassin, and we learn the secret of another one of Chance's many scars.

Comments- This is the penultimate issue of a miniseries that bears little resemblance to the Human Target's earlier appearances, as it's missing Christopher Chance's once signature practice of taking the place of the person he's been hired to protect- in other words, becoming a Human Target. Instead, "The Wanted: Extremely Dead Contract" is based on the altered version of the hero used for the semi-hit television series. It's a dumbed-down version of the character to be sure, but still works well enough as a James Bond clone. The twists aren't that surprising and the story retraces well trodden ground, but the action is exciting enough to keep the reader's attention. Len Wein's high octane script is well rendered by Bruno Redondo's pencils, which provide an easy to follow, visually straight-forward style. Redondo also does a great job of capturing actor Mark Valley's likeness as the new (and much blonder) Human Target; his depictions of Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley as Chance's compatriots Winston and Guerrero are equally impressive.

On the other hand, the back up story by Robbie Thompson is just a disappointment. This month sees another almost completely silent story (after Thompson used the same gimmick last issue), and despite Chris Sprouse's always impressive artwork, it comes across as five pages of filler. What started as a fairly interesting back up feature has devolved into a waste of pages- pages which would have been much better served if they had been added to Wein's lead story.

Final Rating- 6/10.

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