The Human Target may not be back just yet–expect it in September–but you can get your Human Target to fix on with a new anthology one-shot out today. Set before the events of the main series by Tom King and Greg Smallwood, this anthology features three specific events, and somehow they all connect. That’s right, there’s a mystery afoot in Tales of The Human Target #1, but can you solve the mystery before the end of the issue?
I’m not going to lie: Tales of The Human Target #1 confused me from the very start. Tom King, who writes all three stories, opens each tale with a person getting attacked or killed. We open with a man driving in a car, as seen in the preview, who is in a terrible accident. Not just an accident, but a purposeful assassination. Cut to Booster Gold being obnoxious, and then we cut to a writer who is quickly shot dead. If you go into this book knowing there’s a mystery, I think you’ll be just fine, but not knowing a thing, it took me about halfway through the book to realize something was going on with each story.
The stories are broken up with Rafael Albuquerque and Dave Stewart focusing on Green Lantern and his response to death. Then we have Kevin Maguire and Alex Sinclair showing off Booster Gold’s bodyguard skills. Finally, Mikel Janin and Arif Prianto focus on Fire and her incredible empathy. After each story is introduced, the tales cut back and forth, progressing each hero’s response to a horrible death. Again, you may not know what is happening, but by the end, you’ll be rocked by how smart the comic is at showing us who these heroes are.
That’s because there’s a stark contrast. Green Lantern, aka Guy Gardner, is a real jerk and not the most heroic or valiant at that. We open on him using his superpowers to get a beer from the fridge, so he doesn’t have to get up from the TV. As his story shows, his temper rises as well as his desire to be violent. He’s not a good dude. The fact that he’s in this story at all is a nice connection to the main series I won’t spoil if you haven’t read it.
Meanwhile, Booster Gold is obnoxiously selfish and arrogant. He’s balanced out by his robot companion Skeets, who King writes as if it’s his worn-out wife. King writes a great Booster Gold, who is kind of stupid and oblivious. This character adds a bit of comedy to the narrative, and Kevin Maguire captures the absurd nature of the character through facial expressions. The comedy between Skeets and Booster Gold is also very well done with smart framing of Skeets, who has no expressions, yet you can see their frustration.
Finally, the Fire scenes remind us some heroes might care too much. She is overwhelmed over a character dying and wants to be there for them even after they pass away. She may not need her powers in this story, but Janin makes you love her for her incredible empathy.
Aside from requiring a bit of patience to figure things out–the book could have used a bit more of a heads up on what it was to draw you in earlier–there are scenes drawn by Greg Smallwood that also won’t make sense till the last page. In a way, they add value to the reader since you’ll end up going back and rereading them. In another way, you might feel confused like I did and truck on thinking you didn’t get it. You will, but I certainly felt a bit dumb.
Tales of The Human Target #1 is the kind of comic story you aren’t prepared for, and maybe that’s okay. I might have been too impatient, but I assure you, once you figure out how these stories relate, you’ll realize it’s a smart series of tales. These tales give us different looks at Chance while using a clever format to create mystery. This isn’t so much an anthology as a clever look at three different heroes via mysteries tied to the Human Target.
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