A Little Love for the Underrated: The Human Target
I love spies!
Now I know I made that declarative statement like a man confessing to something he doesn’t want the world to know, but I can admit it freely and without shame. I absolutely love spy movies, spy books, spy-based video games etc. Anything that can show the dark, sexy world of international espionage is appealing to me and I can glamorize it as much as the next guy. Comic books have had their fair share of international secret agents from Black Widow and Nick Fury in Marvel comics to DC Comics King Faraday and my favorite comic book spy: The Human Target.
The original Human Target was a man named Fred Venable and he originally appeared in Detective Comics #201 in December 1953. His stories, unfortunately, were not that compelling and the character quietly faded away from the DC universe. In December 1972, writer Len Wein (co-creator of little known characters like Swamp Thing, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm and Lucius Fox) and Carmine Infantino (some guy who created the Flash’s iconic red and gold suit, Earth Two, co-creator of Barbara Gordon, Etrigan the Demon, Wally West, Iris West, Gorilla Grodd, Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang) decided to revamp the Human Target character and they created my Human Target: Christopher Chance.
Christopher Chance got his start as a hero the way most do, tragedy. When he was a kid in Boston, his father owed money to a local loan shark named, ironically, Amos Sharkey. When Phillip Chance couldn’t pay, Sharkey sent an assassin to kill Chance. Christopher tried to help his father, but it was too late. The assassin was scared off by the police and Phillip Chance made his young son promise to make something of himself before he died. Christopher vowed to never let anyone feel this vulnerable and scared again so he began studying multiple martial arts as well as use of all types of weaponry. He trained to be a top athlete and immersed himself in the intricacies of business and criminology. He became an expert at psychology and mimicry and eventually, launched his own bodyguard/ private detective business.
Instead of being a normal bodyguard for people targeted for assassination, Christopher Chance became a human target literally and figuratively. He would learn everything about the person that he was impersonating and become that person, taking the place of potential victims and being the man in the crosshairs of would be assassins. What is interesting about The Human Target is the fact that beyond investigating the assassin and his or her potential target, he investigates the subject of the contract as well. He’s learned the hard way that some of the jobs that he’s taken call for him to impersonate less than reputable people, sometimes killers themselves. In those moments, it’s interesting and entertaining to see how he fulfills the conditions of his contract and setting the target up for his or her eventual fall as well.
Christopher Chance has been the subject of two television series. In 1992, Human Target was developed for ABC television from the same team that created The Flash series for CBS. While it maintained the majority of the character traits from the comics, it couldn’t find an audience and was canceled after seven episodes.
In 2010, Fox attempted to revive the series by having Chance as an ex-assassin trying to escape his past and working as a bodyguard for hire. The series abandoned the concept of Chance making himself the “target” and essentially made a generic spy series with the name Human Target. It was cancelled after one season.
Recently, Christopher Chance has entered the DC television universe. He will be appearing on tonight’s episode of Arrow in an episode that has Tobias Church targeting Mayor Oliver Queen for assassination and Oliver turning to an old friend, Christopher Chance, for help. I have not necessarily been the most loyal follower of Arrow (It strays too close to Batman territory for me), but I will definitely be checking out tonight’s episode.
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