Human Target #1
In the beginning we end
This week saw the release of the Human Target Hardcover collecting the first six issues of the twelve issue series as well as the return of the ongoing monthly book with the launch issue 7. (I add here that the art in all of this is by Greg Smallwood, but that small sentence does not express the incredible, ground breaking work Greg is doing on this book.) With all that Human Target newness on the stands, seemed like a good time to post the script for Human Target #1.
This is a typical number one for me, where the first issue is the basic set up for the rest of the series. Chance finds out he’s been poisoned by accident, he has twelve days (issues) to live, and that the person who poisoned him was a member of the JLI. A nice straight ahead problem/mystery to solve with a bit of an existential twist that we can complicate and build on for the next year…exactly the kind of comic I love to write.
What is atypical about it, from my perspective is that I started at the end, with Chance’s death. This is a common trope of classic Noir, used almost more often than not. It’s a way to show the audience that they’re seeing the hand of fate at work—the true central theme of noir, in my opinion. It’s also a way under the censorship laws to say to the audience: you’re going to see bad people do bad things, but don’t worry they get punished in the end.
I decided to use it here because I very much didn’t want the readers to think this was all a stupid fake out. I wanted throughout the whole series for people to know that Chance does die at the end of this. You are a witness to his last days; you are with him as he nears the abyss. You already know his last thoughts and his last actions. You already know he dies alone thinking of her. (Who is her? That’s for issue 2!)
I was a little scared to start like this until I came up with how to get into the flashback: A page where we could rewind the clock, start at day 12 and go back to day 1, and see all 12 issues inside the first issue. This would both give weight to the death and give our audience a preview of how big the story was going to be. And since I wrote all twelve issues before Greg drew issue 1, I could fairly accurately reflect what was coming (though I made some changes in lettering…but that’s for a different post.)
Once I had that rewind page in my head, I knew I had to start with the death. It was just something I wanted to see if we could pull off. And Greg, as ever, drew it so perfectly.
That said, I have removed that page (page 7) from the below script! There are some spoilers in the panel descriptions and I do not want to ruin the end of the book, mostly because I love it.
All right, enough preamble, let’s get to the script. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you pick up the comic now that it’s back out there.
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