Sunday, January 17, 2010

He'll Replace You On The Bullseye

If you've watched any Fox at all this month, you know HUMAN TARGET debuts this week with the premiere tonight and another episode on Wednesday. The new series, which stars KEEN EDDIE's Mark Valley, is based on a DC Comics character created by Len Wein and Dick Giordano that debuted in ACTION #419 (December 1972). See that little blurb at the top? That's the only indication of something new and interesting sneaking into a Julius Schwartz-edited Superman book, aside from the awesome Neal Adams cover.

The Human Target was Christopher Chance, a non-superpowered bodyguard whose gimmick was a mastery of disguise. Instead of following his clients around, he actually became his clients using makeup and lured the potential killers into the open. Of course, that idea was much too interesting for contemporary network television, which has completely jettisoned that concept and turned Valley's Chance into...another bodyguard who follows his clients around? Then why call him the Human Target, when he's not?

Although the Human Target debuted in ACTION and appeared eight times in backup stories (which I think may have all been done by Wein and Giordano), Chance never appeared on a DC cover until almost six years later on BRAVE AND THE BOLD #143 in another Wein/Giordano teamup.

And some of us will remember that this is not the first HUMAN TARGET TV series. In 1992, Chance appeared in a spring tryout on ABC starring Rick Springfield (!). Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, who also made the excellent THE FLASH for CBS, were the executive producers. As far as I know, this is the only clip from that original series on YouTube (which I uploaded myself) and features Springfield in a kung fu battle with the great David Carradine!

And, yes, Springfield did play the master-of-disguise version of the Human Target as envisioned by the character's creators.

EDIT: According to the new series' credits, Wein and DC's then-publisher Carmine Infantino are the creators of the Human Target, though Giordano did indeed draw his first ACTION appearance.


Ian McDowell said...

I seem to recall at least one Human Target backup drawn by Neal Adams. It might have been Giordano (and was probably inked by him even if it was Adams), but I remember a randori (Japanese for "play," but means sparring) sequence which looked like real judo, rather than movie kung fu, and Adams' martial arts moves were usually quite authentic. The fact that the caption actually defined "randori" is a definite O'Neil touch.

Benzadmiral said...

I'd left comics by 1972, so I don't recall the DC stories. The TV series was fast, entertaining, and featured some outrageous-but-grand action sequences (sort of a "Die Hard" for TV) and an insouciant hero. Kind of a 21st Century "Man from U.N.C.L.E."