James Gunn, known for his influential role in shaping the DC Universe, has recently shared his favorite comic of 2023, sparking interest and excitement among fans. His top pick, "The Human Target" by Tom King and Greg Smallwood, stands out for its unique narrative and artistic excellence.
The Making of The Human Target
"The Human Target," a 12-issue maxiseries that started in 2022 and continued into 2023, delves into the life of Christopher Chance, a man whose profession is to become a human target. He disguises himself as his clients to draw out their would-be assassins.
His career takes a dramatic turn when he takes on a case to protect Lex Luthor. An unexpected assassination attempt on Luthor leaves Chance poisoned and with only 12 days to uncover the perpetrator within the DC Universe. Surprisingly, his prime suspects are members of the Justice League International.
In a roundtable interview in 2021, Tom King revealed the serendipitous journey of how he came to write "The Human Target."
He mentioned, “I very rarely go hunting for books. My best books that I've ever written were given to me...King's engagement with the project began somewhat inadvertently, spurred by a joke on Twitter, leading to an unexpected offer from an editor to write about the Human Target. His interest in the character deepened after exploring the original works by Len Wein and Dick Giordano.
And Human Target was the same."
King's vision for the series was galvanized by Smallwood's artwork.
"It wasn't until I saw Smallwood's art, his first cover he sent in, where I was like, 'Oh, this could be something special,'" he said.King aimed to create a story that not only told a compelling narrative within its genre but also resonated with the current global mood, reflecting on themes of mortality and the human response to the prospect of death.
A Story That Resonates
James Gunn's endorsement of "The Human Target" as his favorite comic of 2023 highlights the series' appeal. Its blend of a gripping plot, deep character exploration, and a reflection of contemporary themes makes it stand out in the comic book landscape.