Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Human Target #4 (Miniseries)

The final issue of the miniseries begins by showing us some scenes of various players in the story. First we see Dennis dropping off Rhea at a hospital. Then we see Emerald say goodbye to her family before she heads back out to complete her contract on Chance’s life. Finally, we see Chance, impersonating Tom, pay a visit to Becky.

Chance and Becky (and her son Sam) have a typical family outing, bringing order to Becky’s life. Biukovic draws several panels of the three of them enjoying each other’s company. At the end, “Tom” and Becky end up making love. Chance even allows Becky to touch him. They both know that “Tom” is really just Chance, but Becky is okay with this knowledge and bluntly tells him that she’s just horny.

This scene sort of hearkens back to the previous issue when the real Tom (impersonating Rev. James) says to Becky, “What’s a name? What’s a personality? What’s a person? What do these terms mean? Love me. Forget which me it is you’re loving. Becky, can’t we just pretend?” (63) It’s interesting that Becky is willing to pretend when the man she’s making love to at least looks like her husband.

Later, Chance takes up the role of Rev. James and visits Bethany in preparation for his big sermon. She pours her heart and frustrations out to him, basically saying the things she wished she could have said to her real husband when he was alive. She accuses him of being a liar, and says that his sermons were lies. Again, Milligan reminds us about truth and deception, not only with the words that Bethany says to “Rev. James” but the fact that she says them with the understanding that she is talking to a man who is impersonating her late husband.

Bethany even speaks one of the most important passages of dialogue in the entire Human Target miniseries: “You’ve killed something. I used to see a run-down tenement or a young criminal and I would see the potential for change, for good. Now I just see what’s in front of me and it stinks. It all stinks.” (87) Is it better to live an idealistic lie or to live with the painful truth? In this story, there seem to be merits for both ways. At times, characters decry the falsehoods of lies. Other times, characters live in blissful ignorance. Sometimes life is easier, or preferable, when one acknowledges the lie and chooses to accept it. Truth or ideals? Reality or imagination? Certainty or chance? Milligan presents multiple facets of this idea of existence and illusion without shoving a clear-cut answer down readers’ throats.

In the next scene, Becky literally crashes into Tom as she drives her car. Apparently she wasn’t going too fast because although he’s hurt, he isn’t too badly. They have a chance to talk a little, but Tom seems to remember something about Chance and leaves before Becky can bring their son to him.

D-Noyz visits Rhea, who is comatose in a hospital. Her mother is there, and D-Noyz tries to make reparations by giving her a pile of cash. Rhea’s mother, of course, angrily rejects his money, but the whole situation seems to instill in him a new sense of understanding. He heads over to the church (where Emerald is already set up in her sniper’s perch) with new conviction.

Eventually, Chance, as the Rev. James, comes out to give his sermon. He begins with three sentences: “I am not the man you think I am. I never was. I never could be.” (93) This stands out for two reasons. Firstly, the three statements are a concise summation of Christopher Chance’s character. Second each sentence is in its own separate word balloon. I don’t know if this is intentional or not, but to me this hearkens back to Bethany in issue 3 and the scene where she speaks three timid questions in three separate word balloons. It’s a simple contrast because now we have three forceful statements.

“We’re all pretending,” Chance continues. “We’re all pretending that we’re someone we’re not…” (93) This text is yet another reminder that the themes of this story are, indeed, universal.

Just as Chance launches into the bulk of his sermon, D-Noyz spots the glint of Emerald’s sniper rifle and shouts a warning—right when Tom throws open the church doors and screams a warning to Chance. Everything comes to a head, and D-Noyz leaps over the pulpit with his arms outstretched over Chance. He saves Chance’s life from Emerald’s bullets at the cost of his own life, but this gives Chance enough time to fire his pistol and drill a slug right through Emerald’s neck. Dying, she falls from her perch and lands on the floor.

Bleeding out in Chance’s arms, Emerald still has some breath left as Chance tries to find some answers. Almost incoherent, Emerald can only repeat the very first words of this miniseries: “Who am I? I am a reputation… I am a grainy photograph with dark bullet holes instead of eyes… I am a severed penis stuffed into a dying mouth. I am a person you come to if you want someone dead…” (98) Chance asks her who wants him dead. She tries to answer, but expires before she can give a name. Cryptically, as she dies she seems to weakly point a finger at someone, but Chance makes nothing of this.

In the epilogues, we see Rhea awake in her hospital bed, watching Bethany speak at her (real) husband’s funeral. Emerald’s husband is visited by two police officers bearing some bad news. And Chance, impersonating Tom, asks the real Tom to take on the role of being the real Tom so that he, Becky, and Sam can have a life again.

The final page of the comic shows Chance and Bruno having a drink together in Bruno’s restaurant. Chance essentially says he’s back in the game, and Bruno can only sip his champagne with a smug, satisfied smile on his face. Though Chance is still at unease due to not having learned who hired Emerald to kill him, there’s nothing he can do at this point.

All in all, this is a neat, tidy ending with just enough left unexplained to warrant future stories in this world. Milligan effectively wraps up everyone’s storyarc one way or another, although some would obviously be logical to return to in future installments (the stories of Tom and Chance himself, obviously). Although the protagonist seems to come out on top, in some ways it’s a pyrrhic victory, and somewhat downbeat. It’s a fitting conclusion because enough of the surface elements of the story are answered (the various subplots involving the different characters) but the underlying, driving force of the plot (who wanted to kill Christopher Chance?) remains unanswered. There’s always something more intricate bubbling beneath the surface.

No comments:

Post a Comment