Thursday, January 14, 2010

Human Target TV Show: Can’t Wait… Or Maybe I Can... (A Heritage Auctions comic expert's dissapointment...)

Jan. 14, 2010
Written By Barry Sandoval

(It's always a treat to welcome the writing of Barry Sandoval to the Heritage Blog. Besides being the Director of Comics Operations here at Heritage HQ, Barry is obviously one of the world's foremost authorities on comics and comics art, and an unbelievable font of Pop Culture knowledge.

I've turned over the digital reigns to Barry today so he could express his outrage - of sorts - about a favorite second tier character that is being made into a most likely very bad TV show debuting this weekend - Shocking, I know, to think that TV or the movies would take a character with strengths and a great back-story and make him a dime-a-dozen pretty boy dope. I wouldn't watch the show that Barry talks about, either, and I certainly share his outrage... - Noah Fleisher)

I was really looking forward to the “Human Target” TV show that premieres next weekend and has been heavily promoted during the commercial breaks of football games for weeks now.

I say WAS because while perusing the Arts and Leisure section of yesterday’s New York Times, I read that the show will change one thing about the character: he won’t be wearing any disguises.


Perhaps I should backtrack.

The Human Target is a comic book character, created by Len Wein, who first appeared as a backup feature in Action Comics #419 (1972). The character’s name hints at his original twist: he’s a master of disguise who saves people who think their lives are in danger by disguising himself as the intended murder victim.

Since he can interact with suspects (who think he’s the dead-man-to-be) without arousing suspicion the way a stranger surely would, he’s able to solve the mystery of who’s out to kill his client, and he’s handy enough with his fists to subdue the bad guy. This pose-as-the-victim gimmick was unprecedented (I think), and was the one thing that separated him from the usual dime-a-dozen suave hero.

The Human Target did his thing in tightly plotted short stories running eight pages or so apiece, popping up irregularly in Action from 1972-1974 and returning in The Brave and the Bold in 1978. All of the preceding are great yarns and highly recommended. The Human Target has appeared in comics now and then in the ensuing years (check out his memorable turn in Detective #500), and believe it or not, he has had a TV show before. It ran just a few episodes in the summer of 1992, starring none other than that suitor of Jessie’s girl himself, the one and only Rick Springfield!

As the Times reported yesterday, this new show is dispensing with the whole “disguise” concept, basically because the actor playing the lead was deemed too good-looking to be encumbered with fake beards and the like.

So… the TV producers paid good money (presumably) for the rights to an obscure character, then changed the one thing worth paying for rather than just invent their own good-looking hero for free.


If you’re intrigued by the investment potential of the character: CGC-certified NM/MT 9.8 copies of Action #419 have been selling in the $90 - $150 range in our Sunday Internet Comics Auctions.
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-Barry Sandoval

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