Of all of the staples of superhero comics, the nature of death has been uniquely prevalent, with characters being killed off and coming back to life in a wide array of narrative contexts. The threat of death has proved to especially unique across DC's Human Target Black Label series, which is built around the premise of Christopher Chance / Human Target accidentally being poisoned while impersonating Lex Luthor, and being just days away from dying. As Chance and Tora Olafsdotter / Ice have begun to solve Chance's murder and investigate other members of the Justice League International, the first half of the series has played with the expectations of a traditional noir story — culminating in a genuinely shocking death. Major spoilers for Human Target #6, from Tom King, Greg Smallwood, and Clayton Cowles below! Only look if you want to know!
The issue provides a sort of interlude to Chance and Ice's investigation, as the former begins to strategize about how to approach Beatriz da Costa / Fire and possibly get information about her role in the murder plot. While Tora is originally upset at Chance accusing Bea, the pair eventually reconcile, and begin to rekindle their romantic relationship. This is complicated further by the return of Guy Gardner, who is not only upset by Tora and Chance's relationship, but by the lengths that Chance previously went to trick him into briefly giving up his Green Lantern ring.
Guy begins to attack Chance and Tora, the latter of whom uses her ice powers to fight back. Chance proceeds to shoot a bullet at the scene, which ricochets back to hit him, in hopes of distracting Guy. It works, and Tora is able to use her powers to freeze Guy into ice. Chance then punches the now-frozen Guy in the face, shattering his head and body completely. As pieces of Guy's body begin to thaw, Chance admits that he and Tora were slow in responding to what they'd just done — and they'd now have to cover up Guy's murder in some way.
The sequence is definitely shocking, not only in the narrative and aesthetic buildup across the individual sequence from King and Smallwood, but in the way it is sure to impact a lot of things in Human Target writ large. (It also provides a gruesome parallel to the infamous "One Punch" scene of the first Justice League International run, which saw Batman punching Guy in a decidedly less-lethal way.) While Human Target seems to exist in its own corner of DC's omniverse of continuity, meaning that Guy probably isn't dead in the main continuity, the consequences are sure to still be felt.
What do you think of Guy Gardner's death in the pages of Human Target? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!