Action Comics #422: "The Shadows-Of-Yesterday Contract"

Action Comics #422
"The Shadows-Of-Yesterday Contract"
March, 1973

Each gear of the automobile was meshed in perfect precision. Christopher
Chance was back in Boston for a short time before he had the opportunity
to drive his 1937 Cord, and enjoy it. He wonders why any other sort of
car was produced in the name of progress. His ears hear the hum of the
Cord's engine, and his eyes are on the cobbled road ahead. The Human
Target is unaware of the man who was about to kill him. BLAM! The sound
of the shot was coupled with that of splintered glass, and the steering
wheel turns to the right as pieces of the windshield start to fall. The
Cord hits the curb hard, but Chance is searching the area for the
sniper's location, and finds it.

Since he was not under contract, the Human Target had no intention of
working for free. BLAM BLAM BLAM All Chris can see is the rifle
barrel, but he manages to hit what he aimed for. After entering the
building and running up the stairs, he reaches the rooftop. The sniper
is long gone. When Christopher Chance returns to his Cord, he wonders
how the sniper managed to miss his target. Seeing the wounded man in the
back seat, it turns out he didn't.

Without further thought, Chance helps the man to a sitting position, and
learns that he doesn't want to go to a hospital. There is fear and
desperation in the man's eyes. He has a job to offer the Human Target.
On the two top floors over Luigi's Restaurant on Beacon Street, the
proprietor tends to the wounded man. Once he has left, Chance would
learn more about the loss of a windshield. Hiram Walsh was an accountant
for Tall Towers Incorporated. It turns out that the corporation is a
"front" for the mob. Walsh learned this by accident and took some
incriminating material to turn over to the police, but he was found out.
The syndicate have hired someone to kill the accountant, and he'll keep
trying until the job is done.

When asked for a description of the hired gun, Chance learns that the man
is tall, dark-haired, has a hearing aid in one ear -- and a broken heart
tattooed on his right ear. Inside the mind of Christopher Chance, an
image of the assassin forms. He knew the man the accountant spoke of --
Chris had met him twenty years ago -- on the day his father died... Long
buried, his father's face appears once more, and Chris Chance is a boy
once more. The elder Chance wanted a better life and couldn't get it in
his job at the Income Tax Bureau. He takes out a small loan to invest in
the stock market, and plans to pay back double. The market killed his
father -- and the real killing would take place later -- after a brief
exchange on their front door. When they learn that he is broke, the
hired thugs plan to get what they are owed -- or their client will get
what's coming to him.

Weeks later, Chris and his father are walking home from the school gym,
when an armed man directs them into an alley. The Dancer's employer wants
Mister Chance made an example for other clients. As his father begs for
his life, Chris is frozen to the spot. His eyes grow wide as Dancer
thumbs back the hammer, and the young boy uses this moment to act.

The hired gun swats the youngster aside, then shoots down his target. At
the sound of the gunshot, all fear is gone from Chris Chance, and is
replaced by rage. Rage gives him strength, and his fingers tighten
around the Dancer's throat -- he can see the fear in the gunman's eyes as

The Dancer manages to use a wooden milk-box to drive the boy off-balance,
but the sound of police sirens prevents him from any further shooting.
As the killer runs away, Chris Chance gets to his feet, and sees that his
father is still alive. His breathing is shallow, but he has enough
strength to exact a promise from his son. The father wants his son to
make something of himself, and not end up like his old man. He had tried
to be a target for his father, and failed. He will not fail again. That
night and in the weeks and months that follow, Christopher Chance
discovers that he no longer feels fear. With that in mind, he sets about
training himself for the career ahead.

Hiram Walsh's hand on his shoulder brings the Human Target back to the
present. The accountant wants to know if he'll protect him. Chance
works for a fee, but all the accountant has is a quarter. Christopher
Chance offers him a deal -- he'll flip him for the fee -- double or
nothing. Hiram Walsh watches as the coin completes its spin in the air,
is caught, and slapped against Chance's wrist. After satisfying himself
with the result, the Human Target tells his client that it's heads, and
Walsh has won. Unbeknownst to the client, Christopher Chance has his own
reason for taking the contract, and not even tails will dissuade him from
doing so.

As with Doc Magnus, Christopher Chance enjoys smoking a pipe while
driving around town.

Hiram Walsh bears a striking resemblance to William Conrad as "Cannon".

In Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm, a father's failure to pay off the loan
sharks brings about his death, and the origin of The Phantasm.

Among the training that Christopher Chance receives: boxing, judo,
gymnastics, and firearms.

Interestingly enough, one of the men featured in the training montage
bears a striking resemblance to Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke the

The flip of a coin means the choice between life and death for Harvey
Dent, AKA Two-Face.

Steve Chung
"The Shadows-Of-Yesterday Review"