Back in September, I had the opportunity to interview comic book writer Mark Millar, and while the entire interview was incredibly captivating, I was specifically intrigued by his mention of his upcoming project, Huck, that he described as a “Frank Capra superhero tale.” This upcoming week will finally see the release of the first issue of Huck, which is published by Image Comics and features Millar partnering with acclaimed artist Rafael Albuquerque of American Vampire. With its pilot issue, Huck marks a real departure in tone for Millar and gives the writer, Albuquerque, and the rest of the creative team a chance to shine in a comic book industry overshadowed by a plethora of dark, gritty, and hopeless superhero sagas.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Huck #1 sets up the story of its simple-minded, but good-hearted, main character of the same name. Working a day job at a small town gas station in Maine, Huck is the town’s own personal superhero, as well as their best-kept secret. Super strong, but also somewhat shy, Huck is content to be a savior to the neighborhood, delivering at least one good deed per day, including everything from pulling a truck from the river, to paying for everyone’s lunch in the line behind him, to finding any items lost by a fellow townsperson with the aid of his super skills. Not one for many words, Huck is a superhero who “just likes making people happy.” Well, secrets like Huck are hard to keep, and when the earnest hero decides to get involved with a far grander, more global crisis, it’s only a matter of time before the world shifts its focus towards the shy super human.
As I mentioned in the intro, Huck represents a real step away from the brutal and morecynical stories for Millar, the creator of such series as Kick-Ass and The Secret Service, but that doesn’t mean the “shoe” doesn’t fit. In fact, Millar, who has always had a talent for creating stories that resonate emotionally in a powerful way, seems very at home in his new environment, filling the first issue of Huck with genuine, folk hero flavor and an earnest sense of humor. It does remain to be seen where Millar plans to take this tale, although it seems that the theme of the consequences of getting involved in larger causes or fights may be a continuing element. In regards to that, I will say that if I had one critique of Huck #1, it’s that the main character’s “remedying” of the Boko Haram kidnappings felt a little off, especially after the multiple incidents of horrific, real-world violence and oppression that took place over the weekend. While I’m willing to see where Millar takes this plot thread and how he uses it to explore his main character, it’s hard not to admit that sometimes scenes like this, featuring superheroes solving real current events in an all-too-tidy fashion, sometimes just end up reminding us how complex, difficult, and heartbreaking those situations are in reality.
Albuquerque seems to be the perfect artist to tackle Huck, offering a visual style that feels classic, heartfelt, and almost Norman Rockwell-eqsue. Albuquerque also provides the first issue with beautiful, warm, and inviting cover art that features the title character and seems perfect for the premiere issue. Colorist Dave McCaig must be given his share of the credit, as well, given that his masterful use of colors breathe life into the pages of Huck, enriching and elevating the work of both Millar and Albuquerque.
FINAL VERDICT: Huck #1 is the perfect addition to the pull list of anyone who is exhausted by the constantly dark and gritty tone of modern superhero tales. Like the recent reactions to up-beat comic properties like the Flash and Supergirl TV series, Huck is a refreshing look at a genre that continues to reinvent itself and discover new layers. If you’re already a Millar fan, this series marks a new chapter in the writer’s creative history, and it would be a mistake to miss it. If you’ve been resistant to Millar’s previous works, this could be the perfect opportunity to try something new from the writer and see how it lands. Either way, Huck #1 is totally worth the purchase price.
You can find out more about Huck at the official Image Comics website. Issue #1 hits comic book shops on November 18th, 2015.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers.
’Till the end of the world,
Bryant the Comic Book Slayer