Mark Millar (w), Rafael Albuquerque (a), Dave McCaig (c)
People often try to reinvent the super-man character. The desire to create a godlike being representing post-war values surfaces frequently. Whether it is to juxtapose those values against modern culture, to further illustrate that power corrupts or simply to try to play with the balance between might and humility, writers sooner or later explore a character like this. Millar himself explored the concept in Superior, asking what such a character would be like with a child’s innocence. Huck sets out in the same direction, though this iteration seems to be more Forrest Gump than Kevin McCallister.
In fact, I would say the only problem with this story is there’s no way of telling which of those characters Huck is more like. You hardly get to know him at all. While Huck spends his days pursuing acts of kindness, he seems to bashfully avoid human interaction. The only things we know about Huck, including his name, we learn from two people who never really interact with Huck. Consequently, it’s hard to be initially connected to the characters. The altruistic mystery of Huck could have easily and quickly been conveyed by the montage of daily deeds the book features, while providing more room for him to interact with someone. After all, he works at a gas station, he’s not Quasimodo hiding in a bell tower. Showing his interactions with others would go a long way to helping the reader form an opinion of their own about him rather than having to take the word of characters we have only just met. They say expressly that he’s “slow”, but is he? When he’s delicately described as “special” is that a euphemism? There’s no indication from Huck’s actions.
Cutting the gossiping side story from this issue would allow the only real conflict to get more attention. By the end of the issue (and spoiler alert if you really need me to say it), he’s about to be confronted by the press who have discovered not only his acts of humanitarianism but the powers that he uses to perform them. This in and of itself is not really a problem. In truth, he would get some publicity, the small town would get some tourism but that’s no immediate threat. It’s not like he has a dual-identity he’s protecting. The only conflict is if Huck is purposefully reclusive, being surrounded by this attention could be wildly problematic for him. That social struggle would do a great deal to humanize this super-man character and, if that’s the point of the series, the first issue ends a bit too soon.
Now, none of that should take away from the fact that Mark Millar is a fantastic writer and should be afforded any pacing he seems fit. He’s delivered some of the most dramatic and exciting moments comics have offered in the last fifteen years and you never know what he has waiting in the next issue. He skillfully creates characters that seem to share the world with the reader by incorporating real people and events. Huck’s dealing with the Boko Haram helps tie this fairytale into reality and makes for characters that are more accessible and interesting.
Above all, Rafael Albuquerque’s art is unerring. Albuquerque keeps getting better and better as his career moves forward. The portrayal of these idyllic characters creates a charmingly safe world for Huck to exist in, as though you were seeing it through Huck’s own eyes. Complimented by Dave McCaig’s beautiful pastoral colors, the two have created a visual masterpiece that would allow the book to shine as a masterful even without any script. And, just while we’re on the subject of colors, the cover’s black and white contrast is a fantastic introduction to the simplistic character and world the reader is about to enter while still being dynamic and warm. Huck is an exemplary demonstration that comics are the highest form of modern art.