Heroes have been getting darker over the last half century. Grim and gritty has been winning out over altruism. These stories have proven quite popular for delivering a sense of realism to the characters especially in comic books. But it has created a gaping hole in how heroes are enjoyed. Instead of offering a positive uplifting distraction they are reinforcing the negativity of the world.
Being a hero should not be only about revenge. Being a hero is okay. Doing good things for unselfish reasons is okay. And that is just where Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque start off their new series “Huck” from Image Comics. Millar, who is no stranger to writing dark comics with anti-heroes, is focusing his strengths on something fresh in the comic marketplace a response he feels to the ever darkening landscape of heroes in the mainstream.
Millar laid out his intent for “Huck” in an op-ed piece on the website Game Radar. With “Huck” he wants to turn away from what has become all too familiar with violent heroes and instead create something that produces joy for the audience.
In “Huck” #1 we get that glimpse of the joy Millar wants to instill. The premiere story introduces Huck an orphan who has extraordinary abilities and puts them to good use helping his hometown by doing a good deed every day. Millar made his hero vulnerable by giving him learning difficulties, similar to Forest Gump, adding charm to the story while deepening Huck’s connection to his town.
Albuquerque provides fantastic artwork for the issue. He conveys the strength of Huck as a man with a barrel chest who towers above his neighbors. The artwork also displays the vulnerability of Huck as well with his smile and his smirk.
The small flourishes in the art are used to build up the world around Huck. With the older looking cars and trucks and shaggy beards and mustaches that flesh out the imagery of “Huck” make the hero stand out even more against his surroundings.
The art has a style that looks simpler than it is, because it is able to tell much of the story and give the feeling that this is set in a small town without much to it. Albuquerque’s work brings out that joy Millar is striving for by making the narrative feel comfortable and familiar.
Dave McCaig embellishes the work of Albuquerque as the colorist for “Huck.” The palette is smooth bringing warmth to the story while adding depth through shading it makes the entire art package look stunning.
Just because Millar and Albuquerque are telling the story of a simple man who does good deeds everyday does not mean that “Huck” is not without his conflict. That is what “Huck” #1 sets up. We get to know Huck and his town just as everything about them is about to change. The real magic happens in those last few pages as you feel how this hero’s life will never be the same again.