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Huck #1

Huck is an impossibly charming little tale spinning out of the minds of a pair of artists linked forever with chaos and fear. Mark Millar has written some amazing work using exaggerated violence to entertain and to comment on social ills – see Wanted, Kick-Ass, Nemesis, and Kingsman. Rafael Albuquerque has used his gorgeous and distinctive style to illustrate the menace of American Vampire and crafted a Batgirl variant cover based on The Killing Joke, a scene so scary that he and DC eventually pulled it down out of respect for traumatized readers. I happen to love action and horror, in moderation, and so I approached this new series with excitement and a little trepidation.

And I found a sweet story that Grandma would love. In this quiet farm town in middle America, a large man named Huck works at the gas station and never says much. But the town knows that when someone loses a bracelet, Huck makes sure to find it, even if that means exploring an underwater trash dump. And if he’s holding up the line at the drive-through, he’s probably paying for everyone’s lunch behind him. And if he saves up a little money, he might leave it in a library book to make someone’s day. And he may also fly to Africa and rescue kidnapped schoolgirls. See, Huck was raised to do one good deed a day, so when he developed the Superman-archetype power set, he just saw that as a means to a good end. And the town loves him for it and agrees to keep him a secret, letting him lead a quiet, rewarding, trouble-free life. But the reader knows this can’t last, and sure enough, the end of the book introduces a major threat to Huck’s privacy.

This is a book without the usual monsters. The African kidnappers are bad guys, but no scarier than a decent cartoon villain. Huck is a book about the restraint of the creative team, the commitment to promoting a more broadly-wholesome work than their reputations suggest. It’s Quentin Tarantino doing a guest spot helping Elmo teach counting. It’s Jason Statham visiting a children’s cancer ward. It takes nothing away from their darker material; it’s not an apology. But it’s a powerful example that we do not have to hold to the expectations of others, and I found it inspiring and entertaining. It’s a perfect soothing read after the frenzy of last weekend’s North Carolina Comicon, put on by Ultimate Comics, and I encourage tired con-goers to seek this slice of apple pie from Ultimate’s Raleigh and Chapel Hill locations.

Please please please don’t have Huck accidentally snap a kitten’s neck in the next issue.