released OUT NOW! Publisher Image Comics
Writer Mark Millar
Artist Rafael Albuquerque
“Sweet” isn’t a word that’s often used to describe a Mark Millar comic. From the hyper- violent worlds of Kick- Ass and Nemesis to the political superheroics of The Ultimates, Millar’s most prominent hallmarks have usually been button- pushing nastiness and attitude- heavy snark.
However, projects like Superior and Starlight have shown he’s capable of pulling off stories with genuine heart, and his latest Image miniseries goes even further by heavily sampling the films of Frank Capra. The director of the 1946 Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life, Capra specialised in heart- warming tales of small- town America, and here Millar reworks the basic plot of Capra’s 1936 film Mr Deeds Goes To Town to create the offbeat tale of an unlikely hero.
Described as “a little slow” by his fellow townsfolk, the titular Huck is a big, sweet guy who grew up an orphan, and possesses incredible superpowers. Huck uses these powers to quietly do good deeds, and the town keeps his abilities secret to protect him. When a newcomer to the town outs Huck to the media, his good nature is suddenly at risk of being exploited by opportunistic politicians, while figures from Huck’s past are also out to track him down…
Millar’s storytelling is as sharply crafted as ever, and his decision to combine Capra- esque sentiment with superheroics is often surprisingly effective. These first three issues feature beautifully rendered setpieces, and American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque is an ideal collaborator, bringing gorgeous visual textures to the story while stylishly handling both action and dialogue.
He’s also not afraid to push into caricature with some of the more obviously evil characters, and this is matched by Millar’s unapologetically manipulative approach. Huck is an affecting and immediately sympathetic lead, and the story is at its strongest when focused on the small- scale nature of Huck’s world.
At its best, this feels like a fresh take on superpowers in an oversaturated market. Unfortunately, the freshness doesn’t last long enough. From issue two onwards, Millar rapidly expands the scope of the story while also exploring Huck’s past, and as more typical superhero storytelling elements are introduced, the story gradually heads in a direction that’s disappointingly routine and over- familiar. It’s still an enjoyable tale with a charming visual style, but it’s hard not to feel that Huck had the potential to be something a little more distinctive and special, rather than just another Mark Millar superhero story. Saxon Bullock
The story heads in a direction that’s overfamiliar
Mark Millar’s next upcoming comics project is space opera miniseries Empress. Issue one arrives in April.
Watch out for any low bridges.