By Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque
Millar and Albuquerque’s Huck is now available in trade paperback, which might actually make for an all around better read than the single issues were. Whereas the monthly installments went by a little too quick, All American as a trade allows for a smoother, more gratifying experience start to finish. The book is a great exercise in giving the reader exactly enough without ever overdoing it. That applies to both writing and artwork, which combine for an excellent method of storytelling. While sometimes it’s nice to get lost in the many details of a comic book, there are those times where the story just doesn’t dictate the need. In the case of Huck the writing and art, though they may seem simplistic, are instead perfect. And you’ll get equally absorbed in the simplicity here the same way you would with endless line art and intertwining plot lines.
Once again Mark Millar (Jupiter’s Legacy) builds on known comic book tropes, this time by giving us a Superman story that’s more about doing good than wearing a costume. Cape and costume have been replaced by auto-mechanic coveralls and powers are kept hidden without a secret identity. The difference is this character has a more trusting nature and you’ll need to read the book to see if it ends up his downfall. Trust, after all, is less about control and more about waiting to see who deserves forgiveness and second chances. In Huck, second chances are the name of the game, but the story is ultimately about doing the right thing every time.
So the focus is on human decency rather than incredible story elements. At the core this tale is about a super-powered being who learns about his parentage while coming to terms with his abilities. He’s already learned what it means to be a good person, though, and Huck’s personal choice to lead a simple life is reflected in the aforementioned storytelling. It is a complete package and the way it’s written is as marvelous as the artwork by Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire) and colors by Dave McCaig (Northlanders). Just when you think these guys are holding back, they deliver panel sequences that demand your attention. From images of a small town overrun by news media, to an industrial complex called Science City, the reader will have not only plenty of variety but a chance to appreciate things that could be considered more common place.
Huck is a comic book through and through with nice and neat single issues, or in this case chapters, that move the story ahead without wasting a single page. You can see that Albuquerque and McCaig have worked together before in the seamless way one’s job ends as the other’s begins. Like a good old-fashioned storybook the images are conveyed with a delicate approach washed in pleasant watercolor effects. Even in the story’s darkest moments Albuquerque creates a sense of imagination and wonder in his stylistic charm. He and McCaig are capable of giving grand, climatic moments whether in two-page spreads or single panels. A simple color shift or dynamic change in angle can make all the difference, and whether or not it was scripted that way, the art team carries the bulk of the weight without a single misstep.
This is the book you’ll want to lend to friends that don’t read comics, to prove they can be books about more than mainstream superheroes. This is the book that you’ll want to read over and again to remind yourself of good storytelling in a world of action-oriented soap opera-like floppy books. Pick up the trade and give it a spot on your bookshelf, because it certainly deserves one.
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