Superheroes aren’t the most idyllic lot these days. With costumed adventurers snapping necks on the big screen and classic character reinventing themselves for darker, cynical comic book stories, it’s difficult to find a hero that’s just plain good.
That’s where Mark Millar comes in. Millar, a comics writer who’s no stranger to putting blood on his protagonist’s hands, recently realized that the superhero genre as whole had turned several shades darker. His antidote for this dismal development? Huck, a new hero that’s equal parts Superman and Archie Andrew. But “Adventures in Riverdale” this is not. As Huck is thrown into the modern world of strife, paranoia, and violence, can his inherently good nature endure? That’s the central question Millar will explore in his new series, alongside artist Rafa Albuquerque (American Vampire). Below Millar spoke with ComicBook.com about Huck’s real-life origins, his central mystery, and how long he plans to tell the character’s tale.
This first issue is full of charming moments. It's the first time in a while where I've read a comic that was full of super positive events. I know at any given point in time, you're ready to go with any number of ideas for a comic. So, why Huck? Why now?
Mark: I got the idea actually, a couple of years back when I started to do twelve hour days Monday though Thursday--I do a forty hour working week so I can take Fridays off. Fridays are when I do volunteer work. Just so that I'm not sitting at a desk all the time, but I'm outside doing something. It gets me moving around. It's the only time you will not see me on Twitter. Monday through Thursday, I'm on Twitter nonstop. Friday I'm kind of sporadic on it. On Fridays I do a few different volunteer things, but one of the main ones I was doing, I was working with people with learning difficulties. I met this guy, he was only there, for two weeks actually. He came in from somewhere else. I remember actually being so charmed by this guy. He was just a guy who had this rule. He said, "I try to do a nice thing everyday." I thought, what a brilliant way of to live your life.
It was a really wise idea from a guy who didn't have a job or anything like that, and lived on his own. He was just really happy. He did something nice every single day. So I said, "What kind of stuff?" He said, "Well if somebody wants a cup of tea, I made them a cup of tea." He made the tea for the little center that I was working at. If somebody needs a hand up the steps, he'll give them a hand up the steps. Tiny things, you know? Something you could do in five seconds, but he said he made sure that he did something nice everyday. I always thought, there's something lovely about that. It's quite a nice way to live your life. It's like the ideal of how a superhero should behave. That stayed with me because we're so used to superheroes now, where they're all dark and broody. It's like, "How many people can Superman kill?" The minute you see Superman snapping someone's neck, that's when you've gone so far away from that core idea of what a superhero is, you know?.
I like the idea of going right back to basics. Actually, just somebody who does something nice every day. The story moves itself from there, because it is such a great starting point. When planning this out, I got to a place where I thought of about a hundred nice things and then made them all happen over the course of six issues.
And it looks amazing. Rafa Albuquerque is really doing some phenomenal work in these pages. How did he get involved?
Mark: I was just talking to a bunch of buddies, and just said "Who do you think would be good for the project?" So when Rafa's name came up, I was super excited about the prospect. I had been a huge fan of his American Vampire work. Rafa has this feel to his art that is something quite old world American, which is weird because he's not from America. There's something very Of Mice and Men era America about his work. For some reason it just clicked for me. As soon as I saw his sketches I said, "Yeah this is absolutely the tone." He's already had an amazing career, but I'll go ahead and say that this is the best work he's probably ever done. [laughs]
The first issue is, like you said, charming and delightful. But you get a sense, as you're paging through it, that it's not necessarily always going to stay this quaint. You're known for some pretty crazy set pieces in your work, so can fans expect some of the big bombastic action sequences that they've come to know and love?
Mark: Oh totally. I thought it was really interesting is to take a character who's really pure, and then put them in these kinds of situations. This is a guy who, for his entire life, has been doing good deeds completely under the radar in his town. Then, at the end of the first issue, it all just goes wrong. It throws him in a world he wasn't expecting. Suddenly the people who are part of his past start to come into his present and a whole new kind of drama opens up. It's still very much a big dramatic comic book story, but just with the kind of character you probably haven't seen in a long time.
Obviously, there's the big mystery of "Who or what, is Huck?" How long are you going to make fans wait before they find out?
Mark: It's the mystery for the first series. It's good to have a mystery, but not one that goes on too long. Like a TV show, you hate it if the mystery is unanswered by season four, or if it's something you don't get until the very end. It's the same with comics. Halfway through this run, I'd like you to find out what he is and what he's all about. And then, how that changes afterward. But that's just all part of the fun of it. I was trying to create the most accessible comic I could imagine and I think this may be it. It's really, really easy. You could almost get this to a seven year old.
You're also known for doing self-contained stories and if the opportunity arises, you will do a spin-off. Is that the same plan with Huck, or do you have a magnum opus ready for this one?
Mark: I've got eighteen issues worked out. I think it can actually run and run. I've certainly got eighteen worked out, and Rafa and I are committed to doing three, six issue stories. But I don't want to interfere with Rafa's schedule on American Vampire. Although, Rafa's probably the fastest artist I've ever worked with. He can handle it no problem.
What I do now with my books is to actually get the whole series in the can before we solicit them. That way the book can come out on time, every month. It's really exciting. The difference it makes is incredible, just having the book come out monthly. Back when the books were coming out so far apart from each other, I would forget the names of character and other things.
Lastly, what is the one thing that you're hoping fans take away from the first issue?
Mark: The idea that this comic is unlike anything they've ever seen before with its incredible warmth and kindness. The one thing I've really learned over the course of my career is to make characters as likable as possible. If you love this guy, the minute he's in danger you're going to be really worried. It's funny, I've tried to go in the opposite direction for almost every other book, which is to try and make them look darker and more violent or whatever. That's why I wanted to just try and make Huck as pure as possible. I've never written a character like that before. Even Superman from Superman: Red Son was probably the closest, but even then he had his agenda and went to a dark place and everything. A character with no dark side is fascinating to me, because the minute I put them in the real world...that's when it gets interesting: The guy who no matter what, will always do the right thing to do.
Fundamentally, it's the most old fashioned idea of what a superhero is.
So what do you think ComicBook.com readers? Are you excited for Huck #1? Check out our preview in the gallery below!