Mark Millar’s work has a certain flair to it. Many times his characters dispense with extreme forms of violence, his heroes can be downright hedonistic, and his villains exult in breaking even the most sacred of societal taboos.
But then there’s Huck, a character whose first volume appears in a trade subtitled All-American.
Who is Huck? That’s the only given name for the large man who pumps gas for a small New England town (in Vermont or Maine…I’m not sure which since both states are referenced). Huck is a seemingly simpleton of a man, but he has a secret the whole town shares. As a baby, Huck was left on the steps of the local orphanage, and when he grew up (and did he!), Huck was found to possess great strength and speed, plus an uncanny ability to find things. Every day, Huck does a good deed. Those good deeds can range from buying breakfast for everyone at the local drive-through, to taking out everyone’s garbage, to sneaking onto a plane and rescuing a bunch of kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria from Boko Haram. All this he does largely in secret.
Then, of course, the secret is out when someone new moves to town and can’t keep a lid on things. That leads Huck to national fame he may not have actually wanted, but he’s still basically a good man with a simple point of view who just wants to help anyone who needs it. Whether or not Huck is stupid is a debatable point, as I am reminded how the late Terry Pratchett said in one of his Discworld novels that “simple” is not the same as “stupid,” and Huck does demonstrate some level of intelligence in his own way. He’s going to need it as his newfound fame means he can learn more about the family he didn’t know he had, to say nothing of exposing him to dangerous elements in the Russian army that would love nothing more than to get Huck for themselves.
This was actually a pleasant surprise, brought on in part by Millar’s personal disgust for the ending of the movie Man of Steel. Huck is a character who, even if he does resort to violence, also stops to make sure he didn’t permanently hurt anybody. He just wants to help. Nine out of ten artificial Russian intelligences.