Let me just start this off right away by saying this:

I finally read comics. I mean in my hand, picked up booklets of paper, and READ THEM!

Much of my reading has been on my iPad, and truth be told, I haven’t read much lately. I blame the Fall TV schedule. The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Gotham, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, football…it’s crazy. And when I’m not watching tv, I’m awakening my long-dormant video game skills.

So reading was nice. I honestly need to do it more often (this moment of common sense brought to you by Staples.)

It had probably been September when I last strolled into my “local” comic book store. I use air quotes because the comic book shop I patronize with my money is just over an hour from my house. It’s why I have a pull folder. By the time I get there every eight weeks, I have missed some issues. Brian, Tim, and the crew at Twilight Comics (Swansea, IL) take care of me and my pull folder is always stuffed with my selected titles.

And it looks like I’m adding to it from here on out. This week’s #ToughCallTuesday:

side by side

Grant Morrison and Dan Mora’s “Klaus” (Boom! Studios) versus Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque’s “Huck” (Image Comics).

Now I don’t pretend to know much, but I thought I had a pretty reasonable handle on the Santa Claus origin story. I mean, I’ve seen Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.

The idea struck Morrison when he was working on All Star Superman. Let’s face it – worldwide, there’s only one hero bigger than Superman. As he told Comic Book Resources:

I suddenly thought, “How come no one’s told the ‘Year One’ of Santa Claus?” It seems so obvious. Basically, this is my “All-Star Santa Claus.” [Laughs] “Santa Claus Year Zero.” It’s kind of neat approaching that character as if he was the world’s greatest superhero, and we’ve never learned the origin.

The book starts out pretty standard. A traveler, a “Wild Man,” enters a Scandinavian town that he has visited before. He has furs and meats and such to trade. He has been welcomed to the town before, but is met now with armored guards. Also, when he visits the tavern, he finds that the ale is watered down. That would make me fighting mad, too!

The traveler sees children playing with a rock, and apparently that’s forbidden. Basically, the kids aren’t allowed to have any fun. Period.

A side story revolves around the rulers of the town and their seeming disinterest in keeping their citizens happy. The ruling class child is a spoiled brat who burns down the model village the people were likely forced to build him. He wants more more more.

Meantime, our traveler Klaus has been chased out of the town and returns to the woods. He and his wolf kill a deer, and then things get weird.

Klaus-1-2015-Page-24

Look! He’s painting with the colors of the wind!

In a trance, Klaus creates a sleigh-full of toys for the children of the village. And I bet you know what happens in Issue #2.

Mark Millar is through with superheroes.

Well, let me start over. Mark Millar, in his own words, was disappointed in the ending of Man of Steel. **SPOILER ALERT** You remember that, right? That was when Superman snapped the neck of General Zod, preventing Zod from using his heat vision to make a family extra crispy?

Three people very content with Kal-El's decision.

Three people very content with Kal-El’s decision.

Mark goes on to say that (and I’m paraphrasing here) in our darkest times, we sometimes need an uplifting hero.

Both myself and artist Rafael Albuquerque have created something we haven’t seen in a very long time with our new book and that’s a lovely, sweet, Jimmy Stewart/ Tom Hanks/ Steven Spielberg kinda good guy. It’s out this week and we called this thing HUCK.

Look – I read Huck #1 and I loved it for its sheer simplicity. A simple man from a small town. To town natives, he is special. To outsiders or new neighbors, he is “slow.” But at the heart of it, he is a good man – better than we know in this world. Huck doesn’t say much in his first issue. More a man of action, his deeds range from diving to the bottom of a watery trash site to recover a lost piece of jewelry to taking out the trash for everyone in town to rescuing the 200 school girls captured by Boko Haram.

huck Capture4

Huck is just a good guy in a world with too few good people. And the folks in his town protect his secret. So what do you think happens to Huck at the end of the first issue? Of course, someone tries to cash in on the town secret. I don’t mind spoiling that because, while it is a significant event in Huck’s life, I hope it is a drawing point to potential readers.

By that I mean, if I said “Huck is a story about a small town guy who does good deeds on every level, from helping his neighbors to saving hostages in a politically charged climate. Everyone in his town knows his secret. No one ever tells.” Well that’s boring.

But if I say “Huck is a story about a small town guy who does good deeds on every level, from helping his neighbors to saving hostages in a politically charged climate. Everyone in his town knows his secret. No one ever tells…until someone does.” Well that has my interest. I want to know what happens to Huck when he has been exposed.

Now, much like some of Millar’s recent work like Wanted, Marvel’s Civil War, Kingsman, and Kick Ass, Huck has already been picked up by a studio to be adapted for the big screen. In fact, Studio 8 grabbed the rights for Huck over a month before the first issue hit store shelves.

These are two books that I really enjoyed, that is why this week’s #ToughCallTuesday is so easy.

Pick up both Klaus and Huck.

Here’s why – both series just started in November. Both series are written by two of the top names in the industry, plus the art is great. Dan Mora has done such a good job on Klaus and I’m really enjoying Rafael Albuquerque’s work on Huck.

I’m a mark for Christmas. I don’t know why, really. But a re-imagining of the Santa Claus origin story is something I didn’t even know I wanted. As for Huck, I mean, what’s not to like about this character? He is simply a good guy with abilities (unknown at this point) who just wants people to be happy.

We could all learn from these two characters. Do good. Be nice. It’s not that hard.

These two stories began with #1 in November. These are designed to be short stories, with both having six-issue runs. It’s worth it to check them out, and I think you’ll be glad that you did.

Do what I did – go to your local comic book store. Strike up a conversation. I grabbed Klaus out of curiosity. I bought Huck based on a recommendation from Brian, the owner. I’m glad he mentioned it. I’ll buy the remainder of the run.

So go talk to the friendly people at your local comic book store. You won’t regret it.