Green Hornet #1
Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: German Erramouspe
Review By Sean Frankling
The first thing you need to know about this Green Hornet comic is that it is totally unrelated to that godawful Seth Rogen movie. So when you pick it up, expect gritty crime stories and martial arts mastery, not fart jokes and stoner humour.
In fact, long before that particular Hollywood train wreck, the Green Hornet was a classic character of the superhero genre. The original radio dates back to a time when heroes were called mystery men. It’s from the character’s Great Depression heritage that classic Green Hornet stories drew their premise and themes. Wealthy newspaper publisher Britt Reid masquerades as the “criminal,” Green Hornet, with the help of his hyper-competent partner, Kato. Together, they use their false criminal front to investigate and expose real mobsters and corrupt government officials. Also defined by the time period? The Hornet’s fashion sense. He obviously hails from an age when fedoras still said “mysterious and dressy,” not “neck beard and fingerless gloves.”
I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the pulp fiction and radio drama days of crime fighting. So it does my heart good to see Dynamite keeping a torch lit for the Hornet. And based on Green Hornet #1, this series looks like a respectable showing for the title. Previous Dynamite Green Hornet series have shown the aging Reid and Hayashi Kato passing their mantles on to their children. Now, Britt Reid junior has gone missing. To find him, Hayashi dons his old costume and outfits his daughter, Mulan, as the new Green Hornet. This issue ends on that reveal, with them heading out to wring the criminal underground for information.
Green Hornet #1 spends most of its time setting up the premise explained above. As a result, it’s a little early to say whether the series will live up to the Hornet’s history. But it does weave in some interesting questions about the characters’ original mission and its place in the modern world. Those come out especially in Kato’s handling of affairs at the Daily Sentinel. A new generation of reporters bring a sensational slant to the news as the Daily Sentinel covers its former publisher’s disappearance. This creates tension against Kato’s facts first (IE: actual journalism) approach. That arc also offers a clever parallel to the tension in his costumed life. He’ll have to contend (and keep up) with his daughter’s rambunctious approach to crime fighting, too.
All of this comes together perfectly with crisp, clean art that frames scenes with almost photographic realism. Even the costume design is great. Kato sports his classic driving blacks and the new Hornet in a jazzed up modernization of the classic costume. On top of all this, it’s important to remember that for a long time Kato was one of a very few positive Asian role models in the super hero genre. Even now, that’s a group of people who are severely underrepresented in western comics. As a result, the heroic treatment this comic gives him is well-deserved. It’s deeply moving to see him mentoring a new generation and standing up for truth like this.
The Verdict: Buy It.
This series promises some great exploration of the Green Hornet‘s ethos as it rubs up against the modern world. If it delivers that and upholds the Kato family’s significance as heroes, this series will definitely be one to follow.