COLUMN: The Green Hornet returns in new comic
After more than 75 years, the pulp hero Green Hornet is “still at large,” with appearances in books, comics and more. Oklahoman Mel Odom writes a Green Hornet story in the prose anthology “Green Hornet: Still At Large,” which went on sale this fall. In comics, the Green Hornet co-stars in the miniseries “Masks” from Dynamite Comics. The series teams Green Hornet, Kato, the Shadow, the Spider and other pulp heroes. The first issue, painted by Alex Ross (“Kingdom Come”) went on sale in November.
The Green Hornet made his debut in 1936 on the radio station WXYZ in Detroit; his adventures ran on radio into the 1950s. The Hornet is secretly Britt Reid, newspaper publisher, assisted by his Asian valet Kato, a hand-to-hand combat expert and driver of the advanced car, “The Black Beauty.”
Reid is the son of Dan Reid, who old-time radio fans would recognize as the Lone Ranger’s nephew from that masked lawman’s adventures. The Lone Ranger’s real name was John Reid. The connection was explored in Green Hornet radio shows including “Too Hot to Handle” in 1947. Both characters were created by writer Fran Striker under the direction of station owner George W. Trendle, according to the Radio Hall of Fame at www.radiohof.org.
Unlike most costumed heroes, the Green Hornet is assumed to be a villain by most of the public; he’s thought to be a rival to the ganglords he defeats. The Green Hornet went through multiple comic publishers in his radio heyday, including Harvey and Dell.
The Green Hornet came to television in the 1960s played by Van Williams. Kato was played by Bruce Lee. Three comic-book issues based on the TV series were published by Gold Key. The current prose books from Moonstone primarily follow the continuity of the television series.
“The Night I Met The Hornet” by Mel Odom follows a young man with an ex-convict father, and their confrontation with the Green Hornet. That story is featured in “Still At Large.”
Odom, who sported a “Green Hornet” lunchbox in the 1960s, told The Oklahoman in 2009 about his excitement to work on a favorite character.
“For a chance to get to play around with heroes you grew up with, you can’t go wrong with that,” Odom told The Oklahoman.
In the 1990s, NOW Comics revived the Green Hornet as a multigenerational saga. All told, NOW published more than 50 Green Hornet comics between 1989 and 1995.
Dynamite picked up the Green Hornet comics license in 2009. The company published multiple series with various versions of the character starting in 2010, including the Matt Wagner-written “Green Hornet: Year One,” set in 1930s Chicago; and “Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet,” based on a screenplay the filmmaker had written for the property. There were also two series based around the Seth Rogen “Green Hornet” film from 2011.
Now, the Hornet joins the Shadow and others in “Masks.”
“For years now, Dynamite Entertainment and I have desired to unite all of the varied pulp characters they’ve been publishing into one big crossover event,” said Ross in a news release. “When the Green Hornet and Kato paved the way for a successful relaunch of the original masked duo characters, we knew that the grand prize of revivals should then be the ultimate original, the Shadow. Now, to be able for the first time in history to have these legends meet, along with fellow mysterymen The Spider, Zorro, Black Bat, and others, makes this project a unique accomplishment.”
And in the future, writer Mark Waid is set to bring his stamp to the character in a new series that was announced at New York Comicon. That series is planned for a 2013 release.
“It should come as little surprise that I have an affinity for all costumed crimefighters no matter if their adventures are ‘period pieces’ or not — heroism is heroism regardless of whatever year’s on the calendar,” Waid said in a news release. “With this Green Hornet project, which I’ve been percolating on for more than ten years, I’m able to meld my love of the Hornet’s legacy with a little bit of Citizen Kane and a lot of Lawrence of Arabia to tell a story never before told — the dark years of the Hornet’s later career and the one mistake he makes that nearly costs him everything.”
- By Matthew Price