The Green Hornet
By Philip Schweier
Jul 3, 2014 - 11:53
Publisher(s): Dynamite Entertainment
Writer(s): Mark Waid
Penciller(s): Ronilson Freire
Inker(s): Ronilson Freire
Cover Artist(s): Paolo Rivera
limited series run 6-8 chapters, to hit that sweet spot on the price point of
the eventual trade paperback. Once in a while, they’ll run 12, making an even
year’s worth of comics. So I was a bit flummoxed when Dynamite’s recent Green
Hornet series by Mark Waid and Ronilson Freire ended after 13 issues.
Rather odd, I thought.
Then I read the entire series in one sitting, and it all made
sense: it’s a serial in 13
chapters, just like the cliffhangers of old. In 1940, the Green Hornet was
featured in two such productions, The Green Hornet and The Green
Hornet Strikes Again.
The serials of the 1930s and ‘40s are much akin to serialized TV shows of
today: an overall story
lasting the entire run of series, but somewhat broken down into three or four
acts. Writer Mark Waid employs the same approach in his recent Green Hornet
The first act introduces the players, including the Voice, a German saboteur
who incites terror and chaos. As the authorities attempt to discover his real
identity, Britt Reid (alias the Green Hornet) meets with three other leading
businessmen who believe he would be an ideal candidate to run for mayor on
behalf of their Prosperity party. With a great deal of success behind his alter
ego, and the police no closer to apprehending him, Reid decides, “Why not?”
But life is not easy for a newspaper publisher with civic
responsibilities, who also chooses to masquerade as one of the city’s most
wanted in an effort to bring down other racketeers in the name of law and
order. It’s a tough facade to maintain, and when his partner Kato feels Reid’s
“disguise” is dangerously close to the criminals he’s fighting, Kato leaves.
As Reid announces his candidacy for mayor, the identity of the Voice is
revealed. But by then the damage is done. The Daily Sentinal has accused an
innocent of being the Voice, ruining his career and pushing him toward suicide.
Reid’s mayoral campaign is stillborn.
Act II features the eventual reunion of the Green Hornet and Kato, as they
decide their work is too much for two men. A third party is enlisted in their
war on crime: Lenore Casey, Reid’s
one-time secretary. After the Voice fiasco, Reid has been removed as publisher
of the Sentinal, but he’s found a new home in the form of radio station WBR.
Thanks to her research, it soon becomes clear that Reid’s three Prosperity
party friends were more involved with the Voice than initially thought. They
played the role of victims to hide the fact that they were selling vital war
material to the enemy.
Meanwhile, a police detective by the name of Dugan has also become involved in
the Hornet’s shenanigans. Once he was an honest cop, until the Hornet convinced
him to accept a bribe in exchange for helping him escape a police cordon. The
money came in handy with his wife’s mounting medical bills, but his conscience
got the better of him and Dugan returned the money. Now, with Britt Reid’s
radio station the hottest thing in town, it’s prepared to lend the Dugan’s a
hand. Tragically, it comes too late, as Mrs. Dugan lies dead from a gunshot
from the detective’s own gun.
As the series heads into Act III, Dugan’s remorse over his wife’s
shooting sends him closer to the brink of self-destruction, culminating in a
final act of insanity for which the Hornet feels responsible. But there’s no
time for self-pity, as Gesicht, the German master criminal, intends to release
the Third Reich’s worst on the city.
It’s a war weary Hornet who weighs the merits of his hard-fought battle against
corruption in the city of Chicago. It remains to be seen if we have seen the
last of the Green Hornet. I, for one, hope not, as I am quite the fan. However,
I can’t say I completely appreciated Waid’s version. One issue in particular
seemed nothing more than filler – and bad filler, at that – and a few of the
supporting characters failed to ring true to my eyes.
Granted, the character is a tough nut to crack. He hasn’t enjoyed the
popularity of Superman or Spider-Man. Perhaps that gives some writers a wider
latitude to stray from “the true path.” Also, for many, his pulp-era setting
makes him a bit of a dinosaur in today’s world. Personally, that’s one of the
things I enjoy about these older characters. In was a different time, when our
fathers and grandfathers were kids. Not better, just different, and despite all
our progress, I sometimes feel we lost something along the way.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to return to those Thrilling Days of
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