Back in 2004, Kevin Smith announced that he was working on the script for a new Green Hornet movie. In 2006, he announced that he was no longer attached to the project. Four years later, Dynamite Entertainment announced that it would be publishingÂ Smithâ€™s screenplay in comic book form, and we at Major Spoilers got an early preview. Was it worth the wait?
Green Hornet #1
Script: Kevin Smith
Breakdowns: Phil Hester
Pencils: Jonathan Lau
Colors: Ivan Nunes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Covers: Alex Ross (25%), John Cassady (25%), J. Scott Campbell (25%), Stephen Segovia (25%)
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Let me clear the air here before I start this review: I am a huge fan of the Green Hornet. I first discovered him listening to old reel-to-reel recordings of the original radio drama at the library when I was still counting my age in single digits. I saved up yard work money for months to buy a copy of the old Whitman hardback, â€œThe Case of the Disappearing Doctorâ€ from a local pawnshop. I have one of the original Green Hornet Adventure Club pins from the 1940â€™s. I am listening to the old time radio show episode â€œNot One Cent For Tributeâ€ as I write this review. I have nearly a complete collection of the Now Comics series, including the minis. I like the Green Hornet.Â A lotâ€¦
When I heard that Dynamite had picked up the license for the Green Hornet character, I was a little excited; actually more so than when I heard about the Seth Rogen movie. I was curious what would come of it, would they publish the 40â€™s Hornet character, the 60â€™s Van Williams character, the new movie character, or something different? I did not expect them to bring out Kevin Smithâ€™s script from an aborted movie effort several years back. So with anticipation, and more than a little trepidation, I read the first issue of the title.
We start the story with the 60â€™s/70â€™s Green Hornet and Kato on the last night of their career as crime fighters and carry through to the modern day and we learn a little of their plans for the future. Believing that they have accomplished their mission to rid Century City of organized crime, they take the opportunity to retire. When the future arrives, we are introduced to Britt Reid, Jr. (the third? possibly?) and quickly get the idea that he is not the man that his father was, yet.
The artwork for the title is great. Phil Hester did the breakdowns, and Jonathan Lau provided the pencils, and maybe the inks. There is rawness to the work that reminds me much of the style used in the Black Terror. There is some nice work here, and his characters have weight. His attention to the details makes every character identifiable, and you donâ€™t find yourself wondering who the players are. I really enjoyed the opening sequence (taken from the Van Williams/Bruce Lee television series) and could hear the jazz version of Flight of the Bumblebee by Billy May (with awesome Al Hirt solo). The colors by Ivan Nunes are also top notch. They give depth to the action and at times seem to jump off the page.
The script, by Kevin Smith, is said to be adapted from his movie script that was shelved several years ago. It reads like Kevin Smith, and feels like Kevin Smith. If you are a Kevin Smith fan (and I do count myself among that number) you will recognize the beats in his style, and the rhythm to his banter. His Green Hornet and Kato are old friends who are very comfortable with each other, but you can tell there is a little friction. You get a hint as to the source of this friction in their last real conversation, and it rings true. There are some borderline inappropriate jokes this first issue, but this is Kevin Smith. Also, there is the use of some derogatory references to the Japanese early on, but again, they ring true for the character speaking them. It would have been easy to leave that out and try to be PC about it, but I actually wonder how many people will get the reference as an insult. I have to admire Smith and the crew at Dynamite for not toning down his language. No four letter bombs, but some possibly uncomfortable phrases.
Overall, this issue and Kevin Smithâ€™s version owe more to the Greenway television series than it does to the Fran Striker radio program. This Kato is Chinese (the character has had an interesting history of changing nationalities over the years). The style of the Green Hornet we see is after the Van Williams character, and his car is the 1966 Chrysler Imperial Crown (designed and built by Dean Jefferies) from the same television series.
As a fan of the Green Hornet, I was relatively pleased with this first issue. It has the beginnings of a good story, if it can avoid the obvious pitfalls. One of those pitfalls is the use of the back and forth banter that Kevin Smith has been famous for. At a point, it can start to sound like one voice coming from two characters, and then you start to run into problems because the jokes feel forced. But so far, that is not an issue.Â The new Alex Ross design for the Green Hornet costume has not made an appearance outside of the covers, but I am curious to see how Jonathan Lau will handle it.
This story is strong enough, so far, to stand on its own and start an interesting new continuity for the character. Enjoy those older stories, they are a great series of tales, but give this new version the chance it deserves.Â It looks like it has the possibility to kick off a great new era for the Green Hornet.