Dynamite Entertainment offers up a plethora of Green Hornet titles each month, as the build up to the Green Hornet movie continues. While some tell the continuing adventures, and others reboot the origin, The Green Hornet from the Golden Age gets the treatment in this reprinting of the original stories.
The interesting thing about reading comics from the Golden Age was how different the story structure was back then. A complete Green Hornet story had to be told in 8 pages in order to be included in the issue, which means the stories are very to the point, with little to no elaboration in particular elements.
For those reading issues from the period, be prepared for panels packed with words. I’ve complained before about my dislike for writers who pack a 20 page story with word balloons that fill up 9/10ths of a panel, as it seems like the writer is trying to force more content than the issue allows. In this remastered edition, the panels have to have all the words in order for the story to make sense.
This first issue is 40 pages long, which means readers get six Green Hornet stories that runs the gamut from breaking corrupt union bosses, to uncovering wrongdoings in the Bureau of Weights & Measures, to taking down corrupt lawyers. This volume is an excellent sampling of what readers from the ‘40s would have been exposed to when the stories were hot off the press. While Batman, Iron Man, and other heroes take on high level fantastical evils of the world brought on by characters like The Joker and Dr. Doom, the Green Hornet was taking on the crimes that were prevalent of the era. The Green Hornet, while pegged as a villain in the eyes of society in the comic books, he was really the hero of the people fighting for things that mattered to those who were spending a nickel or a dime on the very comics they were reading.
When the Green Hornet debuted on television, Bruce Lee took the Kato character and made him a bigger name than the Green Hornet. Even today, many think of Lee and Kato whenever the title character is mentioned. You won’t see much of Kato in this issue, as he really is just a chauffeur wearing a pair of goggles as his boss directs him where to go. Kato gets a few speaking lines, but they are mostly lines used to prompt an explanation for the reader than anything else.
While people may dislike the Liefelds, Lands, and Kieths of the world, the art in this volume elevates these artists to kings of the land. If you have a tough time reading comics that were printed the year you were born, you probably won’t want to pick up this volume for the art appreciation moments, as it will seem simply ancient and not relevant.
That being said, this issue is an excellent historical look at comics. Except for the modern ads, and the glossy paper the issue is printed on, I found this an engrossing look at where we’ve been and how far we’ve come in what we read today. After reading this issue, I have greater sympathy for younger comic book fans out there who were born in the mid-80s and who never experienced the books Matthew and I read when they were first released. I think it would be interesting to see what The Future People would think of Brightest Day, or The Incredible Hulk 60 years from now.
BOTTOM LINE: CHECK IT OUT
If you are a Green Hornet fan, there is plenty for you to be excited about in all the offerings from Dynamite Entertainment. This remastered issue reprints all the flaws and errors that popped up back in the day, but if you want to get a feeling for tales from long ago, this is an issue worth checking out. The story and art wouldn’t earn this book a high rating, but the high quality remaster and the historical element, earn this issue 3 out of 5 Stars.
“For those reading issues from the period, be prepared for panels packed with words. I’ve complained before about my dislike for writers who pack a 20 page story with word balloons that fill up 9/10ths of a panel, as it seems like the writer is trying to force more content than the issue allows.” That’s funny … to me it seems like today’s writers are putting miniimal (or none, like 2 pages of Batman changing into costume and driving to the scene)dialog into a panel so they can drag the story out to a full issue, or to 6 or 8 for graphic novel reprints.
Couldnt agree more, Kevin. Authors are hurrying through to fill up an issue, so they can cash in a pay cheque. Also, lots of the new writers joining the comics field think they’ve got this fast shortcut to getting into the television or movie industry, so instead of writing books they write movies. It just doesnt fly. I dont pay 20 bucks for a TPB to read through 144 pages in half an hour… I mean, sure pretty pictures are nice and all, but it’s all just empty eye candy to me, there to help tell the story.
Comics used to be a child-friendly entry into novels, but now they’re more like the childrens books that contain one or two lines of dialogue on each page.
Nah, I dont think it’s a positive development.
Interesting to find that the reviewer doesnt actually like to read comics. That’s the only reasonable explanation I can find to the fact that he doesnt like wordy panels. To my mind, in conjuncture to this article, Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet reads more like a movie than a piece of literature, and it’s not just him – it’s the majority of comics I see these days. I mean… I dont pay 20 bucks for a paperback collection to read it in a half hour, that’s just not satisfying. I’d rather watch an episode of television. If comics are to regain their position as a viable companion to the world of literature, rather than be the joke they look down upon, this trend has to stop – though it probably wont, as most writers joining the field think it’s a quick shortcut to the world of the movies and television, and so they’re not out to write books.
Writing for a quick buck is part of it, but I don’t think that’s the only problem. I honestly don’t think today’s writers know how to write any other way. Comics have been getting steadily less written since the 60s with two or three complete stories in each issue; it may be a result of writers being raised on successive generations of simpler and simpler writing.
I was in a discussion at Digital Comics Museum about the effect of DC’s digital comics on comic shop sales, and it was about how the shops could improve their service to get more non comics readers in. I don’t think that’s the problem either. it’s the comics themselves. They used to be written for all ages (not overly simplified like DC and Marvel’s cartoony Adventures line, but still enjoyable to adults who willing to engage their suspension-of-disbelief), available everywhere, and satisfying without being part of an endlessly ongoing storyline (often left uncompleted when writers change) and not bogged down in convoluted continuity or some mega-event. Today’s comics are written to a fanboy base who think bloody character deaths and sex scenes make them relevant – forgetting that men and women in tights with super powers have no connection to reality – and who mistake acting hardass for characterization. Parents who buy comics for their kids and find women in refrigerators and Speedy’s illegitimate child aren’t going to buy more. There is a place for mature comics but mature is more than sex and violence. TERRY AND THE PIRATES was way more mature than any of this stuff.
BTW I just received the hardcover Remastered Green Hornet from my subscription service! Looking forward to a good read.