This series is going to be a little strange to review, because I know what happens. . .and what happens isn't good. Dynamite's Green Hornet begins as an adaptation of a Kevin Smith script for a big screen Green Hornet movie that never happened. And I can tell you that THIS Green Hornet movie would have blown the half-baked Seth Rogan effort that we got out of the water in every good way.
BUT. . .
Once Smith and his script are gone, this series goes off the rails in a big way. The end of this run is a complete train wreck. I know that despite my joy in re-reading the brilliant start of this series, I am going to be in a seriously depressing place eventually as the writing and art break completely down.
So let's get this party started and enjoy ourselves for a while before the beer runs out and someone puts Coldplay in the CD player because his girl really loves that one song they do. . .
GREEN HORNET (Dynamite)
ISSUE 1: NIGHT AND DAY
This is about as close to a perfect first issue for a series that I can think of. It pays respect to the original Green Hornet by starting off with the Hornet and Kato's last mission, taking down the final two crime families of Century City, and then Britt Reid promising his wife to hang up his secret identity for good and saying farewell to Kato. Then it brings us into the "present" day, 20 years later, introducing us to Britt Reid Jr. . .the spoiled son of the retired superhero, drifting through life on his father's money with no direction or responsibility.
Even if you know nothing about Green Hornet and Kato, I think this issue does a spectacular job of introducing the team, moving the story forward to present times, and establishing the status quo.
The art by Lau and Hester is totally fantastic. Every panel pops with life. On page 4 there is a shot of Green Hornet lurking on an overhead beam, ready to make his move, that I would LOVE to see as a poster on my wall. Some of the body proportions are exaggerated in a strange way during some fight scenes, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is one GREAT looking book.
All in all, I found this issue to be fantastic in every way, from the dialogue to the general story, to the art. Dynamite hit it out of the park with Green Hornet #1.
ISSUE 2; HAPPILY EVER AFTER
The quality established in the first issue continues in this one as we dive into the political scene of Century City and meet Mayor Scanlon, who was the D.A. during the time of the original Green Hornet, and got most of the credit for cleaning up the organized crime in the city. . .and has been riding on that reputation for the past 20 years. It's also revealed that he knows (and has known) that Britt Reid was the Hornet. Then Britt Sr. and Jr. share a tense lunch together where the conflict between the hard-hitting newspaper man and his drifting trust fund son is on full display. The book closes out on a fundraiser for Mayor Scanlon at the Reid estate that is crashed by. . .ninjas? And Mulan Kato makes her first appearance as she has also infiltrated the party to protect Britt Sr.
All in all, there's a LOT going on in this issue, and it's pretty wordy until the attack on the fundraiser at the end, but the dialogue is extremely readable, and the art continues to amaze me with just how great even talking head panels look.
So far, this series is above and beyond my expectations. Well done, Dynamite!
ISSUE 3: SINS OF THE FATHER
$h!t hits the fan in this issue as the original Green Hornet is gunned down and killed by The Black Hornet during the assault on Reid Manor during a fundraiser for Mayor Scanlon.
Enraged by his father's death, Britt Jr. decides to take things into his own hands and start searching for The Green Hornet, who he mistakes the Black Hornet for. This leads to him meeting the original Kato during a fight in a dive bar, who takes him back to the Reid estate and shows him the secret basement holding their old gear and costumes.
I have to say that even though it's no bueno to see a classic hero like Green Hornet meet his end, he went out like a hero. . .standing up to fight Black Hornet even though he hadn't thrown a punch in 20 years. It was a suitably epic end for one of my favorite characters. . .and a lot better than Dynamite did with Zorro, who basically got shot while trying to swordfight and got dumped in a mass burn pit. But THAT'S another story. . .(okay it still stings a little to see Zorro go down like a chump)
The writing and art remain superb in every way on this series. In my opinion, this has got to be one of the best sets of introductory issues I've ever seen.
ISSUE 4: A HORNET'S NEST
The story keeps getting better as Kato reveals to Britt Jr. that his father was Green Hornet, and Britt tells him to sit and spin if Kato expects him to take his father's place.
Kato packs up all the gear in the Hornet's hideout and sends it and Britt Jr. on a jet to China to protect him while he and Mulan stay behind to discover who was behind Britt Sr.'s death and avenge him.
This all leads to a fantastic battle scene where we see Mulan in costume for the first time as Kato II totally devastating the thugs of a crime boss on the beginning of their trail of revenge.
At the end of the book, Britt has a change of heart and decides maybe some revenge might be just the thing, so he kits himself in Green Hornet gear and jumps into the battle for the first time as Green Hornet II.
Most of this issue was taken up by the battle between Mulan and various thugs, but the writing, especially at the beginning, where Britt Jr. is laughing off the idea of "Playing Batman", is still great. . .as is the art. Mulan's battle is outstanding in every way. Lau has a very kinetic art style perfectly suited for the martial arts in this book.
BUT. . .
I have some concerns. Only 4 issues in and the shipping schedule is already erratic, with this issue shipping 2 months after the last. Also. . .3 colorists on one issue. Never a good sign. This title is still firmly on the rails and speeding along nicely, but I wonder for how much longer.
ISSUE 5: CRASH COURSE
This issue is mostly a fantastic chase scene as the new Green Hornet and Kato escape from the crime lord's nightclub that Kato was assaulting when Britt jumped in. Realizing that Britt is going to get killed, she retreats and we are introduced to the new Black Beauty. . .or "Urban Assault Vehicle" as Mulan calls it.
At the end of the story, the action lets up to reveal that Hirohito Juuma is the Black Hornet, and that Mayor Scanlon was behind the attack that killed Britt Reid Sr. The intent was to manufacture a fake crime wave with a "New Hornet" behind it that he could "clean up" and gain a few more years as Mayor. It's also revealed that the TRUE puppetmaster behind them both is Oni Juuma. . .the last crime lord the original Hornet put away, and thought dead.
Although most of this issue was straight up action during the fast-paced and beautifully-illustrated chase scene, I also enjoyed the banter between Kato and Britt Jr. where she let him know who the boss was. And the dirty politics at the end were also well written.
This issue double shipped (the second during that month) and the regular art team was on board, so my concerns from last issue were gone as I enjoyed the badass scenes of Kato and Black Beauty destroying opposition as they made their escape.
ISSUE 6: WEARING O' THE GREEN
I really liked this issue. It was really lighthearted and pretty much served as the "training montage" scene if it were a movie (it's adapted from a never-used big screen Green Hornet movie by Kevin Smith, so I guess that would be accurate).
The story focuses on Mulan and Kato training Britt Jr., the introduction of "Clutch" Kato, Mulan's mechanical/tech wizard cousin, and several hilarious sequences where Britt tries and discards various Green Hornet costumes, including a beat for beat scene from the 1989 Batman movie where Britt Growls "I'm Green Hornet!" moments before tripping on his cape and falling from a roof.
I could easily see the Kevin Smith writing and humor in this issue. I'm sure it's going to hit the fan in a big dramatic way soon, but this lighter issue was the perfect touch.
Like I said above, these first issues are probably some of the best I've ever seen starting off a series. . .from the writing, to the art, to the covers, Dynamite hit it out of the park in a big way with Green Hornet. Unfortunately, I remember what comes later. . .which makes this fantastic opening a little sad for me. But for now, this is a hell of a party.
Coming Next. . .
More Green Hornet. Be there or be square!
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Issue # 1