Thursday, May 10, 2012

CBR Kevin Smith's Green Hornet Vol. 1


Time for a look into one of the genre's most famous and oldest proprieties, who after several lives throughout various medium is back in comic book form under the fresh look of movie director and writer-Kevin Smith!

Comic title: Kevin Smith's Green Hornet volume one: Sins of the Father
Art by Jonathan Lau with breakdowns by Phil Hester
Scripts by Kevin Smith
Covers by Alex Ross

Published by Dynamite
From 2010
Lineup The Green Hornet
Format: Trade paperback collecting the first 5 issues of the new Green Hornet on-going series.

I've always been a big fan of the Green Hornet!
Created originally for Radio serials by George W. Trendle, James Jewell and Fran Striker, in 1936.

It told the adventures of Britt Reid who assumed the superhero persona of the Green Hornet alongside his friend and partner Kato who served as the Hornet's chauffeur and occasional teammate. Driving the Black Beauty in the streets, they decided that in order to get rid of the crime in Chicago, they had to become criminal themselves and get a hold of the various corrupt families and gangs controlling the city.

It quickly became a hit, being declined into several other mediums.
The radio show itself inspired such comics as Fox Comics' own Blue Beetle (hence the similar title), who went on to become a radio show as well.
That is when the Green Hornet became a comic book series as well, his first series was released on 1940 by Helnit Comics.
The title went on to be published by several others during the following century, never getting the same popularity as DC or Marvel Comics' own takes on the genre.

But the character finally became a success when he was resurrected and adapted for television in 1966.
The show became huge quite quickly, getting various translations and releases across the world.
The cult TV show starred Van Williams as The Green Hornet and the soon to be famous-Bruce Lee as Kato.

The show went through several reruns over the years, which is why that is the most famous incarnation of the Hornet. Though the character kinda disappeared from the public's view these recent couple of years...
That is...Until...

In 2009, Dynamite Entertainment was able to get the license of the Green Hornet...which - as perfect timing goes - worked great with Michel Gondry & Seth Rogen's own attempt of a revival of the character.
Instead of simply working towards the 2011 Hollywood movie, and simply serving as a movie tie-in, Dynamite decided to have their own take on the Hornet simultaneously.
Kevin Smith had actually worked on another take, trying to bring back the character a decade before for the theaters. Since that original script was scrapped for the big screen (Smith didn't want to direct it at the time, the screenplay was sort of forgotten over the years), the comic book format was perfect to produce that story!

The comic sort of continues the original TV serial, only taking place in modern times instead.
Five years have passed since all this began.
The story opens with the original Green Hornet Britt Reid and Kato finally rounding up the remaining crime families under one roof....and making a stop of the organized crime once and for all!

It is all over!

Finally! The Hornet can finally hang his hat in the closet for good. Kato decides to go back home and take care of a family of his own. And Reid is finally able to get back to his own son Britt Reid Jr. alongside his spouse Janet.
The rest, the usual crimes and shenanigans, that the police can take care of.

It is now 2010.
Britt Jr. has grown to be quite a spoiled brat. He is now in his 20s.
Our retired original Green Hornet has been a successful editor at The Sentinel's.

But organized crime his back.
While Britt Sr.'s friend, the ex-D.A., his trying to run for mayor, a party organizy at the Britts is crashed by... The Black Hornet!!

Is the original Hornet finally back, and has he turned to crime now?

Britt Sr. his killed trying to save the future mayor.
Junior discovers the truth about his dad from the old Kato returned in this time of need.
That's a lot to take in.
His whole life, he barely knew, or liked his father. And now he learns he actually was a vigilante.
And things could be better timed, a yakuza mobster died supposedly in his cell, as his son comes back from China to clean the reputation of his family.

Now assisted by Mulan Kato, the "new Kato" and daughter of the original, Britt is thrown right in the middle of a life he never knew his father lived in. It's a whole new world!

Well, "assisted by Kato". More like trying to follow around, Mulan seems to be the one who was supposed to take over in case an enemy of the Hornet killed him in his Britt Reid life.

It's a very fun story!
There's a lot going on, even though it clearly feels like an introduction, the beginning of new adventures!
The story mixes lots of fight scenes (1 per issue at last!), well choreographed for a comic if I may say so, gadgets, explosions and car chases!

It was originally supposed to be just a 12-issues limited series (this volume offering the first half), but due to an excellent reception and very good sales, it was turned into an ongoing series.Kevin Smith's story presents itself rather well in this format, as if originally written for it (I can't even begin to imagine him directing this...).
His long time pal, comic book artist and partner-in-Green Phil Hester worked the breakdowns of the comic. Which is excellently rythmed and punctuated.
Guest-artist Alex Ross did the these gorgeous covers for each issue, giving the book this tone and look.
And the artwork of  Jonathan Lau his simply fun and stunning. It really suits the modern/pulp-ysh vibe of the series.

Overall, it's great!
Part-pulp action ("normal" heroes, martial arts, car chases, gunfire, etc.) but it is also like a big bright and entertaining blockbuster, which is definitively the tone Smith was aiming for with this revival.
There are lots of car chases, explosions, kung-fu around for fans of the genre!

Dynamite did great by taking Kevin Smith unused screenplay and turning it into this revamp of such a classic hero for modern day readers!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 FlamingCarrots!