Robot 6

The Middle Ground #16: Play That William Tell Overture One More Time

greenhornetI’ve talked before about the oddness of Dynamite’s Green Hornet line, I think; the sheer deluge of books so quickly after launch, and the way it makes little sense to me in any way other than ensuring a lot of bookstore product in time for January’s movie release. But I’ve been reading a lot of the books recently, and now I have to admit: It makes even less sense.

Here’s the thing: The core books, the actual Green Hornet ones (Which I define as The Green Hornet, The Green Hornet: Year One and The Green Hornet Strikes!; your mileage may vary) are actually pretty good, to varying degrees. My favorite by far is probably Matt Wagner’s Year One, which hits the right pulpy notes without going overboard or seeming too cliche in its recreation of an era that’s been worked over and overworked plenty of times in the last decade or so, but both the Kevin Smith Hornet – which, if nothing else, is more coherent and less filled with urinating superheroes than his current Bat work – and contemporary/dystopic Strikes! have things going for them, as well.

One of the negatives they also have, though, is that they seem contradictory; does Year One lead into Kevin Smith’s run? Does Strikes! take place after it? Apparently not, and that’s more than a little confusing to me; putting aside any concerns about expanding a line too quickly, it’d only make sense to make sure that the line is coherent and, well, a line, instead of a scattered franchise of multiple versions of the same character that don’t fit together. Considering each series seems to take place in a different time period and both Smith’s title and Strikes accept that there have been previous Hornets, why there couldn’t have been one consistent continuity, I have no idea.

Also in the “I have no idea” camp: Holy crap, there are so many spin-offs. Too many, in fact, for Dynamite’s own website to keep track of properly (The book listed as Kevin Smith’s Kato: Origins is, in fact, a spin-off from Year One and has nothing to do with Smith’s series), which should probably be taken as some kind of sign, as should the fact that each of the spin-offs feel, at best, like extras to the other books, instead of something that stands on their own. But, even if the point of these books from a publishing perspective is to increase the amount of Green Hornet material out there for movie audiences, the stories in these books don’t feel strong enough to exist separate from their “source” books, worth the additional cost. They just exist to… I don’t know. Muddy the brand, and also just make the good books seem less interesting or worthwhile by association.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not expecting the movie to be such a massive smash that, suddenly, it’ll seem like a great idea to have so many Green Hornet books available – In fact, I think the movie is likely going to flop, and so perhaps it’ll be a case of Dynamite getting the most out of their license while they can. But that’s the problem, either way; instead of planning long-term to make the most out of the franchise and the license with quality books (Dynamite can do great licensed material; I love their Lone Ranger and Buck Rogers books, both of which were rolled out very slowly and deliberately), the Green Hornet books may end up becoming a model of how not to handle a multimedia franchise in future. And that’s kind of a shame.

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Wasn’t the GH theme song Flight of the Bumblebee? The William Tell Overture was the Loan Ranger.

Also, one of the reasons I’m not reading the GH comics is because of the confusion regarding the continuity and what takes place when. It’s too confusing for me to make the effort for a character I don’t particularly care about. Good article.

Boasting high end creative talent may be part of the problem, too. Kevin Smith and Matt Wagner are definitely fan favorites, yet the Green Hornet is an established franchise older than both of their careers, so to say anything is “Kevin Smith’s” Green Hornet betrays the motivation behind that particular web post’s synopsis. The implication is, “You won’t buy this because you’re a fan of GH or Kato — but because you’re a fan of Kevin Smith!” I love much of Kevin’s work, but when a singular contributor becomes the selling point over the comic book’s characters and story, I’m always wary.

well kevin smith as a selling point just makes glaring the fact that these are indeed comics produced to fill shelves when the movie comes out (“oh I just saw michel gondry’s movie green hornet, I bet this comic green hornet by another director will also be _____”), and I agree that the green hornet books are not the way to handle a media franchise, but this isn’t only dynamite’s folly, dc has been franchising their out of continuity characters by jamming them into continuity as half bakedly as they can (milestone), while doing some sort of opposite motion with their mainstays (earth one). marvel has a bunch of random-ass comics that you can tell are only to beef up the merch for upcoming movies, too. I guess it comes down to companies focusing on the audience they’re trying to sell to (which I do see the importance of, $$) rather than focusing on creating good comics, whether those comics are for veteran comic readers or the newly initiated.(and if anything, it’s embarrassing to the rest of us when the newly initiated go into the book store after seeing a film and get some subpar product because they’re looking for something familiar and are being sold what these companies know they can sell)

I’ve been buying Green Hornet comics for years, but I won’t buy all this junk. Maybe when they’re in the quarter boxes.

Okay…Here’s the “timeline” as far as I can tell:

1. KATO: ORIGINS-WAY OF THE NINJA is the early history of the first Kato (the Kato that’s in YEAR ONE)

2. GREEN HORNET: YEAR ONE is the first Hornet. Britt Reid, Sr. with the above-mentioned Kato.

3. The upcoming GREEN HORNET: BLOOD TIES I’m PRETTY SURE will feature the adventures of Britt Reid Jr. (Son of the original Hornet as seen in YEAR ONE and murdered in the pages of KEVIN SMITH’S GREEN HORNET) and, I presume, the son of the YEAR ONE Kato (who is, in turn, the father of Mulan, the female KATO seen in KEVIN SMITH’S GREEN HORNET and KEVIN SMITH’S KATO: ORIGINS).

4. KEVIN SMITH’S KATO: ORIGINS is the backstory of Mulan Kato, daughter of the SECOND Kato (from BLOOD TIES) who is featured in KEVIN SMITH’S GREEN HORNET

5. KEVIN SMITH’S GREEN HORNET features the death of the SECOND Hornet (son of the YEAR ONE HORNET) who’s earlier adventures will be chronicled in BLOOD TIES and his son (who, really, has to be Britt Reid III) taking over the mantle with the daughter of the SECOND Kato.

6. GREEN HORNET STRIKES is set in the future after Britt Reid III. (son of the second Green Hornet as seen in KEVIN SMITH’S GREEN HORNET) has retired and is then murdered.

And then there’s GREEN HORNET: PARALLEL LIVES which is a prequel to the upcoming film and has nothing to do with the rest of them. Completely different continuity.

WHEW.

That’s probably completely wrong.

The ONLY other thing I can think of is that Smith’s Hrnet is an entirely seperate continuity as well.

Either way, I’m digging them all.

If you want a coherent “universe” where all the Hornets actually fit together into a single timeline, find the NOW Comics Green Hornet series!

Dyanmite’s various series consist of four different universes, which have already diverged due to differing histories and plot elements…
1) Kevin Smith Universe (Smith’s movie adaptation, Kato, and Blood Ties)
2) Seth Rogan Universe (prequel to the movie entitled Parallel Lives. Curiously, there’s NO adaptation of the Rogan movie.)
3) Future Hornet (Green Hornet Strikes, unrelated to any current version)
4) 1930s-40s (Year One plus Kato mini-series) The best of the Dynamite books.

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