Robot 6

The Middle Ground #38: Investigating Dynamite’s Hornet Stings

So, the Green Hornet movie surprised critics by not only winning the weekend box office but, more importantly, not sucking (Or, at least, not sucking as badly as some feared; I know there are still some critics out there). If you surprised yourself by enjoying the film and wanting more, here’s a quick and easy guide to navigating Dynamite’s Green Hornet comics.

Ignore The Spin-Offs
It sounds cruel – and it is, I guess – but if you’re diving into the confusing world of Dynamite’s many, many Hornet titles (I still think there are way too many, but that’s an argument no-one really wants to have with me), it’s the first thing you should bear in mind. With six ongoing titles (The Green Hornet, The Green Hornet: Year One, The Green Hornet Strikes, The Green Hornet: Kato, The Green Hornet: Kato – Origins, and The Green Hornet Golden Age Remastered; there are also minis running at the same time, like The Green Hornet: Blood Ties), it’s worth knowing which titles are “necessary” and which can be avoided until you’re addicted, and the first lesson is “Anything with ‘Kato’ in the title can be safely avoided.” Also, Golden Age Remastered won’t exactly leave a hole in your heart if you skip it for now.

Three Generations of Hornet
With its three “core” titles (The Green Hornet, Strikes and Year One), Dynamite has added a legacy aspect to the character – Something that the movie also did (Weirdly enough, Hornet, adapted by Phil Hester from Kevin Smith’s unused movie script, also had a hard-partying son taking the mantle from his dead father. I wonder if that was something the movie producers insisted on, or merely something that survived numerous rewrites?) – by showing Hornets in three different time periods – The 1940s (Year One), present day (Hornet) and near future (Strikes) – and showing the identity belonging to different people. It’s a smart move that gives each book its own feel, allows the writers to chart their own courses without worrying about each other, and creates a sense of history and importance around the character, even if the books seem to be unconnected so far.

My favorite of the three is probably Strikes, by The Lone Ranger‘s Brett Matthews and Ariel Padilla, which offers up a paranoia-filled take that de-pulps the concept without destroying it, although any pulp removed undoubtedly ended up in Matt Wagner and Aaron Campbell’s wonderful Year One, which is the ideal book for anyone who’s enjoyed Wagner’s Batman books or Sandman Mystery Theater. Hornet offers up a more hard-edged take on a lot of the same ideas as the movie, and has just started a new direction with Hester taking over the complete writing chores now that Smith’s story is done, but well worth checking out nonetheless.

(There’s always been somewhat of a generational idea to the Hornet; Now Comics had the nephew of the original Hornet take up the costume in their 1980s run, and the Hornet has long been established as a descendant of the Lone Ranger, another Dynamite property.)

Where To Start
It depends on what you want, really. Strikes doesn’t have a collection yet, but Year One and Hornet both have collected editions that are worth picking up – Year One may be more of an acquired taste, but it’s also the better book, in my opinion. There are also digital versions of each series on Comixology to sample. Just don’t expect any comic to be able to replicate Seth Rogen’s somewhat terrifying bellow of a laugh.

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Comments

16 Comments

Green Hornet is not a legacy character in the Seth Rogen movie. Britt inherits his father’s publishing empire and a proto-Black Beauty (built due to his father’s increasing paranoia), but that’s it. They explicitly show Britt creating the mantle of the Green Hornet.

I know the trailer seemed to suggest otherwise…

That annoyed me – not that I needed his dad to have been a previous Green Hornet too, but how it all just fell together so randomly. They beat those muggers up, thought it was fun and cool, and then the rest conveniently came together.

Umm, it’s kind of not correct to ignore all minis or spin-offs just because. The work done by Jai Nitz and Colton Worley on the Kato Origins story was outstanding, and again on The Parallel Lives mini which worked as kind of an origin story for the movie Kato.

Ignoring the spin-offs might work in some ways but I don’t suggest you ignore them simply because Kato is in the title. You’d be missing out on stellar work by Ande Parks, Jai Nitz, and a whole host of creators.

@tesseractzero, you do know that the article is about the Green Hornet comics, and not movie right? In the comics Dynamite is creating a legacy hero. Now they just need a cross over with Lone Ranger.

@PotatoPope

“With its three “core” titles (The Green Hornet, Strikes and Year One), Dynamite has added a legacy aspect to the character – Something that the movie also did”

He was talking about that sentence. So was I. Read the article.

I guess we’re all forgetting the Green Hornet series from the 80’s published by Tony Caputo’s Now Comics company….

And furthermore, we’re forgetting that the original Green Hornet (40’s version from your review) is an indirect descendant of The Lone Ranger.

What else are we forgetting? Oh, he appeared 2 years before Batman was even thought of….

There seem to be four different “universes” in Dynamite’s Green Hornet line.
1) Kevin Smith Universe (Smith’s movie adaptation, Kato, and Blood Ties)
2) Seth Rogan Universe (Parallel Lives prequel to the movie. Curiously, there’s no adaptation of the Rogan movie itself.)
3) Future Hornet (Green Hornet Strikes, unrelated to any current version)
4) Year One (Hornet plus Kato mini-series) The best of the Dynamite books.

There’s also the Golden Age reprints with the horrible Joe Rubenstein covers featuring what appears to be a demented Dick Tracy-with-a-mask who doesn’t look like the character as shown inside!
I love Rubenstein’s work, but why not do updates/tributes to the covers of the issues they’re reprinting?

NOW Comics had a unified line with all titles tying together and a multi-generational continuity.
I was sorry to see it go when NOW died out…

The film was everything wrong about Hollywood. Kato did everything, so why was Britt Reid even in it? Seth Rogen was so vulgar, it was despicable what they have done to this charachter. The only good parts were the Black Beauty, which actually should have been a new Chrysler 300C SRT8 because there are thousands of them on the road, and not too many Chrysler Crown Imperials and it would not be hard to track it down, and Bloodnofsky and the two faced politicion DA, they was actaully psychopathic threats to society. They pretty much threw away the stealth seriousness of the crimefighter for a Matrix-esque fan film. Pretty sad.

I just read a huge chunk of the Dynamite GREEN HORNET comics (picked up most of them for 35 cents apiece through a DCBS sale), and I was surprised by how good most of them are. Matt Wagner’s YEAR ONE is great; I always enjoy seeing him do believable history (as in SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE and MADAME XANADU). PARALLEL LIVES was impressive and funny, with a punchline at the end of each done-in-one-issue, and a worthy companion to a hilariously fun film. And STRIKES is fantastic so far; both the story and art grabbed me right away. The Kevin Smith stuff is pretty middle-of-the-road and disposable, but worth reading once, anyway. I’d agree that the golden-age material hasn’t aged well, though.

horrible movie. kevin smiths version should have been the movie. seth rogan tarnished the legacies of these characters and tried to fit them into his vulgar type of humor. bruce le is rolling in his grave roght now

Thanks in large part to this article (and my love of the 60’s tv series), I finally decided to check out the Dynamite Green Hornet comics. Green Hornet Year One is now one of my favorite ongoing series. If you’re a fan of the 60’s tv series with Bruce Lee, or are interested in seeing a cooler, competent Green Hornet, give Year One a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks Robot 6!

The only Green Hornet book I’m reading right now is YEAR ONE. It’s been a great story so far and might lead me to pick up Kevin Smith’s series later.

As for the movie, I haven’t seen it. The scenes on TV with Seth Rogen in them have me thinking I should keep it way.

I’ve collected all the books so far. The Kato books aren’t the best, but “Good.” The only waste of paper is “Parallel Lives.” Juvenile and useless. “Green Hornet” and “Green Hornet Origins” is the best of the lot . Blood Ties is very good. Rogen as the Hornet? What a waste. Hope they get a chance to make another good Hornet movie in the future.

“Hope they get a chance to make another good Hornet movie in the future.”

I think you mean “…make a GOOD Hornet movie in the future.”
There hasn’t been a good feature, yet. The two serials were decent adaptations of the radio series.

They’ve re-booted the Punisher twice since 1989, and the Hulk once within five years (with yet another reboot coming only three years later) so why not reboot the Hornet a couple of years from now?

Although I despise what Seth Rogen did with my beloved Green Hornet, to be fair to the big lug, he did produce a funny movie. But let’s not be fooled – this was a Seth Rogen movie – and not a Green Hornet movie. Rogen could have worn a garter and fish nets while running around, and it still would have generated the same laughs in the same places. Having him in Green Hornet garb was inconsequential to the action and overall plot line. It’s really too bad that Kevin Smith allowed his penis to shrivel up to the degree that he lost the confidence to run with what I beleive to be a superior script, and make the movie Hornet fans were hoping for. I have been waiting 38 years for a proper Green Hornet movie to be made. I hope I live long enough to see it.

“I have been waiting 38 years for a proper Green Hornet movie to be made. I hope I live long enough to see it.”

I’m beginning to think we Green Hornet fans are like Chicago Cubs fans waiting for another World Series win! ;-(

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