There’s a new Crime Boss in town and the Green Hornet and Kato are on the case. Yet when a mysterious new costumed hero arrives on the scene will the emerald insect and the masked martial arts master be able to tell friend from foe?
The Green Hornet: Reign of the Demon #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
As a legacy hero with nearly 100 years of history, the Green Hornet is a relatively well known commodity. As such, the challenge of any creative team tasked with writing a new book for the character is in finding a way to distinguish their interpretation from previous iterations – particularly the god awful Seth Rogen movie that came out in 2011.
In this, the first issue of a new mini-series for Dynamite Comics, writer David Liss hews pretty close to the familiar. The noir narration that introduces the story does a decent job of bringing readers up to date without burying them beneath needless exposition. The dialogue has moments of success as well, though there are some sequences that threaten to derail the flow of things.
In one sequence we see our hero as alter ego, Britt Reid, former newspaper magnate and burgeoning radio journalist, speaking to a reporter from his former paper about the Green Hornet (who lest we forget has the public image of a criminal despite his heroic deeds). When the reporter, who tropes suggest may become the romantic interest for our hero later in the series, suggests even the slightest positive opinion of the Hornet, Reid instantly runs her down in a “me thinks the lady doth protest too much” sequence that is sure to provoke an eye roll from the savvy reader.
Later as Kato is speaking to an immigrant prostitute named Lien, the writer can’t decide whether or not to give her character a normal dialect or to opt instead for the stereotypical broken English – opting instead for some strange mix of the two that comes off as wrong on a few levels.
The art is also a bit of a mixed bag. Illustrator Kewber Baal manages to build a believable period-era Chicago, and his choice to avoid having either of the central protagonists resemble their more famous counterparts is a daring one that pays off. That being said, his character design on new baddy “Demone” is a little uninspired, and a touch inconsistent from appearance to appearance. In one sequence as he menaces a nosy janitor he’s the size of Knightfall-era Bane, yet when he has a rooftop showdown with our heroes later in the book he stands shoulder to shoulder with the Hornet. Elsewhere there is the curious case of unsavory “mini-boss” Giusto Gareri, who despite being an Italian mob boss, looks like famed Russian mystic (and canonical forefather of the X-Men’s Colossus) Grigori Rasputin.
The artwork suffers the greatest in the aforementioned rooftop sequence, wherein one panel depicting an unfortunate fate for one of a group of fleeing call girls manages to remove every depicted character’s neck.
Is It Good?
Still, nitpicking aside, the Green Hornet: Reign of the Demon does show some promise. Most readers will come away from the first issue with theories as to the true identity of the Demon, as well as the Swashbuckler, which is a good hook to start a series from. Hopefully the rest of the series will learn from a handful of stumbles in the first issue and pick up steam moving forward.