Britt Reid and Bruce Wayne have always occupied the same rarefied air and there’s only ever been room for one masked crime-fighting, billionaire industrialist with a teenage sidekick on my literary and four colour pull list. It’s not like I’ve ever held any sort of grudge against the Green Hornet or felt that maybe he was stealing the limelight from Batman, it’s just that I’ve always preferred cowls to fedoras. What can I say? I’m a Dark Knight kind of guy. That said, the Hornet has the Bat beat hands down when it comes to automotive transport, as given the choice I’d take the Black Beauty over the Batmobile any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Most serious car guys would.
Anyway, all of that is a long winded way of saying that in forty years of reading comics, this is the first Green Hornet book that I’ve ever spent any time with. And now I’m beginning to slightly regret to my life-long singular Bat obsession, as Britt Reid is all of the things that Bruce Wayne isn’t. He’s personable, likeable, funny and even though his motives for donning a disguise to battle the forces of evil feel a little dated and condescending, he somehow makes the role he’s chosen to play very human in a way that Bruce Wayne never could. Like I said, this is my first Green Hornet book, so I don’t know how much of that is down, and due, to Scott Lobdell’s guiding hand or Reid’s mythology, but it allows you to immediately relate to, despite his wealth and privilege, the character and dive straight into the story that’s being told.
Talking of the story, it rattles along at an incredible pace and hurls a missing journalist, otherworldly forces and a showdown with the army into a dialogue rich, character driven plot that thanks to the pulp-tastic, monochrome (with just a hint of green) art of Anthony Marquez, looks every bit as good as it reads. Lobdell’s darkly humourous dialogue is a highlight of the book as it slyly pokes fun at the word of heroes while allowing him to lovingly acknowledge the somewhat ludicrous nature of Reid’s double identity in a tale that pays homage to its origins, and draws heavily from the cliff-hanger, pot boiling story-telling tradition that created the Green Hornet. This book made a believer out of me in just twenty two pages and, because I have to know what further adventures await the Hornet and Kato, I’ll definitely be tuning in next time. And the time after that and the time after that… Tim Cundle