Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Green Hornet: Year One: The Sting of Justice - Matt Wagner

I’ve written here before about listening to the syndicated reruns of THE GREEN HORNET radio show when I was a kid during the early Sixties, watching the Green Hornet TV series later that same decade, and writing a Green Hornet story of my own for the anthology published last year by Moonstone. So you know about my fondness for the character.

I recently picked up a trade paperback reprinting of the first six issues of the comic book series THE GREEN HORNET: YEAR ONE, published by Dynamite Entertainment. This volume is entitled THE STING OF JUSTICE and employs flashbacks to tell the story of The Green Hornet and Kato beginning their battle against the criminal underworld in Chicago in 1938, as well as fleshing in their backgrounds and explaining how they met. The script is by Matt Wagner, author of the great SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE comics series, and the art is by Aaron Campbell.

I really like the fact that the main story is set in the Thirties, as it should be. This is clearly the radio character, and Wagner’s script and Campbell’s art do a fine job of capturing the era and staying true (for the most part) to the continuity and atmosphere of the radio show, while telling a more hardboiled story than most of the broadcasts from that era. Also, without ever coming right out and saying it, there are a couple of things eagle-eyed readers will spot that are nods to the fact the Lone Ranger was the original Green Hornet’s great-uncle.

My only complaints are minor ones. The story is set in Chicago, and while I don’t believe the city was ever identified in the radio show, I thought it was understood to be Detroit, home of the radio station where the Green Hornet originated. Also, I can’t believe six entire issues went by without one scene of a newsboy yelling, “Extry! Extry! Green Hornet still at large!” I know, I know, the guys on the rebooted HAWAII FIVE-O don’t like saying “Book ’em, Danno”, either (and the snarky comments they made about it in interviews before the show ever aired sort of prejudiced me against it). Sometimes you can just be too post-modern and ironic for your own good, damn it. Anyway, I plan to read future collections from this Green Hornet series, and that newsboy better show up sooner or later.

In the meantime, I liked this one a great deal and thought that overall it was a faithful adaptation and expansion of the original. If you’re a Green Hornet fan, you really should read it.


Bruce said...

I picked this up a few weeks ago. Its in my TBR pile.

Just finished Stumptown - Greg Rucka another stellar detective comic. Proving once again Rucka is the master of writing strong female leads.

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

eh, one thing i've seen about reading something that WAS written in the 30s and 40s, or by someone born in the 30s and 40s ..

it reads way different than something written by a guy who is in his 30s / 40s today.

that's even more pronounced when you read historical novels .. the english of even a century ago was far closer to "older" english than what we get now, just to start with.

And something that was new and fun back then is usually something that's been beaten to death by now.