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Green Hornet
The Green Hornet cover.jpg
Cover of The Green Hornet 2 ( May 1967).
Publication information
First appearance The Green Hornet radio program (January 31, 1936)
Created by George W. Trendle
Fran Striker
In-story information
Alter ego Britt Reid
Partnerships Kato
Abilities Genius-level intelligence
Master Detective
Expert Hand-to-hand combatant

The Green Hornet is an American radio and television masked vigilante created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, with input from radio director James Jewell, in 1936. Since his radio debut in the 1930s, the Green Hornet has appeared in numerous serialized dramas in a wide variety of media. The character appeared in film serials in the 1940s, a network television program in the 1960s, multiple comic book series from the 1940s on,[1] and a feature film in January 2011.

Though various incarnations sometimes change details, in most versions the Green Hornet is the alter ego of Britt Reid, wealthy young publisher of the Daily Sentinel newspaper by day, who goes out in his masked "Green Hornet" identity at night to fight crime as a vigilante. Reid is accompanied by his loyal and similarly masked partner and confidant, Kato, who drives their technologically advanced car, the "Black Beauty". As the Green Hornet, Reid masquerades as a criminal to infiltrate the underworld, leaving behind criminals and any incriminating evidence found for the police.

Radio series

Main article: The Green Hornet (radio series)

The character debuted in The Green Hornet, an American radio program that premiered on January 31, 1936, on WXYZ, the same local Detroit station that originated its companion shows The Lone Ranger and Challenge of the Yukon.[2] Beginning on April 12, 1938, the station supplied the series to the Mutual Broadcasting System radio network, and then to NBC Blue and its successors, the Blue Network and ABC, from November 16, 1939, through September 8, 1950. It returned from September 10 to December 5, 1952.[2] It was sponsored by General Mills from January to August 1948, and by Orange Crush in its brief 1952 run.[2]

In other media

Film serials

The Green Hornet was adapted into two movie serials: The Green Hornet and The Green Hornet Strikes Again!.[3] Disliking the treatment Republic gave The Lone Ranger in two serials, George W. Trendle took his property to Universal Pictures, and was much happier with the results. The first serial, titled simply The Green Hornet and released in 1940, starred Gordon Jones in the title role, albeit dubbed by original radio Hornet Al Hodge whenever the hero's mask was in place, while The Green Hornet Strikes Again! of 1941 starred Warren Hull. Keye Luke, who played the "Number One Son" in the Charlie Chan films, played Kato in both. Also starring in both serials were Anne Nagel as Lenore Case, Britt Reid's secretary, and Wade Boteler as Mike Axford, a reporter for the Daily Sentinel, the newspaper that Reid owned and published. Ford Beebe directed both serials, partnered by Ray Taylor on The Green Hornet and John Rawlins on The Green Hornet Strikes Again!, with George H. Plympton and Basil Dickey contributing to the screenplays for both serials. The Green Hornet ran for 13 chapters while The Green Hornet Strikes Again! had 15 installments, with the Hornet and Kato smashing a different racket in each chapter. In each serial, they were all linked to a single major crime syndicate which was itself put out of business in the finale, while the radio program had the various rackets completely independent of each other.


Main article: The Green Hornet (TV series)

The Green Hornet was a television series shown on the ABC U.S. television network. It aired for the 1966–1967 television season and starred Van Williams as both the Green Hornet and Britt Reid, and Bruce Lee as Kato.[4][5]

Williams and Lee's Green Hornet and Kato appeared as anti-heroes in the second season of the live-action 1960s Batman TV series, in the two part episodes "A Piece of the Action" and "Batman's Satisfaction".

Comic books

Early comics

Green Hornet comic books began in December 1940. The series, titled Green Hornet Comics, was published by Helnit Comics (sometimes called Holyoke), with the writing attributed to Fran Striker. This series ended after six issues.

Several months later, Harvey Comics launched its own version, beginning with issue #7. This series ended in 1949, having run to issue #47. (The title was changed to Green Hornet Fights Crime as of issue #34, and Green Hornet, Racket Buster with issue #44). Harvey additionally used the character in the public-service one-shot War Victory Comics in 1942,[6] and gave him one adventure in each of two issues of All-New Comics, #13 (where he was also featured on the cover)[7] and #14,[8] in 1946.

Dell Comics published a one-shot with the character (officially entitled Four Color #496) in 1953, several months after the radio series ceased production.[9] Both stories therein share titles with late-era radio episodes ("The Freightyard Robberies," June 23, 1949; and "[The] Proof of Treason," October 17, 1952) and might be adaptations.

In 1967, Gold Key Comics produced a 3-issue series based on the TV show.[10]

NOW Comics

In 1989, NOW Comics introduced a line of Green Hornet comics, initially written by Ron Fortier and illustrated by Jeff Butler. It attempted to reconcile the different versions of the character into a multigenerational epic. This took into account the character's ancestral connection to The Lone Ranger, though due to the legal separation of the two properties, his mask covered his entire face (as in the Republic serials) and he could not be called by name.[11] In this interpretation, the Britt of the radio series had fought crime as the Hornet in the 1930s and 1940s before retiring. In NOW's first story, in Green Hornet #1 (November 1989), set in 1945, the nationality of the original Kato (named in this comic series Ikano Kato) is given as Japanese, but because of the American policy regarding the Japanese minority during World War II, Reid referred to Kato as Filipino in order to prevent Kato's being sent to an American internment camp.

The NOW comics considered the 1960s television character as the namesake nephew of the original, 1930s-1940s Britt Reid, referred to as "Britt Reid II" in the genealogy, who took up his uncle's mantle after a friend is assassinated. Britt Reid II eventually retired due to a heart attack, and Kato — given the first name Hayashi, after that of the first actor to play Kato on radio — goes on to become a star of ninja movies. The NOW comics established Hayashi Kato as Ikano Kato's son. Britt Reid's nephew, Paul Reid, a concert pianist, takes on the role of the Hornet after his older brother Alan, who had first taken on the mantle, is killed on his debut mission. Paul Reid is assisted by Mishi Kato, Hayashi's much-younger half-sister who was trained by Ikano Kato. Her being female caused problems between the publishers and the rights-holders, who withdrew approval of that character and mandated the return of "the Bruce Lee Kato."[12] After Mishi's departure — explained as orders from her father to replace an injured automobile designer at the Zurich, Switzerland, facility of the family corporation, Nippon Today — Hayashi Kato returned to crime fighting alongside the Paul Reid Green Hornet.[13] Mishi Kato returned in volume two as the Crimson Wasp, following the death of her Swiss police-officer fiancé, on orders of a criminal leader. In NOW's final two issues, vol. 2, #39-40, a fourth Kato — Kono Kato, grandson of Ikano and nephew of Hayashi and Mishi — took over as Paul Reid's fellow masked vigilante. The comics also introduced Diana Reid, the original Britt Reid's daughter, who had become district attorney after the TV series' Frank Scanlon had retired. A romantic relationship eventually formed between her and Hayashi Kato.

NOW's first series began in 1989 and lasted 14 issues. Volume Two began in 1991 and lasted 40 issues, ending in 1995 when the publisher went out of business. Kato starred solo in a four-issue miniseries in 1991, and a two-issue follow-up in 1992, both written by Mike Baron. He also wrote a third, first announced as a two-issue miniseries, then as a graphic novel, but it was never released due to the company's collapse.

Tales of the Green Hornet, consisting of nine issues spread out over three volumes (two, four, and three issues, respectively), presented stories of the two previous Hornets. Volume One featured Green Hornet II, and its story was plotted by Van Williams, star of the 1960s TV series, and scripted by Bob Ingersoll. The follow-ups were written by James Van Hise. Other miniseries included the three-issue The Green Hornet: Solitary Sentinel; the four-issue Sting of the Green Hornet, set during World War II; the three-issue Dark Tomorrow (June–August 1993), featuring a criminal Green Hornet in 2080 being fought by the Kato of that era.[14]

Discounting depictions of the cars utilized by the 1940s and 1960s Hornets, there were two versions of the Black Beauty used in the NOW comic series. The first was based on the Pontiac Banshee.[15] The second was a four-door sedan based on the eleventh-generation Oldsmobile 98 Touring Sedan.

Dynamite Entertainment

In March 2009, Dynamite Entertainment announced it had acquired the license to produce Green Hornet comic books.[16] Its first release was a miniseries written by Kevin Smith with pencils by Jonathan Lau.[17][18] Revamped in 2010 as an ongoing series set in modern times, the new Green Hornet stars Britt Reid, Jr., the rebellious and spoiled son of Britt Reid, Sr., now a retired industrial and family man. When Britt Sr. is slain by the Black Hornet, a yakuza mobster whose family was shamed by the original Green Hornet, the aging but still fit Kato returns. With his daughter, Mulan Kato, who has taken over the costumed identity of her father, he brings Britt Jr. to China for training and safekeeping as he becomes the new Green Hornet. Writer Jai Nitz is also writing Green Hornet: Parallel Lives, a miniseries prequel to the 2011 Green Hornet feature film.[19]

In 2013, an eight issue mini series called "Masks" brought together famous heroes from the pulp era. Starring The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Kato, The Spider and Zorro. Written by Chris Roberson with art by Alex Ross and Dennis Calero.[20]

Prose fiction

Western Publishing subsidiary Whitman Books released four works of text fiction based on the character, targeting younger readers. There were three entries in the children's line of profusely illustrated Big Little Books, The Green Hornet Strikes!, The Green Hornet Returns, and The Green Hornet Cracks Down, in 1940, 1941 and 1942, respectively, all attributed to Fran Striker. In 1966, their line for older juveniles included Green Hornet: Case of the Disappearing Doctor, by Brandon Keith, a tie-in to the television series. At about the same time, Dell Publishing released a mass-market paperback, The Green Hornet in The Infernal Light by Ed Friend, not only derived from the small-screen production as well, but, "allegedly based on one of the TV episodes."[21]

In 2009, Moonstone Books gained the prose license and has released three Green Hornet anthologies as part of its "Chronicles" line: The Green Hornet Chronicles, The Green Hornet Casefiles, and "The Green Hornet: Still at Large".


The 1993 American semi-fictionalized film biography Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, in which Jason Scott Lee portrayed Bruce Lee (no relation), featured scenes involving the filming of the TV series The Green Hornet.[22]

In terms of movie adaptions of the property itself:

The Green Hornet (2006)

Main article: The Green Hornet (2006 film)

A 10-minute, 2006 French Short film, Le frelon vert, is based on the Green Hornet.[23]

The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010)

Main article: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

In this Hong Kong Martial arts movie, protagonist Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen) dresses as a masked vigilante based on the Green Hornet.

The Green Hornet (2011)

Main article: The Green Hornet (2011 film)

A film version of the character has been contemplated since the 1990s, with Universal Pictures and Miramax each attempting to develop a film. Eventually, Sony Pictures, through its subsidiary Columbia Pictures, released an action-comedy Green Hornet feature on January 14, 2011, starring Seth Rogen, who co-wrote the script with Evan Goldberg. It was directed by Michel Gondry. Jay Chou co-starred as Kato. Also starring were Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, and Christoph Waltz.


Few examples of Green Hornet merchandise have appeared since the 1960s. To coincide with the 2011 movie, Factory Entertainment produced six-inch action figures and a die cast Black Beauty, among other collectibles. Hollywood Collectibles has made a full-size prop gas gun replica. Mezco Toyz has made a set of 12-inch action figures, with the prototypes donated to the Museum of the Moving Image.[24]

CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, teamed with the studio on a promotional marketing partnership that included commercials featuring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou in character as the Green Hornet and Kato; a beverage promotion with Dr. Pepper; The Green Hornet food items, kids' meal toys, and employee uniforms; and a contest with the grand prize of the Black Beauty car from the film.[25]

Popular culture

  • Calgary alderman Mark Tennant had been nicknamed 'The Green Hornet' during the Second World War, as during his military service with The Calgary Highlanders, it was said he "always knew where the bad guys were" during his tours as orderly officer.[26]
  • The Green Hornet was parodied by Bill Cosby in his c. 1970 syndicated five-minutes-a-day radio program, The Brown Hornet, which he revived in the late 1970s for his Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids cartoon show. As Cosby described the radio parody on The Tonight Show to Johnny Carson, the Brown Hornet rode in the White Beauty, a 1957 two-door Plymouth, driven by his aide Leroy, and lived in a five-story walk-up apartment. The Fat Albert version shared only the name, instead being a space-based superhero in a futuristic setting.
  • The 1960s cartoon series Batfink was a parody of both Batman and the Green Hornet. Batfink rode in a pink vehicle called the Battilac, which was driven by his assistant Karate who was a martial artist.[27]
  • Inspector Clouseau's valet/houseboy is also called Cato, but spelled with a "C" instead of a "K", and his car in the film Revenge of the Pink Panther is a heavily modified Citroën 2CV called "The Silver Hornet".[28]
  • In an episode of Sonic X, Tanaka and Chris dress as the Green Hornet and Kato, respectively, on a rescue mission.
  • In the 1993 movie, Grumpy Old Men, Walter Matthau's character uses a lucky ice fishing pole he nicknames The Green Hornet. In one scene, after a successful fishing trip, he says, "The Green Hornet strikes again!"


  1. Marx, Andy (July 12, 1992). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies - Beyond Batman - The Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz: Eddie Murphy as the Green Hornet". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. p. 297. ISBN 0-19-507678-8. 
  3. Lidz, Franz (January 7, 2011). "Float Like a Franchise, Sting Like a...". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  4. Boucher, Geoff (July 23, 2010). "Getting 'The Green Hornet' off the ground". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-13. 
  5. Pool, Bob (May 27, 1992). "The Green Hornet Returns to Sting a Radio Pirate". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  6. War Victory Comics at the [[wikipedia:Grand Comics Database|]]
  7. All-New Comics #13 at the Grand Comics Database
  8. All-New Comics #14 at the Grand Comics Database
  9. Four Color #496 at the Grand Comics Database
  10. The Green Hornet at the Grand Comics Database. Accessed 2010-12-25.
  11. Murray, Will (October 1989). "Where Hornets Swarm". Comics Scene (Starlog Communications International, Inc) (9): 41. 
  12. Piron, Diane (w). "The Buzz Word (letter column)" The Green Hornet 13 (November 1990), NOW Comics
  13. The Green Hornet #11 (September 1991)
  14. Dark Tomorrow at the [[wikipedia:Grand Comics Database|]]
  15. Weis, Joan (w). "The Buzz Word (letter column)" The Green Hornet v2, 9 (May 1992), NOW Comics
  16. "Dynamite Lands Green Hornet Comic Book License". [[wikipedia:Newsarama|]]. March 31, 2009. 
  17. Bernardin, Marc (May 13, 2009). "EW Exclusive: Kevin Smith takes on Batman and the Green Hornet". [[wikipedia:Entertainment Weekly|]]. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  18. Green Hornet, Dynamite Entertainment, 2010 Series at the [[wikipedia:Grand Comics Database|]]
  19. "Nitz Separates 'Green Hornet: Parallel Lives'". [[wikipedia:Comic Book Resources|]]. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  20. "Masks". 2013 [last update]. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  21. Weis, Joan (w). "Buzz Word (letter column)" The Green Hornet v2, 36 (August 1994), NOW Comics (letter from Timothy E. Jones)
  22. Galbraith, Jane (May 16, 1993). "A look inside Hollywood and the movies - Cameo Corner - Green Hornet Pays Homage to His Kato". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  23. "Aurelien Poitrimoult: Kato and the Green Hornet Get Ready to Sting Again!". Black Belt. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  24. Wright, Eddie (December 16, 2010). "Mezco Donates the Green Hornet Prototype Action Figures to Museum of the Moving Image". MTV Geek!. 
  25. "Carl's Jr. and 'The Green Hornet' Bring Action-Packed Excitement to the Drive-Thru with Sony Pictures Deal (press release)". Carl's Jr.. October 8, 2010. 
  26. [The Glen, Regimental Newsletter of the Calgary Highlanders, see also Bercuson, David "Battalion of Heroes: The Calgary Highlanders in World War II]
  27. Decaro, Frank (August 5, 2007). "Another Caped Crusader, Super Tongue in Cheek". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  28. "Channeling Kato: Jay Chou dons the iconic mask in Green Hornet". [[wikipedia:Kung Fu Magazine|]]. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 

Further reading

  • Grams, Martin, Jr.; Terry Salomonson (2010). The Green Hornet: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television. Churchville, Maryland: OTR Publications LLC. ISBN 978-0-9825311-0-5. 
  • Harmon, Jim (1967). The Great Radio Heroes. Doubleday. 
  • Little, John (April 1995). "Bruce Lee and the Green Hornet: Van Williams remembers 'Kato'". Black Belt (Rainbow Publications) 33 (4). 
  • Murray, Will (August 1986). "The Green Hornet". TV Gold (Movieland Publishing) (4). 
  • Osgood, Dick (1981). WYXIE Wonderland. Bowling Green University Press. ISBN 0-87972-187-1. 
  • Pollard, Maxwell (1974). "is [sic] The Green Hornet's version of Gung-Fu Genuine?". The Best of Bruce Lee (Rainbow Publications).  (reprinted from Black Belt vol. 5, #10, October 1967, Rainbow Publications)
  • Van Hise, James (1989). The Green Hornet Book. Pioneer Books.  (Movie Publisher Services, 1991)
  • "The Grey Hornet". Comics Scene (Starlog Communications International, Inc) (15). October 1990. 
  • "In Kato's Gung-Fu Action Is Instant". The Best of Bruce Lee (Rainbow Publications). 1974.  (reprinted from Black Belt vol. 5, #11, November 1967, Rainbow Publications)
  • Harmon, Jim (1992). Radio Mystery and Adventure and Its Appearances in Film, Television and Other Media. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-1810-7. 
  • "Van Williams After the Mask". Starlog (O'Quinn Studios, Inc) (135). October 1988. 

External links

Category:Film serial characters Category:American radio drama Category:Dell Comics characters Category:Fictional newspaper publishers Category:Fictional vigilantes Category:Gold Key Comics characters Category:Gold Key Comics titles Category:Golden Age superheroes Category:Harvey Comics series and characters Category:Harvey Comics superheroes Category:Harvey Comics titles Category:NOW Comics titles Category:Radio superheroes Category:Fictional orphans Category:1930s American radio programs Category:1940s American radio programs Category:1950s American radio programs Category:Fictional characters introduced in 1936 Category:Green Hornet

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