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The Green Hornet
The Green Hornet cover
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 a fictional character 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. The franchise is currently owned by Green Hornet, Inc., who license the property across a wide variety of media that includes comics, films, tv shows, radio and books. The comic book rights are currently licensed out to DC Comics and Dynamite Entertainment.[2]

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. But by night Reid dons the long green overcoat, green fedora hat and green mask of the mysterious "Green Hornet" 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". Though both the police and the general public believe the Hornet to be a criminal, Reid capitalizes on that perception to help him infiltrate the underworld, leaving behind criminals and any incriminating evidence found for the police.

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,[3] and gave him one adventure in each of two issues of All-New Comics, #13 (where he was also featured on the cover)[4] and #14,[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] 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."[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] Its first release was a miniseries written by Kevin Smith with pencils by Jonathan Lau.[14][15] 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.[16]

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.[17]

DC Comics

Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman said in March 2014 they were collaborating on a crossover title, Batman 66 meets the Green Hornet.[18]

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."[19]

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".

References

  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. http://www.webcitation.org/5vQ3tkUsM. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  2. "The Official Website of The Green Hornet". The Green Hornet, Inc.. http://thegreenhornet.com/licenseeinformation.html. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  3. War Victory Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  4. All-New Comics #13 at the Grand Comics Database
  5. All-New Comics #14 at the Grand Comics Database
  6. Four Color #496 at the Grand Comics Database
  7. The Green Hornet at the Grand Comics Database. Accessed 2010-12-25.
  8. Murray, Will (October 1989). "Where Hornets Swarm". Comics Scene (Starlog Communications International, Inc) (9): 41. 
  9. Piron, Diane (w). "The Buzz Word (letter column)" The Green Hornet 13 (November 1990), NOW Comics
  10. The Green Hornet #11 (September 1991)
  11. Dark Tomorrow at the Grand Comics Database
  12. Weis, Joan (w). "The Buzz Word (letter column)" The Green Hornet v2, 9 (May 1992), NOW Comics
  13. "Dynamite Lands Green Hornet Comic Book License". Newsarama. March 31, 2009. http://www.newsarama.com/comics/090331-green-hornet-dynamite-comic-books.html. 
  14. Bernardin, Marc (May 13, 2009). "EW Exclusive: Kevin Smith takes on Batman and the Green Hornet". Entertainment Weekly. http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/05/13/kevin-smith-com/. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  15. Green Hornet, Dynamite Entertainment, 2010 Series at the Grand Comics Database
  16. "Nitz Separates 'Green Hornet: Parallel Lives'". Comic Book Resources. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=26322. Retrieved 2010-12-25. 
  17. "Masks". www.comicvine.com. 2013. http://www.comicvine.com/masks/4050-54311/. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  18. Clicking on the link on this page will redirect to Wikipedia's The Green Hornet article. Template:Cite video
  19. Weis, Joan (w). "Buzz Word (letter column)" The Green Hornet v2, 36 (August 1994), NOW Comics (letter from Timothy E. Jones)

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

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