Writer: Kevin Smith; Illustrated by Phil Hester (Breakdowns) and Jonathan Lau (Pencils); Colored by Ivan Nunes; Lettered by Simon Bowland; Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
This will be a tough review because I am a huge fan of Kevin Smith’s films, and I’ve enjoyed (though not fanatically) his work in comics. It’s doubly challenging because I’ve always liked the Green Hornet as a character, though I’ve never been as immersed in him as I have other pulp heroes such as Doc Savage or The Shadow. However, I have friends and colleagues who are much more versed in GH minutiae than myself, some of whom have written Hornet pastiche fiction of their own recently. The general consensus among those aforementioned friends was that when they read Kevin Smith’s take on the Green Hornet, they were rather chagrined. Phrases like “total garbage” and “that Smith guy just doesn’t get it” are things I often hear bandied about on my friends’ blogs and group posts. The fact that the Green Hornet film starring Seth Rogen as Britt Reid (the Hornet’s real identity) was almost universally reviled by fans of the Hornet and Rogen alike didn’t create much of an an atmosphere of hope. After the Rogen debacle, another comedic maven of pop culture putting their fingerprints on this much-loved character was tantamount to heresy by GH aficionados.
After finally reading issue # 1 of Smith’s series (which was adapted from the aborted GH film that Smith was originally slated to direct several years ago), I sadly have to say that my reactions mirrored those of the already incensed Hornet buffs. While I found the art to be quite excellent, the script was somewhat of a non-starter for me. The Green Hornet and Kato in action in the first part of this issue appear to be the 1960s versions of the characters that appeared in the TV series starring Van Williams as the Hornet and then-rising star Bruce Lee as Kato.
The premise, such as it is, of this series seems to the retirement of Britt Reid, and the implication of this issue’s ending is that Britt Reid’s son will don the Hornet mantle in this series. While I have no problem with this premise, per se, the way that Smith handles Britt’s, um, intimate view (a rather bad pun if you’ve read the issue) of his offspring is just tacky. If it were Jay and Silent Bob rather than Reid Jr. and Sr., respectively, it would probably work for me the way most of Smith’s scatological humor does. But in this milieu, it’s just borderline creepy.
The art, as noted above, is excellent, and the digitally painted coloring by Ivan Nunes is especially outstanding. On the whole though, although it boasts some very pretty pictures, Kevin Smith’s take on the legendary duo is not satisfying or very memorable. It may just be the simple fact that a follower of a character is not always suited to, or able to, write that character in his or her own style. If I find myself in a particularly masochistic mood, I may check out issue two if only out of sheer morbid curiosity to see how Britt Jr. dons the mask and trench of his famed father.