The Green Hornet is one of modern comicdom’s most easily over looked characters and the mediocre 2011 Green Hornet movie, penned and starring Seth Rogen hasn’t done much to remedy the situation. With this in mind I was quite intrigued to pick up Kevin Smith’s 10 issue run on the hornet for Dynamite Entertainment. The 10 issue mini-series, now collected into two hard cover volumes, brings to life Smith’s forgotten script for a Green Hornet film he wrote and was booked to direct before he ‘pussed out’ (his words not mine) fearing he lacked the directing chops to pull it off. Unsurprisingly the mini-series reads like a movie with each issue feeling like an awkward segment rather than a complete part of a larger story. To me this immediately begged the question of why Dynamite didn’t just release it as a complete graphic novel instead of 10 parts? Which brings me to another question: Does anyone actually read Dynamite?
Cynicism aside, Smith’s 10 issue run is a complete story arc set its own cinematic universe providing you with a nice feeling of closure when you put down the last issue. Smith’s Hornet plays out very much like an origin story as playboy Britt Reid Jr. is thrust into the role of Green Hornet after his father’s brutal murder by the masked villain known as The Black Hornet. Mentored by an elderly Kato and aided on the streets by his daughter Mulan, Britt employs a range of Batman-esque gadgets to wage war on organised crime in Century city.
For those not familiar with the Green Hornet, the character started life in the 1930′s in radio plays as a green costumed vigilante, posing as a criminal in order to take down organised crime from the inside. Although Smith is reasonably true to the original premise, it’s nice to see him take some artistic liberties in altering the Hornet’s back story a little bit, such as by making it a mantle passed down from father to son and introducing a young female Kato. The story is also teeming with Smith’s trademark sense of humour which is a big plus but unfortunately one of the series few redeeming qualities.
What lets this book down is that it is painfully formulaic and predictable. Everything from the father and son conflict between Britt and his father to the apparently obligatory kung fu training montage reeks of ‘I’ve seen this before’. There is no doubt in my mind that this story would have made a better movie then it does comic, although I’m not sure if it would have been any better than Rogen’s 2011 Green Hornet film.
Phil Hester brings a solid and constant level of art to the book but it just isn’t enough to redeem Smith’s average storyline. That said I was relived to see that this book didn’t suffer from ‘the wall of text’ that has plagued Smith’s previous comics (namely his run on Daredevil). The sad irony is that for someone who loves and is so passionate about comics, Kevin Smith really isn’t great at writing them.