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Green Hornet #14

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
When I first heard that Kevin Smith would be writing and developing a new Green Hornet property for Dynamite, my exact thoughts were bleargh. This was the shrewd genius that retroactively added superfluous date rape to the Black Cat's history.

When I flipped through his Green Hornet book, my reaction was unsurprisingly bleargh. Ah, yes, this was the mastermind behind the murder of Silver St. Cloud, a character created by the vastly more talented writer Steve Englehart and legendary Batman artist Marshall Rogers. Thankfully, Kevin Smith is no longer associated with Green Hornet. Phil Hester now steers the Black Beauty, and it's safe to take a fresh look at the latest version of an old hero.

Hester relates a competent narrative. His story reads like a stand-alone, but it's actually the concluding chapter in a longer arc. He quickly (and mostly without exposition) catches up the reader. He efficiently establishes the characters and their roles in the Green Hornet universe.

Hester furthermore supports the Hornet's traditional ruse. The Green Hornet pretends to be a criminal, turning up in dicey situations to collect his cut from any criminal enterprise operating in the city. In actuality, The Hornet and Kato seek to destroy crime by devouring it from the inside out.

A crazed cult -- are there any other kind? -- shot Kato last issue, and Hester opens the story with the Hornet hovering around the ER waiting for word on Kato's condition. The scene's better played than the horrendous medical scenario in Black Widow. The nurse stops the Hornet from bursting into the room and contaminating the area. None of the surgeons open up Kato to play with her intestines, but why on earth do the ER personnel lack gloves? They don't always wear masks, safety glasses and gowns, but they always wear gloves.

As the story progresses, the cops get wind of the Hornet buzzing in the hospital and immediately arrest him. Hester uses a clever means to extricate our hero from the legal obstacle and then winds the Hornet out on a believable anger-fueled campaign of revenge.

Jonathan Lau sells the Hornet's fury through scenes of very painful-looking measures of the Hornet's fists, elbows, knees and feet doing a little more than merely stinging the bad guys. The vivid display of martial arts is in keeping with the Green Hornet television series which was always believably action-based.

In addition to the fight scenes, the creative team orchestrates the Hornet's signature use of the gas gun. Such a moment goes a long way to secure the Green Hornet atmosphere. However, some of the accoutrements in the latest Hornet's arsenal are a little off. His costume is a strange bit of fashion. It's like a suit that wants to become a set of tights, or a set of tights that wants to become a suit. I would have preferred a more classic Green Hornet look. The mask, however, is a good one.

The Black Beauty's redesign wasn't necessary. I don't care if this he's the latest in a legacy, the Green Hornet should be driving the classic car. It works in every era beyond its starting point. The Hornet's headquarters is too similar to the Batcave. I would have preferred something subtler. In the television series, the Hornet depended on a variety of clever devices secreted among Britt Reid's residences, and when you think about it, most devices in the real world serve a dual purpose. Phones have become miniature computers. Computers can also tune into streaming television. Game systems can download movies. The Batcomputer is the most sophisticated system on the planet and needed for Batman's crusade against crime, but the Hornet can be a little modern.

While it's plausible that the Hornet would swear in his current emotional state, I found Hester's use of masked profanity distracting and unnecessary. "C'mon you hunk of $#&%" would have worked better as "C'mon you hunk of--" "I thought you'd never %@#$ing ask" could easily have been edited to "I thought you'd never ask," and carry greater impact. The %@#$ing undermines the severity of the situation. Still, it's less profane than Smith's work, and now that he has left the title, Green Hornet bears watching.

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