CCI: Comic Character Investigation #281 décembre 2012
[ENGLISH] This month: Green Hornet. Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.
The Sudden Sting of The Green Hornet!
One of the most unique superheroes to the genre, The Green Hornet crept into the comic world almost while we weren’t looking (he does that with crooks too) and he made his way into TV too in a big way. If one has had the chance to watch the green-clad hero jump into his dark crime-fighting car, stylishly named Black Beauty, accompanied by his partner Kato (who true fanboys of both comics and martial arts will know was played by the incomparable Bruce Lee), then they have had good fortune come their way. The Green Hornet TV series which ran for only one season and 26 episodes was far more serious than the paralleling Batman of the 1960’s. While Batman played to the kiddies, GH seemed to be looking for an older, more “real-world” demographic. Van Williams, who played the lead very smoothly played the character seriously both as the Hornet and his alter ego. Meanwhile Japanese viewers were so taken with Bruce Lee’s pro-active physical stunts they were calling it the Kato show (but I digress, back to the Hornet…)
He was created by George W. Trendle. GH was first introduced into that “theatre of the mind” known as radio back in the 1930’s with most of the episodes written by Fran Striker. His alter ego was Britt Reed and while he wasn’t fighting crime he was sitting at the head desk of The Daily Sentinel putting out the latest news. An appropriate position for who better to know all the crime going on in town than the publisher of a major newspaper?
The Hornet liked to infiltrate criminal organizations posing as a criminal himself and weed out the bad guys from the inside. Sporting a mostly green costume (a hat and overcoat), wearing a surgical mask carrying the emblem of a hornet and wearing a yellow scarf, his carried his weapon of choice, a gas gun. Kato was his driver but really was also his crime-fighting partner and usually wore black and goggles and was a kung fu master. Other supporting cast included his secretary named Lenore Case, his editor at the paper Gunnigan and a former cop, Mike Axford.
The Green Hornet’s initial comic run was from 1940 until 1949 and ran 47 issues. These took place in the titles Green Hornet Comics and All New Comics. The publishers were Helnit/Holyoke and the better-known Harvey Comics. Fran Striker wrote all of these using some of the radio shows as source material for the comic fans eager to see what kind of “sting” operation the Green Hornet was going to be running next.
Some very familiar names worked on art for the hero including Irwin Hasen, Irv Novick, and the late, great creator of the Joker, Jerry Robinson. Arturo Cazeneuve, Al Avison, Bert Whitman and Lee Elias also produced art for the Hornet adventures. Al Avison was the primary artist for the issues at Harvey Comics with Alex Schomburg also contributing covers to the series who must also be noted. Perhaps the most noticeable artistic contribution was from Jack Kirby who drew the cover of issue #9 at Harvey.
Later incarnations of the hero included a one-shot from Dell Comics in 1953 with art by Frank Thorne and in the 80’s the late Now Comics brought him back once again. He currently is enjoying a presence at Dynamite Comics, a company which has resurrected a lot of lesser-known
There’s been a movie some years ago and doubtless another one will come out sooner or later for a mass audience that always craves more superheroes, and the more classic the better. Because for any generation to not have the chance to see Kato kicking ass? To not see the Green Hornet in action in any form, whether it be in movies, on TV, or especially in comics?
Now that would sting.
James Parducci (www.jparducci.blogspot.com) is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.