Monday, October 16, 2017

Longbox Junk - Green Hornet Part 2


GREEN HORNET
(Dynamite)
Part 2: Issues 7 -12

Here we go. . .six more issues of Dynamite's Green Hornet.  Let's do this!

ISSUE 7: THE SON ALSO RISES


Except for a couple of short scenes, this issue doesn't focus on Green Hornet so much as on Britt Reid Jr. as he takes over his father's newspaper and attends a black-tie event where he meets Hirohito Juuma (The Black Hornet) face to face for the first time in a tense, non-costumed confrontation where the battle is fought with veiled words instead of fists. 

The Juumo clan's true motives are also revealed in the unveiling of a secret atomic-powered stealth fighter (that the Juuma clan has the contract to make the guidance system for) that they plan on stealing to sell to the highest bidder.

The art remains predictably fantastic, even in an issue with a lot of talking heads and people sort of standing around at a party. Storywise, I liked the shift away from Green Hornet to Britt Reid Jr. and his public identity. 

Like I said last issue. . .I know there's going to be some drama hitting the fan soon, but a few issues worth of breathing room for the characters to grow a bit is a great choice by the writer.

ISSUE 8: THE STING


Things start rushing toward the finale of the first art (and Smith's movie script) with this issue. All the buildup of the past 7 issues begins to pay off here. . .

Black Hornet attacks the event Britt Reid is attending, leading to the first costumed showdown between Black and Green Hornet and revealing the identity of Black Hornet as Hirohito Juuma. After Black Hornet escapes, he attacks the Hornet's Nest, shooting Kato and capturing Mulan and Green Hornet.

And here's where it goes off the rails a bit. . .the captured heroes are tied to a giant typewriter on top of the Reid newspaper building. After the Black Hornet monologues a bit, revealing his plans to destroy Central City with an atomic bomb, he kills Mayor Scanlon and leaves our heroes to their fate. . .Batman '66 cliffhanger style.

Yeah. . .giant typewriter deathtrap.

That to the side for now, the art in this issue was some of the best yet. It really looked like storyboards for a movie. . .especially the scenes of Mulan fighting ninjas while Green Hornet fought Black Hornet. This is the most badass she's looked yet! 

And really, except for the campy Batman deathtrap, the story was pretty good, with a lot of great moments and touches of humor. Still. . .Giant Typewriter? No bueno.


ISSUE 9: ORPHANS

Okay. . .this was probably the worst issue of the bunch so far, but it's a testament to the creative team that even the worst yet is still pretty damn good.

After Green Hornet and Mulan escape the. . .er. . .giant typewriter deathtrap, most of the issue is a fast-paced, high octane chase through the streets of Century City with Hirohita Juuma losing control of his obsession with the Green Hornet and in pursuit of the Black Beauty at the virtual controls of a stolen steath fighter while his father yells at him to just nuke the city already.

I can kind of tell that if this HAD been made into a movie, this would be a special effects fiesta. . .and probably the worst part of the movie as well. It's the big, bombastic final act that this street-level hero doesn't really need. The art is wonderful, the writing is good, but the whole scene/issue just feels overdone and out of place.

ISSUE 10: IT'S IN THE BLOOD

It's the final confrontation between Green and Black Hornet. . .the final issue of the first arc. . .and Kevin Smith's final issue.

It starts off a with a bit of a groan-worthy moment as it's revealed the Black Beauty has a break-away mini-jet inside it and the jet/car chase becomes an air battle in and out of the skyscrapers of Century City before ending in two crashed planes on Juuma Tower and a Kung-Fu showdown on the roof.

At the end of it all, the Juuma Clan's plans are foiled, Black Hornet falls to his death, and there is a nice quiet finishing scene of Kato and Britt Jr. visiting the grave of Britt Sr. before ending on the New Green Hornet and Kato on the job. Roll Credits.

All in all, except for the overly-bombastic and unnecessary jet combat scenes, this was a fine finish to what would have been a pretty damn good movie.

And if they would have ended the series here, it would have been just as well. . .but there's 32 more issues to go.


ISSUE 11:  LOS HIJOS DE LA MUERTE


In the first post-Kevin Smith arc, things switch up a bit with Phil Hester taking over scripts and Lau on art duties without Hester on breakdowns. . .and you can definitely tell the difference on the art.

Lau's style is still a great fit for this series, but without Hester's contribution, there's. . .something. . .missing. A level of fine detail that really put the art on previous issues completely over the top. It's still great, don't get me wrong. . .just not AS great (and a hell of a lot better than what's to come down the road).

The story revolves around two main events: Green Hornet and Kato discovering a gang that seemingly doesn't fear death and behave in an almost cult-like manner. After they try to assassinate Green Hornet, the team turns the tables and tries to pull a trap of their own that backfires for a cliffhanger at the end with a member throwing himself off a bridge holding Green Hornet.

In the second story thread, Kato Sr. and Clutch decide to head back to Japan in order to defeat the remains of the Juuma Clan before they come looking for revenge over the death of Hirohito Juuma (Black Hornet).

All in all, the writing remains good and there's not much of a difference in transition (so far) between Smith and Hester. The art remains strong, but not AS strong. So far the title is remaining firmly on the rails.

ISSUE 12: UNMASKED

Both the art and story remain strong in this issue, even improving a bit as the second arc gathers a bit of steam.

During their failed ambush of the Los Hijos de la Muerte, Green Hornet is captured by a crooked cop and unmasked as Britt Reid Jr. Lt. Chritton makes Britt an offer he can't refuse. . .he keeps his identity secret and helps keep the cops off the Hornet and in exchange, the Hornet gives him information, good busts, and dirty crime scene loot. Green Hornet and Mulan reluctantly agree to work with him for now. . .

In the second story thread, Kato and Clutch arrive in Japan only to be immediately attacked by the Juuma Clan. After defeating them easily, Kato lets them know he wants a meeting with their leaders.

Elsewhere, Padre Benedicto (leader of Los Hijos de la Muerte) shows a disbelieving gang member that Santo Muerte is real by having her kill him in front of the gang.

Overall, I like the continued quality of this issue and the direction things are heading. The story building up is not quite as cinematic as Smith's, but it's still pretty damn good. . .especially the new complication of the Green Hornet basically being blackmailed into working for a crooked cop.

CONCLUSION

Except for a few stumbles (Giant Typewriter? Eject-A-Jet?) the first 10 issues of Dynamite's Green Hornet are pretty much the Green Hornet movie I would MUCH rather see than Seth Rogan's half-baked attempt. . .which, to be fair, had its good moments, but really didn't respect the legacy of the character.  The second arc is just beginning, but so far so good post Kevin Smith.

Regardless of what happens in issues to come, I would highly suggest the first 10 issues of Green Hornet as some damn fine comic books.  It's a crying shame that Smith's Green Hornet movie never got made.

Up next. . .

More Dynamite Green Hornet.
30 issues to go. . .we're just getting started here, folks.

Be there or be square!