Green Hornet Strikes! #1
Scripted by Brett Matthews
Art by Ariel Padilla
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by George Marston
I am a Green Hornet fan. While certainly not the fount of knowledge that I am on some of my favorite characters and properties, I am familiar with the Green Hornet, and familiar with the tone, and the overarching character concept. Going in to Green Hornet Strikes! my only real understanding of the book was that it is a sort of "ultimate" take on the character; taking the name, most basic concept, and themes, and running them in a whole new direction. Needless to say, I was curious, if a bit skeptical as to how things would play out. My (minor) pedigree with the character aside, one of the great things about the "pulp characters" as Green Hornet and many creations from his era are often called, is that they have been interpreted over and over again with enough different facets that when an experiment like this comes along, it's easy to swallow. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with the pulpy tone of what some would consider a pretty radical update on the character. Unfortunately, some inconsistency with the storytelling made the whole affair seem a little underwhelming.
The book opens with two thugs discussing the origin of some suspicious sounds they are hearing in the office building they are guarding, which we know to be the Green Hornet making his way inside. Right off the bat, things feel a little weird. The dialogue is a bit stilted, and there is some questionable placement of word balloons that makes it appear that the thugs have switched opinions halfway through the conversation. I am willing to bet this is an error, and not scripter Brett Matthews (no plotter for this book was credited) being sloppy. Either way, it set the tone for the rest of the book which felt, quite simply, incidental. The rest of the issue consists of the titular hero infiltrating the building, interspersed with flashbacks of a man who is supposed to be old (though the art doesn't quite convey his age) entering the same office building, and revealing himself as the Green Hornet to his nemesis who I guess owns the building in exchange for money. The juxtaposition was interesting, and was clearly intended to build some suspense surrounding the identity of the new Green Hornet, but no connection or clues are given to generate a moment of realization for the reader, and without any build up, the issue doesn't grip the reader as it should.
On the plus side, the new Green Hornet character is quirky and interesting, or at least more than I expected. Judging solely on the character design and excited title of the book, I was expecting a very quippy, almost Spider-Man like take on the character, but that's not really the comparison I would make here. He seems almost insular, maybe even a little scizophrenic, spitting out one or two word blurbs more than puns or catchphrases. He's also not unwilling to get a little rough with the multitude of gadgets he employs, which paints a picture of a hero who's maybe a little unhinged. Sadly, the situation he's placed in doesn't quite deliver, and the story seems less like a debut issue, and more like a preview of the actual story at hand. There's very little resolution, and only the slightest hint of a hook. The book ends with a cliffhanger, but one that's kind of a yawn.
As far as the art goes, I must say, I like Ariel Padilla's work much better than a lot of the stuff coming out of Dynamite. The moody shadows coupled with the almost cartoonish characters actually go quite nicely together, and the work is reminiscent of Jason Pearson, or some of the better parts of Scott McDaniel. If there is any downfall, it is that sometimes things aren't quite as visually explicit as they ought to be. The character in the flashback sequences that is often referred to as "old man" doesn't really look very old at all. Further, the visual portrayal of the villain seems inconsistent at best. It's like the artist is deft when it comes to actually committing art to paper, but isn't good at building a visual language for the book.
Overall, Green Hornet Strikes! delivers a character that is removed enough from his predecessor to feel justified and interesting, but places him in a situation that comes off as incidental rather than essential. If this was an FCBD free preview issue, I'd probably be on board for more, but as it stands, there just wasn't enough substance in this first issue to make me feel like I've gotta get back to shelves for the next issue.