Green Hornet #1
Written by Amy Chu
Art by German Erramouspe and Brittany Pezzillo
Lettering by Tom Napolitano
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Britt Reid, Jr. is missing and Century City needs a protector. Enter the brand-new Green Hornet, an all-new series for the classic pulp hero written by Amy Chu which picks up on threads left over from the previous Kevin Smith-penned run. It has been weeks since the Green Hornet has been spotted on the streets, and the city, along with its criminal element, is starting to notice. But now, Reid’s partner-in-(fighting)-crime Kato and his equally capable daughter Mulan are through waiting on the sidelines as they take up the mantle of the Hornet in order to prove to the streets of Century that the real Green Hornet is back amid a wealth of pretenders. Though Chu’s script spends a bit too much of its time establishing the problems the new duo will be tackling and not enough time showing said actual tackling, Green Hornet #1 is an intriguing opening chapter for this new female-led incarnation of the Sentinel of Century City.
Kato has a lot on his plate as of late. Stock in the paper he was given stewardship of, The Daily Sentinel, is plummeting, readership is at an all-time low, and a shell company is amassing funds aiming for a hostile takeover. But, worst of all, Britt Reid, Jr. has been missing for three weeks and is now presumed dead. In his absence, the city’s criminal element has declared open season on the city now that the Hornet has “lost control” of local crime. Using the springboard of the previous Kevin Smith run, writer Amy Chu does an admirable job of balancing the plot between the more administrative real-world problems that the Hornet has to contend within The Daily Sentinel's offices as well as on the streets; a staple of Green Hornet titles that usually gets lost in the shuffle of kung-fu vigilante action.
Better still, it is wilding refreshing to see not only one Asian-American protagonist take the lead, but two, thanks to Mulan taking on the mantle of the Hornet right next to her wizened but still very capable father. But that said, this debut issue spends too much of its page count setting up these plot points and not really following through on them. Despite the fantastic dynamic Chu taps into between the father and daughter, this debut issue feels more like a zero issue than a real #1. I am all for building a real narrative foundation along with establishing characters, especially in a “legacy” title like this, but I know Amy Chu is a talented enough writer to deploy said foundation and character building in three pages instead of 22.
Building on that point, artists German Erramouspe and Brittany Pezzillo aren’t really given much to do aside from sleek establishing shots of the Hornet’s underground HQ and a quick, kinetic sparring scene between Mulan and Kato. During the latter, the pair gets a dynamic and tightly blocked “audition” piece of sorts made even more eye-grabbing thanks to Pezzillo’s lightly shaded, purple scrimmed lighting; a stylishly marked change from the more noir-influenced Green Hornet runs of the past. The pair then move into a higher gear as the new Hornet and Kato take to the streets in a sleek new Black Beauty in order to shake down the new DIY Green Hornet’s that are running roughshod over the streets. The splashes of various shades of green amongst the glaring streetlamps of neighborhoods and harsh fluorescent lighting of the stores they are robbing offer up well deployed (and much-needed) splashes of the titular verdant hue, but, unfortunately, the team doesn’t quite get the big showcase that their talents and this debut issue really deserves.
Legacy titles are always tricky beasts. They can either play it safe or really go for it, but both directions run the risk of alienating the core audience or, even worse, pushing away potential new readers. Thankfully, this new incarnation of The Green Hornet has enough going for it that it is poised to be one of the more new reader-friendly offerings I’ve experienced with the added bonus of being led by a woefully underrepresented culture in comic books. That said, I just wish Amy Chu, German Erramouspe, and Brittany Pezzillo started off this run strutting a bit more instead of tiptoeing.