Green Hornet is turning up all over the comics world at the moment. With the new movie starring Seth Rogan coming out in December 2010, a lot of people are showing renewed interest in the costumed crimefighter.
Matt Wagner is known for his gritty writing and his equally stunning art. He's handled the Sandman Mystery Theatre and Batman with equal ease, and created Mage and Grendel. One of the things that he did was an alternate history of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman that I loved big-time.
Wagner takes the reins of the first Green Hornet, Britt Reid, and sets the story in the halcyon days of the 1930s, when the Green Hornet radio program first aired. I love the period piece he's working with because it's such a big difference from the Green Hornet Kevin Smith is currently writing.
This first issue has a lot of the old pulp style storytelling in it, except for the movie-style flashbacks that unveil the young years of Britt Reid and Kato. Those scenes kind of choke down the pacing a little, but they're well worth it to provide a current story (in the 1930s) as well as the origin of the character.
The arc seems to be a straightforward "origin" story, but Aaron Campbell's edgy art really brings the period to light. The gangster toughs look like bad news, and the backdrop, especially the train station, look great. I especially like the depiction of the Black Beauty as a roadster with suicide doors. Really matches the fedora the Hornet wears.
Wagner sets up the relationship between the two sons and their fathers really well. Both boys are expected to follow in their father's footsteps, but they can't. Kato's decision to join the Japanese military against his father's wishes
was especially compelling. (And it's interesting to note that Kato's nationality drifted across borders during the long history of the character, matching political climates.)
I'm really enjoying what Wagner's done so far, but I can't wait to see what he's doing to bring our two heroes together for the first time. Britt is off to see the world and Kato is in the Japanese army. World War II is right around the corner, so I'm betting some military action brings them together. Hopefully the next issue will reveal that.
I'll be picking up the graphic novel of Green Hornet Year One when it comes out because I'll want to tuck in and read the story again in a single sitting. Wagner plays to his strength with period pieces, and I'm betting this one will be a winner.