Since the announcement last spring that they would bring the soon-to-be-big screen superhero the Green Hornet back to comics under the pen of film director Kevin Smith, Dynamite Entertainment has been teasing a second series starring the famed radio and TV character. Today, the publisher kicked off the 2009 Baltimore Comic-Con this weekend with the announcement of that promised series: “Green Hornet: Year One” from writer/cover artist Matt Wagner and interior artist Aaron Campbell.
Though Wagner has brought his talents to the Eisner-winning relaunch of “Zorro” at Dynamite, publisher Nick Barrucci explained that the creator did not pitch him on tackling the origin tale of newspaper publisher turned crime fighter Britt Reid…at least not directly. “Matt had a real passion for the Green Hornet,” Barrucci told CBR News before the show. “I discovered this at Wizard World Texas last year when we did a panel, and he mentioned how he would love to be involved with the Green Hornet. We were still working on the contract so I couldn’t discuss it at the time. Once we got the rights, signed the contract and had Kevin Smith in line, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have someone of Matt Wagner’s caliber tell the story of “Year One”?’
“He loves the Green Hornet, loves the original Britt Reid, and once we got into the conversation, he was really hyped about doing the origin story. It’s just a perfect marriage. You’ve got one of the most respected creators in comics writing one of the most classic characters in comics. It’s fantastic, and it’s a ‘Year One’ story like you’ve never seen before. Matt has been really incredible at nailing the essence of the character while still making it accessible to a modern audience. He’s fantastic.”
Campbell was last seen penciling Dynamite’s “The Trial of Sherlock Holmes,” and Barrucci noted, “Matt really enjoyed his artwork on that series, and they compliment each other so well. It’s definitely going to be a great, gritty style. Not over the top gritty, but it’s going to have enough of the elements of the original Green Hornet while, again, still making it cool for a modern audience.”
One thing that won’t be modern per se is the setting as “Year One” will remain a period piece set in the 1930s when the character was invented by radio writer Fran Striker, and will feature original crime-busting pair Britt Reid and Kato. “Without getting too far into it, you’re going to find out how they found each other, and you’re going to have some nice Easter Eggs in there.”
As for whether or not those Easter Eggs would feature Western hero The Lone Ranger, Barrucci remained coy. Although, both characters share the same creator and the connection that in the original radio serials, the Hornet was the great-grandson of the Ranger’s nephew. At this year’s Chicago Comic-Con, the question of whether Dynamite had plans to cross the two characters over now that they’ll be publishing both was breached with Barrucci saying, “To a degree, we’re going to be allowed to [cross them over], but it’s two separate licensors…it’s something that we have to get both licensors’ approval to do that we’re going to hopefully eventually get done. There is a story to be told. It’s ‘When will we be able to tell it?’ Let us build a little bit of attention around the Green Hornet when we launch him as a character.”
The publisher noted how in Dynamite’s “Lone Ranger” #17, John Reid’s nephew investigated a hornet’s nest as a tease of the connection that hasn’t been explored since the rights to the Ranger were sold off decades ago. Wagner also explained then that, “If you think about it: they both wear masks. They both operate outside the law. They both have an ethnic sidekick. They both have a special means of transportation that’s named after a color. It’s pretty much the same character in different time zones, which is damn cool.”
Check back to CBR later this week for a full Q&A with Matt Wagner about his plans for “Green Hornet: Year One!”