This new ten part series is adapted from Kevin Smith’s unused screenplay for a “Green Hornet” movie. That’s all you need to know before going into this first issue, because it explains the structure of the story well. This first issue opens in the past, with the Green Hornet’s “last mission,” before jumping to the future and the obvious “next generation” Green Hornet introductions. Smith adapts his screenplay for the comic book medium well, not just stopping the story in the middle of the screenplay because that’s where the comic book ends. Having an extra couple of pages — the final story runs 24 pages long — is a help, too, I’m sure. In the end, “Green Hornet” #1 is a satisfying chunk of story.
Smith is best known for his movie dialogue, and often docked for his directorial skill in action. The comic book format plays well to that. So long as Smith can keep the dialogue and scripting light enough to prevent it from getting in the way, he can maximize his strengths. And with the action part of the comic directed by the artist — in this case, laid out by veteran Phil Hester — Smith’s weakest skills are glossed over by someone who can punch it up well. The angles on Hornet tend to be heroic up shots. The drawings of the crime families are often askew, taken at a slight angle, a la the Batman TV series villains. I’m not sure if that trick originated there, but it’s one that’s been repeated so often since that it’s common comic book vernacular.
Jonathan Lau’s final art has enough detail to keep from being cheap looking, and enough excitement in it to cover up any shortcomings — some background characters hold guns awkwardly, for instance. Hester’s layouts occasionally become a bit distracting, with characters bleeding out of panel and panels floating oddly above other panels’ sides. As distracting as I can sometimes find that to be, it never makes the story difficult to read.
In “Green Hornet” #1, the big action scene begins with a single line of focus, but winds up being told quickly in a series of almost staccato panels, mirroring the rhythm and feel of so many movies today that rely on quick cuts to bring the audience the feel of action without necessarily showing much choreography. Hester keeps everything easy to follow while varying the page layouts. Lau fills everything in without
The final look of the book works in large part due to the coloring of Ivan Nunes, who works a softer color palette with a textured feel to it. The classic action scenes feel warmer and almost nostalgic. The scenes in present day become a little cooler, more sterile, complete with more white space.
There’s one scene after the action part that sets up the future that is the book’s weakest point. It’s overrun with Smith dialogue for a couple of pages, and kicks off with an unbelievable action taken by the Green Hornet’s wife. So long as you can suspend your disbelief for a second that she would do such a thing, then you’ll be OK. I have zero knowledge of The Green Hornet before reading this comic. If Hornet’s wife has some history of doing things like that, then go ahead and mentally add an extra star to this review.
Overall, though, “Green Hornet” #1 is an enjoyable popcorn movie read, especially for someone with no familiarity with the character. It has a nice ending before its beginning, some decent eye candy, and a light-hearted moment or three. It doesn’t feel like an adapted work, because it fits into the comic book format wonderfully. I hope the issues adapting the second act of the movie do as well. That will be the test of this series.