One of the main characters dies in this issue. But, you already knew that, because Dynamite has hyped up that fact pretty heavily and, as we all know, death is a good way to get eyeballs. Except this death doesn’t necessarily warrant it since it’s so obvious within the structure of the story that Kevin Smith is telling that even the preview pages imply who the unlucky character is. The death happens so soon into the issue that it’s impossible to discuss this issue without revealing which character dies, so be warned that I will be discussing that in this review.
Jonathan Lau is a suitable artist to this comic. His manga-influenced style has some clean lines, but the cross-hatching sometimes overwhelming the art somewhat. Underneath it all, his characters are drawn well, often in motion with a lot of energy. Lau is at his best when his characters are in action since his art has a very dynamic feel to it. Where he falters are in the emotional elements of the book, unable to really capture anything except one or two basic feelings on the characters faces. Worse than that, Lau overdraws the book, adding too much cross-hatching and shading to bury his solid figures under a mess of lines. It doesn’t help that Ivan Nunes’ colors work too hard at giving the characters three dimensions, something that works better with photorealistic artists, not someone as stylized as Lau where the drawing and coloring are at odds.
While Lau overdraws the book, that goes well with Kevin Smith’s overwriting in the form of overwrought, painful narrative captions that are too over-the-top. In the build-up to the death of Britt Reid, the original Green Hornet, Smith piles captions upon captions on the page to somehow give this event more meaning, but it makes the death almost comical. He writes of how Reid came home each night after fighting crime as the Green Hornet because of his wife, which is a nice sentiment, but the Green Hornet most people know was single, so it lacks the punch Smith is going for.
The death of Reid leaves his son angry and confused, and in the perfect place for his hero’s journey. The previous issues have established that Britt Reid, Jr. is a spoiled jerk, so the death of his father is meant to turn him around and make him learn something important. This is a story that we’ve seen a million times before and there’s nothing new here. Even the return of an old friend of the senior Reid isn’t a surprise since it happens right on cue to send the younger Reid on the path that we all know he’s going to wind up on.
Mixed in with this cliched story are some nice small moments. The confidence with which the elder Britt Reid confronts the Black Hornet is in character and he holds his own well. His death makes sense within the context of the scene. And Smith manages to blend in the idea that the younger Reid didn’t know anything about his father’s history of the Green Hornet well, even when it seems impossible not to see.
“Green Hornet” #3 is just another issue in this story that will see Britt Reid, Jr. step into his father’s shoes and take up the mantle of the Hornet, his father’s death the requisite tragedy to make it happen. It’s a little clucky and cliched, but the art is dynamic in places and the issue ends on a cute joke.