The “heroes posing as villains” partnership embodied by the Green Hornet and Kato may date back to the Golden Age of radio dramas, but that doesn’t mean the characters haven’t continued to receive a 21st Century facelift at Dynamite Entertainment. While the publisher launched a new “Green Hornet” ongoing this year under writer Mark Waid, its original eponymous series featuring Britt Reid has continued as “Green Hornet Legacy” by writer Jai Nitz and artist Jethro Morales.
After that, issues #38 and 39 will ramp up the villain side of this world with the return of femme fatale Nikki Stripez and the debut of underground fight club kingpin El Gato Rojo. “El Gato Rojo and Nikki Stripez both came from me getting the chance to expand the Green Hornet universe on a highwire,” the writer said. “We thought ‘Green Hornet Legacy’ was going to get cancelled when Mark Waid took over the Golden Age ‘Green Hornet.’ So the zombie story was going to be my last hurrah. Then I was given one more issue, then another. So I was writing a bunch of one-and-done stories not knowing which one would be my last. Then we got the word that we’d be continuing for the foreseeable future and I needed to have a plan. Through a bunch of dumb luck, every story I’d written fit into a tapestry that pretty much said everything I wanted to say about Green Hornet. So now I’m writing with the long term in mind and still crafting a bunch of fun one-and-done stories that will culminate in all the storylines and loose threads getting tied together.
“It will seem like I knew what I was doing from the beginning when you read all my issues back to back, but I just lucked out. I just turned in an issue with and can’t wait to start the next one. I love cranking this book up to 11 and getting to do my spin on popular comics that I enjoy like ‘Walking Dead’ and ‘Kick-Ass.’ Throw in a Mexican MMA anti-hero and a sexy/deadly supervillainess and I’m in hog heaven.”
Of course, costumed threats are only one of the issues left dangling in the upcoming issues. Reid also has to figure out exactly what his relationship will be with Mulan Kato — his partner/lover. “One of my first decisions I made as a writer was to solve the whole would-they-or-wouldn’t-they question between Britt and Mulan. The idea of the hero having sex with his sidekick is salacious and taboo. So I wanted them to hook up; it isn’t the best decision for either of them, but who makes the best choices when it comes to the heart and naughty bits? Then, once they had, the world came down around them. So know Britt is beaten almost to death and Mulan is presumed dead. Then Britt comes back, has time to mourn/adjust, and meets a sexy supervillainess. Again, a superhero having raunchy sex with a supervillain is salacious and taboo. It isn’t exactly a recipe for success and happiness, but who cares? We’ve all fallen for the wrong person for the right reasons. Green Hornet is no different than the rest of us.
Ultimately, there has been a gray area at work in the “Legacy” series of late that will factor into everything right down to the Easter Eggs Nitz has thrown in such as an appearance by “Game of Thrones” show runner David Benioff’s novel “City of Thieves.” “I don’t read very much prose fiction anymore,” the writer explained of the nod. “There are some notable exceptions (Michael Chabon, Alex Grecian, etc.) but Benioff’s ‘City of Thieves’ is one of my favorite books. The title of the book was a play on that particular Green Hornet storyline where there were lots of supervillains moving into the vacuum of power in Century City. There was a literal city of thieves. But I also love the plot of the book and the ironic loss in depicts. I’d love to make a comic half as impactful as Benioff. He’s one of those rare heroes of mine that I’ll probably never meet. Too bad. Love that guy.”
But Nitz’s journey continues apace as this week also sees the release of “Dream Thief” #1 — his creator-owned Dark Horse project. The writer said that the projects stand on their own, but ultimately both start the same way. “The parameters are the same: 22 pages, write to the artist’s strengths, entertain the reader. But the differences can be monumental,” he said. “With ‘Green Hornet’ I get the crutch that the reader already knows who the characters are and how they behave. But that crutch works against me that I can’t repeat the stories or the emotional notes that previous writers have hit. If I do that, I’m cheating the reader out of his/her money, and that’s not cool. I don’t want to give people something they’ve read before. That carries over to a creator-owned book like ‘Dream Thief.’ I want to give readers a story they’ve never heard before. But also, there are challenges to telling people a new story. I have to lay a lot of groundwork while retaining clarity and entertaining the reader.
“James Ellroy spoke to my screenwriting class at KU. He told me that instead of writing what you know, you should write what you want to read. Because what you know can be boring, but what you want to read is always exciting to you. You can’t worry about writing for this group or that guy; you should write for an audience of one — yourself. If you write what you want to read, your audience will always be entertained. I don’t know if that’s myopic or the best advice I’ve ever received. The proof will be in ‘Dream Thief.'”
CBR Staff Writer Daniel Glendening contributed to this story.