With a slew of new series by writers like Kevin Smith, Phil Hester and Matt Wagner and a hit feature film starring Seth Rogen, it seems like Green Hornet fans have entered a golden age of Hornetmania, and the original dynamic duo of Green Hornet and Kato show no signs of stopping just yet. This April, Dynamite Entertainment releases “Green Hornet: Aftermath,” the official follow-up to the recently released big screen adventure, giving fans an extended stay with the newest iteration of the Green Hornet and Kato.
Putting his storytelling prowess to the page is veteran Green Hornet-verse writer Jai Nitz. The newest writer on “Green Hornet: Year One,” Nitz also penned “Kato: Origins” and the movie prequel “Green Hornet: Parallel Lives,” which tackled the events leading up to the feature film. Now, Nitz is back and ready to show fans the film’s fallout in “Aftermath.”
The writer spoke with CBR News on extending the movie’s story in comics form, his many writing responsibilities thus far in the Green Hornet-verse, how “Aftermath” relates to his previous prequel and why fans should get pumped about this new era of Green Hornet adventures.
CBR News: Jai, what can you tell us about the origins of “Aftermath”?
Jai Nitz: “Green Hornet: Aftermath” is a sequel to the Seth Rogen movie, brought to you by me and Nigel Raynor. Dynamite was pleased with what we did on Green Hornet: Parallel Lives (the official prequel to the movie) and the movie did really well, so they wanted to follow it up with a sequel. We just got the band back together.
“Aftermath” is a direct sequel to the Green Hornet feature film, which begs the question, what did you think about the movie?
I went and saw it with a film critic buddy of mine. He and I both have high expectations because we both went to film school and we’re both writers. We both enjoyed it because it was a fun and funny action film that didn’t have many gaping plot holes or logic problems. It was also well-acted and beautifully directed. Michel Gondry took what could have been a standard masked-action-hero script and made it something special. Seth Rogen and Jay Chou gave it a lot of heart and kept the characters front and center the whole time. I loved it.Â
Can folks who have never seen the film jump into this series without seeing the movie first?
Absolutely. I give a few nods to the movie in the “Aftermath” script, but they’re more Easter Eggs than central plot points. If you’ve seen the movie, you might get a better understanding of the script here or there. But the movie is not required viewing to enjoy my comic book story.Â
This is one of the few Hornet comics Dynamite has released that directly relates to the recent Seth Rogen film, the other being “Parallel Lives,” which you also wrote. How do you plan to merge aspects of these projects into “Aftermath?”
I’m using characters from both the movie and from “Parallel Lives” in “Aftermath.” If you watched the movie, you’d want to know what happened to Character X, so I try to cover that. Also, the story called for some additional fleshing out of Kato, so I drew from the set up of “Parallel Lives” to do that.Â
When you spoke about “Parallel Lives,” published before the movie, you mentioned that it was easy to get into the voices of the characters as portrayed by Seth Rogen and Jay Chou. Now that the movie has been released, has your approach to the characters changed at all?
I wish people would go read “Parallel Lives” again after seeing the film. I think more people would “get” it because they’d see how faithful I was to the movie and the voices of the characters before I ever saw the film. That’s a harder highwire act than some people realize. The good news for me as a writer is, I can shorthand a few things now because Nigel and the reader both know more about the world thanks to the film.Â
At this point, you’re a veteran of the Green Hornet universe, wearing a number of hats and penning quite a few versions of Britt Reid and Kato. How do you feel this has challenged you as a writer?
I think it’s been good for me. The movie and “Parallel Lives” Kato acts and reacts differently than the “Green Hornet: Year One” Kato. It’s good to write both of them and establish the understanding that they are not the same. That way, I force myself to try harder as a writer. There’s nothing lazier than when every character sounds the same in every story you write. To me, they aren’t the same, so they can’t sound the same. And like you said, I’ve been writing Kato for “Parallel Lives” and “Kato Origins,” now I’m really writing Green Hornet for “Aftermath” and “Green Hornet: Year One,” so I’m having the same experience all over again. I’m trying to get better with every page — I just hope it shows.
In the same vein, which iteration of the Green Hornet and Kato is your favorite?
I like the challenge of writing the “Golden Age” versions with proper dialogue and mood. That’s really hard. Have you ever read the Onion book “Our Dumb Century” that shows the front page of the Onion for 100 years? Each year is written in the journalistic style of the year it represents. Do you know how hard that is? Holy cow! I’m faced with the same challenges when writing Green Hornet and Kato set in the late thirties and early forties. But that also makes it liberating when I get to cut loose and write Green Hornet and Kato from the movie. That way I can use modern dialogue and modern technology and not have to worry if the audience understands what a 1940s telephone operator does, or what a secretary pool is.Â
When we spoke about “Parallel Lives,” you mentioned your fencing teacher’s theory about Gandalf the Grey beginning as Gandalf the Black and how it informed your choice of plot for the movie prequel. Now that you’re writing the follow up, can we expect the metaphor to continue? Will we be seeing the Gandalf the White Green Hornet?
That’s the goal. Characters have to grow and change to be interesting. Britt is kind of a dope when the movie starts and matures into a better person by the end. Why would he quit growing? He has so much left to learn, so I try to exploit that in the story. Also, Kato is terribly interesting. We like to watch him fight and we want to know what he’s going to do next, so letting him cut loose is also fun. What is next for these characters? That’s the magic question.
Let’s talk about the characters for a second. We know about Green Hornet and Kato and the evil they had to face down in the film — what kind of dangers and villains do you have lined up for the duo in “Aftermath?”
Green Hornet and Kato had lots of antagonists in the movie. They had to overcome the ghost of James Reid, Chudnofsky, the police, the District Attorney, and themselves and their own shortcomings. I’ve amped up the levels of antagonism. What if the police get more sophisticated in catching them? What if crooks get more violent? What if the Feds get involved? What if other people decide to put on costumes and get some justice? Like you said before, I’m extending the metaphor of growth into my sequel.Â
The biggest challenge was writing a sequel to a movie that I hadn’t seen (but I had read the screenplay). I was writing “Aftermath” before the movie came out. But that challenge was completely alleviated by my great, behind-the-scenes team at Dynamite. Joe Rybandt, our editor, gave us enough lead time for me to go back and make tweaks to the dialogue to make it ring true based on the movie. It also helped that I was re-teamed with the amazing Nigel Raynor. We had a ball working on “Parallel Lives” together and now we’re really finding a groove. “Aftermath,” out of the gate, is better than “Parallel Lives” was because Nigel and I have chemistry.Â
Again, as a fan of Green Hornet, what do you think other fans should get pumped about?
Get pumped that the movie did so well. You’re going to see more Green Hornet in the future. Whether it’s the comics by me, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Matt Wagner, Brett Matthews and others, or whether it’s on the big screen (crossing fingers). Get pumped that the creators of the Green Hornet (all iterations) at Dynamite are as good as any in the business, and Green Hornet is as good as any comic on the shelves. Green Hornet comics either stunk or didn’t exist for a long time. Get pumped and be glad that you’re seeing a true Golden Age icon getting the resurgence he deserves.