This February, the Green Hornet faces his greatest enemy yet: The Green Hornet. In “Green Hornet” #25, Dynamite Entertainment and series writer Ande Parks pits Hornet against Hornet for the featured battle of the “Outcast” storyline. Alongside artist Igor Vitorino, Parks makes Britt Reid face his impostor in a fight to preserve the Green Hornet legacy.
“Outcast” is Parks’ first “Green Hornet” arc as a solo writer after taking over for Phil Hester, but he’s no stranger to Kevin Smith’s “Green Hornet” universe. Starting off penning the “Kato” miniseries, Parks has gone on to write Dynamite’s new ongoing “Lone Ranger” series and a number of other titles in Dynamite’s catalogue.
CBR News spoke with Parks about the upcoming Hornet battle royale in “Green Hornet” #25, the continuing development of Britt Reid and Mulan’s romance, Britt’s struggle to maintain his print newspaper “The Sentinel” and the possibility of a “Green Hornet”/”Lone Ranger” crossover.
CBR News: Ande, you’ve had your hands on “Green Hornet” for a while now. After scripting a few issues earlier this year, you moved up to full-on writer with #21. Your first story arc, “The Outcast,” comes to a head in February with a face-off between the Hornet and his doppelganger. What’s in store for Britt in this battle?
Ande Parks: After writing the Kato book for fourteen issues, and then writing a four-issue arc (plotted by my pal Phil Hester) that dealt with a villain from Kato, Sr.’s past, I wanted to focus on Britt Reid, Jr. for awhile. I wanted to deal with all aspects of his life: his role as a “hero” (quotes because the public doesn’t see him that way), his job as a newspaper publisher, and his personal life, including his complicated relationship with the new Kato, Mulan. Our “Outcast” arc covers all that ground.
We introduce two new villains in “Outcast.” These villains start as supporting players in subplots, and then begin to take over the story with our third issue. One of the villains is a young, driven political player who also happens to be a conniving psychopath. This man, Palmer, is the brains behind a plot to seize total power of Century City through a campaign of fear that focuses on Green Hornet. On the muscle side of the equation, we have a life-long violent criminal. This man, Jenson, will don a Green Hornet costume and set our hero up for murder.
Let’s talk about Britt Reid for a bit. At the beginning of your arc, he’s juggling a lot of hats: Newspaperman, superhero — what’s going through his mind while this doppelganger of his is running rampant through his city and how is he keeping it all together?
We really wanted to focus on that aspect of the character — how much he’s got going on, and what huge shoes he has to fill. I was also very interested in the idea of Green Hornet continuing this father’s legacy of Green Hornet as a hero who masquerades as a villain. Britt is in a position to shape public opinion via his newspaper, The Sentinel. Will he choose to continue to use that influence to keep his alter ego’s real motives hidden? In addition, we all know that print journalism has taken a huge hit in the last decade or so. Our first issue deals with Britt considering ways to keep The Sentinel solvent. We’re throwing a lot at young Mister Reid.
As for how he keeps it all together, I’m not sure he will. The “Outcast” arc is about really testing this relatively new hero. He’s going to be challenged in ways he hasn’t been before. We’ve seen him face death. Now we’re going to strip away just about everything he has — everything his father left him. He’s going to hit bottom in a number of ways before he climbs his way back to the status quo. Fortunately, Britt Reid has a support system around him that will pick him up when he needs it. That includes Mulan as well as a new hero that we’ll set up to become a recurring character.
Speaking of Mulan, one of the things that you’ve touched on in your arc is her relationship with Britt. How will their feelings for each other affect their work as a crime-fighting duo or come into play in the battle against the impostor Green Hornet?
I dropped a few little moments into the arc I wrote over Phil [Hester’s] plot and into the first two issues I wrote on my own, which were stand-alones. It’s definitely a tricky balancing act. I want to move their relationship forward, but if you take it, um — all the way — things get very tricky. I know these things. I was a fan of “Moonlighting!”
There are deep feelings between Britt and Mulan. Feelings that are almost inevitable when you throw two very young, very attractive people into a working relationship where they have to rely on each other for their lives, literally. Those feelings, though, if explored, are not necessarily productive for the job at hand. So, which one of our heroes, if either, is smart enough to realize that they need to proceed with caution? We’ll see.
Mulan seeing Britt put through the ringer brings a new dynamic to the equation, for sure. Mulan is a young woman who has not often played the part of protector in her life. That’s going to be fun to write.
Internally, how is Britt dealing with an impostor terrorizing his city using the Green Hornet mantle?
It throws everything into question. Coming into the Green Hornet legacy, I don’t think Britt Jr. questioned a lot of the choices his father made as the original Hornet. Now, though, with a villain running around doing horrible things as Green Hornet, young Britt has to realize the limitations he’s inherited. If you’re already perceived as a bad guy, how can you step forward and say, “Hey, I’m not that bad.”
I hate to be that guy who runs around screaming “This changes everything!” but the “Outcast” arc will definitely leave a mark on the book for some time to come.
Your first solo arc reaches its conclusion in “Green Hornet” #27. Moving forward, what are your plans for the Green Hornet and Century City?
Hmm, [I’m] pretty sure my editor would like to know that as well. I have some vague plans but nothing on paper yet. What will come right after this first arc kind of hinges on our ending, so I won’t go into that too much yet. My goal is to do an arc similar to what we’re doing with “Lone Ranger” — an arc of stories that work well in an issue or two, but are also part of a bigger theme.
Interesting that you bring up “The Lone Ranger.” Now that you’re heading up both books and considering the familial connection between John Reid and Britt Reid, what’s the likelihood that we’ll see a bit of crossover between the two series?
I’m not planning on doing that crossover, but I think there might be something brewing. I’ll let the folks at Dynamite take the lead on that.
How has your experience so far writing “Lone Ranger” on a solo basis been helpful in your transition to the sole writer on “Green Hornet?”
To be honest, the two books (“Kato” and “Death of Zorro”) I wrote before I got the “Lone Ranger” and “Green Hornet” gigs were really instructive for me, both in how to write these specific characters and in how to write monthly comics, period. When Nick [Barrucci] at Dynamite offered me this opportunity, I had never written a monthly book before. My experience had been with graphic novels and single issues. Writing a serialized monthly is a pretty unique skill. I think I’ve grown a lot since the first issues of “Kato.” I’m feeling pretty comfortable now.
The plotting remains the toughest part for me. I’ve always been more of a personal moment writer than a big idea writer. I’m figuring out how to find a big idea structure that allows me to throw big changes at the characters and then just kind of sit back and play with the results. Discovering how the characters will react, and filling those choices and reactions with the little personal bits I love to write make the work vibrant and interesting — I hope!
It’s been quite a few issues since the original “Green Hornet” story arc by Kevin Smith wrapped, and the series is still going strong. What do you think makes this world and these characters compelling enough to keep readers coming back for more?
It’s the hat, right? Who doesn’t love a nice fedora?
Really, you have to give ol’ Fran Striker (creator of both “Green Hornet” and “Lone Ranger”) a lot of credit for creating an iconic template. Kevin gets a lot of credit for reinventing the franchise within that template. The characters are dynamic. Their motivations are clear and interesting. The inherent intrigue is appealing, and they’ve got awesome gadgets. Plus, we have a hot sexy hero of each gender. What’s not to like? I feel really fortunate to be telling stories within the structure of two legendary heroes like Green Hornet and Lone Ranger. I hope it lasts for a long time. That means buy the books — please!