It’s time to sing a little Auld Lang Syne for Dynamite Entertainment’s “Green Hornet: Year One” as Matt Wagner brings a close to the first twelve months in the career of the iconic hero in March. Readers have seen Britt Reid come into his own as a hero as he attempted to end the scourge on the streets with his trusty sidekick Kato. Wagner has taken the Hornet through a journey of self-discovery, both as a crime-fighter and as a newspaperman, in a year that has explored the defining moments in his path to become a hero. Now at the end of the opening chapter of their career together, Green Hornet and Kato have the chance to bring down “Skid” Caruso, the brutal head honcho of Chicago organized crime. Everything in Green Hornet’s first year has led up to this, and it’s sure to be one hell of a fight.
CBR News spoke with series writer Matt Wagner about his time penning a new origin for the iconic crimefighters, the challenges they face going into the fight, his favorite moment during his run and the surprises our heroes have for “Skid” Caruso going into the fight.
CBR News: Matt, it’s the wrap up of the second main arc for “Green Hornet: Year One.” What can fans expect to see going into this issue?
â€¨Matt Wagner: Well, there’s quite a bit that happens in the issues immediately preceding this finale — and when I say “finale,” I mean the end of the beginning. Obviously, these two story arcs are merely the start of the original Green Hornet’s long crime-fighting career. But, like I said, the Hornet and Kato run into some trouble in issues #10 and 11 — a ruthless mob enforcer that Skid Caruso has called in from out of town, known for his unyielding brutality as “The Scourge.” That encounter leaves them both a bit battered and off-balance, definitely not the best time to be making their big assault on the criminal kingpin’s citadel.â€¨â€¨The Hornet’s about to face down the king of organized crime in Chicago. This is everything he’s worked towards in his first year – what’s going through Britt Reid’s mind right now?
â€¨This entire enterprise has left Britt feeling that he is, indeed, fighting the good fight and doing the right thing, but it’s left him with the firm realization that, if he messes up, things are going to be even worse than before. If he gets killed or his identity uncovered…think of it, the Daily Sentinel will probably crumble and that last bastion of resistance will be swept away by the forces of corruption. It’s a heavy responsibility and Britt knows he’s gotta make sure that never happens. But then again, neither he nor Kato have ever come up against someone like The Scourge.â€¨
What kinds of surprises does Caruso have in store for the Green Hornet? What’s the villain’s emotion level headed into the final battle?
â€¨Obviously, Caruso’s nerves are on edge, but he’s also an arrogant fat-cat. He’s pretty confident that his headquarters in the Imperial Hotel is fairly impregnable. But then again, he’s underestimated the Hornet at almost every turn!â€¨â€¨By the same token, what kinds of surprises does the Hornet have for Caruso?
Well, I don’t want to reveal too much here, but I spent some time trying to figure out a way that Britt would face this final confrontation via both his crime-fighting avenues. When he decided that he needed to forge his masked identity and his clandestine crusade, he didn’t utterly abandon the Daily Sentinel and its effectiveness at spotlighting and uncovering criminal corruption. In fact, that’s the way he would have preferred to address that cause, simply taking over his father’s purpose and role as publisher. Still, circumstances and Kato’s childhood training provided him with another option, but I felt that, from a narrative sense, it was important that the he continue his fight from both directions. I wanted to show that he’s effective asÂ bothÂ the masked vigilante and as a newspaperman.
Will the downfall of Caruso actually spell the end of organized crime in Chicago, or is this just another stepping stone in Britt Reid’s war on crime?
â€¨Ha! Does that reallyÂ needÂ an answer? Is crimeÂ everÂ really “defeated?” Certainly, Britt has a distinct goal in mind at this early stage in his career — bringing down the big boss, Skid Caruso. But we’ve already seen that there are plenty of other gangsters around. If Skid goes down, well, nature abhors a vacuum, yes?â€¨
There have been so many major moments so far in the series – which would you say so far has been your favorite?
I thought the opening sequences worked well in an iconic sense for both characters; Britt’s father explaining the deadly sting of a green hornet and Kato’s father training him to be a samurai. I also liked that I was able to weave their first meeting into an actual historic event, the Nanking Massacre.Â I like the fact that Kato has a much more expanded role in my version of the characters’ origins; it’s Kato who actually suggests they continue their fight “from the shadows.” Beyond that, every time the two of them appeared onstage in their costumes has just been a blast. It’s no secret that I love, love, love this sort of pulp-inspired drama and having these two prime examples of the “masked avenger” motif at my disposal is a total joy. Of course, Aaron Campbell just draws them both so amazingly cool as well! Lastly, the sequence I mentioned earlier — wherein our heroes come up against a really monstrous opponent, The Scourge — is pretty damn exciting!â€¨
While we can’t know for sure whether Britt succeeds in his mission to defeat Caruso until the actual issue hits stores, can you give us any ideas as to what’s in store next for the Green Hornet? What about the next big villain? Is there anybody that decides to set the hero square in their sights?
â€¨I’m afraid you’re gonna have to redirect these questions since issue #12 marks the end of my run on the series. I signed on for “Year One” — twelve issues that would re-imagine the origins and redefine the characters of the Green Hornet and Kato — and I’ve been very happy with what Aaron and I were able to achieve in that regard. But the further adventures of the original GH are going to be handled by Jai Nitz, writer of the Dynamite spin-off series, “Kato: Origins.” Obviously, Jai’s already had some experience with both Britt and KatoÂ andÂ with the time frame of our series, so he’s a perfect choice to carry on the narrative here. I didn’t want to have to too much influence of what Jai planned to do — he’s perfectly capable writer — but I did send a few notes concerning some things I had set or alluded to in the course of our initial twelve issue run. I’m anxious to see what he’s next got in store for our heroes!
â€¨I’m sure you’ve been asked this a number of times already, but what did you think of the Green Hornet film?
â€¨Believe it or not, I haven’t seen it yet! My schedule was already fairly booked on its opening weekend and I just haven’t had a chance during to week to slip out and catch it. The reviews I’ve read have been fairly positive though, so it sounds like it’ll be fun. I mean, its the Green Hornet and Kato kicking ass! What’s not to love?!
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