01/31/2005: Today in History department:
January 31, 1936: The continuing radio drama, "The Green Hornet", debuts on WXYZ radio, Detroit, MI. Created by George W. Trendle (creator of "The Lone Ranger"), Trendle tied together his two creations by making Britt (The Green Hornet) Reid the great-nephew of John Reid, who was the Lone Ranger.
The radio show ran from January of 1936 to December, 1952, almost 17 years. In addition to the radio show, The Green Hornet has been the inspiration for two movie serials, The Green Hornet and The Green Hornet Strikes Again! (both featuring the inimitable Keye Luke as Kato), a '60s television series, The Green Hornet (featuring Van Williams as Britt "The Green Hornet" Reid and Bruce Lee as Kato), and several series of comic books:
Harvey Comics: 1942-49
Dell: 1955 (one issue)
Gold Key: 1966-67 (three issues based on the Van Williams-Bruce Lee series)
NOW comics: 1989-1995
The NOW comics were the most extensive and detailed of the comic book adaptations of the Green Hornet property. There were two main series: The Green Hornet (14 issues), and The Green Hornet, Vol. II (40 issues), which took the interesting premise that the Green Hornet/Kato franchises were a "family business" which was passed down from uncle to nephew on the Reid side, and from father to son to sister (and then back to the son) on the Kato side. The series intertwined three generations of Green Hornets (and Katos): the first generation was the original radio/movie serial Hornet/Kato, the second generation was the TV series Hornet/Kato, and the third generation (two Hornets, one Kato) were unique to this comic series--after the second generation Hornet suffers a heart attack and is forced to retire, the Hornet mantle devolves to his eldest nephew (son (IIRC, maybe grandson) of the first generation Hornet), who early dies in the line of duty, to be succeeded by his younger brother, and then joined by the sister of the second generation Kato.
In addition to the main series, NOW published several spin-off miniseries:
Tales of the Green Hornet, in three volumes. Volume I (in 2 issues) was scripted by none other than Van Williams (the TV series Hornet); volumes II (4 issues) and III (3 issues) by James Van Hise. The stories in these series dealt with the first generation Hornet (volumes II and III) and second generation Hornet (all three volumes).
Sting of the Green Hornet (in 4 issues). The first generation Hornet battles the Nazis in WWII.
Green Hornet: Solitary Sentinel (in 3 issues). Set between The Green Hornet Vols. I and II; shows how Paul Reid (ultimately one of the third generation Hornets) discovers the importance of being The Green Hornet.
Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow (in 3 issues). Set in the future; Clayton Reid (the latest Hornet) is really a criminal, but then he gets a wake-up call from his cousin, Luke Kato.
In addition to the various Green Hornet comic series, NOW published a couple spinoffs dealing with the Hornet's partner:
Kato Vols. I (in 4 issues) and II (in 2 issues). Two mini-series starring Hayashi Kato (the second generation Kato, though in the main Green Hornet series Hayashi comes back to work with the third generation Hornet as well).
For those, like me, who think that nothing succeeds like excess (I'm a big Green Hornet fan; what can I say?), I'll briefly note that the IMDB does carry an entry for a prospective Green Hornet movie, which the IMDB claims will have a 2005 release. Trolling the Web for information, it appears that the movie will probably be written by, though it is unsure if it will be directed by, Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith (of Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jersey Girl fame). However, in one form or another a Green Hornet movie has been in development hell for more years than I can remember. Let's put it this way, back in 1996 or so I heaped oodles of (IMHO, well deserved) abuse on George Clooney for accepting the Batman role in Batman and Robin (well deserved abuse, if for no other reason than that chapter in the cinematic Batman saga was such a stinker), in large part because, about a year before that, I'd heard that Clooney had signed on to play The Green Hornet in a movie adaptation (with Jason Scott Lee, fresh off of playing Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, cast as Kato), and Clooney's signing on as The Last Movie Batman (at least until this year's Batman Begins opens) was The Kiss of Death to the Green Hornet project....
Anyway, here's hoping that the Green Hornet continues to fight crime... in movies, comics, on TV... SOMEWHERE, dammit! I'm in need of a fresh Green Hornet fix, soon!
Len on 01.31.05 @ 10:05 AM CST