Chuck and Roger") know, I have an affinity and love for both Doc Savage and the Green Hornet. I'm probably one of the few who enjoy the Golden Age, but have a very slight working knowledge of the history of pulps.
So when First Wave (from DC) and the Kevin Smith written Hornet book (from Dynamite) were announced, I was a little hesitant...scratch that, I had been severely disappointed in most comic adaptations of Doc (bar Milennium Comics in the 90s), and, well, you can insert obligatory Kevin-Smith-late-script joke here.
However, with both books coming out this week, I can say that I was severely impressed with one, and the other left me a little cold.
The book that impressed me was First Wave, mostly because of Brian Azarello's writing. This isn't your grandfather's Doc Savage - in fact, Azarello creates a whole new world (or "Earth-53" as he joked at 2009's Wizard World/Comicon) inhabited by non-powered characters (Batman, the Spirit, the Blackhawks). There's been enough hype about the book, and I am pleased to say that the book lives up to the hype. Actually, it exceeds it.
An unnamed war. A discovery in the jungle. Without spoiling, there's a nice, hefty integration of classic pulp storytelling with some unique 21st century ideas. This Doc "feels" right, the Spirit has another unique feel (which, after recently seeing the Frank Miller film, is a little refreshing), and there's a solid build in storytelling. Rags Morales' art is pretty strong, helping to "sell" the atmosphere. This is one book that I don't mind following on.
However, there are some flaws with the book, with one seemingly sabotaging the storytelling.
First, the last few pages of the book which 'set up' the main storyline...well, they have a sense of "seen it all before". It doesn't quite seem true. The penultimate "domestic" scene really seems quite off, and rereading the book, I think I have the answer.
Smith is integrating the "mythology" of the Green Hornet, mainly through visual references to the 1960s television show. Some of the writing of Britt Reid and Kato in these flashbacks seem off. Way off. In a theatrical movie, these might have been updated/revamped for a modern audience, but by tying this in with the television show, some of the dialogue between Reid and Kato (including one potentially inflammatory remark) seems off...and that penultimate domestic scene? Again, the dialogue and behavior don't seem to fit, and are almost jarring. It's not really a bad book - I think it's just one where a specific creative choice ends up creating cognitive dissonance for the reader.
(To any colleagues who are reading this - yes, that's the second time I've used the term cognitive dissonance this month. I deserve a cookie).
I'm a big fan of Smith's movies, and he even made remarks about the Hornet film in one of his live speaking appearances. His writing on Hornet seems like an uncomfortable mashup between the Hornet character and...a Kevin Smith movie. It's not bad, but I hope that the tone becomes a little more consistent, and that as the story progresses, it flows a little more naturally than this first issue.
In short, this week saw the debut of one really good pulp revision....and one that can use some room for improvement. Although I'm set on First Wave, I think I'm going to keep Green Hornet on probation for now.
I owe Kevin that much. That and fifty bucks.