One of the advantages of doing a story about a largely forgotten hero like the Green Hornet is that you can do almost anything you want with them. And while David Liss has put together a pretty good story with Reign of the Demon he doesn’t seem to be able or willing to really play with the fun aspects of the Green Hornet mythos. In the end, we get a pretty by the numbers story… well, with zombies.
In the series, Liss (Black Panther, The Shadow) tells us, repeatedly, that the Hornet pretends to be a criminal while being a hero, but he doesn’t even seem to be interested in that part of the story. Whenever Green Hornet runs into criminals he beats them up and lets them get arrested. He never makes it look like a mob war where he’s consolidating power. He’s just being a hero.
There was an interesting dichotomy to explore here, where the police are being led by an evil Nazi spy and the criminals are run by someone trying to bring law and order to Chicago. But that idea is pretty much left alone. We never see how they are twisting these forces out of their usual channels.
He doesn’t really do much with the idea of Hornet’s alter ego Britt Reid being a media tycoon either. It’s an idea especially ripe for harvesting in our current environment. But, Liss is content to let Reid be a jerk to his reporters and go on being the Hornet at night.
I know that this is the last book in the series, but Liss wraps up so much of this in with a bow on it in ways that don’t really make sense. The status quo is restored quickly. All the people who were lobotomized and tortured into becoming zombies are just taken away to a hospital and fixed. There seems to be no consequences for anybody’s actions, well almost nobody.
What I really loved about the series is Kewbar Baal (Kiss, Blood Queen Vs. Dracula) and Adriano Augusto’s art and color work. They really brought the whole series to life. I could look at their 1930’s style car chases and fights all day. The Hornet’s raid on Police HQ looked great. I love their old-timey Chicago. I would even learn to deal with the occasional mobs of zombies to live there.
Augusto (Masks 2, Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle) does a great job with the colors in this issue. The art is what is really pulling my review grade up.
I want to see Baal and Augusto keep on working on future Green Hornet series, but I would like to see them paired with a writer who is interested in doing more with the characters. Poor Kato is so underused in favor of the bland Swashbuckler that I really felt sorry for him. If you’ve gotten this far in the series, you might as well pick this issue up for completeness, but if you didn’t read the previous issues, I’m not sure what is here for you.
Writer: David Liss
Artist: Kewbar Baal
Colorist: Adriano Augusto