Britt Reid, owner of the Daily Sentinel newspaper and secretly known as The Green Hornet, is at the ’66 World’s Expo showcasing an advanced mainframe computer known as the “Electric Brain”. He claims it can predict the future and that it will give his newspaper an advantage as they can write tomorrow’s news, today. The crowd is stunned by various predictions including the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc. One member of the audience asks if they will ever see the return of the legendary masked “Samaritan” known as the Spirit, last seen in 1952. The issue sets up this premise and also sets up that a device that can predict the future could be very valuable for criminals looking to make money betting on sports.
Crossover/Team up books are popular these days with varying degrees of success. Despite an admiration for Fred Van Lente’s work, I have only a general knowledge of these characters, so I went into the issue with low expectations. I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue. This was never going to be one of those books that you give to someone as an example of the comic industry’s finest works. However, I feel it does a good job of representing these franchises in a positive light. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the portrayals. What I can say is that the book is a fun, easy read. The mystery about whether The Spirit will make an appearance is handled well. The dialogue also builds up the legend of The Spirit to build up excitement for the reader.
I loved the tongue in cheek portrayal of the future predictions. Fred Van Lente must have had a fun time writing a book set in 1966 that looks at predicting the future. The issue contains wide-eyed comments about palm-sized supercomputers, etc. While I don’t think you need to have experience with these characters to get enjoyment, you may need to have an appreciation for older items/terms such as “mainframe”. The initial premise and the fact that the public buys into it gets across how magical computers would have felt in those days. As someone who got into computers in the 1980s, I can recall that feeling. Of course, not to the magic level depicted in this issue or science fiction of the 60s. I do feel the jokes skew for an older audience. For example, I don’t think a younger reader will know who Walter Cronkite is. This is understandable but may limit how well the jokes and humor hit younger readers.
Bob Q’s art has a clean, retro-cartoony style that fits the story well. I loved the facial expressions and dynamic action shown throughout. The fight scenes involving Kato, in particular, were very well done. I liked the fluidity and continuity of the block-dodge-strike martial arts action. Unfortunately, I can’t praise the cover. I feel like the main cover lets this issue down. The characters are in plain, awkward poses and it doesn’t have a look that would grab you in a shop.
I give this issue 4 out of 5 stars. It has a fun premise and doesn’t waste a lot of time getting the masked heroes into action. This is highly recommended if you are looking for a good read that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a joyful 60s charm.
Script by Fred Van Lente
Art & Color by Bob Q
Published by Dynamite