More than 75 years later, Green Hornet 'still at large'

Masked character has appeared in comics, film, TV, radio; Oklahoman writes story in latest prose anthology
by Matthew Price Published: December 14, 2012
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After more than 75 years, the pulp hero Green Hornet is “still at large,” with appearances in books, comics and more. Oklahoman Mel Odom writes a Green Hornet story in the prose anthology “Green Hornet: Still At Large,” which went on sale this fall. In comics, the Green Hornet co-stars in the miniseries “Masks” from Dynamite Comics. The series teams Green Hornet, Kato, the Shadow, the Spider and other pulp heroes. The first issue, painted by Alex Ross (“Kingdom Come”) went on sale in November.

The Green Hornet made his debut in 1936 on the radio station WXYZ in Detroit; his adventures ran on radio into the 1950s. The Hornet is secretly Britt Reid, newspaper publisher, assisted by his Asian valet Kato, a hand-to-hand combat expert and driver of the advanced car, “The Black Beauty.”

Reid is the son of Dan Reid, who old-time radio fans would recognize as the Lone Ranger's nephew from that masked lawman's adventures. The Lone Ranger's real name was John Reid. The connection was explored in Green Hornet radio shows including “Too Hot to Handle” in 1947. Both characters were created by writer Fran Striker under the direction of station owner George W. Trendle, according to the Radio Hall of Fame at www.radiohof.org.

Unlike most costumed heroes, the Green Hornet is assumed to be a villain by most of the public; he's thought to be a rival to the ganglords he defeats. The Green Hornet went through multiple comic publishers in his radio heyday, including Harvey and Dell.

The Green Hornet came to television in the 1960s played by Van Williams. Kato was played by Bruce Lee. Three comic-book issues based on the TV series were published by Gold Key. The current prose books from Moonstone primarily follow the continuity of the television series.

“The Night I Met The Hornet” by Mel Odom follows a young man with an ex-convict father, and their confrontation with the Green Hornet. That story is featured in “Still At Large.”

Odom, who sported a “Green Hornet” lunchbox in the 1960s, told The Oklahoman in 2009 about his excitement to work on a favorite character.

“For a chance to get to play around with heroes you grew up with, you can't go wrong with that,” Odom told The Oklahoman.

In the 1990s, NOW Comics revived the Green Hornet as a multigenerational saga. All told, NOW published more than 50 Green Hornet comics between 1989 and 1995.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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