This issue seems to be an even more radical departure from the original pulp trilogy, but I guess that's only to be expected given the different dynamic resulting from the protagonists being a “league” of heroes rather than a single central figure. In fact the Spider himself does not appear – he's missing in Albany, and by issue's end the Green Hornet, Green Lama, and Miss Fury have all been captured in their civilian identities, while the Shadow, Black Terror, and Kato are in an intense battle with the Black Police in the same very significant building, whose most notable resident is lamentably absent. Separately, this issue marks our first time seeing the Black Bat and Zorro in action.
I take the very last page, showing Britt Reid, Jethro Dumont and Marla Drake before what I take to be the mastermind of the Empire State, to also drop a huge hint as to his identity – the Clock, a former hero himself (see issue #3): “In a better world, we would have been allies, you and I. / But it's clear that I'm the only one willing to do what is necessary.” And he holds a pocket watch.
This issue also seemed to go even more quickly. That's my main complaint with this series – each chapter is too sketchy a read. Would it strike me so had I not read the original? How will it read as a collection?
Dammit! I had decided to drop this title a couple of months ago, and didn't preorder the last couple of issues. This first may in fact be the only one I did order. Don't get me wrong. Mark Waid is a great writer and has done some amazing stuff – his run with Mike Wieringo on Fantastic Four coming first to mind. If I'm inclined to buy a product anyway, his name is a definite plus. I will even take a second look at something I'm not otherwise inclined to pick up if his name is attached. But … I don't like everything he writes. Most notably his recent drift into deconstructing heroes generally leaves me cold. I read the first trade of Irredeemable and basically reacted, “Ehh... This is not for me.” Even his “Threeboot” Legion of Super-Heroes with its theme of generational conflict (“Eat it, Grandpa!) is my least favorite incarnation of that, my favorite comic book series of all time. As more and more information came out about “Mark Waid's Green Hornet,” it became clearer and clearer that he intended to write a tale of the fall of a hero, more like Irredeemable than his current run on Daredevil (which I intend to eventually get in trade). And I decided I really wasn't that interested.
And then this preordered first issue came. I thought about just not reading it at all, but only for a moment. And even though it's clear that this issue is basically setting up Britt Reid for an epic fall from grace, it's told so compellingly that it has me hooked. I want to see how it all works out. Plus, with an established character like the Green Hornet, it seems to me that he has to write that fall from grace as a prelude to a tale of redemption. The Green Hornet is not “irredeemable.”
And so it seems I will be emailing my mailorder comics source again to add something to a previous order. Ah well, I'm sure they won't mind....
On the other hand, this issue does not make me rethink dropping this title. The blurb for the next issue at the back says it all: “Mark Rahner turns the world of Edgar Rice Burroughs into grindhouse horror....” That is not what I'm wanting to read when I visit ERB's Barsoom – even Dynamite's version.