Grim_Noir reviews KATO #12: Not Your Father’s Green Hornet!

Kato 12 Garza Cover

Title: Kato #12

Writer: Ande Parks

Art: Lee Ferguson

Colorist: Rainer Petter

Letterer: Bill Tortolini

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

While DC and Marvel have been having their flashy, splashy “event” comics over the last few years, Dynamite Entertainment (with the help of writers Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, Ande Parks; and a slew of artists) has been quietly building a multi-generational Green Hornet dynasty. SO quietly, in fact,that most comic book geeks aren’t even aware that Seth Rogen’s mediocre Green Hornet movie was a shallow impersonation of Kevin Smith’s original screenplay.

Smith’s unproduced script is the foundation for everything that is Dynamite’s present-day Green Hornet universe: The original Green Hornet, Britt Reid Senior, is assassinated by the Black Hornet (Hirohito Juuma), the son of a criminal that the Green Hornet put away years ago. When Britt’s original crime-fighting partner Kato arrives to see justice is done, Britt Reid Junior adopts the “crime-fighter-posing-as-a-criminal” schtick, with Kato’s much more battle-ready daughter, Mulan Kato, as his mentor.

Green Hornet Logo

That summary is all just backstory for the Juuma-Kato families’ blood feud that has slowly escalated over the issues of both Green Hornet and Kato, dragging the innocent, the corrupt, the corrupted and the virtuous into its wake, like something out of a Mario Puzo novel.

In the tradition of the stealthiness of this franchise, Kato #12 snuck up on me both in its hard copy distribution and storyline execution): While Mulan deals with Katsuko Juuma (the desperately approval-seeking daughter of the Juuma clan) in a virtual world (standard storyline #5 in our post-Matrix society), writer Ande Parks wisely cuts away from the predictable action to deal with the rest of the team…

That’s right, I said “team.” At first blush, the Green Hornet series and its spinoffs may appear to just be the historical stepping stone between The Lone Ranger & Tonto and Batman & Robin, but what Dynamite has built is far more complex and satisfying.

In Kato #12, we see all the people, who would be simple supporting characters in lesser books, rising above their limitations to help solve of the abduction of Mulan Kato:

  • The Green Hornet, himself, a.k.a. Britt Reid, Jr., street brawler and multimedia mogul with a pervading desire to do the right thing, must face the fact that neither his money nor his fists will help find Mulan.
  • “Clutch,” the mechanical engineering maestro who built the new Black Beauty high-performance sedan, the Street Stinger cycle, and the new Hornet stun guns, must now stretch to become a master of software, as well as hardware, if his cousin, the current Kato, is to be found. Clearly, Kevin Smith was writing a role for his buddy Jason Mewes when he created Clutch, but the comic has allowed this character to grow into so much more.
  • Mulan’s father, Hayashi, the original Kato, had been becoming more of a behind-the-scenes strategist for the new duo. Now, he finds himself vacillating between trusting sensei and scared father. However, even in his moments of quietest comtemplation, he is still THE MAN:

Old Kato still to be feared

  • Ultimately, since it is her book, it is up to Mulan Kato to save herself. Parks uses every bout of this multi-issue confrontation to comment on how the relationships between fathers and daughters are ongoing and never-ending.

This appears to be the penultimate chapter of this saga. With everyone converging at the end of this issue, you can bet the final round promises to be a doozy.

As you can see from the sample page (above), artist Lee Ferguson handles the emotional scenes deftly, but there is a certain softness to his figures and backgrounds that may not make him the best choice to finish this arc next issue. (Might I suggest the former Kato artist Diego Bernard as a better choice?)

But this is a minor quibble, in the grand scheme of this story arc. When the team, and all their transports, erupts into the night to finally pursue a lead on the missing Mulan, if you don’t mentally hear a rousing version of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” then comic books probably aren’t for you…

* GRIM_NOIR is: A) Mad, B) Bad, C) Dangerous to Know, D) Now with 50% More Follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter

 

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2 Comments to “Grim_Noir reviews KATO #12: Not Your Father’s Green Hornet!”

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    Thanks for the much needed update on GH, Grim! The story sound intriguing but dang if that art just doesn’t grab me :( It just feels very amateurish…and as an “art guy”, I sometimes have trouble getting fully invested in a story if the art detracts from it, hence why I haven’t tried these series’ yet.

    Plus it seems like a confusing set-up, what with 4 or so Green Hornet titles out there..

  2. jaydee says:

    Grim:
    Send me your email at preacher_2002@yahoo.com so I can include you in the Pop5 !!

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