Saturday, July 28, 2007

OTR: Masked Marvels, pt. 4 - The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet is probably, next to The Shadow, one of the best remembered of those ‘masked avenger’ types who filled popular entertainment in the mid-Twentieth Century. Starting in radio, the Hornet soon moved to comics and movie serials. While not a pulp attraction like many of his contemporaries, he did appear in prose form in several ‘Big/Little’ books. As with his masked relation, the prose stories of this character were penned by the prolific Fran Striker.

It’s well known to fanboys that Brett Reid (aka The Green Hornet) was the son of Dan Reid, thus making the character the grandnephew of the Masked Rider of the Plains. The same folks that created the Hornet were also responsible for the Ranger, so while the Lone Ranger is never mentioned by name it is made clear to whom Dan is related in an episode of the series (one of the ones included in this set from Radio Spirits). I found it amusing to discover that the actor who portrayed the elder Dan Reid in the radio series, John Todd, was the same actor who played Tonto on the Lone Ranger program.

Unlike his western ancestor, the Hornet was not known to the public as their protector. In fact, early in the series the character was hunted by the police and the city’s District Attorney. The Hornet was thought to be a competitor of other gangsters, and used this to gain information if not trust from members of the underworld. Also, the Hornet was not interested so much in bank robbers and burglars (though he met his share) as he was in revealing corrupt politicians and businessmen. The typical plot had Britt Reid publishing an editorial condemning a certain individual and then later using his Hornet persona to get enough information on the criminal to put him behind bars.

The episodes presented here have the Hornet being cleared of murder charges, assisting the District Attorney and revealing his identity to his father. Along the way he puts away some crooked gamblers and a blackmailing contractor.
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