The Green Hornet Chronicles is a book I purchased on the recommendation of a friend and I have to say I am mightily pleased. Obviously, being a thirty-one year old man, I never experienced the original Pulps. The Green Hornet, himself, isn't a Pulp character but a 1930s radio drama creation. The Green Hornet Chronicles is like a Pulp anthology, however, consisting of nineteen about the character's adventures.
A relative of the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet has taken up his ancestor's vigilantism with the twist of masquerading as a criminal. Since criminals believe the Green Hornet is one of them, they react differently to him than they would a police officer or Superman. They often try to make deals with him, bribe him, or intimidate him instead of just outright kill him. This works in the Green Hornet's advantage and allows him to lay many traps for the criminal underworld.
The Green Hornet Chronicles functions, essentially, like self-contained comic books. They even have miniature comic book covers in front of the short stories. The stories vary drastically in tone and style but generally keep a consistent feel between them. They are set, not in the 1930s, but during the 1960s during the Green Hornet TV show with Van Williams and Bruce Lee. This inconsistency is never remarked on and I assume this is meant to take place in the television show continuity.
The short stories are roughly as follows:
The Night Car - Will Murray
An introduction into the world of the Green Hornet. It's a cute little story where our heroes have to deal with someone trying to track down the Black Beauty using the miraculous power of COMPUTERS! I liked it and think it was a wonderful bit of fluff.
I Had The Green Hornet’s Love Child - Greg Cox
A humorous premise played straight. A woman claims to have had the Green Hornet's child in order to capitalize on his infamy. This, of course, makes her a target for the Green Hornet's many enemies.
Weakness - C.J. Henderson
This is the only story I didn't like in the anthology. A politician in a loveless marriage has an affair and is blackmailed into becoming a crusading champion of justice by the Hornet. This is tawdry enough but when you discover the entire thing was engineered by the Hornet and the politician's feelings for the woman were real, my sympathy was squarely on the side of the Hornet's victim. .
Topsy-Turvy - James Chambers
Reefer Madness! A delightfully gonzo story about a 60s Guru who brainwashes kids into a drug cult. The entire thing is deliciously retro from start to finish.
Nothing Gold Can Stay - Richard Dean Starr
A story centered around Kato as opposed to the Green Hornet. I liked the depiction of the Hornet's now more famous companion. It goes to show you that Kato isn't the Hornet's sidekick but partner.
Just a Man - Thom Brannan
One of my two favorite stories in the anthology. This is a dark but not TOO dark story about how a horrifically injured Marine sniper decides to become a vigilante. It sets the Green Hornet against an opponent arguably as talented and intelligent as him, one suffering from a horrible sense of misjustice. Just A Man is a story destined to end tragically but the journey makes the experience all the more worthwhile.
The Cold Cash Kill - James Reasoner
Counterfeiters at the Daily Sentinel! This is a nice story to show Britt Reid being hit in a place he couldn't possibly expect. The legitimacy of the Daily Sentinel is a major part of Britt's secret identity. If it's reputation is destroyed, the Green Hornet could potentially lose its biggest defense.
I like this idea, very original.
Flight of the Yellowjacket - Howard Hopkins
I give this story very high praise, I would like to see the villain introduced in it again. The tying together of the Green Hornet further with the legacy of the Lone Ranger was always sort of out there but works perfectly here because it's more cosmic than anything else. Britt Reid has a beautiful ex named Cavendish.
What could possibly go wrong?
By Scarab and Scorpion - Mark Ellis
The Curse of the Mummy is a story that no longer works in modern times but fits well in the retro-universe of the Green Hornet. Obviously it's nothing supernatural but the oddity of the actual villains more than makes up for it.
You Can’t Pick the Number - Rich Harvey
A nice tale of redemption and corruption. You Can't Pick the Number has an unusual criminal premise in a crooked lottery and I've got to say that as original enough for me to become interested.
Eyes of the Madonna - Ron Fortier
The Cold War becomes the subject of the Green Hornet universe as a secret list of Russian agents in the United States is smuggled into Detroit. Given this isn't so far after the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's an excellent topical story that makes use of the time period.
Stormy Weather - Patricia Weakley
A hilariously out-there story where an anachronistic snarky female bounty hunter, think Stephanie Plumb only Texan, decides to go after the Green Hornet only to start crushing on him. The story is told from her perspective and so completely askew from the usual Green Hornet stories that I couldn't stop laughing the entire way through.
The Auction - Terry Alexander
Someone has stolen the Green Hornet's mask! The Green Hornet breaks his old one out and decides to go after it. It's a simple enough premise and I can't say I didn't enjoy watching it play out. Terry should be proud of his creation.
Go Go Gone - Robert Greenberger
A friend of Britt Reid is murdered and the heroes find themselves on a treasure hunt for a Cold War secret project that people are willing to kill for. Go Go Gone is another bizarre story that works precisely because it's so left field.
Mutual Assured Destruction - Bill Spangler
White slavery is even darker than the subject of Weakness but is handled here by the Hornet standing as a moral paragon against the dark. It's a harsh tale that keeps you biting your nails until the end.
The Crimson Dragon - Mark Justice
The Crimson Dragon is an East Asian warlord who has come to spread his dope amongst the streets of Detroit. Unlike in most such stories, the Green Hornet is after one of his many victims as opposed to the Dragon himself. Kato, to me, acts a little out of character in dismissing the victim because she's a drug-user and part-time hooker.
Fang and Sting - Win Scott Eckert
It's hard to put this story into words but the short version is it is simultaneously FRICKING AWESOME and BAT**** INSANE. We're temporarily dumped out of the 1960s continuity into an alternate universe containing Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu, James Bond's SPECTRE, and implications of plenty of other heroes. There's a giant underground base, exotic warriors, a femme fatale mad Doctor and more.
It's completely out of genre but like Stormy Weather, works splendidly.
The Inside Man - Matthew Baugh
My other favorite story in the volume. It's not as gonzo as Fang and Sting or Stormy Weathers but it has the same strong emotional core as Just a Man. A Native American army veteran wants to escape the grinding poverty of his life on the reservation by working for the Green Hornet. The character must choose between honor and nobility with the stakes high because we don't know if he'll live or die unlike the leads.
The Soul of Solomon - Harlan Ellison
For whatever reason, it wasn't included in my book.
A great work overall, The Green Hornet Chronicles is a worthwhile buy for anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Hornet. It's light, fun, enjoyable fiction. A great buy and well worth the money.