Continuing my look at the cult character of The Green Hornet:
As I've previously pointed out, the success of TV’s Batman in 1966 led to the production of the Green Hornet television series.
Like America, the UK was in the grip of Bat-mania at that time. The Green Hornet began airing on American TV during September 1966, and finished its run in March 1967.
As it was expected that The Green Hornet would soon be broadcast in Britain, comic and annual publisher World Distributors which had already published many American TV tie-in books for the UK market, like Burke’s Law, The Man from UNCLE, as well as Batman, produced a Green Hornet annual prior to the anticipated TV series airing nationally in Britain.
As with most World Distributors annuals it had striking front cover artwork by Walt Howarth, based on a publicity photo used on the first of the three American Green Hornet Gold Key comics.
A single comic strip featured in the annual was a reprint of that same first Gold Key comic, ‘The Ring of Terror’. The rest of the annual was the usual World Distributors fare of illustrated text stories.
World Distributors were also involved with the contents of the TV Tornado comic, and in issue 7 dated February 26, 1967, The Green Hornet joined the comic’s line up as an adventure strip.
The front cover art, again based on photos and illustrations from the Gold Key comic based, was by editor, Mick Anglo, and also featured another strip joining the comic, Magnus – Robot Fighter 4000 AD.
TV Tornado provided an introduction for Green Hornet, as youngsters in the UK would be largely unaware of the character. A small feature inside described the links between the TV series of Green Hornet and Batman, along with the speculation that Green Hornet toys and games would soon be flooding across Britain as it was outselling Batman merchandise in America.
The accompanying three page adventure strip was a redrawn and greatly abridged version of the Gold Key comic ‘Ring of Terror’ story.
All the strips were one-off simple stories, generally using specific elements from the TV series like The Black Beauty’s hidden underground garage, or the flying surveillance Scanner housed in the boot (although it was depicted more like a satellite rather than the flying saucer type thing that was seen on screen).
A couple of the strips did veer away from the usual TV format. In ‘A Surprise for Kato’, the action took place in Tijuana, with Kato appearing in just one panel. The rest of the story has the Green Hornet don his mask and round up some foreign diamond smugglers single handed.
Issue 9 is notable as it looks like a reworked Saint comic strip. Its set in Hong Kong and a Chinese character that’s supposed to be Kato (looks nothing like him) appears in just three panels, The Green Hornet doesn't wear his familiar outfit of hat and coat, only his mask, and he looks remarkably like Roger Moore, oh and just to push the point, the car he drives is a Volvo P1800.
However, most of the strips did keep to the spirit of the TV series, some even showing Kato do a little Gung Fu on the villains.
Here are some panels showing Britt Reid’s pocket watch transmitter sending an alert to D.A. Scanlon, and the Black Beauty emerging from the secret entrance behind Britt Reid’s apartment.
The Green Hornet continued as an adventure strip up to issue 17, then following a break it returned on and off as a text story, usually covering just one page.
The Green Hornet‘s last text story, ‘Horror in Wax’ appeared in issue 36, dated 16 September 1967. The following week TV Tornado merged with the failing Solo comic.
The Green Hornet did appear in the first TV Tornado annual which was published towards the end of 1967.
The character featured in both an adventure strip and a text story.
Unfortunately, Bat-mania was quickly beginning to fade, and as things turned out, The Green Hornet was never shown nationally across the UK at that time. It was seen on a couple of regional television stations, but any youngsters in Britain would only see The Green Hornet and Kato on TV in the cross-over Batman episode, ‘ A Piece Of The Action – Batman’s Satisfaction’.
Some of the TV Tornado comics that included Green Hornet on the cover.