I call myself a hero-geek, instead of a comic book geek, in part because my interest goes well outside comics. I’ve done my share of research on comic book characters, sure, but also on some of the ones that came before. The heroes before comics got their starts in books, or, as the popular medium of the time, radio. The Lone Ranger, who most people probably think of as a tv character (or the truly wretched Disney movie a few years ago), first popped up on a radio show in 1933. Later, the Green Hornet was created as a spinoff of sorts. For comic fans, this is actually a really significant and almost unknown trivia fact. Why? Well, if you like Marvel or DC Universes, guess what? The Lone Ranger and Green Hornet (who had an equally horrible movie) were the first heroes to share a world. The Green Hornet (Britt Reid) is the Lone Ranger’s (Jonathan Reid) great-nephew, and the Reid family fortune that’s part of the Green Hornet mythos was started on a silver mine, where someone used to get the makings for their trademark bullets…
This series uses that relationship, which I’d expect of Michael Uslan. The man does his research, as seen in the historic notes he puts at the end of many of his books, including this issue. Uslan blends an impressive knowledge of the characters with the history of the time his stories are set in. Even the title is a call back, “Return with us now!” which was part of the intro to the radio and later tv shows about the Ranger.
The book, set mostly in 1938, features an elderly, but active, Jon Reid, in a sort of retirement in Chicago. He talks with his nephew, Dan, and eventually the pieces are set in motion for the birth of the Green Hornet. Notable historical references and appearances include Eliot Ness and American Bund, a group of American Nazis who were really disturbingly powerful for a while. How does all this fit together? Well, it was a great story. Go read it for yourself.
Plot: The Lone Ranger and Green Hornet were first connected decades ago. Uslan builds on that connection with important bits from each character’s history and adds some great history. I love what happened and where it seems to be leading. I’ll give this plot a 4 out of 5.
Art: The art is great. I’m not familiar with Timpano, but he does a fantastic job. Jon Reid is believably old. The settings in the West and back in Chicago look right. I’ll give the art a high 3.5 out of 5.
Positives: These are two classic characters that already shared a history, being brought together ti explore that and tell a new story. I loved it. This should appeal to fans of the Ranger, the Hornet, the pulp era, or just plain good heroic stories.
Negatives: Damn few. It’s a bit hard to believe that Jon Reid is as active as he is at his age, but not outside the realm of possibility.
I really enjoy both these characters and I’m loving seeing them together. Dynamite continues to impress me with their use of the licensed characters. I can’t wait to see where this goes next.
Lone Ranger/Green Hornet #1
Writer: Michael Uslan
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Cover: John Cassaday and June Chung