The Green Hornet

“The Green Hornet . . . He hunts the biggest of all game - public enemies who would destroy our America!”

Created in the 1930s, unlike most of his Pulp era contemporaries the Green Hornet debuted on radio rather than in magazines or comics. He soon crossed over into other media, and like other prominent representatives from this time, he's proved to be enduring, being revived for new stories several times over the decades. I'd be inclined to treat these revivals in different media as alternate takes on the original character, except that when Now Comics produced their Green Hornet title, they actually took pains to work them all into a single continuity, retconning the earlier versions to the be predecessors of the present-day Green Hornet (N.B. The Hornet logo above, probably the best remembered, is that of the 1960s TV Green Hornet, and differs somewhat from the 1930s Hornet, which can be seen below).

The Hornet through the years

The Green Hornet (1930s and 40s)

Real Name: Britt Elijah Reid

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Newspaper publisher, former reporter

Affiliations: Ikano Kato (partner), Lenore "Casey" Case (secretary), Michael Axeford (bodyguard), Yankee Commando (Lee Powell), Alpha-One (Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America), the Shadow (Lamont Cranston)

Enemies: Nazis; Harvey comics Mr. Q; serials The Syndicate, the Leader, Monroe, Crogan; Now Comics the Shadow Warriors, Angela DeVane, Inferno (Leon Fleming)

Known Relatives: Dan Reid (grandfather), Linda Reid (grandmother), Dan Reid Jr. (father), Margaret Reid (mother), John Reid (uncle, a.k.a. The Lone Ranger), Ruth Hopkins (wife), Diana Reid (daughter), Jack Reid (brother), Helen Sawyer (sister-in-law), Tom Reid (nephew), Britt Reid II (Green Hornet, nephew), Mary Graham (niece-in-law), Lenore Case (niece-in-law), Alan Reid (Green Hornet, great-nephew, deceased), Paul Reid (Green Hornet, great-nephew), Daniel John Reid (great-nephew)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unidentified US city

First Appearance: Green Hornet (radio series on WXYZ radio, Detroit, January 31st 1936)

Powers/Abilities: The Green Hornet was a skilled fighter (nowhere near as good as Kato though). He was a good shot, generally employing two specialised guns: One could fire a stream of potent knock-out gas, while the other, his "Hornet's Sting" produced electric shocks. His vehicle was the Black Beauty, a modified limousine.

History: Britt Reid was the son of Dan Reid, nephew of the Lone Ranger. Having inherited the family silver mine, Dan was able to indulge himself by founding a newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, which he could use to fight injustice. Britt, a bored playboy, amused himself with parties and travelling, and on a trip to the Orient saved the life of Kato, a young Japanese man his own age. Kato, as tradition demanded, offered his services to the man who saved his life.

Returning to the US, Britt inherited the paper when his father retired. Britt used Kato's brilliant technical mind and engineering knowledge to soup up his car, turning it into a supercharged "Black Beauty". Then they test drove it, setting out one night to grab some evidence which could indite a local mobster, intending to use the car to make a quick getaway. But a gunbattle between arguing mobsters next to where they were parked combined with eye witnesses who tied the vehicle to the resultant murder meant that Britt couldn't be seen to be connected with the vehicle. Inspired by the buzzing noise the car's defective horn had made when they fled, Britt concocts the identity of the Green Hornet, establishing a criminal reputation that gave him unparalleled access to the underworld. Only the local district attorney knew that the Green Hornet was really a crime fighter. Many times the Hornet would have to avoid the police while subduing the criminals. The police would receive an anonymous tip of where they could pick up the crooks with the Green Hornet just barely escaping.

The Hornet fought mobsters, Nazis and later Communists before eventually retiring in the early 1950s. He was later succeeded by his namesake nephew, Britt II. In 1990 mob-heiress Angela DeVane, having learned of the Hornets' true identities, ordered the Reid families' murders, and Britt was slain.

Comments: Created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker.

This Hornet's origin story was retold and revised in great detail in Now Comics' first Tales of the Green Hornet mini-series in 1992. Originally described as Japanese, the Hornet's partner Kato changed nationality before the US went to was with Japan; the Now Comics Green Hornet series retroactively covered this change by establishing that to prevent Kato being sent to an American internment camp, Britt lied about Kato's Japanese nationality.

The Green Hornet (1960s)

Real Name: Britt Reid II

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Newspaper publisher (Daily Sentinel), general manager DSTV television station.

Affiliations: Hayashi Kato (partner), Lenore "Casey" Case (secretary), District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon, Batman (Bruce Wayne), Robin (Dick Grayson), the Dark Agent

Enemies: Dr. Eric Mabouse, the Red Dragon, Mao-Tze, Scarface, Inferno (Leon Fleming), Gatland Tobias

Known Relatives: Dan Reid (great-grandfather, deceased), Linda Reid (great-grandmother, deceased), Margaret Reid (aunt), John Reid (grand-uncle, a.k.a. The Lone Ranger), Dan Reid Jr. (grandfather), Margaret Reid (grandmother), Britt Reid (Green Hornet, uncle, deceased), Ruth Hopkins (aunt), Diana Reid (cousin), Tom Reid (brother), Mary Graham (sister-in-law), Lenore Case (wife), Alan Reid (Green Hornet, nephew, deceased), Paul Reid (Green Hornet, nephew), Daniel John Reid III (son)

Aliases: Black Hornet

Base of Operations: Unidentified US city

First Appearance: "The Silent Gun," The Green Hornet (ABC, 9th September 1966)

Powers/Abilities: A capable hand-to-hand fighter and excellent shot, using the Green Hornet's two specialised guns: The gas gun and "Hornet's Sting". His vehicle was the Black Beauty, a modified 1966 Chrysler Crown Imperial sedan, with "infra-green" headlights which employed polarised light in combination with the reciprocally polarised vision filters inside the car, allowing the occupants to see clearly despite the headlights being almost invisibly dark to normal vision. It's bumpers contained rockets with explosive warheads, the front radiator grill concealed a knock-out gas nozzle, and "scanner" (a flying surveillance device) could be released from the trunk.

History: In the mid-1960s Britt Reid II, nephew of the original Green Hornet, witnessed a senatorial friend's assassination, spurring him into adopting his uncle's crimefighting identity. He worked alongside Hayashi Kato, eldest son of the original Hornet's partner Ikano Kato. He fought crime for several years, even teaming up with fellow crimefighters Batman and Robin, before a heart attack caused him to retire. He briefly returned to crime fighting a couple of times during the 1990s, once as the Green Hornet, once as the Black Hornet, both times to assist his successor and nephew Paul Reid.

Comments: Created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, updated by William Dozier and Van Williams. Played on TV by Van Williams.

In Tales of the Green Hornet #4 the Green Hornet and Kato discuss an incident which had happened on the Green Hornet TV show, confirming that the Now Comics version was intended to be the one Van Williams portrayed. Giving the idea his seal of approval, the first two issues of Tales of the Green Hornet were written by Van Williams.






The Green Hornet (1986)

Real Name: Alan Reid

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Unknown

Affiliations: Hayashi Kato (partner)

Enemies: Angela DeVane

Known Relatives: Paul Reid (Green Hornet, brother)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed

First Appearance: (Alan) Green Hornet #2 (Now Comics, December 1989); (Green Hornet) Green Hornet #4 (Now Comics, February 1990)

Powers/Abilities: A capable fighter, armed with the Green Hornet's signature weapons.

History: Inheriting the identity of the Green Hornet from his uncle Britt, Alan Reid was killed by an explosion on his first case in 1986.

Comments: Created by Ron Fortier and Jeff Butler.

The Green Hornet (1990s)

Real Name: Paul Reid

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Concert pianist

Affiliations: Hayashi Kato (former partner), Mishi Kato (Crimson Wasp, former partner), Kono Kato (partner), Diana Reid (aunt, district attorney)

Enemies: Johnny Dollar (William Robert Parker, a.k.a. Jonathan Dunhill), Norman Desmaines, Angela DeVane, Commander Riot, Undertaker, the Sister-Hood, Sonny Block, Glory,. Onaka Matahatchi, Black Dragons, Mei Li

Known Relatives: Alan (Green Hornet, brother, deceased), Mishi Kato (wife), Tom Reid (father, deceased), Mary Graham (mother, deceased), Gordon (Green Hornet, son), Clayton (Green Hornet, grandson), Daniel John Reid (cousin), Britt Reid II (Green Hornet, uncle), Lenore Case (aunt), Diana Reid (aunt), Jack Reid (grandfather), Helen Sawyer (grandmother), Britt Reid (Green Hornet, grand-uncle, deceased), Ruth Hopkins (grand-aunt), Dan Reid, Jr. (great-grandfather), Margaret Sanford (great-grandmother), Dan Reid (great-great-grandfather, deceased), Linda Reid (great-great-grandmother, deceased), John Reid (Lone Ranger, great-great-grand-uncle, deceased)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed

First Appearance: (Paul) Green Hornet #2 (Now Comics, December 1989); (Green Hornet) Green Hornet #6 (Now Comics, April 1991)

Powers/Abilities: Paul was an excellent fighter, trained in martial arts by the various Katos. He was also a capable shot with the Hornet's specialised guns. He used two different Black Beauty cars during his tenure as the Horney.

History: Following the death of his elder brother, Alan, while fighting crime as the Green Hornet, Paul Reid reluctantly took over as the new Green Hornet in 1989. Initially he worked alongside Mishi Kato, but when she left for Switzerland, he partnered up with his uncle and brother's former partner, Hayashi Kato, and later with Hayashi and Mishi's nephew Kono.

Comments: Created by Ron Fortier and Jeff Butler.

The Green Hornet (21st century)

Real Name: Gordon Reid

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Unrevealed

Affiliations: Unrevealed

Enemies: Unrevealed

Known Relatives: Paul Reid (Green Hornet, father), Mishi Kato (Crimson Wasp, mother), Clayton Reid (Green Hornet, son), numerous other relatives amongst other past Katos and Reids via parents

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed

First Appearance: Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow #1 (Now Comics, June 1993)

Powers/Abilities: The Green Hornet was a skilled fighter. He was a good shot, and had two special guns he tended to use. One could fire a stream of potent knock-out gas, while the other, his "Hornet's Sting" produced electric shocks.

History: Gordon Reid was the Green Hornet at an unspecified point during the 21st century, following on from his father, Paul Reid.

Comments: Created by Clint McElroy and Dave Simons. He was only seen as a virtual reality simulation in Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow #1 and during his son's hallucination in #3, and his given name was revealed in the family tree feature in Green Hornet vol. 2 #26, published October 1993.

The Green Hornet (late 21st century)

Real Name: Clayton "Clay" Reid

Identity/Class: Normal human

Occupation: Newspaper publisher

Affiliations: Kato (Luke Kato, partner)

Enemies: Steel Syndicate, formerly Kato

Known Relatives: Gordon Reid (Green Hornet, father, deceased), Luke Kato (cousin), Paul Reid (Green Hornet, apparent grandfather), Mishi Kato (Crimson Wasp, grandmother), numerous other relatives amongst other past Katos and Reids via grandparents

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed

First Appearance: Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow #1 (Now Comics, June 1993)

Powers/Abilities: The Green Hornet was a skilled fighter. He was a good shot, and had two special guns he tended to use. One could fire a stream of potent knock-out gas, while the other, his "Hornet's Sting" produced electric shocks.

History: After his father died when he was a child, Clay Reid grew up to inherit the family mantle of the Green Hornet, but unlike his predecessors who merely posed as criminals to assist their fight against crime, Clay became a genuine crook, until his cousin Luke Kato convinced him to return to the path of justice.

Comments: Created by Clint McElroy and Dave Simons.

The Hornet's appearance in various media.


The Green Hornet's original home was radio. Created by George W. Trendle, who had also created the Lone Ranger for the same station three years earlier (hence the Reid family connection between the characters), and Fran Striker, who wrote all the scripts up until April 1944, the Hornet debuted on Detroit's WXYZ station in The Green Hornet on January 31st 1936. Allegedly Trendle learned he could not copyright the adjectiveless name “The Hornet," but knowing green hornets were supposedly belligerent and the most liable breed to sting, he added “Green” to the program title. The show lasted an astounding 16 years, running half hour shows twice weekly to begin with, before later cutting back to one episode a week, before returning to twice weekly broadcasts for the final year; it finally ended on December 5th 1952. During its run, four men supplied the voice of the titular character: Al Hodge between 1936 to 1943, then Donovan Faust for a single season in 1943, followed by Bob Hall from 1943 to 1946, and finally taking the role for the remainder of the run, Jack McCarthy from 1947 to the final program in 1952. Kato also changed, from the initial Raymond Hayashi (who changed his stage name to the slightly less-Japanese sounding Ray Toyo after the outbreak of WWII), followed by Rollon Parker, and finally Mickey Tolan. During the run Kato's nationality was quietly changed in response to Japan's involvement in WWII - there's conflicting accounts of exactly how and when this happened, but what isn't in dispute is that he began as being Japanese before the war, and was described as Filipino by the end of it. (see Kato's entry for further discussion of this). The show's theme tune, Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, became synonymous with the character, and would carry over to other incarnations, including the 1960s TV show. During the run of the radio series, two Green Hornet movie serials were produced (see below), as well as a comic from Holyoke and later Harvey (also see below). The radio series was syndicated and rebroadcast during the 1960s.


There were two Green Hornet movie serials produced by Universal Studios: The Green Hornet in 1940 and The Green Hornet Strikes Again! in 1941. Having been unhappy that Republic's translation of The Lone Ranger to the big screen had seen numerous alterations to the character, creator George W. Trendle took his other famous creation to Universal instead, and per his wishes they transferred the character almost verbatim, with only one significant amendment. Though the US had not yet entered the war, the producers recognised that Kato being Japanese might hurt box office, and so they changed him to being Korean. The first serial starred Gordon Jones as Britt Reid, though Al Hodge, at that time the radio voice of the Hornet, supplied the character's dubbed voice once he donned his mask. With Keye Luke playing Kato, the Hornet and his partner spent the 13 episodes of the initial serial battling the Syndicate and its mysterious Leader. For The Green Hornet Strikes Again! the lead role was recast, and serial veteran Warren Hull, who had previously played the Spider and Mandrake the Magician, took the mantle; with Keye Luke reprising his part, the crimefighting duo took down the new underworld leader, Crogan over the course of 15 episodes.


Encouraged by the success of their live-action Batman series, in 1966 ABC produced The Green Hornet tv show, starring Van Williams as Britt Reid and the then-little known Bruce Lee as his sidekick Kato. To help boost the fledgling series' ratings, a cameo crossover was swiftly arranged, with Batman and Robin running into the Hornet and Kato as the former pair climbed the side of a building, playing with a running gag on Batman where the title characters would encounter celebrities and characters from other TV shows leaning out of windows whenever the Dynamic Duo were ascending a building. Taking into account Van Williams' concerns about not wanting to be a copy of the camp Batman series, producer William Dozier decided to keep the Hornet's show more realistic. Each week William Dozier's voiceover would proclaim "Another challenge for the Green Hornet, his aide Kato, and their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty. On Police records a wanted criminal, Green Hornet is really Britt Reid, owner-publisher of the Daily Sentinel, his dual identity known only to his secretary and to the district attorney. And now, to protect the rights and lives of decent citizens, rides the Green Hornet!". However The Green Hornet proved nowhere near as successful as Batman, and despite Williams and Lee providing a full-scale guest appearance in the latter show, The Green Hornet lasted only a single season, a total of 26 half-hour episodes:

  1. "The Silent Gun" 9/9/66

  2. "Give 'Em Enough Rope" 9/16/66

  3. "Programmed for Death" 9/23/66

  4. "Crime Wave" 9/20/66
    Batman "The Spell of Tut" (window cameo)

  5. "The Frog is a Deadly Weapon" 10/7/66

  6. "Eat, Drink, and Be Dead" 10/14/66

  7. "Beautiful Dreamer" I 10/21/66

  8. "Beautiful Dreamer" II 10/28/66

  9. "The Ray Is for Killing" 11/11/66

  10. "The Praying Mantis" 11/18/66

  11. "The Hunters and the Hunted" 11/25/66

  12. "Deadline for Death" 12/2/66

  13. "The Secret of Sally Bell" 12/9/66

  14. "Freeway to Death" 12/16/66

  15. "May the Best Man Lose" 12/23/66

  16. "Seek, Stalk and Destroy" 1/6/67

  17. "Corpse of the Year" I 1/13/67

  18. "Corpse of the Year" II 1/20/67

  19. "Bad Bet on 459-Silent" 2/3/67

  20. "Ace in the Hole" 2/10/67

  21. "Trouble for Prince Charming" 2/17/67

  22. "Alias 'The Scarf'" 2/24/67
    Batman "A Piece of the Action"/"Batman's Satisfaction" (full crossover)

  23. "Hornet, Save Thyself" 3/3/67

  24. "Invasion from Outer Space" I 3/10/67

  25. "Invasion from Outer Space" II 3/17/67

  26. "The Hornet and the Firefly" 3/24/67


The Green Hornet's first comic series was published by  Helnit Publishing (later known as Holyoke Comics); the somewhat predictably titled Green Hornet Comics lasted six issues from December 1940 to August 1941. Fran Striker, writer of the majority of the radio series, wrote many of the comic scripts too, with each 64 page issue boasting 8 new Green Hornet stories. Bizarrely, this first comic interpretation saw the Hornet wear a yellow overcoat, though the rest of his garments remained signature green. Harvey Comics took over the license, and from June 1942 through September 1949, continuing the numbering from Holyoke with #7. The title was subtitled to be come The Green Hornet Fights Crime between #34 and #42, returned to the plain Green Hornet for #43, and finally became Green Hornet, Racket Buster for #44 through #47, the final issue. While the Hornet remained the cover star, he now shared his title with Harvey's own characters; the character's overcoat became green, but his hair changed from brown to blond without explanation. Harvey also used the character in War Victory Comics #1, and All New Comics #13 and 14. He briefly returned to comics in Dell Publications' Four Color Comics #496 in 1953, which came out after the radio show had concluded and marked the last appearance of the radio version of the Hornet until Now Comics revived him in the 1990s - the next comic series to arise would be based on the TV incarnation of the Hornet.

The Green Hornet Comics #1 from Holyoke,
showing their depiction of the character

Green Hornet #7, as Harvey takes over publishing the title.

Dell's depiction of the Green Hornet, in Four Color Comics #496.

That next series was Gold Key's Green Hornet which launched in November 1966, and only lasted 3 issues. As mentioned above, the stories were based on the Van Williams television version of the character. With the title's cancellation, the Green Hornet took a two-decade break from comics.

Gold Key's The Green Hornet #1

In 1989 Now Comics bought the license for the Green Hornet, and launched what proved to be the most prolific run for the character in any medium outside of his original radio series, albeit split over two main series and several mini-series. Not content with reviving the character for a modern audience, writer Ron Fortier also sought to tie in the previous versions of the character, establishing them all as part of a single continuity, with the radio version being the original Green Hornet, succeeded after he retired by his nephew and namesake, the 1960s television Green Hornet. Now's Green Hornet ran 54 issues (Green Hornet Vol. 1 #1-14 between 1989 and 1990, Green Hornet vol.2 #1-40 between 1991 and 1995), plus two annuals, one in 1992, another in 1994. The story gap between the two volumes was later bridged with the 3 issue mini-series Green Hornet: Solitary Sentinel in 1992. Additionally, several mini-series covered the past adventures of the previous Hornets: Tales of the Green Hornet vol.1 #1-2 (1990), vol.2 #1-4 (1992), vol.3 #1-3 (1992), Sting of the Green Hornet #1-4 (1992). The second (Bruce Lee) Kato had two mini-series of his own, Kato vol.1 #1-4 (1991-1992), vol.2 #1-2 (1992), while the future Green Hornet turned up in Green Hornet: Dark Tomorrow #1-3 (1993).

Now's Green Hornet vol.1 #1

Now's Green Hornet vol.2 #1


The first Green Hornet books (it couldn't be called a novel) were published by Whitman Books as part of their Big Little Books (a.k.a. Better Little Books) line, small volumes filled with minimal text and illustrations on every other page. The Green Hornet Strikes! was published in 1940, followed a year later by The Green Hornet Returns and then in 1942 by The Green Hornet Cracks Down; all three were written by Fran Striker. Over twenty years later, Whitman published another Green Hornet book to tie in with the TV series, a prose novel The Green Hornet: Case of the Disappearing Doctor by Brandon Keith, while Dell released The Green Hornet in The Infernal Light by Ed Friend, also tying in with the TV show.

Whitman's first Green Hornet Better Little Book

Whitman's Green Hornet novel

Dell's Green Hornet novel

Moonstone Books have announced plans for new Green Hornet prose collections in the near future.


Not counting compilations of his 1940s serials, the Green Hornet has yet to have an official movie adaptation, but there have been some near misses. In 1994 the Hong Kong movie Qing feng xia was released; in English, the movie's name was Green Hornet. It starred Kar Lok Chin who played Dong, a.k.a. the Green Hornet, a vigilante who dressed like the 1960s Kato, and at one point during the film a standee of Bruce Lee in Kato costume was shown amongst pictures of Dong's predecessors. More recently, after a few false starts, a new official Green Hornet movie has been announced, starring Seth Rogen as the title character, and scheduled for release in 2010.

Thanks to Gordon Aitken for reminding me of the Hornet's guns.

CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with

Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.

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