Newspapers are dying. They will never be the same again. Our two biggest superheroes, Spider-Man and Superman, must deal with change at The Daily Bugle and The Daily Planet. In both titles, the venerable buildings that were home to these papers have been blown up! We see Peter Parker and Clark Kent embracing one tech gadget after another. All this is very symbolic of change but we rarely, if ever, get much of a sense of what’s it’s really like to work in the news business, from either Spidey or Supes, much less take a serious look at any of the issues that newspeople grapple with. What if a veteran reporter, with a lot to say, were to give us a firsthand look inside the newsroom? That’s what we get in “GREEN HORNET ANNUAL #2,” written by former Seattle Times reporter, Mark Rahner.
The inside look we get at The Daily Sentinel made me think of “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” a 2010 documentary mixing fly-on-the-wall observations with interviews. Much like this doc, we get a taste, a very bitter taste, of how under the gun newspapers are today. Rahner does a great job of filling out Britt Ried, the newspaperman by day/Green Hornet by night, and the intense pressure he’s under to keep his paper relevant. As “Page One” makes clear, the downward spiral has been many years in the making, way before the assumed culprit, the internet. The source of the shift to a lower status for newspapers began with Gannet Publishing in the late ‘70s and its USA Today that set the standard for soft, easily digestible, news as opposed to challenging, deeper, hard news. Well, that’s exactly what Britt is battling. He demands that his newspaper get back to creating work they can be proud of instead of vanity pieces in hopes of winning news industry awards.
With the pressure of attempting to live up to his father’s legacy as head of a major newspaper and as the Green Hornet, Britt Reid is mad as hell. His mentor, Kato, has no problem with stoking the fires. Kato is there to put a even finer point on the mess: newspapers have essentially given up and taken to parroting whatever corporate and government interests want to promote. It was different back when Britt’s dad and Kato ruled the night. But all Britt can seem to do at first is let his anger get the better of him. At the start of our story, Britt confronts a couple of brutes in a bar who were making fun of the demise of The Daily Sentinel. Given that these crude fellas were even bothering to discuss media, it seems like Britt could have at least tried to engage them in conversation. Instead, he beats the crap out of them.
What propels the action is the discovery by Britt, during a newsroom meeting, that there’s at least one truly compelling story that’s being worked on, an expose on human trafficking. But the story is being worked on by “Baron” a prima donna who seeks perfection and so it will be weeks, maybe months, before that series of articles will see print. This becomes the catalyst for Britt to return to the ideals of his father: make the newspaper work to get information on the all the corruption and wrongdoing to make the Green Hornet’s job that much more efficient. The story runs at a quick pace and is served well with bold artwork by Ronan Cliquet. He certainly has a good sense for capturing the various facial expressions of someone who could really benefit from some anger management.
“Green Hornet Annual #2” gives us an angrier and grittier Green Hornet ready to get the job done. Rahner’s take on the Green Hornet gives us a more realistic crime fighter that makes for a thrilling story. Here’s to seeing more of Rahner’s Green Hornet. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Script by Mark Rahner. Pencils by Ronan Cliquet. Colors by Impacto Studios. Letters by Marshall Dillon. Cover by Phil Hester. 42 pages, $4.99. Visit Dynamite Entertainment.