In Review: The Lone Ranger/Green Hornet #1

This is a love letter to both of these iconic heroes. Recommended.

The covers: Five covers to find on this first issue featuring the heroes of the Reid family. The A cover is by John Cassaday and June Chung. It has a gigantic image of the Lone Ranger with his head tilted slightly. The right side of his face gives way to a bust shot of the Green Hornet in three quarters view. He’s holding his signature pistol and just behind him, as a silhouette before the full moon, is Kato making a flying kick. Just below the Ranger’s chin is a yellow sun revealing the Ranger and Tonto in silhouette as they ride off on Silver and Scout. Great image showing the title characters looking cool. The Green Hornet Design cover is by interior artist Giovanni Timpano. This resembles an illustration on an artist’s board, since the border is in blue ink. The image has a full figure of Britt Reid in Hornet dress, with his mask and hat near him, while a small image of the Hornet bearing his gas gun is in the upper right and below that is a three quarters illustration of the Hornet masked. It’s pretty cool. If there’s a Green Hornet cover, you know there has to be a Lone Ranger cover, and the Lone Ranger Design cover is also by Timapano. This has the Ranger in similar poses, composed similarly as the Hornet’s. It, too, is pretty cool. There’s a “B&W Incentive” cover that features the exact same illustration as the A cover, just minus Chung’s contributions. I do like this, but I prefer it with the colors. The final cover is a “Virgin Art” cover that’s the A cover without any text. If you like that cover, you’re going to love this even more. Overall grades: A A, Green Lantern Hornet Design B+, Lone Ranger Design B+, “B&W Incentive” A-, and “Virgin Art” A+ 

The story: In 1936, school lets out for the day and the kids come out running. They pass a band in the park practicing Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” as they make their way to the City Police Stables where they meet up with “Uncle” John Reid, who places one of the tykes atop a horse as the others wail to be next. James Reid walks into the stables, asking a guard if his son has been by and is answered that he hasn’t been seen in months. The disappointed father turns his attentions to John who is besieged by the children to tell them about “The Masked Man.” The older man can’t resist and begins “…the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice!” The visuals that accompany his tale show several action packed moments of his past. Michael Uslan sets up this issue with John trying to comfort his nephew James that Britt will turn around and quit lollygagging. James has an idea as well, but something happens to him that keeps him from completing his task. The story then moves forward eighteen months to introduce Britt, now in a position he didn’t want, but receiving help from his friend Kato. Someone appears before the pair that will change their paths forever. This turning point is momentarily interrupted by an important flashback from the Ranger’s past that will have major importance in this series. When back in the present a historically important individual appears to ask one of the characters for assistance on a case. Both heroes are hesitant to help until the name of the antagonist is given. The final page has both men going to a surprising location, encountering a threat that will have a horrendous impact on the world’s future, and, surprisingly, both heroes go to this location out of costume. Uslan is building up the men before they become the icons and this is terrific reading. This perfectly captures the time period where good seemed lost in a sea of constant, unsettling news. I loved this. Overall grade: A 

The art: Giovanni Timpano does a terrific job on this book, and he’s got quite the job to accomplish. He has to be able to capture the locations and fashions of the late 1930s and the wild west of the 1890s. The first page wonderfully brings the reader to a time before WWII. I’m a sucker for this time period and Timpano is hitting every mark for the streets, the cars, and the people of the time. The full paged splash on Page 3 is a beautiful way to fall into the Ranger’s past, with the top image of James split between the present and the past. The action on 4 shows four scenes from his exploits, and each is worthy of being a story on their own; the top panel as he leaps from Silver is incredible, but that fourth panel atop the train is gorgeous. John’s face in the present is wonderfully craggy and he emotes incredibly. When he adjusts his hat at the bottom of 6 it caused me to inhale in anticipation. Timpano also lays out a panel exceptionally well; take a look at the top panel on 7 that shows the two Reids walking into a important location. The lobby is full of people, but the way in which Timpano places the focus on the men is awesome — it creates a sense of motion in a frozen illustration. Exceptional work! The final panel on 8 is great in partial silhouettes. The opening and closing panels on 11 are cinematic in their use of point of view. The emotions on 14 are tremendous, and if a tale is told about the Lone Ranger, it’s got to end with a shot like the one shown at the bottom of 16 — sensational! The final page is such a surprising clash of images, though historically accurate; watching the protagonists walk into such an environment is startling, and the final two panels have me on pins and needles waiting to see how the next issue visuals will begin. Timpano is definitely the right artist for this tale. Overall grade: A 

The colors: My default coloring on a book set in the 1930s are faded browns. That wasn’t the primary color of the time, but looking at aged photographs from that time and black and white films, a reader expects this to some extent. Pete Pantazis acknowledges this on the opening page, using almost sepia colors as the children make their way to the stables. The first bright color is calming blue of John’s vest. When the story returns to those thrilling days of yesteryear in the flashback, full colors appear on 3. The next page continues with the flashbacks, and a tint is given to each panel to differentiate one from the other. When Britt appears his fiery red hair has him stand out on the page. Pantazis uses colors like an expert cinematographer in the top panel on 14 and the bottom panel on 16, creating the perfect tone for the reader. This book has excellent coloring. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, poster text, dialogue, signage, newspaper text, yells, and the tease for next issue are created by Troy Peteri. There’s a lot for Peteri to create for these time periods and all work well. The scene settings are done in a newspaper style font, creating a specific point in time, as well as harkening to Britt’s public business. There’s a lot of varied fonts for the posters, signs, and newpapers, and it’s impressive that Peteri has each look different, as they would be at the time. Peteri excellently adds to create an appropriate setting. Overall grade: A

The final line: If you’re too young to have experienced these characters in their heyday, this is for you. If you remember thrilling to these characters’ adventures when they were done regularly, prepare to fall in love all over again. The story effectively channels the heroism and power of these characters and the visuals will take you back to those thrilling days of yesteryear. This is a love letter to both of these iconic heroes. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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