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Green Hornet (Matt Wagner Dynamite Comics)

Green Hornet

(Britt Reid) (Matt Wagner take for Dynamite)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Green Hornet is one of the major “mystery men” of the 1930s. He’s one of the major ones along with The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, the Lone Ranger, The Phantom and all this awesome pulps  goodness. He appeared in 1936.

Though he’s not The Shadow, the Hornet’s radio series led to two Republic movie serials, numerous pulp novels, many comic books… A key part of his footprint was a 1966/67 TV series with Van Williams as the Hornet and, more importantly, Bruce Lee as Kato.

In 2010, Dynamite Comics issued a new Green Hornet comic, retelling his origins and early cases. It was penned by major indie author Matt Wagner , and offered a very competently modernised, dynamic, historically grounded, racism-free version of the Green Hornet and Kato. Exactly what we needed ! Woot !

So let’s use the Wagner take for our two-fisted Green Hornet profile.


Background

  • Real Name: Britt Reid
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Daniel Reid (father, deceased), unnamed mother (deceased). A portrait in his father’s study might imply that the Lone Ranger (John Reid) was an ancestor, which is also alluded in a letter from Daniel to Britt.
  • Group Affiliation: Publisher, owner and EIC of the Daily Sentinel
  • Base Of Operations: Chicago
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 205 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

Britt Reid is a large and robust man, who has been trained in the Japanese martial arts by Kato. Though he’ll never be as proficient as his chauffeur, he’s able to take on most street toughs or even experienced boxers.

He’s athletic (he’s a particularly good runner), but not genuinely agile.

As a journalist, Reid likes words and enjoys talking. He’s the “face” of the pair, and will happily delivers the messages.

Green Hornet (Britt Reid) in a fight

Reid has a certain talent for theatrics, and some scenes loosely imply that he has a powerful voice. The Hornet is fairly intimidating, though that will not work against truly determined individuals. And he has yet to build a genuinely scary reputation.

His journalistic talents extent to legworking, research and networking. Furthermore, his position as the head of the Daily Sentinel opens many doors in Chicago, and brings him considerable intelligence gathered by its reporters.

As a result Reid has a fine knowledge of the Chicago mobs and how the city works. He can also call various favours as a member of the city’s elite.

Gear

Another strength of the Green Hornet is his unique arsenal, giving him a considerable edge against his foes. Key pieces of kit include :

  • Ballistic vest. This is actually 40 layers of strong silk – not an uncommon method to stop arrows and small blades. The Hornet will still feel the full impact, but a bullet is unlikely to actually penetrate.
    Reid’s vest is seen stopping what is stated to be a .32 round, though given the look of the revolvers firing it I assume it meant .32-20 ammunition, a Winchester light hunting rifle round used by some S&W revolvers of the early XXth Century.
  • Surveillance gear. This primarily means binoculars. These seemed to have some night-vision capabilities, presumably via large lenses collecting more light. Stethoscopes were also often employed to listen through doors and thin walls.
  • Grappling hook and ropes. The grappling hook is not meant to support the weight of two men, and the Hornet and Kato normally use it one after the other. The Hornet sometimes carries a double pulley to use a rope set by Kato as a zip-line. The Hornet also has lockpicks in his coat. In practice Kato is often the one to carry and use the grapnel and ropes, being a better climber than Reid.
  • Hornet’s sting. This is a rebuilt Mauser C96 which delivers a large electrical jolts – essentially miniature lightning. This was built by Rusty, though it was Kato who found the trick to make it work.
    The finalised version of the sting thus shoots a cloud of electrically conductive gas (released from one of the ampoules under the barrel and made up of nitrogen, oxygen and helium) and immediately follows with the lightning. Though short-ranged this is a potent weapon, and almost anybody caught in the electrified gas will be shocked unconscious.
    The battery can deliver eight arcs, but the carousel under the barrel can only hold four gas ampoules. The carrousel is presumably cycled through a sort of lever action on the side of the gun.
    The gun is kept in a custom shoulder holster.
  • Calling cards. These 5” green discs bear the Green Hornet logo, and seem to be a thin sheet of magnetised metal.
  • Transmitter. This gadget is embedded in one of the Hornet’s shoes, and can be traced from a couple miles away by a scope built into the Black Beauty.

History

Britt Reid is the only child of crusading Chicago newspaper owner Daniel Reid. During the Roaring Twenties (and presumably before), Daniel Reid had his Daily Sentinel relentlessly expose the Chicago mob and corruption. To him, that was the mission of a journalist.

An amateur entomologist, Daniel Reid kept a number of pinned insects under glass. This collection included one scary (fictional) specimen of vespa viridis. These green hornets, found in Kenya, are exceptionally deadly. The specimen impressed Britt during his boyhood.

Daniel always assumed that Britt would succeed him. He did not quite see that Britt was more inclined toward athleticism and travel. Trying to please his father, Britt nevertheless became the editor-in-chief of his high school’s newspaper, the Westlake Herald.

Discovering the world

However, in 1934 he rebelled. Britt packed his bag and decided that what he wanted to do was see the world rather than work at the Daily Sentinel right after graduating as his father intended.

His father was nevertheless supportive, seeing his mistake. He set up a trust fund to pay for his son’s travels, as rich people do.

The younger Reid spent 1935 and part of 1934 travelling in Europe. There, he witnessed with dismay the rise of Nazism and Fascism. In 1936 he was in Africa. In undocumented circumstances he tried to launch a newspaper in Magadi, Kenya (south of Nairobi).

Things went wrong. Reid’s employee, a man named Adisa, was killed as they fled from local paramilitaries. Reid only survived as he spotted a nest of green hornets, recognising them from his father’s study. He provoked them into killing his pursuers.

Reid fled Kenya in August, sailing to Japan then China.

Nanking

In 1937, Reid was deep inside war-torn China. In Sichuan he received a telegram warning him that his father had become very sick. As a result, Britt made his way toward to coast to return to the US.

In early December he was stuck in Nanking, where the Chinese government had fled the Japanese. The Japanese then attacked.

The Green Hornet (Britt Reid) electrocutes two enemies

Witnessing the horrors of the Rape of Nanking , Reid was looking for a way out. This is how he ran into a Japanese deserter who had been sabotaging the efforts of his countrymen. Though highly skilled, the renegade had just been caught. Thanks to a convenient power line, Reid saved the man from an ad hoc firing squad, and they fled Nanking together.

Hayashi Kato became a close friend and ally. Having lost his country to the early Shōwa Era , Kato accompanied Britt all the way back to the US. Reid passed himself for Hayashi’s manservant as they were on a Japanese merchant boat, then fed US customs a story about foreign students.

Back stateside

In San Francisco, the careless Reid was attacked by a street gang who had overheard about his trust fund. In the ensuing scuffle, he discovered Hayashi’s amazing martial skills.

Though Hayashi was somewhat ashamed of this display of violence, Reid asked if he could be taught to fight this way. He wouldn’t even wait to arrive to Chicago, and had Kato start teaching him whilst still on the train.

However, Britt arrived the day after his father died.

Sweet home Chicago

As he mourned, Britt learned that he had inherited the Daily Sentinel as his father had always intended. He resolved to continue his father’s fight against the mob and corruption. He would particularly target mob boss “Skid” Caruso, who had practically taken control of the town.

However, it was trivial for Caruso to threaten the families of the Daily Sentinel staff. After attempting to expose the mob Reid found himself with his hands tied.

(In the real world, Frank “the Enforcer” Nitti  was still the boss of the Chicago Outfit  during these years. In the Green Hornet’s world Nitti fell in unrevealed circumstances and was replaced by Caruso.)

Kato suggested covert action, striking from the shadows – and the use of masks to avoid reprisals. After Hayashi showed him what a ninja can do, Reid was convinced. Britt trained for seven more months with Kato in the basics of ninjutsu and the martial arts. He also continued to assemble assets for a shadow war against the Chicago mobs.

Getting Rusty

A key recruitment was mechanical engineer “Rusty” Schmidt. He was an older German-American who used to run the presses for Daniel Reid. Rusty’s daughter had been killed by a mob gunman, and his very affected wife died soon after. Rusty himself was sinking into alcoholism when Reid recruited him for his shadow war against the mob.

A capable inventor with superior practical sense, Schmidt designed the likes of the Green Hornet’s “stinger” gun and the Black Beauty supercar. He also provided excellent advice about logistical matters.

Following his advice Reid sold his father’s house, where he had grown up, to buy an apartment building facing a warehouse. The warehouse had been used by the Underground Railroad , and was thus ideal for conversion into a secret base.

A secret elevator was installed in Reid’s new apartments. It allowed him and Hayashi to quickly reach a tunnel leading to the warehouse. Once there they could switch to costumes and exit discreetly in their car via hidden doors and a blind alley.

Schmidt eventually ran into technical difficulties to build some gadgets – being primarily a mechanical engineering man. But Kato teamed up with him and brought his more recent and general scientific knowledge to the table.

Soon, the Green Hornet and his chauffeur were ready for action !


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

Reid is primarily a crusading journalist fighting against crime and corruption to defend the honest everyman. His activities as the Green Hornet are but a continuation of this. They are made necessary to protect the staff of the Daily Sentinel from payback by the mob.

Lesser contributing factors are his taste for physical action, and for adventure. Reid is passionate about his role as a publisher, which is his reason for living and his mean to honour his father.

The Green Hornet (Britt Reid) reloads his special pistol

Britt and his father seem to be men ahead of their time. They share an interest in foreign cultures, and progressive social views. Unlike most people around him Britt seems free of racism, xenophobia and misogyny, and strongly disliked what he saw of Fascism.

Reid doesn’t seem to get racism. He hadn’t realised that most 1930s Americans couldn’t tell that Kato wasn’t Chinese until Mr. Hayashi pointed it out to him.

Other traits

Reid likes words, being a 1930s journalist. But rather than writing he prefers delivering lines as the Hornet, which one suspects he has rehearsed beforehand given their theatrical and dramatic quality.

Being a man with a cause, he’s always happy to make thunderous proclamations about the evils of crime and corruption, the “awful sting of the Green Hornet” and how mobsters are a cowardly, superstitious lot.

The Hornet never intended to be mistaken for a criminal. Yet, he plays the role of the pulpish masked two-fisted mob boss with gusto. This is another layer of deception protecting those who would otherwise be exposed to retaliation. furthermore Britt likes sounding tough, and it gives another excuse to chew the scenery.

Britt Reid can occasionally come across as an eager and spoiled youth, and is not as redoubtable as he likes to think he is. But he is competent and a good man with his heart in the right place, and possesses genuine courage.


Quotes

“How do truth and justice stand a chance against such brutality and vice ?! Laws are subverted ! Influence is bought ! Even the press is subject to intimidation ! There’s just got to be another way to fight these bastards—!”

“I can’t just run around, masked and committing homicide – otherwise, I’m not better than the thugs I’m up against.”

“I’ve always heard that ‘Skids’ Caruso’s men were yellow… and now I see why. Six armed gorillas against two common yardmen — the sort of odds that only a gutless coward could love !”

“Skid Caruso had an easy ride for far too long. He’s about to learn that there’s a new game in town ! Here, give him my calling card. And tell him to stay out of my way… Otherwise he’ll soon feel the awful sting… of the Green Hornet !”


Misc. Universes History

The Hornet is a signature pulp character – though various versions set in later time periods have existed. He existed in a relatively mundane and low-powered reality, though, and crossing over with super-hero universes would be difficult on a sustained basis.

Being widely thought of as a mob boss shields him from many such interactions. For instance in the DCU he’d never have been asked to join the All-Star Squadron. But he’s best kept separated from the others.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Green Hornet

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Seeks Justice
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Newspaper publisher
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 008
Init: 017 HP: 020

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 03, Charisma: 05, Detective (Legwork): 06, Martial Artist: 05, Thief (Stealth): 04, Thief (Locks and Safes): 05, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Chicago), Credentials (Press), Buddy (“Rusty” Schmidt), Expertise (News Publishing, Chicago mobs and politics), Familiarity (Entomology), Headquarters (Expansive), Languages (French, Japanese and presumably others), Misc.: Reid is the publisher/owner of a major metropolitan newspaper.

Connections:
Street (High), Underworld (Low), Chicago PD (Low), the Daily Sentinel (High)

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, Mistrust, Misc.: Reid is sworn to never knowingly take a human life (but if an accidental death happens, it’s OK)

Equipment:

  • BALLISTIC VEST [BODY 04, Blunting: 04 (05 when adjusted for Genre), Partial Coverage (vest)]
  • Hornet’s sting [BODY 03, Lightning (Area of Effect 0 APs): 05, Range: 02, Ammo: 08, R#03, Limitations: Lightning has No Range, used the listed Ranged instead ; Lightning affects everything within a cloud of conductive gas ; if the cloud is dispersed (say, by a very strong wind) its trajectory is random.]
  • Binoculars [BODY 01, Telescopic vision: 04, Ultra-vision: 01, Limitation: Ultra-vision only to double the apparent light level]
  • HEEL TRANSMITTER [BODY 01, Miniaturisation: 01, Radio communication: 01, Limitation: Radio com. only to broadcast a homing signal.]

Design Notes

This version of the Green Hornet tales is low cinematic. Most people have modest Attributes and Skills, the Genre is about Real, and Killing Combat attacks cause bleeding.

A recurrent element is that being hit hurts. BODY scores and HPs are generally low, and any attack using a weapon has its EV increased by one as a Genre rule (so a mediocre pistol with Projectile Weapons: 03 would have an EV of 04, an EV 03 knife would be EV 04 (possibly more with STR and/or Martial Artist), etc.).

Truncheons, baseball bats, tire irons, bar stools, etc. all qualify for the EV bonus.

Since this is a Genre rule, the EVs of the weapons in this entry are given *without* the +1 Bonus.


By Mike Winkler and Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: This entry is specifically based on Matt Wagner’s 2010 Green Hornet – Year One for Dynamite Comics. It is a good modernised retelling of the character.

Helper(s): Frank Murdock

Writeup completed on the 3rd of January, 2012.

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