Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Batman vs Green Hornet: Round 2!

The rematch that took almost 50 years to do is coming in May...
Art by Alex Ross
Green Hornet
DC and Dynamite are teaming up to present a sequel to the first inter-comics company crossover!
The Hornet and Kato had already cameoed on Batman, in the episode "The Spell of Tut", where they appeared in a window during a Bat-Climb.
Celebrities ranging from Sammy Davis Jr. to Edward G. Robinson popped up for brief appearances during these sequences. Even characters from other ABC series like Lurch (Ted Cassidy) from the Addams Family and Col. Klink (Werner Klemperer) from Hogan's Heroes showed up!

Curiously, the visiting duo are regarded as heroes, not villains, and Britt introduces Kato by name.
(Metafiction aficionados have been driven nuts by these interludes, trying to fit them into their respective universes...)
And, as we've pointed out before, both Batman and The Green Hornet featured their characters watching each others' show on tv!
All that was basically ignored when it was decided that, to boost Green Hornet's decent (but not Batman-level) ratings, GH and K would appear as "Visiting Heroes" on Batman.
For whatever reason, none of the established Batman villains were used. (And The Green Hornet had no costumed...or even ongoing...opponents.)
Instead, a new baddie, Colonel Gumm, played by Roger C. Carmel*, was introduced, along with a plotline involving counterfeit stamps which drew The Hornet and Kato to Gotham.
The motif of GH and K being perceived as villains was utilized, resulting in the Dynamic Duo being as eager to capture them as to jail the corny counterfeiter!
In addition, it's shown that the two heroes' millionaire alter-egos, Bruce Wayne and Britt Reid, have known each other since childhood, and constantly competed over almost everything, including women!
So, it was inevitable the two costumed frat-boys would square-off in the climax...
On-set photo of Van Williams and Adam West during the climactic fight scene
Unfortunately, the gambit didn't pay off.
The Green Hornet's ratings didn't improve, and the show was cancelled.
(Note: the show's ratings were good enough to make them eligible for renewal, but, since the producers didn't want to implement network-demanded budget cuts, the network axed the series anyway.
Batman, OTOH, continued, with a reduced budget and cut from being twice-weekly to weekly, for another year, before being cancelled.)
Here's a truncated version of the classic 1967 match-up...
Beginning in May, there will be a new comic mini-series featuring the 1960s tv versions of both characters in a direct sequel to the tv two-parter, written by Kevin Smith & Ralph Garman, and illustrated by Ty Templeton with covers by Alex Ross.
Watch for it.

*Roger C. Carmel played numerous flamboyant villains on everything from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to Hawaii Five-0 to Transformers to Star Trek, where he portrayed Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd on both the classic and animated series! He's also the answer to the trivia question; "Who's the only actor to play a villain opposite Batman, Captain Kirk, and The Green Hornet?"