Green Hornet #9 (October 1942)
When I started this Simon and Kirby blog one of the first subjects I posted about were the Harvey covers done by Jack and Joe. These comics are rare and generally in poor condition and so these covers are not often seen. But they are some of my favorite covers. I have not forgotten to finish up that series of post, but I do not have access to two of them (Speed #22 and Green Hornet #8) and two others are technically very challenging to restore (Speed #23 and Green Hornet #9). Well I finally have restored GH #9 and I am sure the reader will agree it was worth the effort.
Green Hornet #9 is another of my favorite Harvey covers (along with Champ #19 and #20). Jack Kirby’s touch is all over this one. In it he uses the mirror to great effect. The crook is so started by seeing the Green Hornet in the mirror and has turned so quickly to confront him that his cigar and its reflection still hang in the air. Although the crook is reaching for his gun, the Green Hornet already has the drop on him. However the mirror reveals to us that yet another gun carrying foe is climbing into the room be hind them. This device of a gun carrying foe, or sometimes the hero, sneaking in through a window or door was used by S&K a number of times while working for National. But the thing is, if we can see the crook in the mirror should not the heroes?
Well the cover says “Read the story behind the cover”. This was one of the clever ideas that some of these early Harvey covers used. The text story, required to insure a low cost delivery by the U.S. Post Office, was based on the cover, or perhaps it was the other way around. From the story we learn that the crook by the dresser is the Jackal and the gun carrying foe is Dapper Dan. The key passage reads:
Just as he was gloating over piles of money in his drawers, he heard stealthy steps creep toward him. Instinctively he reached for his automatic and glanced at the mirror. It was the Green Hornet!
“Keep jour hands from that roscoe!” the Green Hornet ordered.
The Jackal scowled and obeyed. But when he looked at the mirror again, his spirits rose. Hefting an automatic, Dapper Dan was coming through the fire escape window.
Dapper Dan was just as visible to the Green Hornet and Kato as he was to the Jackal. Almost unperceived, Kato moved sidewise, and as Dapper Dan set a foot into the apartment, Kato turned around. Then Dapper Dan found himself sailing through the air toward the wall, which he struck hard with his head. He fell on the floor without a groan.
It was jiu-jitsu carried to perfection.
Green Hornet #9 original art
The original art for this cover still exists and it was up for auction by Heritage a few years ago. It reveals there was more to the art that was either covered up by stats (of the “film strip” and the title) or painted out with white-out. The now missing parts are interesting but frankly superfluous. Whoever made the decision to remove them was absolutely correct. The finished cover is much more focused.
Some experts and scholars also attribute part or all of the Green Hornet #10 to Kirby. I presume this is because of the use of a criminal clown similar to that by Jack for Green Hornet #7. But to me this more like swiping. Although it is conceivable that Kirby might return to the idea of a killer clown, I doubt he would have used for GH #10 a costume so similar to that from GH #7. Further the folding of the clown’s costume has a flair unlike how Jack would handle it. The killer clown also shows up for the cover of Speed #21. That cover looks like it was done primarily by Joe Simon and it would not be surprising to find Joe using the same costume. But I do not see Joe’s hand in the art for GH #10. The car, the Green Hornet figure and the overall composition do not remind me of either Jack or Joe. I therefore do not accept Green Hornet as by either Simon or Kirby.