Kato #1


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Kato #1


  • Words: Ande Parks
  • Art: Ale Garza
  • Inks: Diego Bernard
  • Colors: PC Siqueira
  • Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: May 12, 2010

With this new series, Kevin Smith is establishing himself as the Tom Clancy of comics with his own franchise brand that can be solicited out for other writers to complete. 

Hearing the name Kato immediately conjures images of both Bruce Lee from the 1960's television show and the humorous stereotyped antics of the house boy Cato in the various Peter Sellers Pink Panther films.  Having a serious comic treatment, however, may do little more to resurrect this character from pop culture obscurity despite writer Ande Parks' best intentions as Dynamite continues to flood the market with multiple Green Hornet related titles.

New readers can approach Kato with no prior knowledge of the character or reading of Kevin Smith's sister series as Parks explores the relationship between the elder Kato and his daughter Mulan.  In this first issue, readers will find the story formulaic—villain seeks revenge for murdered parent, hero loses spouse, hero's defiant child must avenge parental loss.  Knowing that the "new" Kato in the Smith series is a woman reduces the dramatic impact of this "origin" story for Mulan's character.  Perhaps readers who enter this series directly from Smith's will have more of an emotional connection with Mulan or Kato as Parks never really develops them beyond mere caricatures.  Unfortunately, in terms of a first issue, this story lacks intrigue or mystery, and it fails to establish a basic foundation for anyone in the story, hero or villain. 

Learning more about the young Hirohito Juuma and his family connection to Kato's history may be the only thing that inspires any interest in reading beyond this issue.  In far too many ways, unintentional or not, the plot and the name "Mulan" mirror the 1998 Disney film of the same name except that Smith and Parks have changed nationality from Chinese to Japanese.  It is plausible that Parks was too restricted by Smith's script to make substantial additions or changes that could have improved the story.

The artistic team of Ale Garza and Diego Bernard deserve the lion's share of praise for any success this issue may find.  Emotive facial expressions and crisp and clean portrait and action sequences are only reinforced by the beautiful colors of Leonardo-Mlk and PC Siqueira.  Together, they create a stunning layout and atmosphere for the entire book.

An audience more familiar with Smith's other Green Hornet series and Dynamite's catalog may appreciate this issue far more than a casual newcomer.  Yet, as a first issue, attracting new readers should be its primary goal.  While Parks should be commended for his tight dialogue that is well-paced, the story itself and the guidelines from Smith are far too restrictive to allow much innovation in the way of plotting. 

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  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg May 18, 2010 at 1:13am

    To be honest, Smith hasn't done much to develop the characters beyond caricatures either. I haven't been real impressed by his Green Hornet. And yes, "Mulan" is a terrible name for the new Kato. Far too distracting, given that name's use by Disney and the fact that the original Mulan was a Chinese folk hero. I have to imagine the writers of the Now Comics Green Hornet are tearing their hair out, as they did the female Kato idea years ago.

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