Green Team 2

It’s so hard being rich, white, and famous…

While I had a lukewarm reaction to DC’s The Movement and its hodgepodge of progressive allusions, last month I found myself strangely intrigued by its sister-title, the decidedly more conventional The Green Team – Teen Trillionaires. Superhero comics have a strange way of siding with the rich, after all Batman, Green Arrow, and Iron Man are all billionaires or greater (and also lead DC and Marvel’s offerings in terms of viewership. Hmmmm…). Still, while everyone from Charles Xavier to the Black Panther can soundly break the bank, we don’t often see our heroes handling money. In fact, one could probably write Batman as a middle class guy living off of Lucius Fox’s wealth and not too much would change.

Enter Commodore Murphy and his strange circle of friends. If you’re tired of superheroes who just happen to be billionaires, checkout this group of billionaires who may just happen to end up as superheroes.

This sophomore effort from Art Baltazar and Franco continues laying down track where the first issue left off, and it’s just as much fun as it was last month, if not more.

As I bought this issue I off-handedly joked to the woman at the register that despite the bad rap they’ve gotten over it, DC’s New 52 has me consistently trying new titles. One of the things I’ve noticed in trying all those titles is that, as much as I love Nightwing or Aquaman, there’s something special about a comic that’s trying something new. Your Red Hood and the Outlaws, your Wonder Woman, your Dial H, your Sword of Sorcery, they all give their reader a sense of exploring this world with the protagonists. It’s great that Batman wasn’t radically changed by the reboot, but he’s got a status quo and it ain’t changing. That’s a large part of why Green Team feels so exciting right now. Based on a single story that apparently featured a team of elementary school millionaires driving their villain insane through the use of a roller coaster called (I kid you not) The Great American Pleasure Machine, Green Team is one of the very few titles that DC is publishing that is largely original in premise. That means that last month we met a set of new characters and saw them face down their first super-powered adversary/adversaries.

The energy in this comic is palpable. While I really ought to re-read the series before I dare to make such comparisons, if there’s a comic that Green Team reminds me of, it’s probably Runaways. Those who know Runaways know that that’s high praise (and those who don’t probably should), and I’m sure there are some who are skeptical. Let me be clear; this may not be another Runaways, but the feeling of intelligently written teenagers coming together based on chance definitely helps a sense of similarity. After all, as Commodore, himself points out, each of these children are likely the spawn of some very dangerous people.

The members of Green Team, are, by their nature, broad characters, but Baltazar and Franco do an excellent job of bringing them to life in a way that most comic book teens just can’t manage.  We have a strong enough cast list to draw us in but they’re never defined by their roles. Comic readers of the early 1940s marveled at National comics’ brilliance in providing their young readers with a character to identify with, Robin the Boy Wonder, but these days if you’re looking for a comic from the publisher of Detective Comics that can manage to make you feel that you could be that guy or girl, you’re going to have to go to Green Team.

The plot doesn’t zoom ahead this month, but we get a fun resolution to last month’s cliffhanger before Baltazar and Franco introduce a couple of new wrinkles. Accordingly it doesn’t feel quite as well structured as last month’s installment, but the momentum of the story is more than enough to keep one interested and the chaos serves the story by providing incentive for our young protagonists to share a bit more.

Another great thing about this issue is that it solidly justifies its inclusion in the DC Universe. While I think that DC needs to expand the perception of what its brand can offer, I’m aware that we aren’t there yet. For all their efforts to revitalize the horror comic (cut down in its prime), the war comic, and other genres, DC is still thought of as a superhero publisher and as such, having a single shared universe that’s 90% superheroes naturally makes other genres the odd man out. Luckily, Green Team finds a brilliant balance between succumbing to the power of DC’s shared universe and remaining its own book. The unfolding premise of the story requires the DCU to function and there is a truly wonderful moment of badassery that simply wouldn’t be possible at any other publisher.

Ig Guara draws a beautiful issue, supported by his inker, J.P. Mayer, and an excellent colorist, Wil Quintana. Green Team doesn’t rock the boat too much in the art department, staying close to the standard DC house-style, but, to paraphrase a wise man: the difference between all those other comics and Green Team? The Green Team makes this look good (oh, I went there).

That indefinable but essential quality of being pleasing to the eye is here in spades, but any doubt as to the substance of the artwork should be quickly put to rest. Guara imbues each panel and each character with a range of emotions. There are still a couple of base expressions throughout the comic, but, by and large, when the character is feeling something, you know it.

Guara also seems to have an interesting relationship with cheesecake. This comic is, almost by definition, better than many, many tothers when it comes to the representation of its female characters. I’m still kind of surprised how beautiful L.L. is under Guara’s pencil. Likewise, Cecilia looks every bit the Hollywood golden girl. Guara knows that he’s got a book full of attractive people (even for comic standards), and he’s not afraid to show it. There’s even an entire scene where Cecilia is wearing nothing but a loose towel. Her shower has nothing to do with the story (though it does display attention to continuity), but Guara manages to justify the choice and, even though it’s definitely more skin than the scene required, the focus is on the characters and their relationships throughout. It’s no small feat to skirt the line of good taste when you’ve got a needlessly naked woman and a fully clothed man as your characters, but I think Guara pulls it off pretty well. Things like this make it even more baffling when he does cross over that line though. One particular panel features a character practically modeling her pajamas, despite her dialogue calling for a shocking realization. Green Team is, unfortunately, not immune to the medium’s tendency towards objectification, but it does go about it with a modicum (if only a modicum) more respect for its heroines.

I do have one question before I wrap things up. What happened to Cecilia’s Cheetah? The writers practically begged me to hate her character by including it last month (apparently reasoning it’s the crazy rich equivalent of the purse Chihuahua, rather than a member of an endangered species that is almost certainly being sacrificed for the sake of some actress’ public persona), but despite a prominent spot on this month’s cover, the cheetah is nowhere to be found! What happened to it? Applause applause for making me like and relate to these characters Baltazar and Franco, but did you or did you not just murder a baby cheetah!?

Sorry for the outburst. Seriously though, it’s endangered and cute…

I gladly admit that I was unsure how much I could like a comic with the tagline:”we are the 1%”, but apparently this creative team can manage even that. The Green Team – Teen Trillionaires feels fresh and lively, like the start of something worth being there for. It may include more obnoxious text-speak than you might want in your weekly pulls, but so far it’s just been an excellent comic. Give it a shot; after all, it’s important to their parent that they prove they can grow their income.