Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Team 7 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Team 7 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Patrick: There comes a point in every heist movie where they assemble the team. Usually it’s done in a montage, featuring short (but implicitly characteristic) misadventures of various tech experts, combat experts, stealth experts — any kind of expert, really. And at the end of each little vigniette, George Clooney shows up and offers them a job. Oh, and the whole this is scored by a poppy drum and bass loop with occasional horn accents. These sequences are always about as much fun as the heist itself and doesn’t suffer from the complexity and double-back-false logic applied to the climax of most of these stories. Team 7‘s zero issue gets us off to a breezy start, with enough action, humor and built-in mystery to prepare its audience for what promises to be dazzling run.
The issue opens on John Lynch (1) hosting a virtual meeting of seemingly anonymous overseers. Their mission? To catalog — and eventually control — every meta-human on the planet. Mission Code Name: The Majestic Project. The rest of the issue is the aforementioned putting-the-team-together fare. Dinah Drake (2) and Kurt Lance (3) form the traveling team that will collect the other pieces of the group. They launch themselves headlong into a full-frontal assault of a well-guarded arms dealer. Only, they’re not there for the arms dealer — they want two of his guards: expert tactician Slade Wilson (4) and weapons expert Alex Fairchild (5). Next, Dinah scales a sheer ice cliff to pick up perennial bad-ass James Bronson (6), whose lack of experience is superseded by his “never say die” attitude. Then it’s up into the sky to recruit devil-may-care test pilot and “possible crazy person” Summer Ramos (7). Then over to France to pick up hustler and underground-regular Cole Cash (8). Finally, Dinah and Kurt meet up with NSA super-agent Amanda Waller (9) and military intelligence wonk Dean Higgins (10) as they successfully foil a terrorist plot. Together, they are Team 7.
If my recap paragraph sounds like the opening credits to am 80s era action TV show, that’s because that’s how the issue reads. But I mean this as an absolute compliment. This issue took on the responsibility of introducing a) a secret organization; b) it’s secret goal; and c) ten characters. We don’t get to spend a lot of time with any of those characters, but none of them feel like cardboard cut-outs. The situations each of them is recruited in give fun insights into who they are and how they operate. There’s literally an interesting character moment on every page. Justin Jordan’s writing is smart and efficient but what’s more is that it gets all this business out of the way so when we come back in October, we’ll be primed and ready for adventure. None of this spend-five-issues-making–the-heroes-play–getting-to-know-you-games garbage.
And as well as this works as an introduction to a new team and team characters, the real fun is how it plays into (and against) everything we already know about these guys and their world. I liked the nods in the first couple pages to both the Steel Soldier project and the Brainiac Attack, as seen in the early run of Action Comics. But what really got me excited was the appearance of a non-married, non-superpowered Dinah Drake and a still-alive Kurt Lance. We know from Birds of Prey that somewhere along the line, Dinah marries and then either kills or is responsible for the death of Kurt. This issue doesn’t make it explicit, but I’m guessing their banter that they’ll already an item.
I’m super stoked to see how the rest of the Drake/Lance saga plays out. And it looks like they’re the center of this ensemble piece — at least for the time being.
I’m also interested to see how some of these other lower-tier DC characters will be developed herein. Both Deathstroke (Slade Wilson) and Grifter (Cole Cash) are characters that I’ve more or less avoided in the New 52 – and yes, I avoided them because blah blah blah Rob Liefeld. Liefeld rather famously quit in a huff because he felt he could no longer deal with DC editorial interfering with his work. According to Liefeld (though, not according to the solicits, so, who knows?) the zero issues of Deathstroke and Grifter are his last. Which sort of implies that whatever straw broke the camel’s back came from the zero-bushel. I can see where it’d be frustrating as hell to have relatively free-reign over these two characters (one for a year and the other for 4 months) only to have the direction of both of them strong-armed by an editorial staff that didn’t agree with you. I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but I feel bad for Rob Liefeld. I’m confident that I’ll like those characters better when they’re not under Liefeld’s pen, but I can understand why he might feel a little “what the fuck?” about the whole thing.
But maybe the most interesting thing here is the incorporation of Wild Storm characters in to the DC Universe. That phenomenon been chugging away to varying levels of success on StormWatch, but this series represents a move to put some of those dudes front and center. Grifter is one such Wild Storm character, but also count team leader John Lynch and weapons expert Alex Fairchild. And while I don’t know anything about any of them, it was really neat that they found Slade and Alex working together. It’s as though their separate publishing histories were no obstacle for them — if they wanna hang out, they’re gonna hang out. Plus, I’m intrigued that Alex is a family man with some pressing financial obligation to his daughter. You know — a character with interesting and diverse motivations.
Then — besides Amanda Waller — the rest are new characters. SOMEONE CHECK ME ON THAT. A not-all-that-in-depth look into the DC wiki turns up nothing for Higgins, Ramos or Bronson. I think Bronson is particularly interesting – partially because Lynch is more cryptic about what his abilities are; partially because he has some kind on non-meta-gene gene that will give him powers; but mostly because he climbs gigantic walls of ice just to prove that he can.
Anyway, the whole thing seems like an exciting mix of old and new. Consider me pumped.
Drew: This is a lot of characters. Jordan is going to have his job cut out for him juggling all of these balls. I’ve complained about titles with much smaller ensembles than this feeling overstuffed (or neglecting members), and I can’t help but think that a team this size will be difficult to wield gracefully. Just as an example, Patrick’s annotated team photo is actually incredibly helpful — even for someone who had just finished reading an issue that introduces all of these characters. Honestly, when I got to that page in the issue, I realized the only way to figure out who was in that blue mechs-suit was to go through a protracted process of elimination, at which point I quickly lost interest.
Not that every character in an ensemble necessarily needs equal screen time. Patrick’s Ocean comparison is particularly apt at illustrating that concept, where half of the team members have very specific skills that only come into play for about two minutes during the actual heist. Some of these characters will most certainly fall back into supporting roles, and it’s hard to guess who those might be, though “weapons dealer” and “insane pilot” seem like pretty specific skill sets.
Guessing who might become this title’s A-Team actually leads me to one of the most interesting things about this title — its finite timeline. Er, rather, its finite timeline for all of the characters already featured in “five years later” titles (Slade, Cole, and Dinah), or explicitly dead five years later (Kurt). This means the team (or at least this specific iteration of it) will be over and done in five years’ time. We’ll have some milestones to meet on the way — Dinah and Kurt have to marry, Slade has to lose an eye — which will be fun reminders that even bigger changes are on the way. It’s already damn satisfying to see Dinah and Slade in what are essentially prototypes of the costumes they wear in their respective titles.
I was a bit surprised to see no mention of any of these characters’ metahuman abilities (aside from that oblique line about Bronson being different), but I guess acquiring abilities is an integral part of the Team 7 story. That “arms dealer” at the start of the issue is talking about the Gen Factor, which is what gives Grifter his abilities in the first place (and may do the same for Slade and Dinah — and possibly the rest of the team). I suspect we’ll see that detail come into play in pretty short order.
Ah, but I’ve buried the lead here. DC is publishing over a dozen “superheroes team up” titles (including several that, like Team 7, aren’t strictly made up of superheroes), but what sets this team apart is its explicit focus on monitoring superhumans. Lynch mentions a “superhuman arms race” which is just such a cool — and surprisingly logical — concept. It makes perfect sense that the US would form an elite squad to get a leg-up in that race. Beyond logic, the thought of this title traipsing into the worlds of our favorite heroes month-to-month sounds like a downright blast. I hope the burden of tying together disparate parts of the DC universe doesn’t bog things down. Patrick mentioned the 80s-action-show vibe, which is almost wafting off of this issue. I alluded to the A-Team as a reference to LOST, but this title probably has more in common with the former. That means it was built for dumb fun, which it will do best to keep in mind as the series develops.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?