The Green Team 1

green team 1

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing The Green Team 1, originally released May 22nd, 2013.

Patrick: Ethan and I both live in LA, but since I live in Hollywood and he lives in Culver City, we don’t make the cross-city trek very often to see each other. To compensate for this totally-surmountable distance between us, we’ll send texts to each other that basically mirror the kind of nonsense conversations he and I will have in the comment sections of our articles. He sent me this link last Friday to a great Wondermark comic about Batman. (Totally worth the click, FYI.) Basically, the strip pokes fun at Bruce Wayne’s application of his vast fortune to fight crime through superheroics, and not through research and philanthropy and politics and charity. It’s not a totally fair assessment of how Bruce spends his money — he does invest a lot of money into Gotham infrastructure — but the point is crystal clear: aren’t there better uses of fortunes than outfitting a Batman? Art Baltazar and Franco’s The Green Team looks like it’s going to address this question head on, but then veers into dully familiar superhero territory.

This issue introduces us to The Green Team by way of a Pop-Up Expo (or Poxpo, because confusing portmanteaus are fun). Prince Mohammed Qahtanii, or Mo for short, is attending the conference as a fan of the GTs efforts, but he’s trying to keep a low profile because his ultra-rich father wouldn’t approve of him running around with this crowd. “Who is the Green Team?” you ask? We’ve got J.P. and L.L. Houston, the son and daughter (respectively) of a Texas oil tycoon; a movie starlet named Cecilia Sunbeam who totes a cheetah cub around with her like it’s a handbag pomeranian; and Commodore Murphy (it’s a name, not a title), an ultra-rich technophile and advocate for research and development. That’s what the Poxpo is all about: Commodore is essentially auditioning projects that he’d like to fund. Unfortunately, the whole Expo is set upon by a small army of masked weirdos – they were tipped off to the location by Mo live-tweeting the thing. Commodore activates his favorite piece of technology, a suit of Iron Man armor, and he starts to punch his way out of trouble.

As this is the first issue, there are an awful lot of characters and concepts introduced here. I can’t tell if setting the whole thing at an Exposition serves as a mea culpa for Baltazar and Franco, but there’s so much clumsy exposition in this issue that there’s actually a point where one character says to another “No, it’s all very interesting, really. I… I knew it all already…” And yet, for all the exposition, I can’t say that I have a firm handle on any of these characters – particularly J.P. and Cecilia, who don’t come off as charity-minded at all. In fact, I feel like I’m meeting Baltazar and Franco more than halfway when I assume that these kids have philanthropic aims at all: their Instagram feed basically makes them look like vain, rich assholes.

Green Team Instagram Feed Cecilia Sunbeam JP Houston Commodore 62 Murphy

DC’s got a dearth of “teen” titles at the moment – the “Young Justice” group consists of the long-suffering Teen Titans and Legion of Superheroes (which will be publishing its final issue in August). So I get desire to develop some more teen-oriented content. To the creative team on The Green Team, that means fully embracing internet culture. I’ve mentioned Instagram and Twitter already in this write-up – this is an example of these writers tapping into the internet in a way that people — and teenagers, specifically — actually use it. But then there’s a car at the Poxpo that’s “powered by the internet.” Nonsensically, you can set the car to whatever metric you want, so getting a tweet favorited by a bunch of your followers could be powering the car. That plays into the fantasy that we all have of gaining power when a Facebook post gets a lot of attention, or when an article you write gets reblogged by someone else. It’s totally illogical, but it speaks to a deeper truth about how we value attention on social media – I hope it sticks around as a major factor for this team.

For as clever as that conceit is, there are a few too many “clever” beats that don’t land for me. And the problem is usually exacerbated by Baltazar and Franco going out of their way to explain how fucking clever they are. Usually this comes in the form of grayed-out speech balloons, allowing the characters to editorialize in a whisper. It smacks of a self-awareness that’s often too shit-eating for its own good. And then they have L.L. misuse slang, which is like a cardinal sin when you’re trying to be clever.

LL Houston misuses Crunk

You don’t use “crunk” unless drugs or alcohol are actually part of the equation – no one uses it metaphorically.

Also, the Green Team has nicknamed their leader “64” because he stands to inherit 64 trillion dollars (a truly insane amount of money). The kid’s real name is Commodore. Get ready to call green, teen DC-Iron-Man “Commodore 64.” I can’t tell which end of the clever-scale this falls on. Obnoxious? Fun? Obnoxious but fun anyway?

Commodore 64 Murphy

So Shelby, how do you feel about this team? They’re immediately less active and less sympathetic than their counterparts in The Movement. I maintain that there are rich concepts worth exploring in this title, but I think I need the characters to be a little more grounded, and the creative team to be a little less concerned with being clever. Maybe if we didn’t spend so much time bandying about technological innovations, we could have seen any of these characters take any action of any kind.

Shelby: Patrick, you posed the question, “Obnoxious, fun, or obnoxious and fun?” and I think this title is gearing up to be the latter. There’s no way I can feel sympathetic to a boy worth more money than I can understand, or a girl who’s biggest problem is her cheetah’s stinky breath, and I think that is exactly where we are supposed to be with this group. The most grounded character, the one we’re supposed to identify with, is an actual prince. Maybe we’re given a shallow approach here for issue one, or maybe these guys are actually just that shallow; only time will tell if Baltazar and Franco can hold long-term interest with that.

I know I am intrigued by this group of spoiled socialites. Does Commodore have altruistic intentions for this technology he’s trying to develop, or is he just looking for a way to pass the time? We don’t even know at this point if any one other than Comm on the Green Team actually wants to be a superhero. J.P. is largely against it, and I can’t imagine Cecilia caring in the least, so what sort of team is being formed? What is most intriguing to me is that this book exists in the DC universe; issue three promises an appearance by Deathstroke. Of all the characters in the world I would expect to show up and deal with these rich teens, Slade Wilson is very near the bottom of my list. If Deathstroke exists in this world, that means Batman does as well; could that be the real influence for Comm’s desire to be a superhero? Again, it begs the question of what exactly drives Comm in this endeavor. Does he seek justice? Does he want to improve people’s lives by eliminating crime? Or does he want to be cool like Batman? I mean, I wouldn’t blame him if he just wanted to be like The Bat, but if his superhero dreamings don’t have something more substantive behind them, I don’t think he’ll get very far.

Despite my interest in the concept, you’re not wrong about the awkward exposition. The issue is largely just people walking around and talking, people we know very little about. My hope is that Baltazar and Franco are just butting up against the normal problems one runs into with the first issue of a completely new series. I want to wait at least a couple more issues before really passing judgement on this title. All-in-all, it’s a promising start, with plenty of room for both success and failure. Baltazar and Franco certainly aren’t afraid of jumping in feet first; next month’s cover shows Cecelia with a bionic arm. I guess Riot is going to make good on their promise to tear her apart.

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?

10 comments on “The Green Team 1

  1. I enjoyed this book. I thought it had a fun, more lighthearted tone that is missing from the DCU at the moment. I must say that I hear a lot of people complaining about how many books get cancelled at DC but I do think they take more chances with new or newish characters than Marvel.
    My questions for everyone is – between Teen Titans, Young Avengers, and The Green Team which two books are the most similar?

    • I’m going to have to vote for YA being more similar to GT if only because, even with the missteps, the teens in GT seems more like teens than any of the Teen Titans currently do. Also, both YA and GT have a tone that is generally more lighthearted than the dark, icky tone we get from Teen Titans.

    • I’m not totally convinced we have enough information to say what this series is actually “like” yet. Shelby mentions that it’s kind of hard to relate to teenage characters that have more money than we could possibly imagine, and I think that’s more a defining characteristic of this group than their age. They’re all young ‘uns, but it almost doesn’t matter – so much of teen drama and angst is about feelings of inadequacy and forming your own identity with limited resources, but these kids are basically just adults.

      I don’t know that I would call any of these books all that similar, but YA and GT both have a better handle on technology and social media than TT. YA tends to use it more as a recap tool, and it looks a little more smoothly integrated into Green Team.

  2. So, I’ve had one of concern since this series was announced that, funnily enough, became a reality in the first issue. Namely, the middle class has become the villains of the piece (or at least of this issue). I don’t know if this is a clever dig at the rich for how they might look upon some of us 9 to 5 slobs or what, but it did make me just a tad uncomfortable. Does anyone else have another perspective on this?

    • Yeah, there’s actually a fair amount of this book that makes me uncomfortable (like lumping all these different kinds of millionaires together and pretending they’re the same, like the way it treats resources that could address real problems and uses them to power cars with the internet), but making the villains poor or middle class is certainly as issue. I don’t know – there is something compelling about bringing class and economic disparity into a superhero comic in a major way, so I’m willing to ride it out (both here and in The Movement), but it definitely makes me twitch a little.

      • I believe that this first story arc will be about opening up are characters eyes to some of the injustices in the world that their wealth has shielded them from. Going forward they will be looking for ways to use their money/power to better society.
        At least thats what I’m hoping!!

    • That’s fucking weird. Although it should be noted that the car as it was presented in Green Team is actually powered by whatever internet metric you want and this car is powered by a battery that only releases it’s energy when it’s active on social media.

      “It won’t do anything unless someone is paying attention to it, despite the fact that it technically always has the ability to function. After all, the battery is fine. It’s just choosing to underperform if it’s not liked enough.”

      Kinda cool that the ideas in Green Team are based on real(ish) advancements though.

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