Friday, June 7, 2013

On the Shelf: A forgotten concept returns to life

In 1975, DC Comics' anthology series, First Issue Special, introduced readers to The Green Team, a quartet of pre-teens whose common bond was that they were all ridiculously wealthy, yet wanted to go and do more extraordinary things than common boys would do. Comics legend Joe Simon, who'd returned to DC a couple of years earlier, and artist Jerry Grandenetti, who'd collaborated with Simon on his last DC series, Prez, created the Green Team, and there were two unpublished issues in the can. Apparently, sales on this issue didn't warrant the title going to full series, but those two stories were later released in the limited edition Cancelled Comics Cavalcade, which came along in the wake of the 1978 "DC Implosion".

Fast forward to 2013. Writers Art Baltazar & Franco, whose last DC book, Tiny Titans, vanished from shelves a couple of years back, revived The Green Team, this time updating the concept for the 21st century, and making the kids into "Teen Trillionaires" in an all-new series which launched 2 weeks ago. Only two of the original characters remained intact---sort of. J. P. Houston (formerly Huston in the original book) is now of Latino descent. Commodore Murphy is into electronics, and not ships. Cecil Sunbeam, an aspiring filmmaker in the original, is now Cecilia Sunbeam, an actress.

Why the gender flip? Baltazar & Franco must've felt they couldn't let this be an all-boys' club this time, and they also wanted to make a statement regarding the tabloid-magnet starlets of today (i.e. Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes), and so we have Cecilia. Cue Simon & Garfunkel, would you please?

Rounding out the team is Mohammad Qahtanii, a prince of Middle Eastern origins, whose father doesn't approve of his being part of Murphy's group. Uh-oh. Mohammad also has a bodyguard that will come in handy, I'm sure, when things get sticky. Mohammad replaces Abdul Smith, an urban shoeshine boy in the original book, who came into his fortune by luck. Smith, then, either has been retconned out, or will eventually appear. Time will tell.

Ig Guara, a relative newcomer, is the artist on the series, and captures everything perfectly. The bad guys in this first arc are a low-rent, seemingly amateur bunch who drew their false faces on their masks. Looks to me like there's some jealousy to be had, and since Murphy now has a superhero suit that he himself designed, I'd not be surprised if there's a meeting with the Justice League nigh.

I read the original book, which is why I was drawn to this new Green Team. It will be interesting to see how far Baltazar & Franco, whose next project is a Hellboy series for Dark Horse that will be along the lines of their Tiny Titans work, and not with the monster-detective we all know, will go with these kids.

Rating: A.

Meanwhile, Marvel isn't waiting until "Thor: The Dark World" opens at the end of the year. They've released a 2-part prequel comic, the first half of which hit stores this week. All I can say is that they may have hit the ground a little too early, unless they've managed to push the movie closer to a fall release (last word I had was that it's around Thanksgiving or Christmas). I will hold off on a full review until the second half arrives next month.


magicdog said...

I don't follow comics too much, but Cecilia Sunbeam seems to have received the short shrift. Rather than being an actress, wouldn't it have made more sense to have her as a billionaire filmmaker than a mere performer? So much for "modernization".

hobbyfan said...

Cecilia is a blonde starlet. Um, yeah, I think she did get the short shrift. She's got money, but it seems overshadowed......