Whether it’s “Tiny Titans” or “Superman Family Adventures,” Art Baltazar and Franco have no problem putting the fun into superhero comics. Come May 22, the dynamic creative duo join forces with artist Ig Guara have the opportunity to inject their unique sense of humor and adventure into DC Comics’ new ongoing series “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires,” which explores a team of incredibly wealthy individuals and their adventures in the DC Universe. Among the details teased for the series are the world’s most popular actress outfitted with a cybernetic arm, bringing Deathstroke the Terminator on as private security and more.
Comic Book Resouces spoke with the writing duo about their take on what unlimited finances in the DC Universe can purchase, the difficulty of creating new items for the Teen Trillionaires to get their hands on, the challenges of putting together a revival of a series from the 1970s and more.
CBR News: “The Green Team” #1 hits stores next month and explores what a near endless supply of money can buy you in the DCU. How do you guys plan to explore the concept of money as an actual superpower?
Franco: We explore it by spending a lot of it! That’s what these guys do. They have a lot of it, more than you or I could ever imagine in a lifetime — and they use it in new and interesting ways.
Art Baltazar: It’s not like spending money, it’s like, “I’m hungry, I’m going to go to the fridge and eat an apple.” It’s just there. They have anything that they want at their fingertips. If they want something, they have somebody make it for them or they order it or they ship it from China or whatever. The concept of money really isn’t the same for us as it is to them.
There’s an old adage that states restriction breeds creativity. When you have characters that can literally have anything they want at their disposal, do you find it challenging to have no restrictions on what these characters can obtain?
Franco: It’s more finding what they don’t have and trying to get that. That’s kind of what the first story arc is about. These guys have it all, can have anything they want and we explore the things they don’t have. The first story arc is kind of interesting to where it leads and what they wind up doing because of the results of that.
Baltazar: The challenge of it is trying to come up with — you could buy anything you want, but what would be the creative twist in what they buy? You could buy a car, but what if you get a car that turns into a robot? We want to put a twist on everything — like, you buy a Transformer. That would be cooler. We add a little bit of everything that would be outrageous and DC. DC Comics all the way, because it’s a comic, so it doesn’t have to be something that exists. Without giving anything away, purchases are bigger than life itself.
Realistically, how many trillionaires are there in the DC Universe? How many of them are actually on the Green Team?
Franco: We know of four definitely and they’re all on the team.
Baltazar: [Laughs] Yeah. They all come from different kind[s] of money, too. Their families, some personal, some acquired wealth, but as far as other guys, I’m not really sure how much money Bruce Wayne has or Lex Luthor has. These guys probably have more money than those guys. Batman has a lot of money, though. He has some cool stuff.
Franco: Yeah, but he spends it all on Batman gadgets and Batmobiles and stuff like that. Our guys spend it on flying to Cancun.
Baltazar: [Laughs] Yeah. Batman sets the standard. He’s putting up that plateau that we’ve got to get over — Bruce Wayne, that is.
The series also features a famous actress with a cybernetic arm, which isn’t really a story that’s been done so far in the DCU. How have the format and characters of “The Green Team” pushed you into new creative directions in comics?
Franco: For us, every book that we do is a new creative direction, so this is really nothing new to us. We were very excited to take the characters and make them different than what you have seen in 1970-something and put a new twist on them and really update them. We’re huge, huge fans of the older “Teen Titans” stuff and we’re trying to incorporate some of that team mentality into here, where you have it not gelling together at first, but they’ve all got the same kind of background and they’re all intermingled as far as relationships, so it’s an interesting dynamic. We’re trying to take these characters and do things with them that you really haven’t seen in comics or superhero comics before. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
Baltazar: Our comic reading goes way back to when we were kids, so you might see some of that kind of storytelling come through. Like he said, “Teen Titans,” but I keep thinking — I’m going to say the other guys — but I’m really inspired by “The New Mutants” that was done in the late ’80s. For me, the influence was “New Mutants” and “Teen Titans.” You’re going to see that. To do something never-before-done in comics, I’m sure you could find a cybernetic arm somewhere else, but we’re going to do something else.
Franco: You’re not going to see what happens with the cybernetic arm. That’s what you see, but what really happens is something totally different.
Baltazar: Yeah, as the series goes on, you’re going to see the changes that are going to happen. I won’t reveal or spoil, but it’s going to be cool. We’re excited. We know where we’re going at least for the first ten to twenty issues, hopefully people will dig it.
Deathstroke’s appearance in the third issue is a great opportunity to see how mercenaries in the DCU make a living when not trying to destroy the heroes of the DCU. How does a character like Deathstroke react to the personalities of the teen trillionaires?
Franco: Well, he’ll react positively because they’ve got a lot of money.
Baltazar: You have to remember, he’s got a short fuse. If you tease the guy too much or hang around him too much, he might want to kill you too. [Laughs] That’s some kind of attitude with Deathstroke. He’s definitely in for the money.
What are you most looking forward to explore during the course of this series?
Baltazar: Just to make an awesome book, to make an awesome comic that people come back to. We just want high-end adventure and fun. “Green Team” versus the rest of the DC Universe is going to be the fun. Our goal was to have somebody finish the issue and go, “Wow, what was that? How did they do that?” That’s what we want.
Franco: Exactly, at the end of every issue, Art and I want to walk away and say, “Hey, we would read this if we were on the other end of it. We would pick it up and read it.” That’s how we’re approaching this issue.
Baltazar: Yeah, the characters aren’t really serious. They’re serious about what they’re doing and being alive every day. Life itself to them is the awesome part. You’re going to see. You’re going to see the problems they have just trying to wake up everyday trying to be awesome, but you’re going to see they run into problems. Everyone has a little bit of tension in their life — and mine’s getting ready for C2E2! [Laughs]
Wrapping up, in your opinion, are there any problems in the DCU that money can’t solve?
Franco: Not according to our guys!
Baltazar: Yeah, our guys could do it. I don’t know about the Clark Kent/Lois Lane love thing. I like it when they’re kissing, but I don’t know if Lois will —
Franco: Yeah, money can’t buy love.
Baltazar: [Laughs] That’s right. But if you read “Superman Family Adventures” #12, we take care of that problem.
“The Green Team” #1 by Franco, Art Baltazar and Ig Guara hits stores May 22 from DC Comics.