“The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” #1 by writers Art Baltazar & Franco and artist Ig Guara might share (most of) its title with an abandoned 1970s DC Comics property, but the contents are almost entirely reimagined. A companion title of sorts to “The Movement,” it’s an attempt by DC to launch what is essentially an original concept: a team of do-gooding one percenters who are buying themselves access to super powers.
DC is no stranger to the concept of the Billionaire superhero, of course, having practically invented the idea with Batman, but herein lies a different treatment. The characters presented are more interested in affecting social change with their wealth, rather than using it to beat up society’s more unsavory elements — although the manifestation of that isn’t all it could be. (A car that runs on Internet traffic? Eh?)
Our introduction to the team comes through the eyes of Mohammad, a coddled rich kid who has disobeyed his father to come and meet Commodore Murphy, a charismatic and inspirational figure who serves as the center of the Green Team. Essentially, it’s a club for rich kids who want to change the world (or at least, have some fun with it). The team is established quickly and succinctly via an extended tour around the Green Team’s latest Expo, and the creators do their best to make the group seem attractive — they’re familiar and affectionate with one another, contrasting well with the shy and somewhat repressed Mohammad. You can certainly see why he longs for their acceptance. This being a superhero book, things soon go awry in the shape of some masked, middle-class organization called “The Riot Act” — although it’s too early to say if they’re crooks or activists.
As beginnings go, it’s competent and confident, though not especially impressive. The book doesn’t waste time getting started, although the plot is thin and there’s a lot of florid exposition in the script. The art has a strong sense of character and place, although it’s very DC House Style in a visually uninteresting way. However, it’s the book’s attitude that causes real problems. It’s very hard to find sympathy for these characters or their situation, and the book is plastered with examples of unchecked, uncriticized excess. It bathes in millennial privilege, with references to social media, technology and trust funds. We all love Twitter, but if you followed the Green Team, you’d find them all insufferable.
It’s disappointing, because now is absolutely the right time for a discussion about the lifestyles of the wealthy in society. A time when the disparity is more visible than ever. “Green Team” could’ve been overtly socially-conscious, or so off-the-wall that it was clearly satire. Baltazar and Franco seem to have gone straight down the line, treating the book as almost aspirational. It isn’t half as bold and original a book as its solicitation or promo images suggested.
Maybe they’re building to some kind of epiphany about the evil of excessive wealth without moral conscience, but there’s no hint of that in this issue. By accident or design, the issue is irony-free and utterly lacking in self-awareness. It’s not a bad story, nor is it poorly-crafted — but considering how strong and provocative the concept is, an execution so toothless can’t help but be underwhelming.