“The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” #2 by Art Baltazar, Franco and Ig Guara expands on the world of a team of outrageously wealthy teenagers as they try to buy fame, power and personal fulfillment in the DCU. It’s early days, but so far, it’s very clear what money can’t buy for these characters: heroism.
Adolescence is fertile ground for fiction, since identity is so flexible and growth is so rapid during the transition from childhood to adulthood. Unfortunately, Baltazar and Franco don’t take a narrative approach that emphasizes the high spirits or intra-team personality conflicts that usually make teen team books work. The team is bound together only by their anything-can-be-bought attitude, which ends up being a barrier between the characters and most readers.
In today’s political climate, the 1% don’t have the best reputation. Still, it isn’t difficult to make the rich sympathetic. Iron Man is currently one of most popular characters in comics, and Tony Stark has never been shy about flashing his money about and enjoying luxury. Unfortunately, the cast of “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” lacks sufficient charm and depth to be relatable or admirable.
Baltazar and Franco give Cecilia Sunbeam the spotlight in “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” #2, and it’s an odd choice, because she is a terrible ambassador for the team with new readers. Both in her text box voiceovers and in dialogue, she reveals herself to be manipulative, selfish, vapid, vain, unreliable and seemingly without any talents besides being an attractive blonde and damsel in distress — in short, a bundle of grating stereotypes.
Commodore comes off slightly better due to his leadership, knowledge of technology and earnestness. However, his consumption of real superheroes’ cast-offs, like an old Batmobile, just makes him look like more of a wannabe. L.L., J.P.’s sister, gets only a cameo in “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” #2. Prince Mohammed at least hints at some character depth, since unlike the other kids, who seem to have never struggled for anything, he is striving to please her father and at same time he wants more autonomy. Baltazar and Franco hint that there is dirt on where these kids’ parents made all their cash, but sadly, those details are still hazy. At the end of two issues, the characters are neither role models nor interesting in their own right as flawed protagonists.
The problem is, “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” #2 wants to be both serious and funny, but it fails to be either. Baltazar and Franco sacrifice character depth and reader empathy to adopt a humorous view of the rich, but their “Gossip Girl”-like parodies of excess are off the mark. The caricatures lack the bite of true satire, because there’s not enough truth in them to sting.
Shallow characterization isn’t helped by how the plot of “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” still feels unfocused. Baltazar and Franco’s made an interesting choice to revive Riot, traditionally a Superman villain, but as “Green Team: Teen Trillionaires” #2 proceeds, the choice of villain feels arbitrary. It really could have been anyone, even a random mugger, with a knife to Cecilia’s throat on the second page.
Guara and Mayer’s art don’t save the story, either. The flow of action is clear and exciting, but the costumes aren’t all there yet, and J.P.’s exaggerated “Texan Oilman” getup is a bit much.
It’s not clear why DC wanted to revive this team for the New 52 Universe, and the creative team fails to make the team’s mission necessary or coherent. Unfortunately, “The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires”#2 continues a weak start to this new series.