By: Art Baltazar & Franco (story), Ig Guara (pencils), J.P. Mayer (inks), Wil Quintana (colors)
The Story: The best things in life are free—or, arguably, worth billions of dollars.
The Review: As I did with The Movement, its sibling title, I had my reservations about The Green Team. Admittedly, the premise of a group of “teen trillionaires” trying to get into the superhero gig is pretty unusual. At the same time, it’s one of those things where execution is really, really crucial. Depending on how Baltazar-Franco handle the series’ development, it could prove to be very interesting or incredibly ill-conceived.
Big stakes, but Baltazar-Franco do seem to pull it off in their debut issue. There’s certainly more credibility here than you probably would have expected. It’s true that the characters’ wealth are hyperbolic exaggerations (“Hey, would you turn down sixty-four trillion dollars?”)*, allowing them to have some fairly exotic lifestyles (e.g., debating whether to jet to France or Quebec to satisfy a French food craving). Despite that, the cast is self-aware and intelligent, avoiding the fate of becoming caricatures of the rich.
This is particularly important because without care, the Green Team can easily become an unlikable lot just by virtue of the lives they’ve been given. Amazingly enough, Baltazar-Franco manage to give each member a fairly balanced, ingratiating personality. You don’t even need to spare an eye-roll for Cecilia Sunbeam, a platinum-blond actress with a faithful pet cat. When our narrator, Prince Mohammed Qahtanii gushes that he’s seen all her movies, she cringes, “Ugh, really? ‘Cause a couple of those have been serious poopers.”
While Mo may be our guide to this world of astronomical riches, it’s Commodore Murphy, the suave, teenaged entrepreneur, who will determine the future of the Green Team. Although Lucia Lynn Houston thinks his expenditures on cutting-edge tech are just his way of stoking his own ego, her older brother J.P. recognizes where all this money is truly going and calls out his best friend on it: “…you keep inching your way toward this superhero idea you cooked up… This is dangerous, man!” This is a good example of how these characters’ superficial behaviors conceal more serious motivations.
Establishing credible characters is only the first step, however; the livelihood of the series depends how the story makes use of them. Baltazar-Franco give us a pretty clear idea of the story’s direction from Commodore’s little speech to Mo: “To say your family is ‘well off’…that’s an understatement. So you need to ask yourself: do you really need any more money? …[W]e’re a new generation, Mo. We have to find what we want.” These kids essentially have had everything they ever needed handed to them, but unlike, say, Iron Man, they don’t have any driving interests to define their purpose or channel their wealth in a productive way. I do question whether superheroics is the most best place to invest their resources, however; hopefully, Baltazar-Franco will reach for greater ambitions than that at some point.
The previews of Guara’s art didn’t impress me, but seeing his work on the actual issue, it looks quite mature. His firmly controlled lines remind you of Marcus To: clean, energetic, and streamlined, but there’s a greater enthusiasm for detail here that has echoes of Diógenes Neves’ work on Demon Knights. His use of background characters and settings isn’t quite as elaborate or intricate as Neves’, but you get some enjoyment from seeing the outlines of activity going on behind the protagonists: a man flying overhead in a jetpack, another man hanging on for dear life from an out-of-control hover-sphere, his friend desperately trying to reach for him. That said, Mayer’s inks and Quintana’s colors probably have much to do with how smooth and clear-cut Guara’s art looks overall.
Conclusion: For a title that could have gone horribly wrong in so many ways, it succeeds in delivering a solid debut, though it’ll need to find itself a point before long.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * At some point, these kinds of figures get so huge that they become meaningless, so let me give you some context. Supposing you earned a dollar for every second of your life and you lived up to age 85, you’d need to go through 24 reincarnation cycles before you earned the $64 trillion Commodore is set to inherit in trust when he gets of age. Talk about set for life—or lives, in this case.
– Maybe I lack imagination or brains, but I still don’t understand this internet-powered car presented to Commdore: “There’s a wifi receiver in the console that automatically feeds into the engine’s electronic systems… You can run this strictly on the number of hits you get on a photo that you post.”