L-r: Abdul, Cecil, Commodore, J.P. Artist: Jerry Grandenetti.

THE GREEN TEAM

Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1975
Creators: Joe Simon (writer/editor) and Jerry Grandenetti (artist)
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Cartoonist Joe Simon, especially when he collaborated with Jack Kirby, has been responsible for many of comic books' most highly-regarded creations — Captain America, Boy Commandos, the whole idea of romance as a comic book genre … He's also been behind some of …

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… comics' most eccentric, idiosyncratic, downright odd concepts — Prez, Bee-Man, Brother Power the Geek … The Green Team was one of the odd ones.

The Green Team was a bunch of boy millionaires. In fact, that was the subtitle of the one actual comic book they starred in, First Issue Special #2 (May, 1975). This was a 1970s version of the '50s-'60s Showcase, the title which gave test runs to Green Lantern, Rip Hunter and other proposed series before the publisher, DC Comics, committed itself to a full-scale launch. Others starting in that title include Lady Cop, a new version of Starman, and an attempted revival of The Creeper, but the only one to move out into a series of his own was The Warlord.

This particular failed idea wasn't quite like any other in comics, but it's frequently been compared to Richie Rich. In fact, it was like a small army of Richie Riches. The boys would get together to consider weird ways the world might be marginally improved by throwing money at something, then proceed to fund whatever struck their fancy. Sometimes, they'd take an active part in the proceedings, wearing "action uniforms" equipped with ticker tape machines on their wrists and multiple pockets for carrying cash, controlled with a combination lock on their belts. Once, they escaped an angry mob by literally throwing money at them, to keep them busy while their helicopter took off.

Simon edited and wrote that issue. It was drawn by Jerry Grandenetti (Strong Bow, The Secret Files of Dr. Drew). Simon and Grandenetti also collaborated on another abortive First Issue Special, The Outsiders (no relation).

As the curtain rose, there were three members, oil tycoon J.P. Houston, Hollywood whiz kid Cecil Sunbeam, and shipping magnate Commodore Murphy. Abdul Smith, their shoeshine boy, wanted to join but couldn't come up with the admission fee. But a bizarre banking error put him halfway there, and accidental stock market sharkery took care of the rest. The bank quickly undid their unintentioned largesse, but by then it was too late — Abdul was in. That's how The Green Team acquired a characteristic common to kid gangs from Just Kids to The Young Allies — racial diversity.

Anticipating success, DC prepared a couple of issues of a putative Green Team title. But despite the characters' material advantages, the comic book didn't take in enough to pay for itself. A couple of years later, when the event remembered as "The DC Implosion" struck DC titles from Black Lightning to The Secret Society of Super Villains off the publishing schedule, those unpublished issues were lumped in with other orphans to make Canceled Comics Cavalcade, a Xeroxed compendium of defunct titles distributed only to staff members, and now a sought-after collectible.

Years later, The Green Team was as forgotten as a DC series ever gets, and available to explorers of the less-traveled parts of the DC Universe. Ambush Bug ran across them in 1985. A few years later, they were used as a deus ex machina ending to provide a quick resolution to a Superman story. They were among several defunct DC-owned characters, including Ultra the Multi-Alien, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny and The Inferior Five, encountered by Animal Man in 1990.

If they ever appear again, it's likely to be more of the same — as something not quite capable of sustaining a story (let alone, series) of its own, especially one written by anybody but Joe Simon, but useful in adding a hint of the oddball to someone else's.

— DDM

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Text ©2008-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.