Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1

Thirteen years ago, I was probably a bit harsh on First Issue Special #2 Introducing the Green Team: Boy Millionaires!. It might benefit to compare it to its closest relative, Richie Rich.

Richie Rich is a comic book that reflects the way a small child understands money. Money is not the product of labor, the force driving innovation and capital, or the root of all evil: it's just something you either have or don't. If you don't have it, no biggie, and if you do, you can have everything you ever wanted. And then coat it in gold just to remind people how rich and special you are. Maybe some bad people want to take your money but that's just because they're bad. Does Richie Rich convey some potentially harmful messages about money? Sure, most of them unintentional, but given that your audience is going to age away from the material in about two years it's probably not going to be a problem in the long run.

The Green Team, on the other hand, reflects the way an older child understands money. It's something you have to work to get, so each member of the Green Team works in a specific industry as opposed to being born that way. Poor people exist. Greedy people are sometimes just greedy, but usually have actual characters and motivations. The problem with this approach is that The Green Team tries to combine a more nuanced worldview with the same storytelling engine crafted for the less nuanced worldview. As a result, it sends very problematic messages that being rich is unquestionably good and money can fix everything. An audience who is old enough to get the nuance is going to be put off by the stories and their implication, and a younger audience is just going to be confused or disturbed by the nuance in the first place.

Could you fix the basic premise of The Green Team? Probably, but why would you bother? Your target audience is someone who's just aged out of Harvey comics but hasn't aged into anything more mature. That's a vanishingly small piece of the pie. But you could try.

Or you could just ask yourself: what's the worst possible thing you could do with this premise?

Green Team: Teen Trillionaires #1 (May 2013)

This is it. If the original Green Team is problematic, turning them into teenagers and pitching them to an older audience is even more problematic. A teenage audience is old enough and sophisticated enough to see every problem with the basic premise, and if you're going to try and subvert or satirize that premise you've essentially created a book that only exists to undermine itself. Situating it in a superhero universe only exacerbates the problem and undermines the basic premise - if money can solve every problem, why is Bruce Wayne dressing up like a bat and punching out criminals when he could just write a check that gets rid of crime forever? And if money can't solve any problem, why should I care about this random group of teenage a-holes?

Sorry, DC! Not every concept is a winner.

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