Wednesday, March 12, 2014


The Green Team Continued : Their Unpublished Adventures
In their unpublished adventures – available through something delightfully dubbed “Cancelled Comics Cavalcade” and which was a real “get” for many years of fandom prior to the internet, we’re given a glance at what the Simon/Grandenetti team might've created if given a free reign to populate their weird little corner of the DC Universe with more of their signature inventions – lightly subversive action-adventure with a liberal dash of pure nutcakery thrown in to keep the kids quiet.

I do love me the Simon/Grandetti team, I have vivid fantasies about what they would have come up with if they’d been given the wide-open opportunity to create new titles higgledy-piggledy. What do you think, a super team of corporate mermaids? A cowboy dentist astronaut? A talking end table that is also magic and it fights communist unicorns? I DON’T FUCKIN’ KNOW, anything is possible on the world that may have been after the DC Implosion.

In any case, The Green Team did not – technically – make it beyond the pages of DC First Issue Special (That’s DC’s fault in the first place for not creating Second Issue Special, Third Issue Special, and frankly The Rest Of The Issues Specials. Seems to me they were flat-out jinxing some of these guys), not even in the “New Krypton” arc of the Superman comics from a few years back, where other First Issue Special losers like Jack Kirby’s Atlas, The Outsiders and Codename: Assassin and just general We-Need-Our-Copyrights-Renewed-ers like the Creature Commandos and Ultra the Multi-Alien made (at the very least) cameo appearances, if not pivotal narrative roles. Hell, I’m not a hundred percent sure that Lady Cop wasn't actually Metropolis police captain Maggie Sawyer.

The larger issue here is that The Commodore clearly has no idea how big a man is.

The first unpublished episode of the Green Team’s laughably unlikely ongoing comic sees three of the Team engaged in wild adventures around the world and the one of these things that is not like the other running errands like he’s the help. See if you can guess which one.

Yes, while oil tycoon J.P.Houston is dune-buggying around Spain, shipping magnate Commodore Murphy is baffling Russian fishing vessels in the West Indies and filmmaker Cecil Sunbeam is hiring the Italian army to slug each other on camera because wealth distorts all common sense and proportion apparently, Abdul is hauling a bunch of orphans to the bodega for Doritos.

In many ways, Abdul is the driving force of this story, inasmuch as he spends the first third of it “missing” – which is to say, the other Green Team members are out having adventures and kibitzing about Abdul’s absence, but meanwhile he’s just back at home and they “forgot” to invite him along on anything fun. I mean, what is he, the Wolf of Shoeshine Alley? What’s he gonna be doing to compare to the everyday adventures of the other guys, staging a hostile takeover of rival shoeshine boys? Cornering the market on messed-up rags? Inventing the hover-brush?

Someone gave that cowboy kid a gun full of barbituates and all Abdul gets a shoeshine box and a change of pants.

Anyway, storylines essentially collide as the Commodore slips unnoticed by a fleet of Russian fishing vessels to find a hidden cove of giant mutant lobsters commanded by an apparently sea-breathing, deformed old man named “Seaman Jackson” (of the Atlantis Jacksons, I presume) and, for his part, Abdul notices that seafood sure is expensive. Woo, and how about that airplane food? Dentist’s offices, am I right, Abdul is here all week folks tip your waitresses.

The thrust of the story builds increasingly towards a conflict between the boy Green Teamers – desperate to purchase Seaman Jackson’s giant lobster pals (which sounds like the cheapest brand-name frozen breaded seafood treats you only could buy on the Estonian black market) in order to combat worldwide high seafood prices, except why they are rich what do they care – and the Russians, who are really just trying to feed a whole nation. Seems to me this story has put me on the side of the Soviet Union, congrats Green Team, now I’ll be the subject of jingoist barbs from provincial nitwits. I guess I’d better go back where I came from.

Hold on Abdul, first let's find a fair price for this man to sell his beloved family members for food.

The end result is a massive knife-fight between the Russian fishing vessels and the increasingly giant lobster monsters, now the size of ships, so maybe the best solution is the Green Team gets to have the lobster meat and the Russian’s get to use the hollowed out lobsters to replace the shipping vessels which were destroyed. You tell me that wouldn’t have been a cool ending. Nope, actually, it just ends in tears and then like four pages previewing the story for the next issue, since there wasn’t enough on the bones of this one to go a full twenty pages, whew…

The proposed second issue of The Green Team – The Deadly Paper-Hanger – introduces the most unusually empathetic take on an antagonist as I’ve ever seen, even in a Joe Simon comic, and this guy created Bee-Man.

When will you realize that not all of your problems can be solved with your guns full of barbiturates, JP?
The story begins with “J.P.” and Abdul going undercover in the poorest section of the bowery. As always, the Green Team are seeking out adventure, or at least some kind of problems at which they can throw money. I’ll pause here so you can make your own snide aside about how that’s exactly what whichever political party isn’t yours handles problems. No, no problem, I can wait. You done? All right.

Anyway, the boys go undercover for some nebulous reason I can only hope aren’t euphemistic, and are immediately caught in some sort of bum riot, which I also hope isn’t euphemistic. Coming to their rescue is (decked out in white overalls and bearing a bucket of paste, an armful of rolled posters and – for some reason – a hangman’s noose) The Deadly Paper Hanger, who is also – and I say this at risk of losing an argument on the internet – Adolf Hitler.

I think we've all had that dream where Hitler rescues you from a "typhoon of sweaty, struggling bodies."

Jawohl, it’s Herr Shickelgruber himself, Adolf Hitler, “down on his luck” since his big plan to “redecorate the world … went wrong.” You are going to witness, up through the conclusion of this story, a working class Adolf Hitler as a two-fisted, fearless brawler, a sympathetic character whom the boys of the Green Team embrace with po-faced sincerity and an absence of animosity. I bet they spent a lot of time hanging around Hitler and sort of nodding persistently towards Abdul when the little guy wasn't looking. “What about this guy, Adolf, huh? Whaddya think, hunh?”

The villain of the book is arguably a man named Saint Bernard and his welfare scam of a rescue mission, a horrible and degrading place which counts among its humiliating installations something called “The Man Wash.” There’s also a group de-lousing room and a giant vat of hot soup in which the bums are near-drowned, so basically it’s some sort of cross between the Carrousel from Logan’s Run and the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
This is just the beginning of "The Man Wash."

Throughout the course of the story, the Green team decide to help the downtrodden by prettying up their residences – trust me, it was an improvement over Abdul’s suggestion to ‘wipe them all out,’ and you should have seen how J.P. got laughed at for suggesting they help the poor get jobs – meaning the Paper Hanger gets to set up his big plot device: wallpaper with growth hormones and plant seeds embedded in it, causing whole room to blossom into gardens of Eden.

 Whoa, settle down Abdul.
This is one obfuscated metaphor, no two ways about it.

We discover ultimately that the garden-growing wallpaper is actually part of the Paper Hanger’s plan to gain revenge against a world which failed to recognize his genius, a plan which comes to its fruition when the plants start growing wildly, smashing buildings and threatening the lives of the bums who were hanging around for free fruit and shady groves. Oh wait, did I say the plan came to “fruition?” Gardens! Fruition! How clever! I’m going to give myself a biscuit for that one.

I've been pondering for weeks what the message here is, and as near as I can tell it's a metaphor
for the political tensions between Germany and Switzerland during the period of the Treaty of Versailles.
Or that Hitler hates dogs. And trees explode. I DON'T FUCKIN' KNOW ACTUALLY IS WHAT.

Ultimately, the Paper Hanger and St.Bernard alike are apparently swallowed in the aftermath of an explosion, leaving the Green Team to wander around in the subsequent destruction and … poke at things with sticks. This is action in the purest sense of the word!


I probably don’t need to underline how odd it was that Simon – again, co-creator of Captain America, as well as the one-time top-sellers The Boy Commandos – seemed to take it so easy on Hitler. It’s as if he was saying, “Hey, I gave the guy enough grief, let’s take it easy on Hitler.” You know, reclining back in his chair, “Let’s give Hitler a fair shake.”

I think there’s a lesson there for all of us. I have no idea what that lesson is, but it’s probably there for all of us. Somehow. For some reason. I guess.

So, you're saying it's not a rock?

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