* * * WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE * * *
Here's what it says at the beginning of issue 2: "Inventors! Explorers! Adventurers! Do you need money (like a million dollars?) to finance an important project? Well, let us set up an appointment for you with the Green Team! These fearless boy millionaires meet here, at the Millionaires Club the first Tuesday of each week. The rest of the time they might be anywhere in the world..."
I can't tell you what happened in their first appearance in the tryout book First Issue Special #2 (June 1975) since I don't have it. But it looks like DC (or rather, National Periodical Publications, at the time) was, shall we say, underwhelmed by this new team. In fact, three issues were delivered sometime in 1973 and were placed in inventory. Issues 2 and 3 of what was supposed to be a series were inventoried again (rubber stamped N.P.P. INVT'Y) in 2/74, 11/74, 11/75, and 11/76, before finally being written off (that's what it says, WRITTEN OFF 11-30-77 in rubber stamp) a year later.
You may recall that First Issue Special also debuted such notables as Atlas, Dingbats, Lady Cop, Codename: Assassin, and the blue Starman. Then again, you may not recall them.
So when Cancelled Comic Cavalcade came around in 1978, DC finally had a use for these stories. They should, in retrospect, have remained buried.
Aboard his ship in the West Indies, the Commodore is being harrassed by the Russians. He somehow determines that there's something down in the water in a cave that they're after (despite no mention of a cave earlier) so dives down to check it out. It looks like a shack! But apparently this kid has never seen a lobster trap, since he goes in and to his surprise-- "it's a lobster as big as a man!" As the lobster grabs the Commodore, a man swims in and lures the lobster away with some tasty snacks. Whew!
Back at the Millionaires Club, the Commodore tells the rest of the Team that the old guy is Seaman Jackson, a hermit on Lobster Island, who treats the big lobsters as pets. But it was them pesky Russians who set the traps, as they intend to catch every lobster in the cove. Can't let that happen, nossir! The Green Team is going to keelhaul those big creatures before the Russians can get to them, and that will be enough to bring down the price of food in the US. (Remember, these are spoiled rich kids). So they get their gear and head out to Lobster Island, landing on the carrier deck of the Commodore's yacht.
The kids, to their credit, try to pay off Seaman Jackson, rather than just taking the lobsters, but he won't budge. They offer him $50,000 so he can move away from the island and live like a king. He also has lots of cans of lobster food (they're labeled) lying around. Jackson just doesn't want to leave his pets, and when the Russians come, he grabs a rifle and starts shooting. Jackson is killed in the firefight (no such luck for the kids, though), and the kids are captured after a long struggle.
The Russkies want to take JP Houston back to their boat; apparently they've never seen tranquilizer darts before, and decide the captain will want to interrogate him ("What do these do?" "They put you to sleep, not hurt you." "Oh, you mean like this story?"). Quickly thinking, the other three kids offer bribes to the Russians to bring back JP and then leave. So the Commies try to take the money (they had brought along an extra million bucks, just in case) from Cecil, but darn it, they don't know the combination to the locks on his pockets, and the fabric, which was designed by the world's leading scientists (according to an editor's note) is impervious to bullets and knives, so they can't cut it open. Frustrated, the Russians leave.
Back on the Commodore's ship, they find Jackson's lobster bait and take it back to their lab in Puerto Rico to see if it made the lobsters grow so big. But to their surprise, the lobster food is... more lobsters! Explaining that since lobsters are cannibalistic, it must be something in the water (fluoride?). So it's back to Lobster Island...
But once they get there, they find the impatient Russians bombing the island, opening an entrance to the cove. "As the barriers to the mystery cove topple, an incredible sight staggers the minds of the onlookers--" VOOSH! "The lobsters-- they're crawling up the Red ships--" "Oh man, that's horrible!" Gunfire doesn't stop the monsters, and we see, well, giant lobsters attacking the ships. Right out of a 1955 B-movie. Finally, the Reds set off their own explosives trying to save themselves, but it's mutual destruction.
Then the butler comes up from belowdecks to announce dinner: a delicious lobster recipe. (Now, who saw THAT one coming?)
The issue ends with a 2-page preview for next month: the kids haven't spent enough money this month, and are in a crisis over what to do (they've already hit their charity limits for the month). Suddenly, in walks The Paperhanger...
Next issue: The Paperhanger!
* * * WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE * * *
The boys get there just in time to see a brawl over a not-empty bottle lying in the garbage. (Politically correct, it ain't.) But along comes a guy swinging a bucket and rolls of wallpaper, and he's wearing a painter's cap, overalls, and a flowered shirt. THUD! goes the bucket against a man's head, as the Paper Hanger slips a hangman's noose around the necks of two others at once. "You did us a good turn, mister! Thanks!" exclaims Houston. After the kids give their cover story (runaways), their rescuer says, "...I'm a genius, associating with these-- these vermin!... Once I was the world's greatest paperhanger. I tried to redecorate the world -- but -- well -- things went wrong!"
Come to think of it, the paperhanger DOES look familiar. The way the hair falls against the forehead, the little J. Jonah Jameson moustache... naw, it couldn't be.
Suddenly (as the caption tells us), the Man-Catcher arrives! It's a dog-catcher's van, except instead of puppies they scoop up people in their nets. They're being taken to St. Bernard's Rescue Mission, run by Bernie Blue, who's accused of living off the welfare money that's supposed to feed the bums (oh, sorry, "homeless"). Then the men get dumped on a big conveyor belt that looks like a giant car wash, although it's called the Man Wash (geez, where does he come up with these names? Man-Catchter, Man Wash....) Funny, the guards look like Nazi officers with their jackets and hats (not to mention whips). Then it's time for the de-lousing spray, and the men are nice and squeaky clean (or so they believe), clean enough to join Blue in a bowl of soup. Houston and Smith are too freaked out, and they leave.
Houston and Smith call for a helicopter ride back, and relate their experiences to their teammates. "What are we going to do about that place, team?" asks Sunbeam. "I say wipe it out!" says Smith, who's echoed by Houston: "That turf is a jungle for human derelicts! Burn it to the ground!" But no, they agree to buy the property, fix it up, and rehabilitate "those poor bums". It only takes a check for a million bucks...
Now that they own the place, the Green Team hires the Paper Hanger to redecorate. When he's done, it only looks like a white wall, and the Team decides he's nuts and tries to tear it down. "Let's tear it down! Like the walls of Jericho!" After a struggle, the Paper Hanger is subdued and Sunbeam yells "Now! Rip off the paper! Teach him a lesson!" But wait! There are plants growing on the paper! It's really a seed strip, the PH explains, chemically printed at the bottom of each column.
Pretty soon the homeless men are lounging around the fruit trees; it looks like a Roman bacchanalia. "Pass me a fig, Leroy, dese grapes stain my teeth." Sunbeam, ever the entrepreneur, calls for marketing the miraculous wallpaper. But the Paperhanger is a tough negotiator, and demands a half-million for each room he decorates. But days later, there's an emergency at St. Bernards... the trees are crashing through the roof! The bums want to stay, despite the danger, since the fruit is bigger. Then the Green Team hits upon a plan: wallpaper the gym with money to lure the bums out.
Sunbeam takes a tree sample for analysis while the other three go after the paperhanger. But he doesn't want to stop the growth of the trees: "The world has kicked me in the face too many times! Now it's MY turn!" He runs off, leaving Sunbeam and Commodore Kelly to discover that while the tree is normal, it's really the paper that's been hormonally treated. Only insecticides can stop the tree now... (Yes, I know, insecticides kill insects, not trees. Blame Joe Simon, he wrote this.)
After loading up the choppers, they take off for the Bowery. KERASH! go the trees through the roofs. VOOOSH! go the choppers, spraying insecticide. WHAM! goes Houston's chopper, as the tree branches reach out and smash the helicopter. Houston and Smith are being strangled by the branches, and nothing works... until their helicopter finally falls out of the tree and explodes. The resulting fire kills the tree, and the two boys jump to safety by using their parachutes (with the cute little Green Team logo on them).
The team goes inside the building to survey the carnage (that's what it says, honest!), only to find the paperhanger hanging Bernie Blue up by the heels from a tree. It's his final hanging, the Paperhanger says. But an auxilliary fuel tank blows just then with a mighty ZZOOK! Fortunately, team survives, because the Paperhanger told them to get out. "I wonder if any living thing could have survived that blast?" Houston asks. Sunbeam thinks this branch grew an inch in the last minute... (cue ominous music, roll credits).
Surprisingly, the Green Team did not make an appearance in any of the Who's Who volumes, and they were among the very few who didn't even make a cameo in the Crisis (not even to get killed).
These two stories were not reprinted anywhere later. Fortunately.
The Green Team's final pre-Crisis appearance, of sorts, was in the pages of Ambush Bug #3 (8/85). In "The Ambush Bug History of the DC Universe", Ambush Bug attempts to update some of the "forgotten heroes of yesteryear" (like Egg Fu, Wonder Tot, Binky, Super-Turtle, Quisp, Bat-Mite, Inferior Five, Ace the Bat-Hound, etc.). Whatever happened to the Green Team, he asks? According to one Mr. Richard Rich, the team split up because they had to accept any millionaire who wanted to join, and Lotto killed the group. (Thanks to Ybel Chely Depablos [firstname.lastname@example.org] for this reference!)
Their only post-Crisis "appearance" of sorts was, as related by Alphonso Mason [email@example.com], "in ANIMAL MAN #26 (August, 1990), scripted by 'Animal Man's Creator' Grant Morrison. They were among the poor DC souls trapped in limbo -- the equivalent to comic book hell. The team was there, trying to pay their way out of this hell."
Copies of this or any other CCC story are available for a mere $5.00 each (that covers copies and P&H). Give me a holler!
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