Monday, March 27, 2017

1st Issue Special #2 (1975)

1st Issue Special #2 (May, 1975)
"The Green Team: Boy Millionaires"
By Joe Simon & Jerry Grandenetti
Cover Price: $0.25

I had today's piece already picked out... it was already going to be an issue of 1st Issue Special... but it was going to be the Dr. Fate story.  I found myself in the neighborhood of a local comic shop this evening... one that has absolutely awesome hours, so popping in at 7pm on a Sunday is still okay.

Anyhoo, I was scanning the bins as I am wont to do when I came across... The Green Team!  Now, I know the rules... 1st Issue Special at a decent price = instabuy.  I mean, it ain't Lady Cop... but this was definitely on our wish list!

Only four more issues of this weird and wonderful series to track down... I'll try and fit Dr. Fate in toward the end of the week.


We start our story by meeting Abdul Smith.  A young fella who really wants to join a club.  He enters a high rise apartment building, and when he attempts to take the elevator skyward he is ushered into the "service" lift.  He makes his way upstairs and arrives at the door of the Millionaire's Club.  He rings the buzzer, and a butler arrives to shoo him away.  Little does he know, he's an invited guest!  Don't get too excited however, he's just here to shine some shoes.  He mentions to one of his customers that he'd like to join a club, and is advised to wait around for the meeting of the "Green Team" later on that day.

Speaking of the Green Team, let's meet their members... starting with The Commodore, a teeny tiny shipping tycoon.  We meet him as he rolls up on Rockmuch, Oregon (Google auto-corrects to "rock mulch, Oregon) which, at this point is little more than a ghost town.

He is immediately recognized by a pair of yokels taking up space in a saloon.  They figure him for a mark, and try to fleece him with some worthless real estate.  Well, the Commodore isn't interested in buying a house (or two)... he's gonna buy the entire town!  And so, he does.  Afterward, he starts playing in the pond with a toy boat... that just happens to be armed with some incredible fire power!  What I'm trying to say is, the boat blows up the entire town.

Two days pass, and we learn that the Commodore levelled the town so he could build an airport (or jetport, if you prefer).  Moments later he is joined by oil magnate, J.P. Houston.  A lad who seems to care very little for his oil rigs, and is more passionate about seeking out adventure.  The pair chat contentiously for a bit before remembering that they both had to head to New York for this week's meeting of the Green Team.

Next we shift to Sunbeam Studios lot... Sunbeam, I'm sure you'll know... is the foremost producer of "now" generation movies!  Hmm.  Anyhoo, here we meet Cecil Sunbeam, boy director.

We watch as he enters the set... and proceeds to... er, I dunno... inflict method acting on the poor cast members... by beating the hell out of them?  Thankfully, the thrashing is short-lived.  After all, our boy's got an appointment in New York.

A bit later, the three young men arrive in New York... all parking their aircraft atop the building, which is probably against a code or two.  Inside, we learn they are looking for investment prospects.  Ideas in which they can sink their endless funds.  Their first client is a Mr. Dinkle... who, I would have to assume would have become a regular had this series been picked up.  His pitch is to colonize the North Pole by building an entire city out of frozen french fries.  Can't make this up, folks.  They boot him with the quickness.

Their next appointment is with our old friend Abdul.  He doesn't have an invention or grand vision... he just wants to join the club.  Sadly, his bank book only shows $32.  They tell him to come back when he finds another $999,968.  No big deal, right?  Anyhoo... this inspires young Abdul to keep working hard.  Before heading to his next gig, he decides to stop at the bank to deposit his week's earnings... $5.  The transaction is recorded... one hundred thousand times.  Before we know it, Adbul is $500,000 richer!

Later on, Abdul meets with his regular customers on Wall Street.  They see that he has a cool half-mill in the bank, and give him a hot tip on a spacecraft stock.  He turns that $500K into $1.5 million!  The following week, he attends the Green Team meeting as a full-fledged member.  Oh, and the bank realized their error and deducted the $500K from his account... even then, he was still a millionaire.

During that meeting, the now four boy millionaires meet a kook named Professor Apple.  His invention is... and I'm not making this up... The Great American Pleasure Machine.  Oof.  He explains that all other forms of entertainment are passe... television, film, theatre... he doesn't mention comic books though!  The boys put their noggins together and decide... sure, this is a good waste of money investment!

And so, another town is leveled to make way for the construction of the pleasure dome.  This is not without controversy, however... the entertainment business doesn't think this is fair, and fears the pleasure hut will put them all out of work.

The angry mob is led by a David D. Meritt (get it?)... and he whips them into a lather by proclaiming their entertainment mediums will die should the G.A.P. come to be.  Among the rioters is... Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and (I think) John Wayne... who was still had a few years left on the planet.

The Green Team has little choice but to flee the scene... and as they do, they actually get shot at!  These actors ain't messing around.

Our boys head back to their Green Room to reconnoiter... and hold a meeting with D. Meritt.  They can't come to terms, and part less than amicably.  The baddie promises that the rioters will keep their building surrounded.  The boys seem cool with this, they'll just have to watch the construction of the G.A.P. via their closed circuit television.  Figure the rioters would've busted their cameras, but... we'll allow it.  The boys finally decide they've sat around long enough... and change into their (snicker) action uniforms.  Lemme tell ya, members of Youngblood would think these uniforms have too many pockets.

They head up to the roof to board their helicopter... only to find that D. Meritt has stolen it!  Houston suggests using his six-shooters to blow the bum outta the sky, but the Commodore has a better idea.  Better is a subjective term, right?  Anyhoo, they decide to toss a million dollars in cold hard cash into the rioters below.  D. Meritt can't control his greed, and so he orders the pilot to land.  Sadly, he's too late to grab the dosh... but, figures while he's here... he may as well lock himself in the Pleasure dome.

Here we learn that the trip through "Pleasure Land" takes ten-freaking-days.  Who in the world is going to patronize this place?  This was the great investment?  Oy.  Anyhoo... we join D. Meritt as he... um, finds pleasure?

We wrap up our tale with the Green Team members visiting D. Meritt... in a sanitarium.  Ya see, he went nuts in the Great American Pleasure Machine.  Whoops.  Guess they can't all be winners.  Looks like the Commodore now has a new target for his toy boats...


Now, what in the bluest of hells did we just read?  Half-million dollar bank errors, toy boats that can down entire cities... the Great American Pleasure Machine?!  Simon and Grandenetti were friggin' crazy during the seventies... and I love it!  Between this, Prez, and the Outsiders... man, how cool would it have been to sit in on their brainstorming sessions?

I'm sure this is supposed to be a commentary on something or another... or maybe it was just an insane idea they were trying out.  Seems to me, at first blush, they are painting the wealthy and powerful members of society... the industrialists and whatnot... as children.  All of their possessions are treated as playthings.  It's more about being a part of the "rich guy club" than actually doing anything productive.

The kids are all (barring Abdul) fortunate sons.  They've all inherited their fortunes... and as mentioned, seem to use their positions and power to live a life of... well, whatever they're trying to do.  We see them handing money over to an inventor... so long as their invention is something that will amuse them.  I mean, these kids aren't looking for ways to cure disease... or feed the poor, they're only interested in pleasure and their own amusement.

Speaking of the Great American Pleasure Machine (oy), I almost feel that's gotta be a commentary on something, right?  Maybe consumerism?  Maybe overindulgence?  Maybe it's an allegory for psychedelic drugs?  Who knows... whatever it was, it was plenty crazy!  Perhaps our man Houston said it best, "can too much pleasure kill a man?"

I would imagine folks who are familiar with this property think about The New-52! incarnation rather than this one.  This version only made a handful of appearances... two of which I actually have at hand.  First they would appear in the limbo storyarc in Grant Morrison's Animal Man run... though, really... who didn't?  I'm fairly certain you and I had a cameo in that!  Anyhoo, here:

Animal Man #25 (July, 1990)
Words - Grant Morrison / Art - Chaz Truog, Mark Farmer, & Tatjana Wood

They would also appear in an issue of Adventures of Superman... and I know what you're thinking... must be an issue written by James Robinson... but, no!  This was during the late-90's and was written by Karl Kesel.  Take a look:

Adventures of Superman #549 (August, 1997)
Words - Karl Kesel / Art - Stuart Immonen, Jose Marzan, Jr., & Glenn Whitmore

Overall... I couldn't imagine anyone purposely not buying this whacked out issue if they come across it for a decent price.  I'd definitely recommend it, even if it's just for the sheer novelty of owning the first appearance of the Green Team.  Can't say for sure the story will be to everybody's liking, but well worth a visit.


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