Sunday, October 13, 2013

TEAM 7 #0

In September, 2012, one year after the launch of DC's line-wide altering New 52 initiative, they released a #0 issue for every one of their monthly titles.  Meant to to take place before the events of the first issue released in September, 2011, the "zero" issue was frequently used as an origin story or an early years adventure for the hero of the series.

That month, DC introduced four new series with #0 issues to replace books that had been cancelled.  One of the new series to debut was Team 7, a re-imagining of an Image title from the 1990s that told the story of an ill-fated Special Forces unit comprised of earlier versions of popular characters from the Wildstorm Universe.  DC's new Team 7 was similar-but-different in that it took place five or six years before the current stories unfolding in the rest of the titles, and featured a mixed roster of recognizable DC and Wildstorm characters.

One of the characters on Team 7 is Dinah Drake, she who would become Black Canary.

Team 7 #0: "The Majestic Seven" is written by Justin Jordan, with art by Jesus Merino, Norm Rapmund, and Rob Hunter.  The cover is by Ken Lashley.

The issue begins "Five Years Ago" as most-if-not-all the #0 issues did.  We see a man who will eventually be introduced as John Lynch talking about how the world has changed since the emergence of metahumans.  We get glimpses of vampires, mass destruction in urban areas, and a nice shot of Superman fighting Brainiac, although how Lynch got that footage I don't know, because that fight took place on an alien ship that Superman then took possession of.

We don't see who Lynch is talking to but it's probably some shadowy cabal within the United States government or United Nations, because that's how these stories do.  They reference the Majestic Project, a team of specialists designed to combat or control metahumans.  The shady "World Council" bozos ask Lynch who he has in mind for the team, so the rest of the issue is introducing the men and women who will be Team 7.

Lynch's first recruits, Dinah Drake and Kurt Lance, are tasked with bringing in the rest of the team.  We meet Dinah and Kurt in the process of beating their way through a mysterious "city" hovering over the ocean.  At the center of the city is a barefoot gangster called Mr. Cyr, who runs what looks like nothing more than an elaborate hookah bar.  He mentions wanting to acquire Gen-Factor, but before we learn anything more, Dinah and Kurt rush in, guns blazing.

When it becomes clear that rushing in, guns blazing, was not the best tactical decision on their part, Dinah reveals that some of the gangster's henchmen are actually two undercover operatives, Slade Wilson and Alex Fairchild.  Wilson and Fairchild owe Lynch a debt and turn on Cyr.

Dinah tells Slade and Fairchild that Lynch is no longer working for the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, so whoever is behind this team's formation is bigger and more secretive than any group we're used to seeing.

Next we find Dinah recruiting a man named James Bronson who is climbing a mountain.  Bronson doesn't have the military experience of the others, but he has some freaky DNA.  Stay tuned to see how this mystery plays out.

After that, Dinah and Kurt recruit Summer Ramos, a pilot testing a new jet that's supposed to explode when a bunch of missiles hit it.

In Paris, France, we find Cole Cash getting arrested for being the last man standing in a bar fight.  When the gendarmes take him outside, however, he is greeted by Dinah and Kurt.

Next we find Amanda Waller taking down a terrorist bomber planning to release a biochemical weapon from a blimp hovering over a baseball park.  The terrorist mentions working for someone or some group called Basilisk.  Backing up Waller is Dean Higgins, and backing up them both are Dinah and Kurt, who invite them to join Lynch's team.

Now that the team is fully assembled, we see their mobile base of operations, a preposterous looking red jet craft thing, designed by someone who thought the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier lacked that Futurama touch.  Lynch name drops the American government as the backer for this team.  He also says the superhuman arms race has begun, and equips his new team with the weapons and gear he thinks they'll need to form a group shot on the last page.

Also, somebody gets a robot suit!

The Characters

Dinah Drake:  The New 52 Birds of Prey hasn't revealed much about Dinah's past other than she was married and she killed her husband and she might have had a military background.  Here we get to see that special ops background put on display.  I don't know if she's one of the world's greatest hand-to-hand combatants in this new universe, but I guess working with this kind of team will explain some of her skills since DC hadn't introduced Richard Dragon or Lady Shiva in the New 52 at the time of this issue.  Dinah's specialty is billed as Infiltration.  I'm not sure what to do with that or how to feel about it.  I guess I'll have to wait and see if that affects her stories going forth in this series and Birds.

Kurt Lance:  An original character created for this series, though first mentioned in Birds of Prey, Kurt  will become Dinah's husband.  They clearly have a working relationship, but it's hard to see anything beyond that because their dialogue is pretty generic buddy rapport.  His gig is Tracking and Operations.

Slade Wilson:  Tactical genius, according to Lynch's files.  Of course, we know Slade is or will become Deathstroke: The Terminator.  I have never cared about Deathstroke or found him an interesting villain or foil.  He's really, really, reeeaaallly flat and voiceless in this first issue, so we'll see if later issues can change my mind about him.

Alex Fairchild:  An original member of Team 7 from the Image/Wildstorm days, Alex is most noted for fathering the lovely Caitlyn Fairchild.  Caitlyn appeared in Superboy as a scientist working on the cloning project that created the Boy of Steel.  Alex Fairchild's specialty is Weapons Expert.

James Bronson:  Another brand new character.  His character is pretty thinly drawn.  It seems like he's just really athletic and hardworking, but there is something unusual, unquantifiable about his genetic makeup.  He'll either die horribly in the series or he'll turn into a Mary-Sue super soldier.

Summer Ramos:  Pilot, maybe a bit of a daredevil.  Lynch describes her as "probably crazy", except I'm pretty sure they don't let you fly if you're crazy.

Cole Cash:  Another veteran of the original Team 7, Cole Cash will eventually become Grifter, the Jim Lee-created embodiment of all things "kewl" from the '90s--guns, trench coats, and masks with jagged scar-like eye lines.  His specialty is underworld infiltration, um, I guess.

Amanda Waller:  *sigh*  Amanda Waller has long been one of the most fascinating characters in comics, and a lot of that owed to her unconventional appearance.  Where most women have impossibly proportioned bodies created for nothing more than arousal, Amanda Waller was a big, fat black woman.  Well, not anymore.  Now she's just like all the rest.  Damn you, New 52!  Damn you!

Dean Higgins:  A new character.  He's different from Slade Wilson in that Slade's specialty is tactics while Higgins' specialty is strategy.  Also he's black.  Probably gonna die badly.

That's the team, but we also get John Lynch, another first gen. Team 7 character.  It looks like he's just the handler, the Nick Fury sending them on missions and keeping secrets from them, same thing.


I'm reading and reviewing this series because Black Canary is in it.  That's the only reason.  The premise is plenty intriguing, but the writing in this issue is pretty cookie-cutter.  I worry that the cast is too large to adequately flesh out their characters well in just twenty pages a month.  We'll see how it goes.

The first year of Birds of Prey failed to explore Dinah's past in any way other than frustratingly failing to explain her culpability in her husband's death.  If Team 7 comes even remotely close to any of those concepts, I'll call it a win.

Grade: B

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