Zero month debuts DC’s latest attempt to bring some Wildstorm into the DC Universe. This is something DC really has not had much luck at so far. Grifter and Voodoo never found a big enough audience, and the frantic changes made to try bringing in more readers only ran those books into the ground. Meanwhile, Stormwatch has limped along as a pale and convoluted imitation of the Authority. DC just hasn’t found anything for its Wildstorm properties that fits with the readers.
And to be brutally honest, Team 7 isn’t going to change that track record.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a decent first issue of a team book. It follows the typical formula of introducing a couple characters at a time through their recruitments. It does this effectively too, giving just enough of a feel for most of these characters to get interested in them. Even better, Justin Jordan doesn’t drag it all out. We have our Team 7 by the end of the issue. Personally, I appreciate that, because I have been getting sick of waiting several issues of a team book before having the team actually appear.
Team 7 seems like it is going to be an important book for the new Black Canary. Or should I say the old Black Canary? I guess it has been obvious since recent issues of Birds of Prey, but it’s in this issue that I finally trip off the fact that this isn’t the same Black Canary we have been reading for years. It’s her mother. It’s the original Black Canary. This issue stars Dinah Drake, the tough woman who wanted a career in law enforcement and has apparently managed to achieve it since women aren’t banned from it as they were in the 40s. I know, I know. What does it really matter? Black Canary was just retconned into a mother and daughter thing anyway. What differentiates them is relatively insubstantial. But still, I’m slow and only just realized it. Give me my moment.
Anyway, Team 7 is going to be very important for whatever version of Black Canary this is, because the character’s history is undergoing a complete renovation in the New 52. She is now definitely not a founding member of the Justice League. She’s never even been a member. She obviously has no history with the Justice Society. And there’s really no reason that I’m aware of to assume she has any prior relationship with Green Arrow. The only scrap really left of her history is some vague past friendship with Barbara Gordon. DC has to rebuild her from the ground up, and Team 7 is going to be the foundation of it all. This series is potentially where she will marry her future husband Kurt Lance and acquires her metahuman powers, along with various new elements of her history. This alone gets me very interested in where Team 7 could go.
Unlike the New 52’s version of Stormwatch, the cast of Team 7 does actually include Wildstorm characters who were prominent members of the title team. We have John Lynch, Cole Cash and Alex Fairchild mixed in with a few DC characters and then a few brand new ones. It’s almost a good balance. I only question the use of the new characters. Is this really the place for them? Unless there are big plans for these new faces, their inclusion seems to just clutter up the cast, especially when we know there are some more cast members to come.
So if it does the basic team recruitment issue well and if the new character histories are potentially interesting, why do I doubt Team 7 will turn the tide of Wildstorm failures in the New 52? Because it’s only good. It’s not great. The writing and are here are simply solid. Nothing really impresses or makes Team 7 stand out. And if a new book like this doesn’t start strong, what chance does it actually have?
DC has blown the timing of Team 7. If they wanted to have a Wildstorm concept like this deeply ingrained in the history of the revamped universe, Team 7 should have been one of the New 52’s launch titles. It’s just too late in the game to be doing this flashback series. Look, it’s been made painfully clear that DC does not have a plan. They are making up their new continuity as they go along, and that is disastrous for a book like this. If you’re going to do a book set in the past like this one, you damn well better have a plan. At the very least, you should know what your history actually is. DC doesn’t. We are already seeing signs that Team 7 is disregarding things established in Grifter and Deathstroke.
But on top of that, you have other zero issues kind of spoiling the fun of Team 7. Why would you launch a book like this at the same time you give Deathstroke a zero issue that lays out origin? We now know that nothing particularly important is going to happen with Slade in Team 7. He loses his eye and becomes Deathstroke for reasons almost entirely separate. So if that’s the case, why have him on the team at all? Why have Amanda Waller around if the zero issue of Suicide Squad has already shown us what led her to create Suicide Squad? Stuff like this leaves Team 7 feeling irrelevant before it has a chance to really get going.
This may be a little unfair, but comic readers have been rather spoiled when it comes to books with a focus on espionage and covert government operations. For years now, we’ve had this sort of genre coming from the greats like Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. It’s harsh, but Justin Jordan and Jesus Merino fall short of that high bar many of us have gotten used to. This is no Checkmate, Captain America or Sleeper. The tone and attention to detail that gave those series a feeling of legitimacy isn’t here. I’m not saying it’s done poorly here. I mean it’s done unremarkably.
Team 7 is a great premise that just isn’t getting the backing it needs from DC. Its relevance is immediately undermined by other books and coming out a year late. A book like this needs the cooperation of the rest of the line to work, and there’s no impression that it will get such a thing. Plus, Team 7 has a creative team that manages to do a fairly good job when what it really needs is one that does an amazing job right off the bat. As much potential as I see here, I wouldn’t get too invested in Team 7. I don’t expect this series to run long enough to give us the major developments it seems to want to toy with.