The CW’s Arrowverse has given us many fine shows. As an adult we finally have costumed heroes that are done seriously and with respect. Although, many of the storylines, villains and heroes themselves, have been altered from the source material, we are still seeing what, as a child, I never thought I would see and am having so much fun watching the stories unfold.
Spoiler Level: Medium-High
Special Guest Reviewer Rob Price
Stargirl And Teen JSA
by Rob Price
The one thing that the DCEU/CW had not done, was make a show targeted directly at a young audience (the YA crowd) until now. Stargirl fills that void. The story puts Courtney Whitmore (the unknown daughter of the original Starman) in a new town. It has all the trappings of a young adult movie or novel. Popular girls that are evil, outcasts that must eat at a different table during lunch, parents who don’t understand and potential romantic interests. It is a bit 90210, but with superpowers and costumes.
The show takes place in Blue Valley, Nebraska. A seemingly small, quaint, quiet town. But hidden beneath the surface, evil lurks. Courtney Whitmore, her mother Barbara, her stepfather, Pat Dugan and step brother Mike move back to Barbara’s home town as she has been offered a great job at offices of “The American Dream” a non-profit charity type organization that is a front for the Injustice Society of America (ISA) headed by Jordan Mahkent, a.k.a Icicle. The ISA are using Blue Valley as their HQ, and are all living there with their families, but none of their children know of their secret identities.
Courtney finds Starman’s cosmic staff and suspects her father was Starman, and discovers that her stepfather, Pat, by coincidence and not design, was Stripesy, Starman’s sidekick. She dons an altered Starman costume, and against warnings from Pat, becomes Stargirl. Pat is the only family member that knows that Courtney has become the new Stargirl.
Courtney finds out that her father and the rest of the Justice Society of America (JSA) were killed by the Injustice Society of America and that many of the remaining ISA members are in Blue Valley. She feels she must hunt down and defeat them. Starting with the one they know, Henry King, Brainwave. She is easily defeated by Brainwave, who discovers her identity and threatens to kill her mother if she doesn’t hand over the Cosmic Staff. Against Pat’s warnings, Courtney confronts Brainwave, and although almost defeated again, with the help of S.T.R.I.P.E., Pat’s robotic armor, the are able to overwhelm Brainwave, short circuiting his brain and putting him in a coma. The ISA has now become aware that a new “Starman” or “Stargirl” has surfaced.
At school, Courtney starts to make a friend in Joey Zarick unknowingly the son of William Zarick, The Wizard, an ISA member. She also stands up for Yolanda Montez, an outcast at school, but Yolanda just thinks she is making the situation worse. She also meets Cameron Mahkent, unbeknownst to the both of them he is icicles son.
Courtney is determined to find Icicle, against Pat’s warnings that being a hero is very dangerous. Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E find icicle, but in the ensuing battle, Icicle purposely causes Joey Zarick to be hit by a truck and killed. William confronts Jordan about killing his son. And Jordan uses his powers to kill William. To try to explain the dangers of being a hero and the losses that they could incur, Pat takes Courtney to the JSA headquarters and tells her to give up being Stargirl. Instead, Courtney, with the new purpose of reforming the JSA with new members, returns to the JSA HQ and steals the power items that will help her in her quest.
The next couple of episodes are divided into finding the perfect people to become the new JSA. The first is Yolanda who became an outcast at school when Cindy Burman, the popular mean girl, leaks a risqué photo she sent to her boyfriend Henry King, Jr. Her family believes that she dishonored them and her classmates all call her slut. Yolanda takes her aggression out as an accomplished boxer / Martial Artist. Courtney believes that she has found the new “WildCat” and convinces the reluctant Yolanda to down the power suit that the original Wildcat wore. The suit itself gives her heightened agility and retractable claws. On their first mission, Beth Chapel, an overly talkative classmate, overhears Courtney call the costumed Wildcat, by her real name, Yolanda.
Beth, while following Courtney and Yolanda, find goggles owned by the JSA’s Dr. Mid-Nite which have been embedded with the AI facsimile of their creators personality. Beth, a very lonely girl, has finally found the friend she needed. Courtney discovers that Rex Tyler’s, a.k.a Hourman’s, hourglass reacted around Rick, a very angry boy who was raised by his uncle after both his parents were killed in a car crash. Courtney tries to recruit Rick, but it isn’t until Beth, with the help of Dr. Mid-Nite’s goggles, explains that his father was the original Hourman and they didn’t die in an accident, but were murdered by Solomon Grundy, that Rick takes the hourglass, which gives him super strength for one hour. Rick uses the hourglass for personal reasons, destroying his abusive uncles truck. Rick, begrudgingly joins the new JSA, but makes it clear he is out for revenge.
Pat has discovered that Courtney has taken the items from the JSA HQ and asks her to get the items back. That this is too dangerous. Courtney tries, but none of the new members are willing to do that. The kids decide to try to do a mission on their own, foiling the ISA’s member, The Gambler while he tries to acquire a communication companies satellite codes, which is needed as part of their master plan, “Project: New America”. What they thought was going to be an easy mission, soon gets more complicated when Lawrence Crock and Paula Brooks, Sportsmaster and Tigress, show up to guard the Gambler. The team is easily defeated and nearly killed until S.T.R.I.P.E shows up and saves them. Pat realizes that a new JSA is needed, but before they can fight the ISA, he will need to train them.
Training does not go well. Courtney, being impatient, shows off and ruins the training for everyone else. We then discover that Cindy, is the daughter of Dragon King and is fully aware of her father’s involvement in the ISA. Infact, she has superpowers and knows how to use them. She demands that her father allow her to join the ISA. He declines and puts her back on her mission of watching over Henry Jr. Brainwave’s Son, who is just discovering he can read minds. With out his father Henry Jr. is imperative to “Project: New America”
When Courtney decides to go to a dance with Cameron, instead of hanging out with new faux friend Cindy. Cindy gets angry and steals an experimental suit of power armor and a flame-throwing staff from her father and goes to confront Stargirl, managing to stab her with her wrist blades. She is only saved by the janitor Justin with an enchanted sword. Cindy escapes, but Pat finds Courtney unconscious.
The show is aimed at a younger audience, but don’t let that stop you. It is fun and full of energy. It will be nice to see how the team learns to work together and how Courtney will mature into a hero and not so impulsive. Some of the plot points are clichéd and there are a lot of coincidences, like Pat falling in love with Courtney’s mom, not knowing that Courtney was Starman’s child. It is nice that we are seeing a team of heroes that actually wear costumes similar to those in the comic books. I did not collect the books that this story is based on and have been told they have made quite a few changes. I do not see that as being a negative at this point. Each of the Arrowverse shows have taken the source material and made it their own. So far I am just enjoying the ride.
Stargirl And The Teen JSA
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 9/109/10