I have always been a huge fan of Starman and his legacy in the DC Universe. In my comic boxes lie virtually every appearance of every incarnation of the character, heck, from the time I started reading comics around 1975 to today. And there have been a lot of incarnations.
Originally the new Star-Spangled Kid, Stargirl, continued the legacy from the incredible Jack Knight era and, although she hasn’t made as big of a splash, has hung around as a fixture since Geoff Johns first introduced us to her in 1999. So it was with much excitement and anticipation that I watched the first real live action adaptation of the Starman legacy yesterday on the DC Universe streaming service. Stargirl also aired tonight on the CW…
It begins where it should, with the old members of the JSA fighting the Injustice Society (no, not supers from NetherRealm’s DC Universe). The original team in this show is established to have broken up ten years ago, after which Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) — aka Stripesy, the Star-Spangled Kid’s older sidekick — was entrusted to find someone worthy enough to wield the cosmic rod. And so it sat in storage for ten years as Pat built a wonderful life for himself post-JSA. After the family moves from the cynical West Coast to idyllic Blue Valley, Nebraska, in comes Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), his step daughter, who stumbles upon the box and its very special contents, and off we go.
Geoff Johns fans will certainly feel his hands heavy on the pilot. Stargirl strikes close enough to the source material for this comic book purist, while deviating in ways that make sense in the media-shift. The newest addition to the CWVerse (formerly the Arrowverse) feels different than other CW shows in terms of its efforts to “get it right” for the comic book fans, and that was much appreciated. The actors are all extremely likable, so your investment might happen immediately. That’s definitely rare (at least for this reviewer) in today’s TV environment.
Growing up in the era of Stephen Spielberg, I felt his influence here as well. Courtney is a smart, capable girl with all of the teenager and high school problems that moving to a small town creates. She briefly meets her future legacy super teammates by chance at a school lunch table shortly before she discovers the cosmic rod and inadvertently goes off on her first adventure. And beneath its perfect, shiny exterior, she learns that something darker lurks under Blue Valley. We see little hints of that scattered around and eventually witness the things that are going to menace these kids.
Here’s to hoping that Stargirl proves to be a hit and doesn’t rely on the other CW supes to reach the promised land. Seeing that JSA portrait featured also pushes all kinds of hope in seeing heroes whose potential has yet to be seen in live action. I’ll be watching. 4/5 Bibles.
-by Kam Mohtashemi