One day while I was scrolling through HBO Max, I stumbled across the first season of “DC’s Stargirl.” Now, I have always been familiar with the character of Stargirl. As a longtime reader and watcher of DC Comics content, I vividly remember her as a prominent character in the cartoon “Justice League Unlimited” and as a recurring character in the last few seasons of the television show “Smallville”. As I started watching the first episode of “DC’s Stargirl,” I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.
It first premiered on the ill-fated streaming service DC Universe in May 2020 and premiered a day later on The CW before moving exclusively to The CW for its second season. Based on the comic book character of the same name, the show follows sixteen-year-old Courtney Whitmore as she moves from sunny California to the small town of Blue Valley, Nebraska. She moves across the country with her mom and new stepdad, Pat Dugan, and step brother Mike. One day as she is looking through Pat’s things, she discovers the Cosmic Staff and finds out that it belonged to Starman before he died, and her stepdad was his sidekick Stripesy. Both were part of the Justice Society of America (JSA.) Courtney learns that the JSA’s old enemies, the Injustice Society of America (ISA,) are back and want to take over the world. She becomes Stargirl and recruits three of her classmates, Yolanda Montez (Wildcat II,) Beth Chapel (Dr. Mid-Nite II,) and Rick Tyler (Hourman II,) the son of the original Hourman. All are taking the mantle of deceased members of the original JSA. The four teens form a new JSA to save the world along with Pat and his robot S.T.R.I.P.E.
The show’s best quality is the way it develops its characters in thirteen episodes. At the beginning of the show, Courtney is naive about what she is getting into, and by the end of the season, she is a confident leader and selfless hero. Brec Bassinger, who plays Courtney Whitmore, does a great job of portraying the naive side of Courtney and the strength she develops through the show. Beth Chapel has some of the best development. At the start, she is an outcast like the rest of the JSA, but in the end, she stands up for herself and carves out her own destiny.
Legacy plays a massive part in the characters’ lives. For Pat, it is how to honor the memories of his old teammates and help guide the heroes of the future. For Rick Tyler, it is how to live up to the legacy his father left behind. Trying to be someone his father would be proud of. The new JSA are trying to create their own path while also trying to live up to what their predecessors left behind.
Throughout the season, the bonds between the characters grow stronger. In the beginning, Courtney did not like having a new dad and brother. Through Pat’s mentoring, she sees that he does care for her and sees her as his daughter. She learns that you do not have to share blood to be a family. When Courtney asks her to join the JSA, Yolanda does not trust her and thinks the idea of being a superhero is ridiculous. Yolanda sees the value of relying on people who care about you and learns to open up more by the end of the season. Through their shared goal of defeating the ISA, the JSA learns to value each other’s skills and friendship.
At its core, “DC’s Stargirl” is a love letter to comic books. The town of Blue Valley has this stuck-in-time quality, and everything feels like it is from the fifties. I love that the silliness of the medium is embraced. The comic references are my favorite part. The usage of the JSA is significant because they are considered the first superhero team. My favorite comic book reference is that Blue Valley, Nebraska, is the childhood home of Wally West, the former Kid Flash.
“DC’s Stargirl” is an excellent mix of the old and the new, and it is the perfect show for everyone.