Friend, later this evening Stargirl will finally get it’s chance to shine in it’s television debut on the CW at 8/7c – and shine it most certainly does. I went ahead and signed up for the DC Universe service the other day so I could catch Stargirl on the streaming service – it appears that new episodes on that service will drop on Monday with it then being shown on the CW the following day. Quite frankly with my love of the character and her connection to James Robinson’s Starman – I really couldn’t wait to check it out. Having watched the first episode I am happy to say that showrunner Geoff Johns, who co-created the comic character of Courtney Whitmore with Lee Moder as a loving tribute to his real Sister, have crafted at least from the first episode a series that shows the fun and dangers of becoming a superhero while also managing to focus on the strength of Family. It also lays the groundwork for the legacies of DC Comics heroes that came before – that I am sure will play out more throughout the series. I am going to share this minute long trailer that was released a week ago as a cutting off point before I get into my review – while much of it was seen in that extended trailer I shared in March – it actually shares moments from future episodes of Stargirl.
I know I said that this would be a non-spoiler review, I’m going to bend that just a tiny bit in regards to literally the opening minutes of the series – which if you watched that short trailer you have already figured out that the Justice Society of America appears to be wiped out by a collection of supervillains. Let me tell you the truth, as a lifelong fan of the JSA – it was a little heartbreaking to see some of my favorite comic book characters killed off… you might even have to freeze frame if you want to catch the fates of the heroes during the vicious attack. Joel McHale (Community) who plays Sylvester Pemberton aka Starman, before succumbing to his wounds – manages to pass on the Cosmic Staff to his friend and sidekick Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson). Insisting that what the Justice Society of America stood for must survive the tragedy of the attack – as well as telling Pat rather humorously if also bluntly, that it will not be he that wields the Cosmic Staff but someone else.
After a brief introduction to a young Courtney Whitmore and Barbara, her Mother who is played by Amy Smart (Justified) in the series, – we jump ahead ten years to the now teenage Courtney (Brec Bassinger) packing up to move to Blue Valley, Nebraska with her Mother, Pat and his young Son (Trae Romano). Brec Bassinger really sells the emotional upheaval her character is experiencing in this first episode – leaving behind friends and a childhood home, to say nothing of suddenly having a Stepfather and Stepbrother. The seemingly quieter and… overly… friendly residents of Blue Valley are a pretty sharp contrast to Los Angeles – as is the new school environment that Courtney finds herself in. In fact the town itself certainly appears to have more than a handful of secrets of it’s own and while none of it is hidden exactly – if you are a comic book fan you are definitely going to pick up on some danger signs before the characters in the series do.
While a lot of praise should be directed at Bassinger for her portrayl as Courtney – I believe that the show also works so well thanks to Luke Wilson’s performance, equal parts humble, moving, and humorous. Pat has the weight of keeping his former life involving superheroes secret – for the sake of his Family… although I have a feeling that as the series plays out we will learn why he chose to move them all to Blue Valley. Pat’s former life by the way is discovered pretty quickly by Courtney along with the Cosmic Staff – which appears to be sort of sentient (I have my suspicions on what is going on there). The device cannot be wielded by just anyone, it is almost as if it has been waiting for the young girl all this time, and both waste no time in getting into a little trouble… for sort of the right reasons?
There is quite a bit of excitement and action in this first episode of Stargirl – besides the opening moments the focus of the series is rather lighthearted. Having said that as this episode serves as only our introduction to the series, they make sure to layer the episode with some very real threats to Courtney and Pat in the future. Geoff Johns as well as the cast and crew should be proud of what they’ve pulled off – I dare say it is something of a throwback to some of the TV shows of the ’80s and I have a feeling this is meant to be a series that the whole Family can enjoy – not just comic book fans.