REVIEW: Stargirl - Season 1

First, I should clarify my familiarity with the JSA. I have read their 1999 and 2007 series and have highly enjoyed both series. When it comes to Stargirl specifically, I enjoy her. But I never got around to reading her Stars & Stripe series. But I was still very interested in this show when it was announced, if no other reason then to actually explore a historically significant team from DC’s history.

Let’s start with the heroes/protagonists. Courtney is a great character, and Pat is great as well. I liked their dynamic and the arcs they went through during the first season. Yolanda and Rick are also interesting characters that made me engaged. Beth was the character that really didn’t get a whole lot of focus, but still like-able. Supporting characters including Barbara and Mike were also like-able. Basically, all of these characters felt real and weren’t one note. They had varying degrees of layers that made them interesting and made me engaged in learning more about them.

Now the villains/antagonists. The ISA has an interesting mix of villains. On the one hand, you have Icicle and Brainwave. These are villains that are psychologically interesting and take their roles seriously enough. Then on the other, you have villains like Sportsmaster and Tigress. While not as psychologically interesting, they were still fun and entertaining to watch. But they never come across as goofy or over the top. The ISA as a whole were a group of genuinely intimidating villains that deserved to be taken seriously as a threat. Secondary characters related to the ISA - mainly Cindy and Henry Jr. - are either fun and/or interesting to watch as well as any of the other main characters.

Now, the story. In this world, the JSA seem to have a more modern origin story, even though we never really learn the details. But it does explain that a decade prior to the show, they were defeated by the ISA. I still don’t have a clear understanding of how regular people view superheroes in this world. It seems like they aren’t really well known, but the little I have come to known seems to say that they aren’t exactly well guarded secrets. Perhaps this can be elaborated in season 2. But the story of the first season is focused on family, coming to trust others, and learning that anyone can become a hero. Admittedly, these aren’t brand new ideas. But the show still does a good job of showcasing it’s themes. Especially on that last point, because sometimes you have major space-based movie franchises that seem to go that direction only to then stick to a “it totally matters who your family is” theme. (I’m sorry, I really thought I could get through this without mentioning Star Wars.) What I’m trying to say is that this is a show that, while not really bringing anything new to the genre, still has charm and knows how to be enjoyable. Finding the right balance between taking itself seriously enough but also remembering that this is a superhero show.

I guess the last part I should talk about is the special effects and stunt work. This…is something of a mixed bag. You have some special effects that, while not completely “real”, still look cool enough where you can move past it. This includes effects such as the glowing staff, when Icicle turns into ice, and the giant robot. The costumes for everyone actually look pretty solid and some practical effects that make it into the show are fairly cool. But then you also have your effects that are pretty noticeable. The best example of this is…Solomon Grundy. I’m sorry, but he just looks…kind of ugly. Not quite sure what happened there, but it isn’t the show’s best work. Now the fighting and stunt work is for the most part pretty good. There are several fun fight scenes in this show. But every once in a while, something will stick out. I like Yolanda, but sometimes when she has to make big jumps or has to climb up walls…it can look very weird and obviously fake. There isn’t a ton like that, but you will notice it. On a whole, there is more to like than dislike.

Now, the show will be fully transferring over to The CW, as opposed to the other shows that went over to HBO Max. I do have some concerns. I don’t want them to stretch the second season out to 20+ episodes. A 13 episode count is perfect, it keeps everything focused. And while teen characters like Courtney make decisions in this show I expect teens to make, I want them to actually learn from them. Not repeat those same kind of decisions over and over and learning the exact same lesson every single damn time. Like on the Arrowverse shows. And I would like an explanation on how exactly Green Lantern and The Flash were so easily taken down. And what about Doctor Fate and The Spectre?! Those are VERY powerful characters associated with the team that should at least be reference. They have Eclipso coming in season 2, I expect them to do something with The Spectre!

Overall, I liked it and am cautiously optimistic regarding season 2.


There Is a wikipedia article for Wildcat and Starman, so somebody (probably a civilian) wrote them.

Now at my CPU I can answer questions easier.
A while back one of the producers said they are staying with 13 episodes.

Blockquote And I would like an explanation on how exactly Green Lantern and The Flash were so easily taken down. And what about Doctor Fate and The Spectre?! Those are VERY powerful characters associated with the team that should at least be reference

I have months thinking this through. Spectre is nowhere in the lineup (you might be mixing it up with “Absolute Justice”, which had him in the picture).
Dr fate was probably the easiest defeat due to his big weakness, being two being with different goals in one body. In Johns’s Black Reign, Black Adam’s plan brought more order than the JSA’s plan, so Nabu switched sides. The person fought back resulting in Dr. Fate making practically no difference other than wrecking Hawkman’s entire plan. To beat him all the ISA had to do was have Brainwave send him the plan and no more Dr. Fate.

While the JSA was filled with OP members I think you are forgetting the power of the ISA. Shade and Fiddler never properly appeared after that, but they are both powerhouses. Grundy is known for clobbering the whole JSA all by himself, Brainwave is ridiculously powerful, in one of Johns’s comics The Wizard somehow beat Spectre, and Icicle is really beefed up.

We know from the show that Wizard beat Hourman, somebody strong (probably Grundy, Brainwave or Fiddler) killed Wildcat, Shade killed Dr. Mid-Nite, and Icicle killed Sandman and Flash.

Based on Icicle walking over Flash’s frozen helmet he was killed the same way as Captain Cold defeated Johnny Quick in Johns’s Forever Evil, by using misdirection with mental control over ice to freeze his leg.

Without Dr. Fate Green Lantern is the clear most powerful member. Considering he was thrown through the roof I presume Grundy got the one on one matchup. He heavily resists the Starheart due to his swamp origin.

It was confirmed in episode 2 that Brainwave killed Hawkman and Hawkgirl. This probably means Brainwave messed with their leader’s head.

That leaves Johnny Thunder (he has a weird power level how he could realisticly beat Superman but also lose to Guy with a Rock) who is easily countered by Fiddler and Brainwave (With all the stuff Braiwnave is doing Fiddler is most likely) and just Starman. Since all Shade has done so far is kill Dr. Mid-Nite he most likely held off Starman until Pat arrived. That makes sense from a backstory view since Shade is most famous for battling Starman.

That accounts for all 11 JSA members (unless wikipedia missed one) and does not account for what Tigress, Sportsmaster, and Gamber were doing.

Gambler seems to be nerfed to not being a physical threat, but he likely did plenty of strategizing on stuff like how to kill Flash and Dr. Fate.

I think it is most likely Sportsmaster defeated Wildcat. Pat called him the world’s greatest fighter (when you would think the title would go to Wildcat), so I presume Sportsmaster won. After Grundy killed Lantern he then finished off Wildcat immediately after.

That leaves Tigress holding off Sandman until Icicle kills Flash who then finished Sandman off.

I somehow skipped the fact that the Hawks and Sandman are in this shows universe. Then again, I stopped watching the show halfway through and only now came back to finish it off.

In regards to Spectre, he has historically been linked to the JSA. All the way back to their very first issue, their fight during WWII and returned briefly during the 4 issue America vs The Justice Society story. But in regards to the 1999 and 2007 series, I do remember a version of him showing up for at least one story arc per series. So he should at least be addressed.

He was in “Injustice Be Done”, “Black Vengeance”, and that storyline right after Johns left. He might be in later seasons.

How did you forget Sandman died? Since Kingdom Come he keeps dying first in every version of JSA. I just know he will die in the opening scene of World War II.