Stargirl: STRIPE

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Ok, team meeting! 

I was impressed with the pilot episode of Stargirl, and they keep the same level of quality in the second episode. We get a bit more backstory, see more of the opposition, and learn a bit about some of this world’s history. I have a few quibbles about some minor things, but overall I’m really enjoying this show a lot. The episode is called STRIPE, a nod to Pat Dugan’s robotic creation.

Picking up where the last episode ended, Courtney is stunned to see the giant robot appear, and more to hear Pat’s voice coming out of it. STRIPE largely gets used for comic relief here, but he does manage to get Courtney away from the scene of the battle and back to his garage. As they leave, Brainwave watches their flight, looking less than pleased. He also has something that bodes ill for Courtney and her family. Pat gets them back safe, does his best to tend to Courtney’s injuries, explains a bit about where the giant suit came from, and they have the first of several arguments about Starman being her father. In sharing what he does, Pat mentions Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Johnny Thunder. Johnny was a founding member of the JSA in the comics, and has never really made the jump to other media. I think this is the first time he’s even been mentioned in live action. Courtney has some questions that Pat doesn’t have answers to.

Elsewhere in the deceptively peaceful Blue Valley, a local politician gets an unexpected visit. We learn who he really is, and the man has a very tense conversation with Brainwave. There’s some bickering, an unsettling view of the man’s homelife, and a really stereotyped pet. Back at the Dugan/Whitmore home, Courtney keeps pushing, and Pat shares more of the story of the Justice Society. Despite what we saw, there was a survivor of that night, and Pat did his best to help the now lone hero. They continue to argue about pretty much everything, as Courtney takes a very different lesson from what Pat is saying than he wants her to. Later that night, we see that all this is making Pat very nervous.

The next day, Pat takes STRIPE out for some adjustments, practice, and cheap laughs. The man is certainly trying his best. Breakfast the next day is a bit tense as Courtney and Pat both have lame excuses for their various bumps and bruises, as Barbara looks on skeptically. Pat’s son Mike wonders what’s going on with everyone else, but is too busy with video games and language warnings to push it. Courtney does more things she shouldn’t on the way out, which I’m sure Pat would be ticked off about. In a very different scene of family dysfunction, we see that the King home is a dark and unpleasant place, and some storylines from the comics are hinted at. At school, Courtney somehow manages to cut class and not get caught while she works on her own project and leaves destruction in her wake. Barbara has a rough day at work, and we learn enough for comic readers to piece together who her boss is.

Pat makes a decision during his lunch break he’s going to regret, while Courtney has another run-in with Beth Chapel and Yolanda Montez in the cafeteria. At least she doesn’t get detention this time. Beth’s video-chat has some repercussions she couldn’t imagine, that are going to go badly for Courtney and Pat. That night, the school has an Open House, which is a combination of embarrassing moments, slivers of more background on some characters, and some really well done tension between our hero and the villain. Pat once again mostly gets used as comic relief and foil for Courtney’s heroic intentions. Finally, our titular heroine has a run-in with Brainwave, and it doesn’t go how she imagined at all. Breathless, she finds Pat and fills him in on what’s going on, giving him another opportunity to be a joke. Back at home, Courtney and Pat argue more, and he gets a chance to set off and be a hero. I know the CW shows specialize in ill-kept secret identities, but he really needs to rethink where he’s keeping STRIPE.

Courtney has a slightly uncomfortable scene with her mother, mostly because Mom doesn’t know what’s going on and Courtney is, I think, starting to feel guilty about keeping secrets. STRIPE confronts Brainwave, and is almost immediately out of his league, but keeping alive the tradition of massive property damage around superhero battles. Never one to do what she was told, Stargirl arrives to help, and also doesn’t do too well. Then again, they’re both novice heroes in these roles. Brainwave, fortunately, is one of the sadistic, bullying types of villains, so the heroes get a chance to survive the encounter and turn the tables on him. It ends up turning out not so well for Brainwave, also a tradition of early episodes of CW hero shows. Later, we see the aftermath of the fight, which I suspect may give rise to a new enemy for Stargirl and STRIPE.

Our heroes make it back to the garage/headquarters, and Courtney has a lot more questions. To my surprise, there was a mention of another Golden Age character who does have a big tie to Stargirl in the comics, and I hope we hear more about that later. They end up having an unexpected bonding moment, and she actually wants Pat’s help, which was a nice change to see. I think her encounters with the bad guy are showing her how serious this is. That scene ends on another goofy note, and the show ends with a new bad guy arriving in town and being briefed on recent developments.

 

What I liked: She’s a bit of a brat still, but I like Courtney, and I’m glad we’re staring so early in her career. Pat is a good guy who tries hard to do the right thing. The names mentioned in passing really make me want even more to see some stories of the lost Justice Society. The Open House scene was really well done as a mix of humor, tension, and hints at what’s to come. I liked their big battle, it really showed how much work they have to do. We’re only two episodes in, and we’ve seen or heard about all the founding JSA from the comics but for two, which is impressive.

 

What I didn’t: I kind of wish Pat got treated a bit more seriously. He really needs to redo his hideout a bit better.

 

This series is still really impressing me, and I’m not the easiest comic book fan/hero geek to please. I’ll give this one a 4 out of 5.

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