Sweet Little Sixteen / She’s got the grown up blues / Tight dress and lipstick / She’s sportin’ high heal shoes / Oh, but tomorrow morning / She’ll have to change her trend / And be sweet sixteen / And back in class again. – Chuck Berry, Sweet Little Sixteen, 1958.
It seems that almost everybody is using their confinement to catch up on all kinds of television — mostly streaming or DVRed (that’s a verb now, right?). So, lapsing back into my traditional role as August Contrarian, I’ve decided to do a little catch-up on my book reading. Right now I’m about two-thirds of the way through Meyer Levin’s The Old Bunch, written in 1937. That’s only 35 years longer than I’ve had it on my shelf. As Brian Wilson and Mike Love said, I get around. Eventually.
But mopery is a force of my nature, so I have been watching a bit of teevee. Besides, I’ve never gotten a paper cut from watching television. I’ve been watching Stargirl, the latest presentation from Warner Bros.’ DC Comics think tank. The former goes up on both the DCUniverse streamer and The CW this coming week. Pop Culture Squad HBIC Adriane Nash (that’s what it says on her business card) and I had the privilege of watching the first three episodes of Stargirl, and my comments that follow come from the totality of this experience. Spoiler Alert: There really aren’t any spoilers here. Sorry.
Let it be said that I am a Justice Society fan — certainly the original creation, as well as most of its subsequent reincarnations. The JSA was the thing to collect when I was Li’l Fanboy, along with EC Comics, Carl Barks and The Spirit, and I remain a big fan of all four. Indeed, I now get nostalgic for nostalgia.
Stargirl is based upon the 1999 title Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.S. by Geoff Johns, Lee Moder and Dan Davis, with James Robinson riding shotgun on the first issue, which was #0. Yes, the comics racket remains mathematically challenged. The series lasted 15 issues, ending with #14 (reread the previous two sentences), and it was a conflation of the original Star-Spangled Kid, Starman(s), and various versions of the JSA as well as the JSA’s lame doppelgänger, The Seven Soldiers of Victory. A cute teenager discovers Starman’s cosmic belt as she discovers her step-father was the Star-Spangled Kid’s sidekick, Stripesy. Like all smart, precocious comic book teen-age characters, she wants to become a costumed superhero. Stripesy, being her dad, is not keen on the idea but seeing as how he’s got a huge Transformers-wannabe robot suit gathering dust in the garage, he supervises his stepdaughter while on the fly.
I loved the series. I was annoyed it got shitcanned after 15 issues… the last being #14, remember? I’m a jaded old fart — that goes hand-in-hand with being an August Contrarian — and I think Geoff did a wonderful job bringing teen-age angst into the story in a fashion that makes the reader root for the kid while still sympathizing with the concerns of her parents.
So I was quite pleased that the greater Warner Bros. empire chose Stargirl as the newest wing in the DCU mansion, but I was a hell of a lot more pleased that Geoff Johns created the teevee series, is writing it, and is an executive producer. That’s pretty damn rare; off-hand, I can’t recall that happening since The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, a show so ancient that some readers might need to IMBD it. Television scripts always go through a lot of hands and by the time it’s being filmed it’s got more notes than Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. Remarkably and to its credit, the shows I saw still maintain the feeling of Johns’ work, as well as his story.
I’m not letting any cats out of my collection of trick bags when I say that JSA fans of all… stripes… likely will enjoy the hell out of the third episode. It pleased my Li’l Fanboy heart to no end.
Like all DCU-CW series (and now, post-Crisis, much of the rest of their sundry media universes), Stargirl is fraught with continuity possibilities. I’m not saying she’ll show up in the next big-ass crossover, and I doubt the Powers That Be will let Stargirl get too close to John Constantine. That’s reasonable, but if Geoff wants to consider that a challenge, hey, who am I to pour cold water on a jail bait story?
I do have one question. If you’ve read any new Superman family stories over the past few years, you’ve seen the legend “Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.” The creator credit also appears on the Supergirl CW show as well as other media derived from The Man of Steel. This was part of the end result of about 70 years of legal wrangling, and all accurate creator credits are well-deserved. Jerry Siegel also created the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy. Shouldn’t there be a creator credit for Jerry as well?
Yeah, I know. But I’ll ask again when Steve Amell returns as The Spectre.