S.T.R.I.P.E. Week rolls on, but today I’m jumping ahead, oh… a few decades to a young member of the modern JSA. One of the things I enjoyed most about the late 90s DC offerings was the return of the Justice Society of America and its newest member Courtney Whitmore, a.k.a. Stargirl.
I’ve mentioned before that one of my happiest times reading monthly comics was in the late 90s, from Final Night to when Dan Didio was hired. One the most fun comics from that time period came in the form of a revival of the Justice Society, in the aptly named JSA title.
The book featured the remaining old guard (Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, & Wildcat), but what I really enjoyed was the heavy focus on the legacy concept. The book also featured Starman VII, Black Canary II, Sand (Sandman’s former sidekick), Hawkgirl III, Atom-Smasher (the GA Atom’s nephew), Mr. Teriffic II, Dr. Mid-Nite II, a new Dr. Fate, and a new Star-Spangled Kid (that’d be our young Courtney Whitmore here). The book, largely written by Goyer & Johns, was a fantastic title for several years and I happily read monthly until a few months after Goyer left. After that, book featured things I didn’t enjoy all that much like tearing down Atom-Smasher, the “bullet hole” Crimson Avenger, killing the modern Hourman to bring back the original, and other assorted stuff I’d rather forget.
Okay, so we’re only a couple paragraphs in and I’ve already called Courtney Whitmore both the Star-Spangled Kid & Stargirl. That’s because she’s both. Courtney is a Geoff Johns’ creation, originally appearing as the second Star-Spangled Kid in his book Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E.. The character is based on Johns’ sister, also named Courtney, who died in the TWA Flight 800 explosion.
Courtney is the stepdaughter of the Golden Age Stripe – partner of the original Star-Spangled Kid and member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. I know to some of you, I’m just throwing out weird names and teams, but I love doing these reviews. Getting to talk about these old characters is great, we just need the figures to match!
When Courtney discovered Pat’s history, she set out on her own as the new Star-Spangled Kid (ultimately being accompanied by Pat in his S.T.R.I.P.E. armor). She’d go on to join the JSA and after receiving Starman’s VII Star Rod when he retired, changed her name to Stargirl. She’s been an integral component of all the JSA-themed books since and made crossover appearances in both JLU, Brave & the Bold, & Smallville. I’m not sure of her status in the new 52, but if you’re a fan of the character, I’m positive Geoff Johns will have done right by her and left her largely intact.
In terms of sculpt, Stargirl features a lot of new parts. Her arms may be the only thing reused and her two lower torso pieces are shared with the Young Justice Artemis, though I’m not sure who came first anymore. Courtney features new shorter legs with the thigh articulation moved to the bottom of the bicycle pants, there are new hands, the new belt, a new upper torso that features a sculpted line between her midriff and costume, and the all-new head. As it is, I’m perplexed by this figure. The newly sculpted pieces are great and capture the detail right, the size is right, but the waist confounds me.
The major problem is that the belt is too small. On the top, it lines up with her skin, but then below, it juts out over her hips. That has to hurt. When combined with the internal hip articulation (it causes the upper hip to move inward as the leg juts out) and the pinch created by the ab crunch, Stargirl ends up looking rather ill-proportioned in some poses (and that’s without mentioning this young lady is supposed to be 16).
The new pieces do get the job done and capture the figure’s look right down to the weird “Yankee Poodle” aspect to the costume design (Geoff Johns loves the Zoo Crew). The head sculpt has taken some flak, but I think the sculpt is solid. I love that Courtney’s smiling because that’s pretty much what she does on every cover, but the decision to include the braces as a paint app seems to jar the entire piece. One, it looks bad. Who thought a yellow line through her teeth would be a good idea? Second, it situates the teeth strangely in the open-mouth sculpt. I’m not against smiles on sculpts, but after Courtney and the Legion I think we need to go back to the drawing board. (For fun, I whited out the yellow line to check out the sculpt without it, I do like it better).
I would say the braces needed to be a sculpted detail, but I think that’s too small for this line to reproduce, so I think they should’ve skipped it altogether this time around. She’s had the braces removed in the comics and the figure definitely appears to be older than her early appearances, so they really wouldn’t have been missed. Continue to Page 2…