Retro Review: 'Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.' #1 is a vibrant, fun look at what we can expect from 'Stargirl'

The densely packed first half goes into Courtney Whitmore and S.T.R.I.P.E.'s origin. It sets up the supporting cast and its villains and then dives right into the action


                            Retro Review: 'Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.' #1 is a vibrant, fun look at what we can expect from 'Stargirl'
(Moder/Davis/McCraw/DC Comics)
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With the release of DC's 'Stargirl' right around the corner, it's worth taking a look back at the comic series that started it all: 'Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.' The series introduces Courtney Whitmore to the DC Universe, though it would be a little while before she took on the Stargirl name. After finding out that her stepfather used to be a superhero sidekick named Stripesy, she takes on the costume of the Star-Spangled Kid, adjusts it for a modern look and finds out the Kid's belt comes with superpowers, launching her superhero career. We take a look at #1, which contains all you need to know about why this was picked up for its own TV series.

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At first glance, Courtney shares a lot of similarities to 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' A blonde all-American girl moving to a new high school where strange things are afoot and her stodgy old father figure brings her into a long tradition of those empowered to fight the forces of evil. Where Buffy mixes humor, angst and horror, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.' is pure, unadulterated fun - more in the style of the '90s 'Young Justice' than anything else. Lee Moder's art is about as cartoonish as it gets and though it takes a moment to get used to it after the more toned-down art style of today's comics, the cartoonishness absolutely works in the book's favor. 

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From the start, Moder has a handle on exactly how he wants to portray Courtney as a character, giving her extremely expressive body language that spells a headstrong young girl determined to make her mark on the world. Forced to move to a new town because of her stepfather, Pat Dugan, Courtney spends much of the issue acquainting herself with her new high school in Blue Valley - letting it known that she does not tolerate bullies. Running afoul of a faculty that seems to actively hate its student body, making new friends, and new rivals - it's a fleshed-out, lively high school story with superhero weirdness always in the background, right up to the point it all comes crashing in. 

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Pat Dugan is drawn as somewhat of a simple-minded man. Militaristic, with a dedication to the legacy of the superheroes he served with. He and Courtney are very much at odds, and you can feel the sparks fly off the page - they're both bull-headed, in their own ways and the light, exasperated antagonism that comes out of that relationship makes for a delightful dynamic. When Courtney discovers Pat's collection of superhero memorabilia including the former Star-Spangled Kid's costume - she sees not a path to superheroism, but a way to get back at her stepfather for intruding on the lives of her mother and her. When little green men attack a school dance, however, Courtney takes the call to action with gusto.

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Geoff Johns' vividly written characters - all but animated by the art team - almost leap off of every page. This first issue is surprisingly dense, containing Courtney's origin, establishing her setting, delving into Pat's background, setting up the larger plot of the series, the villains behind the scenes and establishing a story of legacy in the face of youthful exuberance.

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It's easy to see the appeal of Courtney as a character and why she's endured for so long. From what we know of the TV series, parts of it will be largely based on the type of story established in this issue, though perhaps not so wildly outlandish right off the bat. Even so, if this comic is any indication and it just might be, considering how closely co-creator Geoff Johns is involved with the show - 'Stargirl' is set to be a very fun series with very memorable leading characters.

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Disclaimer : The views expressed in this article belong to the writer and are not necessarily shared by MEAWW.