Weekend Binge: Discover Stargirl’s Roots with Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.

Comic News

If you’re reading this, then give yourself a pat on the back. You did it! It’s Friday and you made it through another tough work week. Now it’s time to relax, unwind and enjoy the weekend. Thanks to DC UNIVERSE INFINITE’s vast comic book library, there are plenty of ways to do just that.

Earlier this week, DC’s Stargirl returned to The CW. If you love Courtney Whitmore as much as I do, and have already made your way through the earlier seasons of her show, it might be time to turn your attention to her comic book adventures. Fortunately for you, there are plenty. Best of all, most of them were written by Stargirl’s creator Geoff Johns—who also happens to be the executive producer and showrunner of the Stargirl TV series. Where to begin? Well, I’d suggest you start with Courtney Whitmore’s debut in the fifteen-issue Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.!

The Premise:

Are you familiar with the Golden Age hero Stripesy? He may not have been as notable as other heroes like Superman or Batman, but he had plenty of exciting adventures as the sidekick of the Star-Spangled Kid. But all of that is behind Pat Dugan now. He has a new wife and a teenage stepdaughter named Courtney who resents him. One day, Courtney finds some of Pat’s old gear, including the Star-Spangled Kid’s old Cosmic Converter Belt. It isn’t long before the young superhero-to-be suits up as the new Star-Spangled Kid…partially to annoy her new stepfather. Of course, Pat does what any good parent would do in this situation—he keeps Courtney safe by following her around while piloting a giant robot named S.T.R.I.P.E. Trust me, this isn’t an ordinary hero and sidekick relationship.

Let’s Talk Talent:

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. is more than Stargirl’s origin story, it’s also an origin story for writer Geoff Johns. Johns is easily one of the most consequential writers in the modern DC Universe, thanks to his legendary runs on Green Lantern, Justice League and many others. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. was the first series Johns wrote for DC, kicking off his legendary career. The story is also a personal one, as Johns created Courtney Whitmore as a tribute to his late sister Courtney Johns, who died unexpectedly in a plane crash.

Lee Moder is the main penciler on the series and his art is bursting with energy. The fun cartoony style gives the action sequences some edge, making this book a visual treat. Moder really shines when it comes to facial expressions. You’ll enjoy Courtney’s snarky eyerolls, Cindy Burman’s evil looks (yep, she’s in this!) and the over-the-top emoting from various members of the supporting cast. Simply put, Lee Moder’s art is loads of fun and his contributions make this series more enjoyable.

A Few Reasons to Read:

  • If you’re a fan of the CW’s Stargirl this is your chance to check out where the story begins. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how some moments from the first season were faithfully adapted from this series.
     
  • It’s also fun to look at the various ways the source material differs from the CW superhero drama. For example, Courtney and Pat have a rougher relationship here, which is pretty hard to believe. Mike is a military school brat, Courtney is powered a by a belt instead of the Cosmic Staff and characters like Rick Tyler, Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel are not present. Courtney also calls herself the Star-Spangled Kid (the Stargirl came later). The differences are interesting and sometimes surprising, and they make this a unique reading experience, even if you’re already familiar with the television series.

  • Are you a fan of Young Justice? The original incarnation of the team appears for an arc. That’s right, we get Superboy with his leather jacket, Impulse at his most hyper and Wonder Girl with her original goggles look.
     
  • Do you love the nineties? This series was first published in 1999 and it’s oozing nineties energy. From the fashion, to the slang, to Courtney’s late-century attitude, this is a quintessential nineties series. Think of it like the movie Clueless fused with a superhero origin story. It’s a great ride.

Why It’s Worth Your Time:

The series is fourteen issues long, plus a special zero-issue, making it the perfect length for a weekend binge—particularly a three-day holiday weekend like this one. If you’re still in school, this can be a nervous time of year with a full year of studies ahead of you, but this series will leave you with positive feelings, especially as you see Pat and Courtney’s relationship growing closer. I won’t spoil how it ends, but it’s a heartwarming moment that the series builds to and earns. If you’re a loyal viewer of the CW’s Stargirl, then this comic is a must read. But even if you’ve never watched an episode of the superhero drama, Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. is an enjoyable binge that focuses on family, superhero action and legacy.

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. by Geoff Johns, Lee Moder, Scott Kolins and Dan Davis is available to read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE. It’s also available as a collected edition graphic novel at your local comic book shop, bookstore or library.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, “Gotham Gazette.” Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.

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