28th May2021

‘Stargirl: Spring Break Special #1’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Geoff Johns | Art by Todd Nauck | Published by DC Comics

Not content with currently hitting it out of the park over at Image with Geiger (check it out, it’s superb), Johns pitches up with a timely reminder that although Image are his new friends, DC are his long term best buds. He obviously made his career there, and a big part of the start of that career was a rather good book called Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E that introduced a young girl called Courtney Whitmore. This character is probably dearest to John’s heart than any other, as he modelled her on his real life sister Courtney, who tragically died in a plane crash. With that book and his use of her in JSA (another great book) Johns established Courtney/ Stargirl as a strong enough character that she ended up with her own TV show. I’ve loved the character since she first showed up, and I’m a sucker for the whole legacy hero thing anyway, so this is one book I’ve been looking forward to.

Let’s take a look.

To the average American teen, Spring Break means hitting the beach and surviving a series of over the top parties. For Stargirl, it usually means taking care of superhero business, usually with her stepdad, Pat Dugan, formerly Stripesy (sidekick of the Star-Spangled Kid) and currently S.T.R.I.P.E, designer of a nice bit of tech kit although, alas, still a sidekick to someone with the word Star in their name. Sure he doesn’t mind of course. Stripesy was also a full member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, one of the Golden Age era super teams, and this being a Geoff Johns book you know that’s going to feature somewhere. With his TV/film background Johns doesn’t write characters, he writes ensembles. Doesn’t matter who’s name is on the book, it’ll feature a large cast of characters ripe for dramatic situations and emotional tinkering. He knows where the buttons are, and he’ll push as many as the story needs.

Johns proves my point almost from the start, with an ominous Green and Red Arrow meeting with Crimson Avenger hinting at things to come. The next few pages, with Stargirl and Stripesy, just remind you how much fun comics can be. Great scripting, great characterisation, great dialogue, and great artwork. Stripesy has dragged Courtney along to meet up with Vigilante (the first cowboy version, not the Teen Titans era Adrian Chase who’s a little dead) one of his old Seven Soldiers teammates. As a Golden Age/ Earth-2/ JSA fan, the recapping of the old teams and heroes is a genuine delight, Johns using the device of Pat telling Courtney as a way of filling in new younger readers who don’t know the history behind these characters. That’s knowledge you’ll need, as it seems Geoff Johns is reforming the Seven Soldiers. In a way.

The Crimson Avenger has assembled in one place Green Arrow, Red Arrow, Shining Knight, Vigilante, and of course Stargirl and Stripesy. A legacy version of the Seven Soldiers. But why? It seems the original Crimson Avenger, long thought dead, may not be, but he will need help. Although not Red Arrow’s or Stargirl’s, they are too young apparently. They are going to happily sit and wait….said no-one ever. Being both talented and very precocious they go off by themselves, and meet up with the others in pitched battle with The Clock King. It turns out the original Crimson Avenger is not the one they need to save, it’s actually Wing, his sidekick who also died, but is now alive. Possibly. Time machines have a habit of messing stuff up. The heroes win. Sort of. Clock King escapes. In a way. Per Degaton appears, which promises trouble down the line. Leave them wanting more, right?

This was near perfect. A well crafted story, with engaging characters, that both pushed the story forward while totally respecting the past. If anything, it was a shame the characters didn’t get more time to ‘breathe’, as Johns had a lot to say and not enough pages to say it. The book’s legacy will be what it seemingly is leading into, a new Stargirl ongoing and a new JSA book. Take my money now. The artwork, by Todd Nauck, was superb, perfectly suited to this story. Some lovely, large expressive panels I especially loved. There is also a great Jerry Ordway Seven Soldiers throwback double page spread, a fun Courtney text piece, and a nice JSA tease.

A book created with love for its characters always feels right, and this book feels just that.

***** 5/5


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