Review: Stargirl Spring Break Special #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Todd Nauck and Bryan Hitch
Colors: Hi-Fi and Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Courtney (Stargirl) Whitmore and Pat (S.T.R.I.P.E.) Dugan get a visit from the most recent incarnation of the Crimson Avenger (Jill Carlyle?) who sets them on a course to uncover a few lingering mysteries of the Seven Soldiers of Victory!
It’s almost hard to know where to start with Stargirl Spring Break Special #1. The issue is strewn with positives. For the first time in a long time it feels like someone is writing a comic that is interested in incorporating DC Comics history instead of destroying it. In the end it all comes down to Geoff Johns approach to DC history and the company’s Golden Age characters and their legacies. It even manages to create some synergy with the Stargirl television series that doesn’t feel forced.
For those readers who followed Courtney and Pat in their original Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. series and in JSA, Johns makes Stargirl Spring Break Special #1 feel like they haven’t missed a beat. It will feel very familiar. This will also create a familiarity with fans of the Stargirl television show. Over the first season, Pat and Courtney found their way to each other and it began to approximate where they were in the comics when they were last seen pre-“The New 52.”
Johns chooses to use a number of characters that we haven’t seen in a while and tease a few others we’ve never seen, and the mysteries surrounding them are gold! Firstly, we get the Crimson Avenger that debuted back in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9 (April 2000.) This version of the character got some exposure Johns’ JSA as well and a reworking in “The New 52” series, Earth 2. She is an interesting iteration of the concept and remains shrouded in mystery. It seems only fitting that she brings another enigma to Pat and Courtney’s doorstep. And, that’s not all- throughout the course of the story we are teased with the existence of a time-lost character named Judy Garrick. This should raise eyebrows for fans of the Golden Age Flash.
The story itself centers around Pat and Courtney helping the Crimson Avenger on a mission involving the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Their appearance here not only confirms that they have been returned to continuity in the DC Universe, but it helps create that synergy with the Stargirl television show. Sir Justin, the Shining Knight played a significant role in season one and will hopefully show up in season two. Johns also includes the Golden Age Vigilante, Greg Saunders (originally Sanders) as well as providing a new explanation of the Green Arrow in Golden Age. Originally, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Green Arrow and Speedy were eliminated from the Seven Soldiers of Victory roster. Later on, this was retconned again showing that the Quality Comics character, the Spider had been in the SSoV in Green Arrow’s place.
In Stargirl Spring Break Special #1, Green Arrow is re-inserted on the team. How you say? Well, I don’t think it’s fair to spoil the surprise. But, it does provide a major story element for the Emerald Archer and Roy Harper. At first glance this seems like a great move, but it may take some time to see how it works out. Initially, it’s great to think of the team complete as it was in the Golden Age. It doesn’t hurt that the SSoV appear on the television show with Green Arrow as members.
Johns chooses to pair Courtney and Emiko Queen (Red Arrow) and it works really well. They bond over their treatment by their older crime fighting partners, S.T.R.I.P.E. and Green Arrow respectively. It almost feels like Johns is setting the stage to reform the Seven Soldiers with a new younger line up. And speaking of teams, there’s a short story at the end of Stargirl Spring Break Special #1 that seems to tease either a new Justice Society of America book, or at least a significant role for them in the announced new Stargirl ongoing that ends the lead story.
One of the highlights of the short JSA story is the appearance of Power Girl and Helena Wayne Huntress. The teaser story includes a spread showing all? of the JSA characters past and present. Or, it seems so. So, you get the classic characters sort of in the background while the current characters are in the foreground. This means Alan Scott and Jay Garrick are in both places. So is Power Girl. Power Girl hasn’t been seen in a while and certainly not since “Rebirth.” In the background portions we also get the Helena Wayne Huntress character, a character that doesn’t seem to be able to exist in the current continuity since she’s from a parallel Earth that no longer exists. Additionally, if she did exist, she wouldn’t have existed with the JSA of the main Earth. It could just be the creative team including her because she is still a fan-favorite and a significant part of the publishing history of the team. Or (fingers crossed) there’s more to it. If we can get Oliver Queen as Green Arrow in the Golden Age there may be a possibility of Helena returning to continuity in some capacity.
Todd Nauck’s art is solid throughout and works well with the original look of Courtney and Pat when they first appeared in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Additionally, the art seems to recall comics of that era and the hey dey of Earth-Two in the ’80’s. It’s not just Nauk, though, Hi-Fi channels the same thing with the colors. No only does the story give the reader the nostalgia feels, but the art accompanies it perfectly.
Finally, Brec Bassinger, TV’s Courtney Whitmore gets to contribute to the issue as well. It’s a fun, creative and really neat way to include her in the issue, It’s much more substantial than a “TV Cover” or something along those lines.
Sometimes, books that seem to have so much promise can also have unintended consequences. While Stargirl Spring Break Special #1 seems to herald the return of a whole slew of “forgotten” characters, a couple things spring to mind that may be cause for concern. While Green Arrow’s return to the SSoV on the surface looks like a great idea, the method is a bit offbeat for the Emerald Archer. There are obviously a lot of positives to it, but there’s a lingering worry over how it will feel as the series continues.
While this issue has the opportunity to bring in viewers of the show and create a connection between the comics and the show, they are are different enough that I wouldn’t want to see too much television influence and have it drive the book. It doesn’t seem like it will, but it’s a concern for a title like this. While it’s great to see Beth Chapel in costume again in a comic, what happened to Pieter Cross? Johns is pretty trustworthy when it comes to connecting the dots, and one hopes he will address the issues like this and not let them simply be retcons.
Stargirl Spring Break Special #1 is a comic that revels in fun. It’s a comic that hits all the right notes with the material it presents. It will probably the most fun you have reading comics so far this year. The only close competition is Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing. Both these books bring back relationships that have been sorely missed in the DC Universe. Additionally, they both explore the DC Universe in different milieus. They look at the DC Universe from different perspectives. The new Wonder Girl book starring Yara Flor does this as well, but Stargirl and the Seven Soldiers of Victory offer a different type of diversity. It’s family. It’s older characters and younger characters. It’s history. It’s the grand scope of the DC Universe seen through parallel lenses of past and present. The potential is limitless…let’s get on to Stargirl #1…!