I kind of occasionally regret that I’m, so bad at watching television shows. But they are such a huge commitment, and I’m already smack dab in the middle of watching the entirety of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I’d almost always really rather watch movies.
But I remember really enjoying the first season-and-a-half of CW’s Stargirl show. Brec Basinger really nailed the role of Courtney Whitmore, and a supporting cast that included Luke Wilson and Amy Smart gave the show the appropriate “star” (har har) power it needed to succeed.
But as is often the case with shows I start off loving (like the even better Superman And Lois), because I’m not used to watching shows regularly, I will miss an episode. Then two. Then, like, eight. And it all feels too daunting to ever get back into, so I just let it fall by the wayside so I can do almost literally anything else. Maybe I’ll end up getting back to Stargirl; it’s on the long list of shows to possibly supplant Buffy when I’m done with that.
In the meantime… hey, I can at least read the new Stargirl mini-series DC gave us!
TITLE: Stargirl: The Lost Children
Writer and Artist: Geoff Johns and Todd Nauck
Publisher: DC Comics
Protagonists: Stargirl and a bunch of young, M.I.A. heroes
Antagonists: The Childminder
I still love mini’s!
I tried getting into the new JSA book that DC released around the same time as when this title started, but it just did not work for me. There was some weird story about Hunrtress being lost in time and making a new JSA from a slew of villains, and it all felt much more Suicide Squad than JSA.
Stargirl, however, its a much breezier little story, centered around Courtney and The Red Arrow (Emiko, Oliver Queen’s long-lost sister) setting about finding out what has happened to a cadre of missing and forgotten Golden Age sidekicks. It starts much smaller, merely seeking out one lost sidekick named Wing, but as their investigation starts, Emiko uncovers a much bigger conspiracy centered around an unmapped island in the Pacific.
Keep in mind that this series starts off with Courtney being grounded and promising to do better with her school work. She tells Red Arrows that she needs to be home in time for her classes, so they STEAL A BOAT AND GO LOOKING FOR A MISSING ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC.
I feel like Geoff Johns has an unrealistic sense of the passage of time. Though that just ends up being thematic for this tale, so I’ll allow it.
Anyway, when they arrive, they immediately get separated and have to marshal the forces of all the lost sidekicks on the island (including Judy Garrick–the daughter of Jay–and the mysterious Time Master, Corky Baxter) to not only defeat Childminder, but the person to whom she intends to sell the children…
I love me some Todd Nauck art. Geoff Johns returning to one of his best creations is great, sure, but any time I can get Todd Nauck working on DC’s young heroes, I am IN. I’ve noted before that he’s one of my favorite comic artists ever, and wow does he shine here. We get his typical bright, cartoonish, bold style, but Johns really lets him show-off a bit, too; the series has several single- and double-page splashes! Nauck gets to repeatedly go full George Perez by cramming a ton of heroes into huge group shots here. I love it!
Honestly, Nauck is even better here than I have seen him before. As he has grown and worked, he has gotten better at face-work, and his characters look and feel more different from each other. A lot of artists tend yo have one facial style, and it would be easy to just borrow his template for Arrowette in Young Justice for Courtney here, but his Stargirl looks substantially different.
As for the story… it seems to be setting up the future of the JSA (and Stargirl in particular), so it’s more of a building block to whatever is coming next. And I dig that! There are stakes here, but they are grounded. Not everything needs to be the end of the world! Sometimes you just need an exciting and relatively light-hearted children-in-peril story, you know?
We are introduced to a lot of characters here, but only a handful get any real characterization. The rest are just a hodgepodge of Golden Age feeling “Aw shucks!” sidekicks that don’t really stand out yet. But given where and how this ends, that’s likely intentional.
Red Arrow is short-changed here, so her inclusion doesn’t always read as necessary. She plays the “bad influence” on Courtney that the latter’s mom and Pat Dugan are concerned about in the first issue, but then she spends most of the rest of the arc imprisoned by Childminder. She talks to Judy Garrick through her cell wall, and… that’s mostly it.
So yeah, I think most of the flaws here are just down to length. About twenty years ago, comics as a whole decided all story arcs had to be about six issues long so they could be packaged as trades. And I love trades! But six issues isn’t always ideal. The Lost Children kind of blows through some late reveals, doesn’t give many of the children much in the way of characterization, and sidelines Emiko for the sake of not going to eight or ten issues. So the story feels constrained by modern conventions.
Despite its limitations at the standard half-dozen issues, Stargirl: The Lost Children is quite fun, has an original story that makes perfect sense as a JSA tie-in, and has some absolutely wonderful art. Definitely worth your time, especially if you are going to be reading any JSA stuff in the future.