STARGIRL SPRING BREAK SPECIAL #1/ Script by GEOFF JOHNS, BREC BASSINGER & FRED HEMBECK/ Art by TODD NAUCK, BRYAN HITCH & FRED HEMBECK / Design by AMIE BROCKWAY-METCALF/ Colors by HI-FI & ALEX SINCLAIR/ Letters by ROB LEIGH/ Published by DC COMICS
I miss the DC Universe. Rather, I miss the DC Universe as I knew it.
That universe is still there and you can see it still. Usually in brief glimpses amid the editorially driven events and heavily adapted television series and movies, where the original concept has been distilled and mixed into fashionable liquors for the hipsters to consume like so many artisanal craft beers. Sometimes this process results in true art born of many hands, such as the new Superman and Lois show. More often than not, however, these products are more concerned with style than substance, and while they may be visually stimulating, there is none of the heart and hope that is the essence of good superhero comics.
Stargirl Spring Break Special #1 is a good superhero comic.
The main story by Geoff Johns introduces readers to Courtney Whitmore (aka Stargirl), who answered the call to become a superhero after accidentally uncovering her step-father’s secret identity as a former sidekick to one of the first teen mystery men. Most of this will be old hat to those who have seen the Stargirl show, but Johns highlights what few differences matter for comic-book newcomers easily enough and with a minimum of clumsy exposition.
The plot centers around Courtney accompanying her stepfather to a reunion of the surviving Seven Soldiers of Victory, only for the team to get a chance to save one of their members who was presumed dead or lost in time. Again, Johns explains all this smoothly, laying out exactly how Oliver Queen and Roy Harper were able to be Green Arrow and Speedy in two different time periods while introducing more obscure heroes like Vigilante and the second Crimson Avenger. There’s a lot to love here if you’re a fan of the Golden Age DC Comics heroes, even ignoring the back-up story setting up the return of the Justice Society of America and their current status quo in the reality of Infinite Frontier.
The artwork for this excellent issue equals the writing. Todd Nauck was an ideal candidate for handling this story, with a style that is intricately detailed yet crystal clear and lightly linked. Paired with the colors of Hi-Fi, every page of this issue jumps. The same can be said of the JSA back-up story drawn by Bryan Hitch.
The special also contains a fun one-page comic from Fred Hembeck and what I believe is the writing premiere of Stargirl actress Brec Bessinger. I don’t think her contribution can’t properly be called a comic as there’s no illustrations, but it is an amusing series of letters involving Courtney’s excuses for missing class. Perhaps we’ll see Bessinger write a fully illustrated Stargirl story someday?
Stargirl Spring Break Special #1 is the quintessence of everything good superhero comics should be. It is bright. It is hopeful. It honors the past while acknowledging we can be better today in building a better tomorrow. It is also one heck of a read that will leave you wanting more.