JLA Presents: Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Vol. 1

Usually Mistah J is really good at predicting which comics I’ll like and which I won’t.  Oftentimes he’ll hand me a comic and preface it by saying, “I think you’ll really like that one” or “You just have to get through this,” and for the most part he’s spot on with his predictions of how I’ll react.

This time though, he was a little off.

As I glanced at my next stack of comics to tackle, he pointed out this Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. trade and said he figured I’d end up liking this one, since it’s about a young female superhero sort of in the vein of Young Justice (which I really liked).

Maybe that was the problem. I went into this comic expecting to like it too much.

This 1st volume of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. tells the story of Courtney Whitmore, a high school girl who just moved to a small town and learned that he new stepdad, Pat Dugan, was a Golden-Age superhero sidekick named Stripesy.  Finding The Star-Spangled Kid’s old utilty belt, she puts it on and starts using its powers to stop bad guys.

On the surface, I love the concept.  There’s enough there to power a story, with Courtney trying to fit in to a new school and accept a new father figure in her life.  I kept waiting for it to get really good.

It never did.

Quite frankly, Courtney’s the problem.  She’s not even remotely likable.  When the comic opens we see her complaining about the move and arguing with her mom. Okay, that sounds perfectly realistic enough, I’ll give you that.  I wasn’t too thrown off by that part alone, and figured it would get better.

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It didn’t.

Courtney continues to complain about everything in her life.  At one point the comic attempts to make her more relatable, by cursing her with what is apparently the worst thing ever.

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Oh dear me, the poor thing. That attractive, athletic, popular girl has been plagued with braces. She is infinitely more relatable now.

Not.

(The cheese-factor of this comic has brought back my memories of late-90’s slang. I will be peppering it throughout the rest of this post. Not.)

There simply wasn’t anything left to endear Courtney to me, and I was struggling to find a reason to really like her. I kept giving her the benefit of the doubt though, figuring she would come around and stop complaining so much.

Nope. Instead, the final nail in her proverbial coffin came during a crossover with Young Justice.  Meeting for the first time, Wonder Girl comments politely that she likes Courtney’s outfit, to which Courtney replies rather tartly.

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Excuse me?!

This complete stranger just extended an olive branch and gave you a sincere compliment, and you respond by insulting her???  No, no, no.

I hated her at this point.  This is not how a superhero should behave, young and overly hormonal or not.  Courtney is the perennial mean girl, not caring who she upsets, be it a classmate, her parents, or a complete stranger.  She’s so self-centered that she never stops to consider how her actions are affecting those around her.  It’s a gross exaggeration of what teen girls are like (and yes, I feel I can say that with authority seeing as how I was one.)

With all my frustrations over who Courtney is as a person I’ve completely neglected the actual superhero part of this trade.  Well, truth be told there’s not much there in the first place.  Each issue features a minor throwaway fight scene against a minor throwaway character.  Courtney never seems to be in an real danger, and when push comes to shove she’s always got S.T.R.I.P.E. there to back her up.  These scenes were okay, but nothing groundbreaking and certainly not enough to save the comic from Courtney’s non-secret identity.

I went into this comic excited to read about this new character. Now, I’m just glad the trade was short. Unfortunately I have a feeling Courtney will be popping up in future trades on “the shelf”.  Maybe by then she’ll have calmed down a bit and won’t be so obnoxious.

If not, I hope someone shows up and punches her in her soon-t0-be perfect (thanks to the dreaded orthodontia) face.

-Jess

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