Stargirl: Icicle
June 2, 2020 7:28 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

After a dangerous confrontation with a member of the Injustice Society of America, Pat warns Courtney to back down from her attempts to go after them; Barbara makes strides at work, impressing her new boss Jordan.
posted by oh yeah! (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Outside of Geoffrey Johns, who, I'm sure is happy to collect some of that TV royalty money, I don't know who this for.

It doesn't seem to have enough high school stuff (or enough in-depth high school stuff) to be a teen drama or something that would attract the tween or teen audience.

With gung-ho Courtney as the lead character, the older audience who is (at this point) well versed in super-hero TV and movies is being forced to sit through a character that really should know better in how to behave with great powers (while not exercising great responsibility).

The family, step-family stuff is fine for what it is, but like the high school stuff it's too simple and thin.

Pat could be an interesting character, complete with conflicting emotions of guilt for letting his partner and colleagues down, PTSD, self-doubt (caused by Sylvester telling him he wasn't up for being the hero to take up the staff), the still-present desire to do good and use his skills, etc. but again, this isn't Pat's story. The show isn't called S.T.R.I.P.E., it's Stargirl.

Addressing more plot-related issues, I have some comic-book-related questions about who Courtney thinks she can use the JSA's items to recreate the team. The staff called to Courntey. There is a reason she can wield it and others, like Pat can't, so wouldn't she at least suspect that even if she steals all the JSA's relics, they may not work?

Wildcat didn't have powers, so Yolanda (girl who had her locker tagged) shouldn't, but it makes no sense for her to just be a powerless fighter. I didn't see Courtney grab Alan Scott's ring, just his lantern, so I don't know how that will work. Dr. Mid-Nite was blind, and essentially used that to his advantage, so it is not really a transferable power (unless they say it's techno/magical goggles or something that will be given to the girl who video called her parents during lunch). Jay Garrick got his speed from a lab accident (so it's not even like Johnny Quick speed formula that might be borrowed.) I'm guessing the pink pen was Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt. Given the murky and problematic history associated with those characters, I'll give them a pass to make something that a new hero can pick up. Rex Tyler got his powers from a drug. So is there some kind of retired drug manufacturer who will be willing to set up shop again to supply a teenager? (If so, that's a whole different show.)

Yes, I know, comic book logic means this all can be hand-waved away, but darn it, if you want to play with JSA history, you can't expect viewers who have some understanding of JSA characters to ignore comic canon.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I'm watching the shoe, I'm not really enjoying it, even if the old cars and golden oldies are nice (but out of touch) touches.
posted by sardonyx at 9:14 PM on June 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have the opposite perspective but more or less the same problems so far.

My only previous exposure to the Justice Society of America was their cameo on Legends, and this is clearly a different Society. We got introduced to them and their opponents by a 6-minute shakycam action sequence with flickery lights where everyone but Starman and Pat gets about half a second on screen and their name is said once. No emotional stakes, no evil plot to be foiled, just a fight. And Starman being, honestly, an asshole to Stripe-at.

So far all of Stargirl's superpowered action has been clearing up the mess of that conflict (even the kids at the movies; it's clear who taught brainwavelet to be non-stop hostile and misogynist). I'd rather see action sequences more directly tied to her life (rather than her maybe-dad's-killer's-team). The show needs more room to let her work who she is as a hero before dropping all of the old JSA's baggage on her. The high school and family dynamics are also a long way from Heathers or Fosters-level quality, and as a UKian I have seen enough US high school stereotypes for several lifetimes.

Overall it's feeling like a badly-paced version of Marvel's Runaways, without the emotional complexity of villain/hero parent/child relationships and without the urgency of them witnessing a kid's murder in episode 1. With what Stargirl has shown so far it could just as easily be that 10 years ago the ISA stopped the JSA from carrying out an evil world-domination scheme. Stargirl has a Flash/Supergirl-like enthusiasm for having powers and starting out as a superhero, but the show damps it by putting too much emphasis on Pat's jaded perspective.

I'm also sceptical about the possibility of just handing out the JSA equipment to whichever kids seem nice, but maybe the staff can help with finding appropriate people for them. I'm hoping that leads to a change in dynamic for the show, perhaps with some teammates who Stargirl will actually listen to and work together with. And perhaps Icicle's kid pulling a Runaways. I wouldn't mind seeing the new SJA take on a new IJA. Wait, what were the acronyms again?

And yeah, the step-brother is pretty awful, but I can see potential for him to grow into a more positive part of the show? Maybe if Pat pulled a Ned Stark, so he traded his making-video-games hobby for a standard-issue genius technician skillset and became STRIPE's new pilot?

It's just episode 3, I'm not giving up on this show yet. Let's hope the show's trajectory is more like Legends than Flash.
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 10:24 AM on June 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

Also I hope the toxicity of larry's gym is confronted soon. Is that one of the IAS in charge of it that I don't recognise?
posted by polytope subirb enby-of-piano-dice at 10:43 AM on June 3, 2020

I don't think so but I'm often wrong about those kind of conclusions. As toxic as he is, I'd put money on him turning out to be one of the good guys. My big issue with toxicity has been with the way the women (well wives) have been treated so far.
posted by sardonyx at 1:56 PM on June 3, 2020

Larry is a character from the comics, but I'm not sure what the spoiler policy for that is.
posted by haileris23 at 1:57 PM on June 3, 2020

We've been pretty okay with spoilers for most Arrowverse shows. I realize this doesn't fall into that same universe, but my vote is pro comic spoilers (especially since they don't always materialize in the same way in these shows. See Vigilante on Arrow, or pretty much all of Titans.)
posted by sardonyx at 2:08 PM on June 3, 2020

OK. "Crusher" Crock is Sportsmaster who was in the opening fight. His daughter eventually becomes a character in her own right.
I'm assuming that, since so many of the JSA and ISA have legacy characters that follow in their footsteps, the main plot of season 1 is going to be Courtney gathering the new generation from the school (a mix of ISA children and other kids) to sit at the round lunch table of heroes.

Plus, you don't get Joel McHale and Henry Thomas and then only use them for a glorified cameo! There's going to have to be more 'Parents v Kids: Dawn of Curfew' story show up later in the season.
posted by haileris23 at 2:20 PM on June 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thanks. I can't say Sportsmaster's secret identity was one of those factoids that stuck in my brain, but then again my JSA knowledge is pretty thin and spotty. It was never a title I followed with any regularity. Feel free to post away with future details and comics-based speculation.
posted by sardonyx at 2:42 PM on June 3, 2020

Yay, the seal has been broken on Stargirl posts!

As a watcher of the CW-verse shows:
Each of the others has had a niche: Arrow's grim, Legends is silly, etc.
This one stuck me as having a "y'know - for kids!" vibe. A Spielberg/Disney Channel quality. Superheroes for tweens, neat.
Throwing in the JSA ropes in the old-timers to watch along too.
Making the baddies the teachers/rich grownups and their proteges/children solves the problem of how to generate the requisite soap-opera melodrama among 15 year old kids.

As a Comics Nerd:
Even going in open minded - from comics to an alternate earth within a tv 'verse is so many degrees of separation that you can play around with a pretty free hand - there's very little to quibble with so far.
The only time I found myself arguing at the screen was the costume modification scene: Hey! that big red belt isn't just a belt!! it's part of the ...y'know, nevermind.
Just the staff and a background in gymnastics makes for a perfectly cromulent Stargirl.
["We don't have gymnastics, but we do have cheerleading, that's like the same thing, right?" - I saw what you did there]
posted by bartleby at 3:20 PM on June 3, 2020

As someone who compulsively starts rewriting / jumping to Season Two:
Calling 10 years ago 'the Golden Age' either makes this earth a very different timeline, or reveals a flaw in the way the show's timeline works.
Let's say a contemporary/modern Age of superheroes is characterized by titanium-kevlar and quantum nanobots and such.
The Golden Age, as commonly championed / represented / symbolized in comics by the Justice Society of America, was the time from Art Deco to chromed tailfins, from vacuum tubes to transistors. Of *nasal radio announcer voice* Masked Mystery Men with Astounding Abilities, Vanquishing Villainy!!

If the show wants to make The Olden Days the '00s, well...Ok do what you're gonna do. For a tween audience Madonna is just as ancient as Marilyn Monroe, so makes no difference to them. But here's an idea.
What if it was intergenerational?
What if that title card for the big opening battle read something like 40 years ago instead?
What if the Justice Society all died in 1980, and the villains have been hiding out ever since?
And now they're emerging with their evil plans and it's up to the grandchildren of the original JSA to put on that gear hidden in the attic to take them on?
Gen Z super kids vs. Greatest Generation villains on decades of youth serum?
That doesn't quite work with Pat Dugan being sidekick to both Star-people, but it does work for Luke Wilson as the sad Gen X dad, who kinda got passed over on the whole superhero thing. Comicbook time compression/extension is flexible, something could be worked out.
posted by bartleby at 4:06 PM on June 3, 2020

This would allow for two things I'd really want to see in this show:
Why the time jump? Why so heavily invested in an out of the way place like Blue Valley, Nebraska? Is it a hell mouth / nexus / magical place?
Five words for comics nerds: Zeta Beam. Rann. Adam Strange.
The Injustice Society has been waiting for the next one.
And now these kids have to deal with some weirdo in a jet pack who's literally been on another planet since the Carter administration, but knows about the ISA's nefarious plans, and worked with all the original JSA predecessors?

The other? Was from the other thing I yelled at my screen, Please Don't Waste Amy Smart, Please Don't Waste Amy Smart. I like her a lot, and she never seems to get enough work. She can't just be the Hapless Mom that everyone has to keep secrets from. So I was thinking...
How about she finds out the Terrible Secret behind this already sinister American Dream project? And she backs into the wrong machine or gets zapped. Or, since she's from Blue Valley, cleaning out the last few items from her mother's old house, she finds one belonged to her grandma, who always had secrets, a suitcase and a special formula...
What I'm saying is she would look absolutely perfect wearing the classic JSA Liberty Belle outfit, throwing a truck at somebody.
posted by bartleby at 4:28 PM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Honestly? Amy Smart is so great that I’d even take her as Ma Hunkel, the Red Tornado!
posted by haileris23 at 4:45 PM on June 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'd maybe rather go for Margo Martindale as Ma Hunkel?
But things haven't been the same for her since she lost the saucepan helmet. (Which is sitting on top of a bookcase on the bridge of the Waverider over on Legends, icymi.)
posted by bartleby at 5:02 PM on June 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Y'know olds, that's a place where you can do all the fanfic you like. It's called AO3.

Seriously, this is starting to get into "But Marr-Vell couldn't possibly have been a women! He's clearly a man in the comic! Here, read my fic where I fix the movie." territory.

For what it's worth, I've been enjoying the series so far, partially because it has a much lighter touch then the usual grim CW melodrama. I really don't care about the" Golden Age" stuff, and I care even less for the idea if "Let's have the adults take center stage."
posted by happyroach at 11:15 PM on June 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Fair point. Got overexcited. Am positive on the show as is.
I retract everything except Please Don't Waste Amy Smart.
posted by bartleby at 11:37 PM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

"Passing the torch" has always been such a crucial theme of the JSA's comics for so long, from Carmine Infantino's Silver Age relaunch in the 60s to Infinity Inc. in the 80s to Johns's run in the early 2000s, that I'd hate for the old guard to never show up but they really need to just be mentors on the sideline not the center stage.
posted by haileris23 at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

I agree haileris23, and feel I might have been misread in talking about the adults and Golden Age era comics publishing / aesthetics.

I really like that it's going to be Courtney passing out the torches to a new team. To her lunch table. We've already met our new generation Wildcat, Hourman, and Dr. Mid-nite. Along with Stepdad Stripe and the titular Stargirl, they're our Heroes*. This is the JSA. In the cafeteria. Eating tater tots. Cool!

But our baddies as shown so far are Olds. Icicle, Sportsmaster, Gambler, Wizard (now deceased), Brainwave, etc. Between them they run the school and own the whole town's economy.
And the baddies DO have the ability to pass on their own torches, with a potential Brainwave Jr. and Icicle II and that mean girl with the white streaks as their legacies.
(But also maybe not? Could they be convinced to pull a Runaways after learning the truth?)

So how come the baddies get two generations to work with, but the goodies don't? Because the whole Old Generation of heroes are all Long Dead. Make them stay that way.

If we simply must see more of Henry Thomas in costume, make it in flashbacks, of Pat telling the New JSA a story from the Before Times, of how the Old JSA beat Solomon Grundy when they faced him, after the New Kids encounter him for the first time.
Let's not see them any more than Oliver's bad wigs on Arrow. Less, if possible, because this is Stargirl show, not the Old Timey JSA show. But you have to put something in there, because of the legacy link for the character.

My Too-Big Ask was just to make those flashback sequences sepia-toned somehow, set in a Time Before Screens. A different art style and maybe cornier dialogue. Leave the Old JSA in the past-past. Seeing them only via 1959 Newsreels just seemed a better way to do that than 2009 youtube clips.

This would push nostalgia (or anemoia) for some viewers and certain comics nerds, and provide plot exposition for those who don't know / care about any of that. Whats a Grundy? Oh, flashback scene, theyre gonna tell us.
And it would be especially poignant, because all that mid-20th-century history is Kind Of Irrelevant for the new torchbearers. Because they lost.
All those bygone heroes were long gone before these kids ever met them. They have to be their own mentors, and figure out for themselves how to beat the evils that prior generations couldn't / didn't.

If you're going to have a young superheroes show, 'center' the adults in the cast as the problems to be overcome, not the solutions.

I'll shut up about that idea now.

* except five bucks on Bratty Little Brother ends up with the Thunderbolt pen, joining the squad as the Jerk with a Genie.
posted by bartleby at 5:53 PM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think the problem (or one of the problems) that we're all feeling is that they didn't stick the JSA far enough in the past. Instead of it having its heyday half a century ago, its final days occurred a decade or a decade-and-a-half-ago. I can see why the did that: so they can have a young-enough-to-still-be-heroing-around Pat to link the new to the old, but it hurts with the legacy aspects and the aesthetic (fifties and sixties cars, golden oldies music, costume styles, etc.).

Even the fact that Courtney doesn't seem to have any awareness of who these people were is a bit of a stretch. Sure, teens aren't supposed to care about things that happened in the past (even if it's in their own past, as Courtney was alive when the JSA was wiped out), but I find it hard to believe you could live in a world like that and not be exposed to retrospectives in the news on the anniversaries of key battles or History Channel docudramas about "the truth behind the JSA" or other mentions of the group in the media. (Yes, I know I shouldn't be complaining about real-world believability in super hero shows, but that's never stopped me before.)
posted by sardonyx at 6:43 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

It hasn't been mentioned here yet, but the CW has been cutting scenes for time from the longer DC Universe episodes. Mostly Barbara at work scenes from what I've read.

This was such an inconsistent episode. They did a nice job setting up Icicle as a really cold (sorry!), calculating villain who also loves his family. At the same time there was zero subtlety portraying Courtney as headstrong and rash, Pat as passive and lacking self-confidence, and Mike as the gratingly irritating sibling in a bad sitcom.

I take it Courtney's plan is to give fellow students, who she barely knows, the JSA artifacts, whose power she doesn't comprehend, thinking that will turn them into superheroes? What could go wrong?
posted by plastic_animals at 7:56 PM on June 5, 2020

I confess that even though we barely knew Joey except for a few scenes, I still felt bad at the death of a magic geek in episode 3. Go figure.

Oh, hey, we had 2 episodes of a show with a teenage girl and it took till episode 3 to find her a love interest. And of course it's the villain's kid.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:14 PM on November 2, 2020

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