Saturday, 18 October 2014

Stars And S.T.R.I.P.E. And Teenage Spunk...



Believe it or not folks there was time when the name Geoff Johns was not synonymous with dudes getting their arms ripped off or with multi-coloured alien police men and their cosmic mood rings. He was in fact known for spunky blonde teenage cheerleaders in tight spandex short shorts.

Hold on, let me read that back.

Okay that came out a little creepier than I intended.

What I meant to say was 'hey guys did you ever read that great Geoff Johns series that came out from DC a whole buncha years ago called Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. Man that thing was frickin' awesome'. In my defence it does have a spunky blonde teenage cheerleader in tight spandex short shorts. That's not the big draw though - it's just an obvious ploy to try and bump up my Google search hits.

Bwah hah hah!

Sorry Geoff. Let's talk Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. #13.

I loved this series and I really could've picked from any one of a dozen issues to tout as fantastic and something you should totally go dig up. However #13 is something special. I remember reading this and thinking that Geoff Johns had cracked open my head, scooped out everything I wanted to see from this comic-book and smeared it all across this issue.

Considering there's a panel on the first page where the two little redneck Clampitt kids are sneaking into Maw and Paw's bedroom armed with a pick-axe and a wheat thresher - this thing had me at hello like a drunk Tom Cruise at a bitter woman's support group:

Ferget The Hogs Paw, This Time Me And Sammy Jo Are Gonna Slop You!

So the reason for the Children of the Corn above is that all of the kids in the Mid-Western United States have fallen under the influence of the snaky and goofily named megalomaniac Dragon King thanks to his orbiting mind control satellite.

Even Courtney Whitmore herself is not spared. So by page three she's already using the power of her sparkly short shorts to kick seven shades of shit out of her bumbling stepdad.

I should point out that the concept behind this book is that average and angst cheer-leader Courtney Whitmore stumbles upon the fact that her mom's new beau was once Stripesy - the questionably dressed sidekick of the Golden Age Star Spangled Kid. This drives her to steal his tech, pull on some spangly biker shorts and fight crime. This in turn forces her past-it new step-dad to don a giant suit of armour he had lying around the basement and place super-chaperone.

That's an awesome concept. I mean it's maybe not as good as whatever verbal voodoo landed 'Melissa & Joey' on our airwaves - but still pretty damn good.

So anyway Courtney's kicking daddy dearest's ass. Her stepdad's Stripesy days are far behind him, so despite the giant, heavily armed mecha-suit he's not much in a fight.

When I started this issue I figured that good ol' Stripesy, in true comic-book fashion, would whip up some sort of convenient doohickey that would break the King's spell on Courtney. However Geoff Johns decided to throw a totally in character curve ball that I didn't see coming.

With Stripesy on the ropes and Courtney in position to drop the death-blow - she breaks out of DK's thrall by the sheer force of will. Even the awesome, globe-spanning, space-based, bleeding edge mind-control tech of scaly and immortal bad guys can stand up the unconquerable juggernaut that is teenage spunkiness:


That's a great moment. Courtney Whitmore is a great character because of moments like this. For all the times she can be infuriatingly immature and obnoxious, there are also moments like this that show her limitless pool of inner strength and compassion.

I'm not sure what colour lantern inner strength and compassion is. I can't keep track of these things. Magenta? Coral? Teal maybe?

Anyway, if defeating super-villains with the power of teenage spunk doesn't do it for you, this issue has another killer moment just waiting in the wings.

Okay, I heard it too. Let's just pretend I didn't say that and move on.

Sooo, Shining Knight (an old golden age buddy of Stripesy and the original Star Spangled Kid) is also in the issue. For me that alone turns the awesome factor up to eleven. I love all those old clunky Seven Soldiers of Victory guys.

However for those of you with no soul, for whom Sir Justin doesn't float your boat let me just say this: Shining Knight versus the Dragon King....in the sky......wait for it......on a winged horse and a frickin' dragon!

Check it out:


That my friends is just good comic-books. I mean sure no-one puts on any anger jewellery that makes them spew blood at their enemies but hell it's still pretty sweet, am I right?

Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. is terrific series from beginning to end. Sure it plays around with that DC legacy stuff that I'm a sucker for - but even if you don't love the adorable crusties of JSA and their history - there's still a lot to enjoy in this series. It's got delicious teenage melodrama, huge steaming dollops of super-hero hijinks, surprising twists, great character moments and it's packed full to bursting with heart.

That's it from me, other than to say apologies to all those confused Google searchers who got here thanks to my misleading opening paragraph. Don't feel bad, it could be worse. You could've ended up here after searching for 'dean cain spandex'. You know who you are!
Post a Comment