Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stargirl =/= Kitty Pryde

I was surfing around the Internet today when I saw something interesting at one particular comic book fan's site. It was a rant about Stargirl. Specifically about how in an interview at Newsarama, the interviewee described Stargirl as bubbly.

The reviewer took offense, stating that Stargirl is "not some bubblegum popping, bubbling cheerleader." (The original post is here if you're curious)

He believes that Stargirl has more in common with Kitty Pryde, as an intelligent, super-competent character far wiser than her years than say Jubilation Lee.

Now I have a lot of respect for this reviewer's opinions, though we rarely agree, but in this case, I really and truly disagree. I've in fact, I think, never disagreed so much with a character assessment in my life.

I love Courtney Whitmore. I honestly do. She's one of the few teenage girl characters in anything that actually reads like a real teenage girl. She's bright, sunny, optimistic. She's grown out of her very irresponsible and flighty stage, but she still knows how to have fun and when to not take things so seriously.

What makes Courtney work for me is her humanity and relatability. She's not a genius and she doesn't have superpowers, she wasn't born to some great destiny. She's just a kid who seized the opportunity to annoy her stepfather and discovered her true potential in the process.

Kitty Pryde and Courtney Whitmore couldn't be more different, honestly. Kitty is an extraordinary young woman. She's a veritable, verifiable genius. She's got, debatably, the most versatile power on her team. She's got incredible martial arts and computer skills. She speaks many languages. She's had nothing resembling a normal life since she was thirteen years old.

Courtney's not like that. She's not a genius. She's never been characterized as one. She's clever and quick-witted, with a very refreshing dose of common sense most of the time, but that's hardly the same as Kitty's academic expertise. Courtney is adaptable, she's made her converter belt and cosmic rod her own through clever usage. However, she does not have the technical skills or capability to reverse engineer a prototype or even make modifications on the ones she has. If they're broken, she'll need to go elsewhere to fix it. She also does not have the experience that Ted Knight or Jack had with the rod, yet, or Sylvester with the belt. She's got a lot of ways to go before she's as capable with her powers as Kitty Pryde is with hers.

Courtney's had some physical training with the JSA, but she's no hyper competent ninja. She can use the monitor systems and a lot of Pat's inventions, but that's scarcely the same as Kitty Pryde's expertise. She's had a very normal life, even with her stepfather's hobbies and past. Her herodom is very much incorporated into every other aspect of her otherwise reasonably normal life.

Aside from being the token youngest in her group, she's really nothing like Kitty. But honestly, she's very much like Jubilee. They're both bright and friendly, they're both very open-natured and more "doers" than "thinkers". They're both very clever, though it's occasionally deceptively hidden behind layers of *teenageness*. They're more adaptable/clever than they are book smart. They have healthy social lives. Heroing is fun and a responsibility but it's a part of their lives, not the whole thing.

Stargirl and Jubilee tend to both be portrayed as much more human than Kitty or most of their teammates. Both girls can be irresponsible and immature and very flighty, but both girls have their hearts in the right place. Both girls are something of the emotional hearts on their teams. Kitty was more of an equal, but Jubilee and Courtney are definitely junior members, but it's through their openness, honesty, loyalty and forthrightness that they become as much a symbol to the team as a member.

In that sense, she's the cheerleader of the team because she's what keeps morale up. (By the way, I'm pretty sure that he wasn't talking about her literally being a cheerleader.) She's a visible reminder to the rest of the team exactly why they keep fighting. She's a symbol of hope and the future, the next generation primed to carry the good fight into the future. And that's what she does! She's mature enough to even understand this. She does this bravely, knowingly and with all of her heart.

And that's why Stargirl is amazing. Not because she's a ballet dancer/ninja/hacker with a pet dragon. Not because she's got Ted Knight's Cosmic Rod or Sylvester Pemberton's belt. But because she's a normal, and yes, bubbly, teenaged girl who steps forward to do what she needs to do without ever sacrificing who she is in the process.

I've never liked the phrase "I don't know what book/movie/show, he's talking about..." because it's presumptuous and rude, dismissing any disagreement or differing opinion. In this case, though, our opinions are so directly opposite that it does seem as though we've been reading two completely different comic books altogether. Honestly, I wouldn't trade for a heartbeat.

And I'm pretty sure that if I scanned through Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E or JSA, I'd find at least one occurrance of Courtney chewing gum.

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  • At September 21, 2006 8:49 AM, Anonymous green means wheelpower said…

    Kalinara that was quite simply a masterpiece of analisis (and another JSAer I need the 411 on now). I won't comment on Kitty because I don't want the flaming to start, however, I do want to comment on Jubilee.

    I was introduced to her w/ the FOX X-MEN cartoon. She was a way to introduce the main members, but she wasn't abandoned in terms of character development. She started green as grass but long before "Graduation Day" She was a full team member of the X-MEN, The ADULT team which I think many forget.

    Her accomplishments include 1. picking the cell lock on Genosha. 2. saving both Logan's & Hank's asses,and 3. oh just, saving about 25 kids from a cave-in & flood while keeping them calm & entertaind until help arrived...ON HER OWN. And unless things have changed she IS Gen X's field leader.

    But I digress, VERRY nice Kalinara:)

  • At September 21, 2006 8:54 AM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    Well, to be fair, Stargirl actually is a cheerleader.

    Literally, I mean.

  • At September 21, 2006 11:10 AM, Blogger Steven said…

    I'd find at least one occurrance of Courtney chewing gum

    Wouldn't gum get caught in her braces? I know I couldn't chew gum for years.

  • At September 21, 2006 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Actually, according to an interview with Claremont and Byrne I read over 25 years ago, Stargirl is Kitty Pryde as she was originally conceived and presented--but quickly, to Byrne's chagrin, Claremont insisted on giving her Reed Richards-type brilliance, because [Claremont said] "every team needs one."

    I can't believe I remember that.

  • At September 21, 2006 12:09 PM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    Great analysis, Kalinara! I have no idea what that guy was talking about linking the two characters, and you certainly set him straight.

    I was initially a little cold to the Stargirl character (back when she was simply the Star-Spangled Kid), but grew to really like her once she joined the JSA. I loved her brief but meaningful connection with Jack Knight, and how he passed the Starman mantle onto her. I also like how quickly embraced life in the JSA, and how her youthful presence really lightened things up by removing some of the "stodgy" vibe the JSA has always been (unfairly) saddled with.

    I'm still not sure how I feel about her "destined" relationship with Al (Atom Smasher) (it feels kind of forced), but at least Captain Marvel isn't hitting on her anymore (that was class-A creepy).

    One request, though: I think it's time Courtney's braces came off. It was fun and kinda cute for awhile seeing a superhero with braces, but I think it's time for the character to pass some kind of milestone, even if it's a relatively minor one like ditching the braces.

  • At September 21, 2006 2:14 PM, Anonymous carla said…

    Amen. I have liked Courtney since I started reading JSA for her 'real live girl'-ness, the fact that you really could know a girl like that. Kitty Pryde became a favorite character for a lot of people so she just started getting things, dragons, super hcking skills, ninja training, like a very naturally pretty girl wearing too much makeup.

  • At September 21, 2006 2:34 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    It's rather fun to have a teenager on the team that is real...giggles and all.

  • At September 21, 2006 3:18 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    Male comic writers project much?

  • At September 21, 2006 6:48 PM, Blogger The Fortress Keeper said…

    I've never been a huge Kitty fan because she's always seemed so perfect (and got the cool dragon too boot), although Joss Whedon has used her well in Astonishing.

    That said, I always loved Courtney - even when she was more obnoxious in Stars and STRIPE - because she was an "everyperson" character, much like the classic Peter Parker and Jubilation Lee (who I also liked).

  • At September 21, 2006 8:06 PM, Anonymous david brothers said…

    What I always found funny was that I think it took a while for Jubes to even join the X-Men. For a while, she was just Wolverine's sidekick. She's easily in my top three regular X-Men, along with Wolverine and probably Gambit, though. Then again, I am absolutely stupid for the early '90s X-Men.

    Man, I have no indie cred whatsoever. I just read American Born Chinese, so I have taste! Believe me!

    Anyway, I think that I kind-of like Stargirl for the same reasons you do. I'm not a JSA fan by any means, save for Flash and Wildcat honestly, but Courtney is a cool character. She's Jubilee with a family, and I think that you're dead on about the cleverness hidden behind teenagerness.

    I don't know about you guys, but 90% of being a teenager for me was making sure that my mom, and anyone she knew, had absolutely no idea what I was up to. Some teenagers have this honed to a craft, and it only makes sense that one who's gone through hardship (Jubilee's losing her parents + joining the X-Men, Stargirl w/super-villains) is going to have that hooked up.

    Jubilee strikes me as way more streetwise than Courtney, though. She held her own against the Hand very early in her career, and not to mention exploding the crap out of the Mandarin's yacht. Courtney always struck me more... suburban? Like if she didn't have the star stuff, she'd be on the cheerleading team, worried about homecoming, etc etc. Not that that's a bad thing, of course. I can just relate more to Jubes than Star.

  • At September 21, 2006 8:47 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Here's some information on Stargirl's creation that you might not have known:

    Johns' inspiration for Stargirl wasn't Kitty or Jubilee. It was his own sister, Courtney, who died in the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.

    Johns' JSA storyline where Atom-Smasher's mom dies in a Kobra-induced plane explosion and Al resurrects her by replacing her on the plane with Extant is also inspired by the crash, based on what Johns felt HE would do if faced with the same choice.

  • At September 21, 2006 9:27 PM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    Incidentally, that last issue of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. has the best character moment Geoff Johns has ever written.

    Bar none, son.

  • At September 22, 2006 5:37 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    green: :-) Jubilee's got a lot of accomplishments. So does Stargirl. Not the same sorts. But it adds to the similarity I think. :-)

    chris: Yes. But I felt that goes without saying. :-)

    steven: Hmm. Good point. I thought she did in some flashbacks though, presumably pre-braces. :-)

    anon: That's a good point! However, the Kitty described in the referenced post is definitely the Richardsian one. A shame. I liked her initial presentation.

    mark: I think that was a hypothetical scenario, not predestiny honestly. After that point they seemed to be developing her and him as more siblingy. At least that was my take.

    I'd like the braces off too. :-)

    carla: *nod* Courtney, and Jubilee, always seemed more like girls that were actually possible to meet.

    Sally: Totally agree!

    zaratustra: disturbingly so sometimes. :-) But then so do women...

    keeper: I totally agree. Courtney's normality is great!

    david: I completely agree. Courtney's definitely more suburban/less streetwise. But I do think they have similar qualities.

    And I have absolutely no indie cred either. I liked Warrior.

    notinthe: Yeah, I knew that. I'm not saying that either character was a base for Courtney, just that she's definitely more in the vein of Jubilee than Kitty, IMO.

    And much better for it.

    chris: :-)

  • At September 22, 2006 7:19 PM, Blogger Dave Menendez said…

    Speaking of Courtney, when did she switch from being the Star-Spangled Kid to being Stargirl? I've been reading through the back-issues of JSA, and there doesn't seem to be any reference to it. After a certain point, people just start referring to her as Stargirl.

  • At September 23, 2006 3:43 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    that was actually at the end of Starman. When Jack leaves, he decides that Courtney's actions in Sins of Youth and in the JSA prove that she's ready, and he gives her the cosmic rod officially.

    It's really cute.

  • At September 23, 2006 5:37 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…

    kalinara: "If they're broken, she'll need to go elsewhere to fix it."

    Then explain to me why she's working on repairing it in JSA #59, or at least why Pat thought she should learn how. Unless that was some cruel joke on Pat's part (which I wouldn't put past the writers, given everything else they throw at Courtney), then it seems to indicate to me that he thinks she has the potential to perform repairs on her Rod. And by potential, I mean her Beverly Hills High I.Q. test scores.

    kalinara: "...I'd find at least one occurrance of Courtney chewing gum."

    That doesn't really seem like something she'd want to try with braces.

    dave menendez: "Speaking of Courtney, when did she switch from being the Star-Spangled Kid to being Stargirl?"

    JSA All-Stars #4 was when she officially switched names. It was while after Jack gave her the Rod.

  • At September 23, 2006 5:51 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…


    kalinara: "However, she does not have the technical skills or capability to reverse engineer a prototype or even make modifications on the ones she has."

    As I said before, I don't think she's going to go out and start building flying cars ala Ted Knight, I think she's a Cosmic MacGyver. In Stars and STRIPE #8 she figures out how to use her belt and a power line to ground out Nebula Man's powers. In the Virtue and Vice story, she shocks the heck out of Wonder Woman by blasting Superman with her Rod; Courtney figured her solar/stellar power would repower Supes, something the Wisdom of Athena failed to do. In JSA #7 she figures out how to free Black Canary from Obsidian's shadow things, and in issue #17 she uses her powers as an EMP to defeat the Thinker. And that's just in the canon universe, over in Justice League Unlimited #11 she saves Atlantis by not only using herself and her belt to drain the monster of his powers, but she also tells Aquaman how to fully defeat him.

    As much as I like the idea of Courtney and Teen Tony graduating from M.I.T. and going off to fight bad guys as Stargirl and S.T.A.R.K., I admit she's not the next Ted Knight or Ted Kord. I will argue 'til I'm blue in the face that she's used her powers in enough unconventional ways for me to say she's got a super-competent understanding of them.

  • At September 23, 2006 7:17 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    andrew: thank you for your comments, though I think if you reread my post, you might realize that I'm not trying to argue that Courtney isn't intelligent.

    I've called her clever many times. The fact is that while she is learning to make repairs, a very good idea, if it came down to a complete and utter breakdown, I don't believe she has the capacity to fix it on her own (yet). She's learning proper maintenance, she's not an engineer.

    I do yield on the gum chewing, though I still believe I remember her doing it in flashbacks.

    Her IQ scores are high, but honestly, I knew a lot of "cheerleader types" in High School that actually did score very well on standardized tests. IQ is a measurement of education and memory retention, having a high IQ does not automatically make someone an engineer or even well-suited to technical fields.

    Jubilee is actually another character I would expect to score reasonably high on an IQ test because she is also clever and capable of learning basic X-Men repair work.

    What I'm arguing though is the comparison of Stargirl to Kitty Pryde when she's simply not that sort of character. She is a smart girl with a lot of potential, but she's not particularly MIT material, sorry. (UCLA, USC, or one of the myriad of good state universities is where she seems more likely to end up. You can be a smart person and not end up in a technological-based field. I'd personally love to see her pursue something like teaching, creative writing, drama or literature. But that's admittedly some of my personal bias showing through.)

    Likewise, while I can definitely see her becoming very skilled in the maintenance and mechanics of her tools, I don't think she's ever going to develop the technical/scientific bent to truly be considered a "MacGyver-type", in my opinion. That certainly doesn't mean she's not going to be very effective and a pro at what she does, though.

    She *is* a bubbly character. She's enthusiastic, optimistic and she brings joy to the group. She's NOT a heavy hitter in combat, though she contributes in clever ways. Characters like Alan, Jay, Sand are really the heavy hitting fighters and when it comes down to a fight against Mordru, for example, odds are Stargirl isn't going to be one of the core fighters.

    That doesn't mean she's not valuable, just that calling her the "cheerleader" is not a farfetched claim. She's the team's heart and really what keeps them going and that's as important as her battle contributions.

    She's never however going to join Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite (or even Pat Dugan) as the intellectual core of the team. Which is where the comparison to Kitty falls apart.

    (Whereas, Jubilee, at this point in the X-comics could also make the claim to a hyper-competent use of her own powers as well. Her fireworks aren't the huge weapons most other mutant powers seem to be, but she constantly uses them in creative capacities.)

  • At September 23, 2006 10:39 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…

    kalinara: "I do yield on the gum chewing, though I still believe I remember her doing it in flashbacks."

    She was blowing a bubble on the cover of one issue of JSA, though I forget which issue. Do covers count as canon?

    kalinara: "What I'm arguing though is the comparison of Stargirl to Kitty Pryde when she's simply not that sort of character."

    I don't keep up with the X-Men, except in a very abstract way (cartoons, movies, snippets of comic info), but the key difference that I note between Kitty and Jubilee is that, from the latest I've heard, Jubilee is okay with having lost her powers, even before that I believe she'd gone off to Hollywood to be an actress. Kitty, on the other hand, never seems to leave the superhero business for long. Even in her book, Mechanix, she got involved with anti-mutant hatecrimes, and that was when she was "retired."

    I think Courtney is closer to Kitty, because I don't think Courtney could ever give up being a hero. The same way that using her powers is such a part of who Kitty Pryde is, I believe that the Cosmic legacy has become a part of who Courtney is.

    I didn't mean it as a comparison to the use of her intellect (save for novel uses of their powers), but as a gauge to how ingrained, and maybe innate, being a hero is to who she is.

    She *is* a bubbly character.

    Since when? Are we talking about the same Courtney Whitmore who spent two years worth of afternoons watching television, tried to poison her father-in-law, was having a hard time inspiring Ted Knight in the "JSA/JSA" arc after seeing her family killed, and as of the last issue I read (the OYL issue) was complaining that she was bored with school and wanted her own adventures? I'll grant you she's not as sullen as she used to be (which is cool!), but in exactly which issue is she bubbly?

    I've seen her happy, and I'd say she's enthusiastic about being a hero, but I can't remember a single issue that's had her bubbly. And by "bubbly," I'm thinking of Starfire from the Teen Titans cartoon or Hay Lin from W.I.T.C.H. -- how do comic fans define "bubbly?"

  • At September 23, 2006 10:49 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…


    kalinara: "...odds are Stargirl isn't going to be one of the core fighters."

    Given that she's wearing a belt that puts her on a level of invulnerability with Aquaman and Steel's armor (JLU #11) as well being able to fight against cybernetically enhanced beings (Shiv), not to mention she has a Rod that's capable of letting it's user hold their own against Captain Marvel (Robinson's Starman series), she should be one of the heavy hitters. She's essentially weilding two of the most powerful weapons built by human hands -- and we've seen proof she knows how to use them -- yet people don't consider her a heavy hitter.

    It boggles my mind.

  • At September 23, 2006 11:44 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Andrew -- First off, whether or not she'd stick with being a hero has nothing to do with the personality traits being debated, which are "bubblyness" and "intelligence."

    Secondly, you are the only one who seems to think that being described as a cheerful, bubbly person of average intelligence precludes her from being treated as a powerful character.

    Thirdly, while she's carrying the biggest source of renewable raw power next to a Green Lantern, she is still very inexperienced, and on a franchise with a global-scale geomancer, the living embodiment of the Starheart, and a freaking Kryptonian. To be added to the team soon is a global-scale darkness wielder. All of whom have more experience than she.

    She's powerful, but she's not the top of the heap, and won't be for years yet.

  • At September 23, 2006 11:57 PM, Blogger kalinara said…


    I think it might behoove you to actually pick up more X-Men before arguing such an intrinsic character comparison. Perhaps then you'd see what I mean. Or you'd still disagree, but you'd be able to argue it a little better.

    And honestly when you're on a team with arguably the most powerful entity in the galaxy (the Starheart/Alan), the most experienced Flash, and a sand monster that's taken out the entire Justice League at one point, being able to match Captain Marvel does not exactly make you a heavy hitter.

    For that matter, when he was on the team, Captain Marvel himself wasn't much of a heavy hitter.

    Stargirl is formidable and she has a lot of potential but she's on a team where the youngest members that aren't her or Jakeem are a 19-year old reincarnated Egyptian Warrior (who wasn't terribly formidable until her memories began returning), a 25-year old sand monster whose had a heroic career for 10-15 years before the start of the JSA, and some Infinity Inc veterans.

    She would probably easily be the heaviest hitter in the Teen Titans or in a new Infinity Inc, but she's on a team with the Legends. The original inspiration of the DCU. It takes more than just raw power/potential to measure up.

    Or basically what Ragnell said.

  • At September 24, 2006 1:13 AM, Anonymous david brothers said…

    I hate to keep beating the Jubilee fanboy drum (it is bright yellow, pink, and blue), but I don't recall her being super-okay and blase with having lost her powers. She was coping, yes, but she was still upset. I want to say that Claremont wrote an overwrought scene of her returning to where she first met the X-Men and reminiscing over her powers and past. Before that, she stopped being a hero due to personal tragedy. A decent number of GenX (Skin and Everett, I think) were dead and her life was in shambles.

    Kitty retired due to the death of her father in Genosha, Colossus, Illyana, and the loss of one or two other friends, all thanks to the X-Men. She was off in college during Mekanix, and the villains found her, rather than vice versa.

    Same thing with Jubilee in California when she was with her Aunt, the villains came later and pretty much unrelated to anything Jubilee intentionally did.

    So, Kitty and Jubilee aren't all that different, after all. You can't very well publish a comic about Jubilee hanging out with Aunt Hope, or Kitty Pryde tending bar, and expect it to sell. Insert villains and "They pull me back in" speeches. The point is, though, that both of them have quit for surprisingly similar reasons.

    other miscellany: Jubilee is very clever, but in terms of learning/education, she has what amounts to dyslexia for numbers. Dys-something, I forget the proper term for it. It serves to further distance her from Kitty the Genius in that she isn't a perfect specimen of humanity (mutanity?). She's a normal girl with normal teenage problems (self-confidence, learning, body image) who is stuck in extreme circumstances.

    That sounds a lot like Stargirl to me, and one of the bits of JSA that I enjoyed was the Captain Marvel/Stargirl relationship/controversy/resolution.

    Also, Jubes was scared of her powers for a very long while. She's lost control before, and that's when she found out how powerful she was. Past that point, she intentionally limited her power usage. Emma Frost notices this just pre-GenX, and remarks that perhaps she should be trained better, since she's essentially crazy powerful but holding back and inexperienced... maybe like Courtney, at least in terms of inexperience?

    Like you say, she's on a team with some heavy hitters, so she doesn't necessarily have to use her abilities/weapons to their fullest.

    the more I think about it, the more accurate the Stargirl/Jubilee comparison seems. Hmm.

  • At September 24, 2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At September 24, 2006 12:12 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…

    (Sorry, bad grammar required fixing.)

    ragnell: "First off, whether or not she'd stick with being a hero has nothing to do with the personality traits being debated, which are 'bubblyness' and 'intelligence.'"

    I draw a direct correlation between staying a hero and intelligence -- bubbliness, not so much, but I'll come back to that later. If you're not intelligent -- along with the traits associated with it: adaptive, curious, and off-beat -- then you're going to crash and burn. If Courtney wasn't adaptive (see my previous reply), curious (and we know from JSA #1 she is), and off-beat (look at her origins) then she wouldn't be an excellent hero, and Courtney doesn't strike me as the type to keep doing something that doesn't challenge her skills. I see a connection anyway.

    As for her placement between Kitty and Jubilee on the "bubbliness" scale -- and I admit to being wrong about Jubilee on the "staying" scale, and I will admit again further down -- I have never seen Courtney approach Jubilee of bubbliness. She's never gone around blowing bubbles, she's never jumped in piles of leaves with the JSA' analogue of Beast, and I've never seen her as being the sole joy in the JSA's version of Wolverine's life. She has, though, in (what I think of as) a very serious-minded, Kitty way taken every opportunity to expand her skillset by being around her elders (forensics from Jay, Rod repair from Pay, and whatever she could from Sylvester and Merry about being a Star-spangled Kid).

    ragnell: "Secondly, you are the only one who seems to think that being described as a cheerful, bubbly person of average intelligence precludes her from being treated as a powerful character."

    Yes, I am, because I think it does, for two reasons. First, because every time I see people see people saying she's a bubbly character of average intelligence, they also expound the virtues of her not being a heavy hitter. Second, since she doesn't have a magic ring that works better the less you understand it, Courtney's future as a heavy hitter relies on her intellect and determination. Otherwise she'll end up a bubbly character of average intelligence whose success depends on being rescued and told what to do by other characters; I'm looking specifically at the "JSA/JSA" arc where Patricia saved Courtney, told her how to inspire Starman, and then what to tell the J.J.'s.

    (Of course, by comic fan definition, that kind of blundering might make her "bad ass" these days. Sigh.)

    ragnell: "She's powerful, but she's not the top of the heap, and won't be for years yet."

    I fear she never will be either. Between a future Patricia being Stargirl, the JSA getting a male Star-themed character, and apparently every one else preferring a bubbly, average Courtney over the "natural-born, heroic-prodigy with attitude" Courtney, I don't see Courtney ever getting those years.

    kalinara: "I think it might behoove you to actually pick up more X-Men before arguing such an intrinsic character comparison."

    Touche. I'll cop to being wrong about Jubilee and Kitty's okay-ness with retirement. I was under the impression Jubilee liked being out of the game and being a normal highschooler, but I guess not. However, I think my take on their respective levels of bubbliness are fairly accurate; Jubilee being closer to the mallrat, Valley girl levels than Kitty.

    kalinara: "...but she's on a team with the Legends."

    Wouldn't that make her a heavy-hitter by default?

    david brothers: "You can't very well publish a comic about Jubilee hanging out with Aunt Hope, or Kitty Pryde tending bar, and expect it to sell."

    Not in America anyway.

    Also, no one's mentioned any scenes of her being bubbly. Have any of those scenes been found?

  • At September 24, 2006 3:19 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    david: Thanks for chiming in! I admit, my own following of Jubilee is occasionally more sporadic than I'd like. It's good to have the input of a big fan! :-)

    andrew: You want us to mention every scene in which Stargirl is cheerful, enthusiastic and high-spirited?

    The examples of "bubbliness" you list for Jubilee are just playing around. Stargirl doesn't do those. But those aren't actually an example of "bubbliness" anyway. Being bubbly is an attitude, it means being largely light-hearted, enthusiastic, uplifting and fun.

    It's not that we can't find any. It's just that it's just as efficient to say: "The majority of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E and JSA" There are certainly individual occasions where she *isn't* bubbly. But those actually are much easier to list.

    (For the record though, off the top of my head, you could look at the following scenes for examples of "bubbly" behavior: Joining the JSA officially, trying out the cosmic rod for the first time, or telling Al the team would wait for him when he gets out of jail.)

    As for a heavy hitter by default. It depends on how you look at it. On any other team, yes, Courtney having JSA cred would certainly be a heavy hitter, (Much like Sandy the Golden Boy in Young All-Stars), but on the team itself? Not really.

    The per degaton arc was one instance in which a Courtney, thrown by the apparent loss of her family was not at her best. She's never been faced with anyone as despirited and broken as Ted Knight had been while needing to reach them quickly. She needed hope quickly, and that's really what Patricia did. She appeared to show Courtney that there are possibilities for the future...essentially the same role Courtney was playing for Ted.

    She's not perfect and in the Degaton arc, she needed a bit of help (She had the hardest scenario with reaching her predecessor, honestly), but two issues later she is the only one able to reach Liberty Belle. So I do think that balances out personally.

    Finally, are you sure Patricia's presence does mean Courtney will retire? I mean, it is certainly the more likely option, but isn't it possible someone (perhaps even Courtney herself, though that seems unlikely to me) would create another rod? Or perhaps she may pursue another area of altruism instead of heroing, like teaching, diplomacy, medicine, relief work, or other ways to make the world a better place...

  • At September 24, 2006 5:57 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…

    kalinara: "Being bubbly is an attitude, it means being largely light-hearted, enthusiastic, uplifting and fun."

    Hmm. Okay, I didn't realize that. Well, by that definition Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox) is bubbliest character I know. Put the guy in a well-stocked lab and he's as light-hearted (which means carefree and happy) as it gets; he's obviously quite happy and with some of his experiments having nearly destroyed the galaxy, I think that're the zenith of "ceerfully irresponsible." He's pretty enthusiastic, too; give him a project and he can work for days. And uplifting, he does this in spades: during the "Legion Lost" arc, he lied about having a working hyper/jump-drive to keep spirits up and then when they finally got home, he invented/perfected the Threshold network. You can't do much more to uplift an entire galaxy than give them the gift of inter-galactic travel. (And this doesn't count the uncountable times when his inventions have saved the day.) As for fun, I think that Supergirl (Pre-Crisis), Bart Allen, I.Z.O.R., possibly the Invisible Kid, and countless fans would say he's fun. So, by your definition, one of the most sour, irritable, and snarky characters of all time can add "bubbly" to his list of characteristics.

    kalinara: ":For the record though, off the top of my head, you could look at the following scenes for examples of 'bubbly' behavior"

    I seem to recall her official acceptence into the JSA being tinged with shock that Jack Knight would nominate her for the position. The first time she used the Cosmic Rod was in the second JSA:SF&O issue, and I reem to recall that involved her jumping off the side of building and having Pat dive after her in near-terror. I'm not sure how anyone else defines jumping off a building, that things will be okay and with no prior experience of flying, but I tend to mark that as self-assured and cocky. I also tend to think of this look as cocky. (By the way, that's how I typically see Courtney in my mind's eye; wearing a look that says, "Bring it on!")

    As for the scene with Al, I've never seen that, and the whole "teenager waiting for a murderous terrorist" doesn't really inspire me to look for it either.

    ...but two issues later she is the only one able to reach Liberty Belle.

    Something their world-scale geomancer couldn't do, by the way, despite Libby standing on the ground. That's also the issue that shows her spending two years of her life sitting on a couch, depressedly watching television, that's not very bubbly.

    (At which point the little voice in my head says, "Ah-ha, but that was before she became a superhero!" To which I reply, "Yes, but don't you think such a complete 180 degree turn around, from friendless introvert to bubbly extrovert, is kind of a manic change of character? I demand to know where the real Stargirl is being held hostage!" To which the little voice says, "In your basement, you creepy skeeve." To which I say, "Ha! I don't have a basement. Hey, wait!")

    kalinara: "Finally, are you sure Patricia's presence does mean Courtney will retire?"

    Are you sure the presence of Patricia, an entirely new Starman, Mister Terrific telling Courtney the importance of getting her education, and a possible future where Courtney's retired to write a book doesn't mean she'll retire. I have no solid proof either way, and never will until she's still being written after Johns goes elsewhere. I just have this very uneasy feeling that I got when I heard Impulse and Superboy were joining the Titans.

    kalinara: "Or perhaps she may pursue another area of altruism instead of heroing..."

    I'm not even going to start talking about "superheroics vs. realistic applications of altruism" -- unless you have a couple of months to flush away. :)

  • At September 24, 2006 6:29 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Honestly you seem to enjoy twisting your argument around at any given moment.

    Either she's like Kitty Pryde and would never stop being a hero, or Patricia, Starman and the future glimpse of her in JSA means she isn't.

    Either her characterization as a typical teenager is keeping her from being an effective hero in Per Degaton, or she's a heavy hitter.

    Please figure out exactly what you're trying to argue because honestly, here, you're contradicting yourself all over the place. Which is interesting, as I've always thought Stargirl herself has one of the most consistant portrayals of any character in comics.

    The thing is, the Liberty Belle situation was not one that required a heavy hitter. It required someone with the warmth and empathy to reach her. Her success here where Sand, Alan and the others couldn't does not say anything about power or experience levels, it is just a matter of who has the skills/instincts to be successful at any given time.

    Just because someone isn't a heavy hitter does not mean she can't be effective. And just because someone IS a heavy hitter doesn't mean they'll always be effective 100% of the time.

    And yes, you can be "bubbly" and "cocky" at the same time. You can be "bubbly" and "full of shock" at the same time too. As well, like anyone, she isn't bubbly at every given time. (The two years of sulking wasn't bubbly, but it was pretty typically teenager. When she's a hero, she has a tendancy toward bubbliness more often than not.) But she is cheerful and enthusiastic often enough to make them plausibly considered some of her primary characteristics. That is a personality that I personally, and Eaglesham as well apparently, would categorize as "bubbly".

    Now realistic applications vs heroing is always interesting to me. It's part of why I personally was so annoyed by the writing that made Leslie a murderer in War Crimes. There aren't enough regular people showcased as being heroic in comics. I really like when we get to see some of the normal folks doing good things, like the fellows at Star Labs in early JSA issues. That tends to appeal to me.

  • At September 24, 2006 7:41 PM, Blogger Andrew Burton said…

    kalinara: Either she's like Kitty Pryde and would never stop being a hero, or Patricia, Starman and the future glimpse of her in JSA means she isn't."

    I think: She would never quit being a hero, she's a natural, it's what she was born to do, and she feels it, if she doesn't know it.

    As she's been written lately: She would quit the JSA when she got married to Al Steiner, hand over her Rod to someone else, and never miss the action.

    kalinara: "Either her characterization as a typical teenager is keeping her from being an effective hero in Per Degaton, or she's a heavy hitter."

    I think: She is one of the smartest, most powerful heroes currently active on the DCU Earth, and as her "bubbly," "cheerleader" personality comes to the forefront, she's going stop being the kind of character who's interesting.

    As she's been written lately: She's constantly battered with personal trauma (having Captain Marvel break up with her, seeing Al almost die after becoming a terrorist, seeing her family die, hearing about her father dying) to the point that we never get to see just what kind of hero she can be.

    Does that clear up any apparent "twisting" on my part, because I'm not trying to twist my arguments at all. I'm trying to (a) state how I see her being in argument to (b) where I see writers taking her, and fans happily following.

    kalinara: "Please figure out exactly what you're trying to argue because honestly, here, you're contradicting yourself all over the place."

    The unstated thesis of my argument so far can be summed up as this: people want Courtney to be a mild-mannered bimbo or average intelligence.

    Go back to 1999 and 2000 and you'll see this kind of statement, "I don't like Courtney, she's immature and definitely not hero material." Zip ahead and few years, and these kinds of statements show up, "I sure do like Courtney now that she's mellowed out, she's a true assett to the team." Then last week, we get, "Oh, yeah, Geoff is always saying she's the [bubbly] cheerleader of the team."

    I see this downward trend where Courtney's been changed from a snarky, slightly selfish, intelligent character that very few people liked into a bubbly, relatable, respectful character that everyone likes -- and no one seems to care, because "Geoff would never do anything to disrespect Courtney."

    Removing names from the argument because I'm not as well versed in X-Men as I thought I was, she's slipping away from being a headstrong, competent character who'd snark back at someone to a bubblegum popping "cheerleader." The parts of her that were unique and interesting are being amputated so that she'll be bland, boring, and likeable by everyone.

    That's my argument.

  • At September 25, 2006 3:29 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Well, that does clarify your arguments some. I do however think you're jumping to some strange conclusions in some places though.

    I would agree that Courtney is potentially one of the most powerful heroes of the DCU, but she's a kid. She's NEVER been written to equal that potential yet. If she did, there'd be no point to her character as she is one meant to be constantly growing.

    She's certainly clever. But smartest is a bit of a stretch. She's got a high natural IQ but so do a lot of people, she doesn't have a great deal of technological expertise and she doesn't seem inclined to head in that direction.

    I think you make too much of a few storyarcs. She was upset about the breakup, but what teenage girl isn't when a romance fades? She did lose her family temporarily, but she also needed that point of sorrow to truly appreciate what she has. That moment when she realizes her successor is her sister is very powerful and bringing hope.

    And of course she'll grieve for her father, he's her father. It's only natural. But it's a good sort of cleansing grief. Death is a part of life and she's moved past it. We don't see her dwelling on it, but in the same story we see her use her wits and empathy to reach Liberty in a way no one else could.

    I'm not, honestly, sure where you've gotten the idea that she's less competent. She was very competent in both the ghost storyline and the one in the fifth dimension. She's not a heavy hitter in terms of scope or might, but she's steadily effective.

    She's still snarky, but she's also got a lot more adult guidance than she had before. She's in a place where she is both respected and welcomed for who she is. That's going to make a person mellow out some.

    She's certainly snarky when she needs to be as has been evidenced in the fifth dimension, against the gentleman ghost and heck, Jakeem gets a good brunt of it.

    The thing is, she's a teenager. And teenagers grow and change. Adolescence is a transient state. Personally I've found her growth from immature brat to confident heroine easy in her own skin to be very organic to the character. She's always, to me, had a bubbly enthusiasm from day one, even snarky and disrespectful as she was, and now she's settled into a place where she can grow comfortably into an adult.

    Honestly if you want a character to stay stagnant, you probably shouldn't latch onto a teenager.


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