With Stargirl‘s debut on the CW last week, it is likely that the Star-Spangled Kid will gain some much deserved popularity. However, to understand the character, it is important to learn her history.
Created by Jerry Siegel and Hal Sherman, the original Star-Spangled Kid, Sylvester Pemberton, first appeared in Action Comics #40 back in 1941. Together with his sidekick Stripesy (Pat Dugan), he fought Nazis and other miscreants in Star Spangled Comics until 1948. The two fought crime using their acrobatics and combat skills and were members of The Seven Soldiers of Victory and the All-Star Squadron throughout the 1940’s. After the Seven Soldiers became lost in time in 1950, they were rescued by Aquaman, Wildcat and Hal Jordan (Green Lantern). Sylvester had no powers, using a magic rod, which he would later convert into a belt, which gifted him with flight, increased strength and agility, the ability to create light objects and shoot energy blasts. Sylvester would co-found the team Infinity Inc. under the new guise of Skyman. During a confrontation with Solomon Grundy, Grundy used the fatal touch of Mr. Bones, a fellow member of Infinity, to kill Sylvester.
As years passed, Dugan retired from the superhero scene to attempt to live a normal life. However, after receiving a call from a former super-powered colleague, he returned to his superhero duties using S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Integrated Power Enhancer), a powered suit of armor that he designed and built. What he did not expect was for his step-daughter, Courtney Whitmore, to find Sylvester’s belt and don the Star-Spangled Kid mantle, taking the name Stargirl.
Introduced in Geoff Johns and Lee Moder’s Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0, Courtney originally put on the costume as an attempt to rebel against her new step-father, but as time went on she accepted her role as a super-heroine. Together with S.T.R.I.P.E., the two protected Blue Valley from the Dragon King. She goes on to join the Justice Society where she is given the cosmic staff. During this time she begins dating Shazam (Billy Batson). While Billy might be the same age as Stargirl, Shazam is not. After The Flash (Jay Garrick) confronts them, Shazam leaves the Justice Society due to his inability to reveal his secret identity willingly.
Stargirl went on to be involved in many variations of the Justice Society until the New 52, where she appeared as a member of the new Justice League of America. She was chosen by Amanda Waller to be the public face of the team. After the team was disbanded, Courtney joined Justice League United. Her most recent appearance was in 2017’s Doomsday Clock where she appeared as a member of Justice Society once again.
Stargirl is not the Star-Spangled Kid’s first live action appearance. Courtney made her live action debut in season 9 of Smallville, where she was portrayed by Britt Irvin. The character also appeared briefly in the second season of Legends of Tomorrow as a member of the 1942 Justice Society.
Her first animated appearance was in Justice League Unlimited where she was voiced by Giselle Loren. She and S.T.R.I.P.E. are featured in a handful of episodes as members of the Justice League. The character has also made some minor appearances in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League Action and Young Justice.
Stargirl has had a rather short history compared to most characters in the DC universe, yet she has been featured in a variety of television shows despite this. I am interested to see how Stargirl treats the character. Hopefully it will be better than Batwoman.