JLA Profiles: STARGIRL - Geoff Johns' Favorite Character


Stargirl may be the only new member of the Justice League of America who doesn't have her own ongoing DC series or back-up stories, but that doesn't mean she's any less important to the team.

Or to the comics' writer.

Geoff Johns, the chief creative officer at DC, started his comic book writing career in 1999 when he invented a new teenaged character named Courtney Whitmore, the girl who would become Stargirl.

"It features my favorite character in comics; it's inspired by someone I really love," Johns told Newsarama about the series when it was released in trade, referencing his sister who died in a plane crash in 1996. "My sister was the inspiration for the character, the good qualities instilled in the character. The initial inspiration was there, but Stargirl has taken on a life of her own. She's her own character now."

This week's Justice League of America #1 by Johns and artist David Finch will be the first appearance of Stargirl in the New 52. And although her origin has been tweaked a bit for the new universe, she's still the optimistic, heroic teen readers knew before the DC relaunch.

But for readers who might not recognize the character — and for those curious what the "tweaks" may be — Newsarama is spotlighting the character as part of our series looking at the heroes who make up this "other" Justice League.

Who is Stargirl? And why is she recruited to be part of the Justice League of America?

The Basics

pre-New 52 Stargirl

Courtney Whitmore is a teenager with a constant smile and an altruistic nature. According to Johns, this new version of Stargirl is about 17 years old and has an origin that's associated with Hollywood. She's a "phenomenon in Los Angeles," but she's the opposite of the Paris Hilton crowd because she has strong morals and an upbeat attitude.

The writer said he's trying to keep the New 52 version of Stargirl "as close to her original origin as possible," although he has also said "there are some new facets to what she does."

Character Quirks

Johns said Stargirl has a connection to another DC character who is "Starman-like," although the New 52 version of that connection is still a bit of a mystery. Originally, her stepfather Pat Dugan was her link to the Starman family, and Johns has confirmed that Pat Dugan will still be in Courtney's story.

And although she's optimistic, Johns said readers will learn that she hasn't necessarily had an easy life. "What you learn about her background is that she's had to fight to hold on to this optimism and hope because of things that she's confronted in the past," he told CBR.

The Visuals

Finch told Newsarama that "Stargirl is a character I love to draw because I really have this desire to get her right, you know?

"I have to admit this, and I apologize to the big Stargirl fans out there, but I honestly hadn't heard of her before," he said. "But I'm getting to know her now and I just really like her character, and I like drawing her. She always smiles, and that makes her different, and she's very positive and upbeat.

"I'm not used to drawing a character like that," he said. "I have always had trouble drawing characters who are more happy and smiling, so it's definitely a challenge. But I think that's why I'm enjoying it right now."

Team Role

At New York Comic Con 2012, Johns said Courtney's addition to the team is a "PR move" by team-runners Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor. The new Justice League of America is a government-backed team that is meant to project a positive image of superheroes to the public. They even sell T-shirts and merchandise promoting the team.

pre-New 52 Stargirl

"In the New 52 universe, Stargirl is a celebrity. They picked her partly because of research. She's tested really well with audiences. And she's a perfect spokesman for the Justice League of America," Johns told Newsarama. "So they bring her in under the guise that she's a hero that has this potential and is a part of this big team, but she soon finds out that they really just want her to be a figurehead, a symbol of the team in the public's eye, and someone who will justify the team to any naysayers out there."

But Johns said Amanda Waller will soon find out there's more to Courtney Whitmore than just a pretty, smiling face.

"They go off on a mission and someone tells her, 'hey, no, no, no, little girl you're not going anywhere,'" Johns said. "And she says, 'What are you talking about?' And they say, 'you're just here for the cameras. So smile!' That drives her crazy. But we’ll also see another side to Stargirl we’ve never seen before. There’s more to her than what Amanda Waller believes."

Johns also pointed out that the JLA isn't exactly filled with positive team players, so Courtney will help smooth the rough edges within the team. Stargirl is the "only one who's really excited to be there," he said.

pre-New 52 Stargirl

"She's definitely coming in here with as much enthusiasm and hope as anyone, and she brings that to a team that desperately needs it," Johns said.

The writer used to call Stargirl the "heart" of her former team in the pre-New 52 universe. Count on her to continue that role in the JLA, while also providing an updated, youthfulness to the team and a much-needed moral compass. And with Johns writing her, she's certain to be an important part of the JLA.

Check back with Newsarama until the launch of Justice League of America on Feb. 20th for more character profiles from the JLA team. And see our recent profiles below.  

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