With “Wildcat,” ‘Stargirl’ examines real world problems and the importance of remaining true to oneself

Meet Yolanda Montez, a young girl at Blue Valley High School who has been ostracized by the population and her family when, in a moment of bad judgement and trusting the wrong person, a racy photo she sent to her boyfriend becomes public. Months later, she is still dealing with the fallout and has withdrawn into boxing and being a loner so, obviously, this is the perfect person for Courtney to chose to become the first recruit for the new Justice Society of America.

Okay, confession time here…. I’m not wild about using Yolana Mendez as Wildcat and I’m not saying that as a slight against this show or this actress but rather as a personal preference. I’m a big fan of the Ted Grant Wildcat from DC Comics as his gruff, no-nonsense approach and kind heart make him an anti-Batman in a sense. I just love the character.

I also liked his tragically short-lived son, Tom Bronson, from the Justice Society of America comics as the idea of a were-panther was a neat spin on the character harkening back to the amazing Kingdom Come comic book by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. The fact that Tom basically sucked at being a superhero, mentored by his father after learning of his existence, gave the duo a more endearing quality until the series messed it up, separated them, and pretty much erased Tom in one of DC’s many dumb reboots.

As I said, I’m not trashing Stargirl at this point because it is it’s own animal, but they basically chose my least favorite Wildcat for the series and took Ted and his mentorship out of the equation. In a show about legacies, a mentor besides Pat would have been nice.

But, regardless, I dug this episode. It deals with repercussions that many people have at least heard about and I hope not that many have had to face. Yolanda has been portrayed as a hostile introvert, bullied by the Cindy-squad and spurning all of Courtney’s friendly gestures. Here, we learn her backstory and all of the pain and betrayal that it holds. It’s taken a character that seemed like she had been taken directly from The Breakfast Club and fleshed her out.

I enjoyed seeing Courtney and Yolanda’s growing friendship and trust as well as the montage of Yolanda learning how to use the Wildcat suit (which is apparently the Black Panther suit now). Yolanda’s reluctance and fear at becoming a superhero was understandable and communicated very well and her subsequent decision to leave and come back to the role felt natural.

I have to give special kudos to the scene where Yolanda confronts her family and the fact that the episode decided not to go with an easy or happy ending. Losing someone’s trust is not something you get over quickly or even in a few months. Although the “you have disgraced this family” seemed very stilted and stereotypical, I like that the mother does not forgive or forget. It gives Yolanda another reason to fight and room to grow as a character.

I also have to add that, thankfully, the Wildcat costume looks a lot better in motion than it does in still pictures. I was worried.

So, last week I mused that I was afraid that Stargirl might be going dark too soon. Thankfully, it appears that is not the case. The show remains a bright beacon of optimism and fun. I like how the show is focusing on the main characters and holding back on featuring a super villain of the week every episode. I like that the show is optimistic, I like the characters… it is so strange how Stargirl feels like a breath of fresh air in DC’s lineup simply by allowing their superheros to be superheros and showing it to be a source of joy to those wearing the costumes.

This is quickly becoming my favorite no-calorie show on television.

Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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