The new series Stargirl, a joint production of DC Universe and the CW, is a delightful teen superhero drama. Thus far in the season, Brec Bassinger’s Stargirl worked to recruit fellow outcasts from her high school to form the new Justice Society of America. Until now, she and her compatriots only faced adult villains, the enemies who killed the original JSA. Yet, in the latest episode we see that Stargirl’s toughest villain is actually Shiv, a teenage assassin played by Meg DeLancy. Known as Cindy Burman in her civilian identity, she is the daughter of one of the villains and the resident mean girl at Blue Valley High School. However, there is more to Cindy than her spoiled, entitled popular girl demeanor.
As the captain of the cheerleading squad and girlfriend of the star quarterback, Cindy is a popular kid. However, as we see in this episode, she is not well-liked. In fact, what little power she wields comes from fear not respect. For a moment, the show lets us think that, like Stargirl, she’s just a victim of the machinations of the Injustice Society. But she is no victim.
In fact, despite going up against adult baddies, Stargirl’s toughest villain is someone a lot like her. Courtney Whitmore is trying to connect to her father by wearing a mask and fighting crime. Well, it seems that Shiv is doing the same thing.
Stargirl’s Toughest Villain Is the Daughter of the Dragon King
Image via Warner Bros. Television
The Dragon King is a Japanese super-scientist who fought in World War II against the original Starman and Stripesy. Luckily, since he was created in 1981, Dragon King avoids most of the yellow peril stereotypes that plague some comics. In the series, he’s one of the most comics-accurate villains, complete with creepy hood and cape. The Dragon King has a lot of weird things going for him. His wife appears to be caught up in a sort of hypnotic trance, meant only to be a caretaker for Cindy. (And one she abuses regularly.) He’s also responsible for creating the mysterious plan and machine that brought the Injustice Society to Blue Valley, Nebraska. We’re meant to have all sorts of questions about him, but he’s not as interesting as Cindy.
Cindy wants to get closer to her father, particularly by actively being a super-villain. We find out that her interest in Jake Austin Walker’s Henry King, Jr. is mandated by her father, who knows that he’s got the same mental powers as his father Brainwave. We also learn that she bears the blame for her mother’s death, creating the need for the rotation of step-mothers in her life. While Dragon King doesn’t show any affection of any sort towards his daughter, it’s clear she is valuable to him. She does whatever she wants, including suiting up as Shiv against his express wishes.
Superhero-ing Just Got Real On Stargirl
Image via Warner Bros. Television
So far, the show has been a fun romp featuring kids with powers besting adult adversaries. The villains are truly evil and cruel, but there is something different about Shiv. What makes her Stargirl’s toughest villain is that she’s as cruel as any Injustice Society member, with the impetuous nature of a teenager. More so than ever, Courtney was impatient and overconfident in her heroing abilities. And, as the end of this episode showed, she’s finally paid the price for it. For the first time, Courtney is injured in a way that will be hard for Luke Wilson’s Pat Dugan (her stepfather) to explain to her mother (played by Amy Smart). The sweet family dynamic at play here might be in for a bit of a dramatic shake-up.
The other thing we shouldn’t miss is that Pat was calling Stargirl “Courtney” while Shiv was still there. He might have just given up her secret identity to the most fearsome villain on the show to date. Shiv is Stargirl’s main nemesis in the comics, and it appears that she’s going to be the true threat in this first season.
What did you think of Shiv’s debut? How are you liking the series so far? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros. Television
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.