Review: DC’s ‘Stargirl’ Finally Explores the Powers of the Pink Pen

It took an entire season to do it, but DC’s Stargirl has finally explained that extremely dangerous pink pen. Back in the beginning of Stargirl’s first season, Pat stressed to Courtney that the pink pen she found in the Justice Society of America’s headquarters was not as innocent as it looks, it is actually very dangerous and powerful. Stargirl Season 2 Episode 3 has just shown viewers exactly what he was talking about.

DC’s Stargirl Finally Explores The Powers Of The Pink Pen

Courtesy The CW

The episode starts off with a flashback to that fateful Christmas night where the entire JSA was taken down by the ISA. We learn that the owner of the pink pen is Johnny Thunder (Alkoya Brunson), and that he is one of the least used members of the JSA. When they all go off to fight the ISA, he is left behind with Pat, until Wildcat comes bursting in saying they need backup because Solomon Grundy has joined the fight.

Cut to present day and Mike Dugan is returning from his paper route, beaten up and feeling down on himself. When he realizes that Pat, Barbara, and Courtney are discussing what they should do about The Shade, he offers to help, but they just dismiss him telling him not to worry about it. When his boss calls to add another house to his route, his pen runs out of ink – of course, he reaches for that pink pen in Courtney’s room.

While on his paper route he falls off his bike, and the newspaper headlines read “So Cool!”. When he speaks this out loud it activates the pen and Thunderbolt appears. Who is Thunderbolt? A bright pink genie that grants wishes – but specifies that you need to be VERY specific when doing so or things just might not go your way. He is voiced by the hilarious Jim Gaffigan.

Stargirl Summer School 3
Courtesy The CW

On the way home from summer school, Yolanda and Courtney come across Mike having used the wishing power of the pen to stop the bullies that beat him up, and have now stolen some boxes of Girl Scout Cookies from a little girl. His wish was for Thunderbolt to make them stop, which is does by dropping tons of STOP signs out of the sky. Mike really is learning his lesson about being specific, and this is an interesting way to show the viewers what can wrong if he isn’t.

Earlier this season we learned that Mike is on Cindy’s list of recruits for the new ISA, so it is to be expected he is going to have some kind of falling out with his family. The way they are treating at the start of this episode makes it extremely believable that he would go down this dark path. They are acting like he is just a mess up, and that he doesn’t even really deserve to be a part of the JSA.

Meanwhile, Barbara is taking inventory of everything in The Wizard’s collection to try to find out exactly what The Shade is after. She doesn’t have to look long because he shows up and browses everything himself. What he discovers is an empty box, the one that held the Black Diamond, the gem that Eclipso is inside, and is currently in Cindy’s possession. When he asks to keep it, since it is just an empty box, Barbara tells him no. However, since he can control and manipulate shadows, and travel through it, he just turns the lights off and leaves with it.

Reluctantly Pat does agree to let him help in tracking down The Shade, but says that he will not be joining the fight. After working on some very specific wording of a wish, Mike wishes for Thunderbolt to point them to his location, which he does. Pat then makes Mike stay behind, making him feel alone and useless yet again.

The rest of the team goes off to confront The Shade, and Mike gets sick of waiting around. He starts working on a wish that he hopes will help the team out. When the JSA shows up at The Shades location, the old home of The Wizard, he is sitting at a table, drinking tea. He tells them they could get into a fight, but he would prefer they sit take a seat, enjoy some tea, and have a civil conversation.

He explains that he is not there to fight with them, and that it is best they don’t know what he is up to. He promises that while he did once have similar interests at the ISA, he has long been split from them, and is nothing like them. Beth, who is anxious to avenge Dr. Mid-Nite since The Shade is his killer, is the one who most wants to take him out.

Before they can decide what to do, Mike bursts through the door with the Thunderbolt pen and wishes for it to zap him. This starts a fight with The Shade in which the JSA is very easily taken out. The Shade barely flinches as he controls the shadows to fight the members of the JSA and pin them down. He tells them to stay out of his way and disappears. Later, we see him at the top of the Blue Valley clock tower, he is holding the empty box, and says “he is going to kill those children.” A very ominous prediction for what is to come.

Stargirl Summer School 4
Courtesy The CW

Jakeem Thunder is one of the controllers of Thunderbolt in the DC comic books, and fans get a first glimpse of him at the end of this episode. While holding onto the pen, Mike says he wishes it was in better hands, not thinking clearly. It zaps itself to Jakeem, another young boy who feels very alone. Earlier in the episode Thunderbolt explains that he can only partner with others like him – people that feel completely and utterly alone. The fact that Mike is one of those people is further proof that it would not be shocking to see him team up with Cindy in the future, at least for a little bit.

The episode ends with Rick and Beth working on the Dr. Mid-Nite googles, still doing everything they can to bring Chuck back. He returns for a split second, just in time to warn her that Eclipso is there, and they are in danger. He still doesn’t recognize her though, saying “whoever you are” while talking to her.

This episode of Stargirl was all about building for the future. It explained more about The Shade, and a lot about Thunderbolt. Jakeem is likely to eventually join the JSA and it very clearly gave reason to why Mike might stray from them, especially if he keeps being treated as an afterthought and not part of the team.

Even though it is rather short, the fight with The Shade is one of the coolest things we have seen so far this season. Fingers crossed that there will be even bigger battles with The Shade in the future, where he can really unleash.

Stargirl: Episode 3: Summer School


Stargirl Finally Explores The Powers Of The Pink Pen


Tessa Smith owns and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics associations including the Critics Choice Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books -- and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.