After three weeks of setup, “Wildcat” delivers a powerful and unique origin story for the first legacy hero recruited to Stargirl’s JSA.
Yolanda Montez had been a quiet, angry and isolated individual for the first three episodes, and now we finally know why. She was a popular, outgoing and spirited student at Blue Valley high until her love interest (Henry King Jr., son of Brainwave) shared her topless photos with his friends. When a jealous Cindy gets a hold of Yolanda’s extremely private and personal pictures, she spreads them to the entire school while Yolanda is speaking at a school assembly.
Montez is heartbroken, ashamed and utterly humiliated. With her pictures exposed and her reputation tarnished, her friends and even her family turn on her. The behavior of Ms. and Mrs. Montez towards their daughter is sickening, and I applaud Stargirl for shining a light on the terrible way that parents in modern America all too often respond to situations such as this one.
Wildcat’s Rise To Heroism
Underage sexting is a serious issue, and it’s quite impressive to see Stargirl take a stand on such a relevant and sensitive topic. Yolanda’s actions aren’t condoned, but through Courtney’s friendship it is made clear that Henry was the one in the wrong for spreading her private pictures. Yolanda has internalized some self-loathing from all of the harassment and shame she’s had to endure over the past few months, and watching her learn to love herself and stand up to her parents is a more uplifting story line than most DC adaptations offer.
Yolanda’s dynamic with Courtney is extraordinarily enjoyable to watch, and the chemistry between the two actors is phenomenal. The two spend most of the episode figuring out Wildcat’s abilities and testing them out on their first recon mission. My biggest concern with this episode was that the suit wouldn’t work and that Yolanda would retain her dry, angsty and reserved persona even as a hero. Fortunately, I was wrong on both accounts.
Admittedly, the Wildcat suit isn’t as strong as Stargirl’s, nor is it my favorite design for the character. Despite that, the scenes where they tested her powers together (rest in peace, Dugan family toaster) were so energetic and vigorous that I couldn’t help but embrace the supersuit and the hero wearing it.
Another excellent aspect of “Wildcat” is it’s honest depiction of Stargirl and Wildcat as amateur superheroes. At one point, Stargirl nearly turns off the power in the hospital before Wildcat and the cosmic staff stop her, reminding her that there are people on life support. Shortly afterwards, Wildcat nearly kills her ex in cold blood before realizing that maybe murder isn’t the best solution to her problems. These two are not experienced vigilantes, and their depiction as naive and fresh superheroes lends a feeling of honesty and believability to the series.
The budding friendship of these two future JSA members isn’t the only highlight of “Wildcat”. We’re treated to our first look at The Dragon King, a frightening and disturbed member of the Injustice Society of America. The mystery of what Dragon King wants with Wizard’s corpse coupled with the disappearance of his widowed wife sets up a fascinating puzzle for Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. to solve.
Pat Dugan and Icicle’s respective stories were put on the back burner, leaving plenty of room to develop Wildcat as a superhero and Yolanda as a layered, complex individual. Next week sees the arrival of Dr. Mid-Nite and Hourman 2.0, and if their introductions are executed this seamlessly, Stargirl will have assembled one of the most interesting and exciting superhero teams of all time in just five episodes.
Tune into DCUniverse on June 15th for the next Stargirl episode, “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite.”