‘Stargirl’: A hero’s test

There’s a battle raging within “Stargirl” fandom.

There are some who say Beth Chapel has no place in the Justice Society of America.

There are some who believe she is no fighter and that she holds back the team.

“Is she going to be saved by Hourman every episode?” one viewer groused recently on Facebook.

As luck – along with some good writing and stellar acting – would have it, the latest “Stargirl” took on this question about Beth’s place with the team and answered it definitively.

In “Summer School: Chapter Eight,” written by Steve Harper and directed by Andi Armaganian, Eclipso targeted Beth – and for the first time since we met him, he failed.

Against Eclipso’s machinations, Yolanda gave up. Rick was tricked. (More on that later). But Shadow Bitch threw everything he had in his insane arsenal at Beth.

He played on every insecurity and anxiety a teen like Beth might be feeling. He tried to convince her her parents blamed her for their divorce. This racist, sexist POS played on her anxiety as an outsider. He mocked her desire to please others.

Consider: Eclipso (Nick Tarabay) saw Beth as so much of a threat that he actually revealed himself to her – and still he couldn’t defeat her.

And there was a kernel of truth to the devil’s words: Beth didn’t find a cosmic staff. She wasn’t handed a costume. She isn’t a legacy gifted with a magical timepiece.

She chose to be a hero. She chose her destiny, because that’s what heroes do. It’s not about might, it’s about right, a lesson DC Comics have always shared with readers.

And here’s the bonus, here’s the dividend we can all celebrate: This trial by torture only left Beth stronger, more sure of herself, more confident in her role in the JSA. She is Dr. Midnite.

When next the team faces Eclipso, Beth will be critical – as the only person immune to his influence. Thanks to the Midnite goggles, she can see through all his illusions. She’s the ace for the looming battle.

She’s not the hero some wanted. But she’s the hero we deserve.

It wasn’t all glory this week.

Tricked by Eclipso into thinking Solomon Grundy killed a girl, Rick (Cameron Gellman) struck with all his might – only to discover he had critically wounded his hateful uncle. In despair, he shattered his hourglass, the source of his power.

As the Independence Day fireworks lit up the sky, Rick sat mute in a police car, his future seemingly dashed forever.

Last week’s Yolanda-centric episode kept telling us we should feel sad; this sequence hit like a punch to the stomach.

Anjelika Washington and Cameron Gellman delivered some powerful work.

Random hope:

Damn, I hope Pat had a mighty vacuum in his back pocket to suck up all those tachyon-infused sand particles from the grass. This can’t be the last of our Hourman.

Is this the first time Mike has called Barbara “Mom”? A warm moment, interrupted by a forecast of frost.