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Monday, August 31, 2020 

Donna Troy isn't being done justice

It's been about 55 years since Donna Troy was introduced into the DCU as one of the Teen Titans, and went on to become one of the most underrated sex symbols of comicdom. But, as expected, the mainstream media can't do Donna any justice after the misuse by modern writers over the past 2 decades. For example, here's a Screen Rant item where, not only do they take a weak view of the lady originally created as Wonder Woman's indirect sidekick, they also post an uncritical look at the retcons WW underwent just several years ago:
Despite being one of DC's most recognizable heroes, Wonder Woman's origin story has never been as set in stone as Superman or Batman's. Originally Diana of Themyscira was molded out of clay by her mother Hippolyta, but her origin has been revised and expanded a number of times until the modern era. Her most recent origin story, and the one which the movie mostly follows, is that she was the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta. Though Wonder Woman's many origins can be complicated, they are nothing compared to the tangled web of backstories and retcons created for Wonder Woman's first sidekick, Donna Troy.
Reading this, I can understand why Silver Age Hawkman Katar Hol's suffered such terrible injustices as having his origins retconned at the dawn of the 1990s too. WW's origins as enchanted clay remained pretty much the same until the end of the 2000s, and it was only in the past decade, no thanks to Brian Azzarello, that they just had to change it for political correctness' sake. But sites like these aren't into the medium for the sake of clear research, or we would've gotten a far better take than SR's offering, which continues to goof with the following:
The confusing nature of Donna Troy starts before her first appearance. When the Teen Titans first premiered in 1965 the team consisted of sidekicks Robin, Speedy, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl. All of these characters had a history outside of the Teen Titans and would have been familiar to comic readers at the time. All of them except for Wonder Girl. Unlike many other DC heroes, Wonder Woman did not have a sidekick. There was a Wonder Girl within the pages of Wonder Woman, but only in non-cannon stories where Wonder Girl is a teenage Wonder Woman from the past. The Teen Titan's creators mistook this past version of Diana for an entirely separate character and added her to the Teen Titans.

Soon after the Teen Titan's solo series began, the creative team behind the book realized their mistake and gave Donna Troy her first origin story in 1969. Originally, Donna Troy was a young girl rescued from a burning building by Wonder Woman who took Donna back to Paradise Island. Donna was then raised by Queen Hippolyta, which led to Donna becoming Diana's younger sister. This origin would receive a small expansion during Donna's time with the New Teen Titans where it was revealed that her biological parents were alive and that she had been kidnapped by human traffickers at a young age. Just four years later, this origin would be revised as a result of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Due to timeline issues, it no longer made sense for Wonder Woman to have rescued Donna, so instead, it was the Greek Titan Rhea who rescued Donna, gave her powers, and brought her to Paradise Island. During this period, Donna changed her costume and adopted the codename Troia. This revised origin would only last until the nineties.
More slapdash "research", I see. No, Donna's biological parents (specifically, her mother, Dorothy Hinckley) were gone, but her adoptive mom, Fay Stacy, was still alive, as chronicled in NTT #38 in 1984. And even during the Silver Age, it wasn't every superhero who had a costumed teen sidekick. Green Lantern didn't have one, and neither did the Atom, Hawkman and Metamorpho. But SR's failure to connect the dots in history on Donna's story history, that's certainly telling.

Which brings us to what they say about the 3rd Donna Troy origin John Byrne concocted in the late 90s when he was helming Wonder Woman's 2nd volume:
After years of being on the New Teen Titans, Donna's character became more focused on her home life. She had married a much older professor of hers named Terry. Despite the unfortunate nature of their relationship, the first major complication arrived when Donna became pregnant. A new team of heroes called the Team Titans arrived with the goal to kill Donna because her son would end up as a dictator called Lord Chaos. The storyline ended with Donna losing her powers and her marriage. All of this led to a third new origin story. Donna was now created by a sorceress to be a duplicate of Wonder Woman but was abducted by a supervillain named Dark Angel. Dark Angel cursed Donna Troy to live countless lives, all ending in tragedy and misery. When Wonder Woman, Hippolyta, and Wally West try to rescue Donna from Dark Angel, the villainess wipes her from existence rather than let her go. Donna is remade through Wally's memories of her before regaining her memories a handful of years later.

In the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, readers learned that Donna is actually one of the few beings who survived Crisis on Infinite Earths with her memories intact, making her a timeline anomaly. Her status as an anomaly led to her multiple different origins as the universe tried to fit her into the new timeline. Also, Dark Angel is, apparently, Donna Troy from an alternate universe where she was raised by the Anti-Monitor. Donna would go on to exist on the edges of the DC Universe until it was rebooted.
Honestly, I think this was where things began to fumble, as instead of a mortal human gifted with powers from the Greek deities, Donna now became merely the clone of a deity. Why, during the early 90s, it's said that's when the energy in the Titans was beginning to run low, and Donna later became a Darkstar in the 1992-96 series to replace the powers she cast aside, something that, if it matters, could always be reversed so she'd be superhuman again. The storylines in Infinite Crisis are particularly distasteful, doing little to mend the damage from before, and only make it worse. Even after Rebirth, they kept this up. This is what happens when some people just don't have what it takes to quietly drop unpopular ideas and discard them from canon.

And about Terry Long: I own a lot of the TT material and read those stories where he was a prominent co-star, and he wasn't her college teacher. Is that yet one more attempt by the PC crowd to put down all the hard work Marv Wolfman did to build up the Titans in the first place?
When the New 52 continuity took over DC, Donna Troy was nowhere to be seen for some time. She was eventually reintroduced into Wonder Woman's mythos, but as a being created to destroy Wonder Woman completely. This new origin was further complicated when Donna went on to interact with past titan members and act as though she knew them well. Even ignoring how that made little sense given her new origin, it was also contradicted by the dubious canonicity of past Teen Titans teams. Finally, complicating matters further, the Wonder Woman storyline The Lies claimed that the new New 52 depiction of Donna Troy as a villain was an illusion but that she was still created to kill Wonder Woman.
Needless to say, that's the fault of Dan DiDio's editorial, who exhibited quite a repellent bias against almost anyone Titan when he was still around, and all the while, these same press sources shielded him from any serious criticism. If there was ever a time when mishandling really took a turn for the worse, it was during the mid-2000s, and got worse when Heroes in Crisis came about. Now that there's a new EIC at DC, will this change? At the end of the article, it says:
Donna Troy shows the complicated nature of continuity in comic books. The multiple origins make a theoretically simple character into a trove of contradictory histories and retconned twists. It is telling that when the character was brought to live-action in Titans, her first and simplest origin was used. Complicated backstories and shocking revelations don't make characters compelling when they don't mean anything. Donna Troy is a compelling character for many reasons but her conflicting origins have only ever distracted from that.
And this article shows, despite any suggestions to the contrary, what a lack of interest the columnist has in arguing for the better, let alone doing good research. Certainly that's good if the TV show's producers decided to build on the 1st origin from 1969. But why doesn't the SR writer call for DC to take a similar step, and jettison the worst retcons of later years? It's not so much a matter of "complicated nature" in continuity as it is an inability by editors and writers to refrain from making things more confusing than need be. Even the retcon from 1988 wasn't as ridiculous or superfluous as Byrne's was.

There's also this CBR item from last year, giving details for anybody who views the live action TV show:
Descriptions of Donna Troy are quick to highlight the various modifications that have been done to her origin story, and it is frequently referred to as one of her most unique qualities about herself. Initially, Donna was an orphan rescued by Wonder Woman, where she was then raised on Themyscira. Later, however, it would be discovered that Donna was actually rescued by the Titans of Myth. Further in the future, though, Donna would start as a piece of Diana’s soul, brought to life with magic. Similar to the last, the New 52 saw Donna brought to life again with magic but under false pretenses.
But no complaints about how Byrne put the keys in the ignition for what was to come later? Or why editors and writers wouldn't just let it quietly drop, if that's the best way to discard an otherwise failed premise? Nor are there any clear distinctions between what retcons worked or didn't. Not even an objective look at how Donna briefly died in 2003:
Donna Troy, like many comic book characters, has died at one point only to be resurrected in the future. Donna’s death took place in the third issue of the Graduation Day series where she is killed by a Superman robot that attacks the Titans. Donna would not be dead for long, however, as she would be resurrected in the future by the Titans of Myth.
That's still no excuse for the lazy plot they used to get to the point of entombing Donna, and come to think of it, no excuse for killing her off at all. It was all a classic case of terrible writing, published under the confidence the press wouldn't ask the editors and writers in charge to step down, in contrast to most Japanese manga companies, where responsibility is usually taken in case of a failure.

And if turning her into a Black Lantern during the awful Blackest Night crossover wasn't bad enough, there's the kidnapping by Dark Angel:
Apart from her death, one of Donna’s most painful experiences came at the hands of the Dark Angel (a villain who is, ironically, a version of Donna Troy from another universe). As an act of revenge against Hippolyta, the Dark Angel attempted to kidnap Princess Diana but mistakenly took Donna, instead.

Nevertheless, the Dark Angel still tortures Donna by forcing her to repeatedly endure different simulations of life that always ended in misery. Donna experiences this torment at least a thousand times before she is finally rescued. Surviving such cruelty, though to do, was inevitably a representation of Donna’s will to overcome even the most hopeless of scenarios.
These kind of storylines haven't just gotten old, they've gotten stunningly insufferable as well, because of how sensationalized they've become, taking an unpopular plot that could very easily have been dropped quietly and regurgitating it ad nauseum. And again, there's that little issue involving the slap in the face of turning Donna into a baddie:
As a part of the New 52, Donna Troy was re-introduced as a part of a coup to dethrone Diana as Queen of the Amazons. The sister to Hippolyta, Derinoe, rejected Diana’s decision to let the males born of Amazonian heritage to remain on Themyscira, and in turn, planned to create a contender for the throne that would prioritize the livelihood of the Amazonian nation. This contender would be Donna Troy. Realistically, though, Donna was used by Derinoe as a pawn for her own personal vendetta against Diana. This portrayal, though, is one of the most unfavorable of Donna Troy as it defines her only as a weapon against Wonder Woman, and dismisses, as well, the former relationship between Donna and Diana that had previously empowered them both. Fortunately, this dynamic would change during the DC Rebirth campaign.
It was also one of the most alienating, and at this point, Rebirth's done little to redeem her.

Now that Dan DiDio, who led to only so much of this, just as he sought to destroy the rest of the Titans when he was still at DC, is gone from their employ, I'd like to know if the new EIC, Marie Javins, is willing to take all the steps necessary to reverse the harm DiDio caused for nearly 2 decades. There's only so much since the early to mid-2000s, for example, that needs to be discarded. A very simple step they could take to mending Donna is to simply discard the botched Byrne retcon from the late 90s, along with much of what came afterwards. Continuity can work so long as you don't complicate it with so many hastily drawn retcons stemming from company wide crossovers, exactly what turned everything into a shambles these past 2 decades. And I strongly/firmly believe much of what DiDio worked on in the past 2 decades should be dropped, as the majority was loathsome, including - but not limited to - whatever Geoff Johns wrote. Earlier stuff I'd recommend jettisoning would include the 3rd volume of Green Lantern, which was pretty bad when it debuted in 1990, and turning Hal Jordan into Parallax made it worse. Maybe in time, I should make a list of whatever DC and Marvel did in past years that would be best jettisoned. For now, this should make a good start.

And again, it's been about 55 years since Donna Troy's debut. Making improvements for her background would be a good way to celebrate the anniversary of her 1965 premiere.

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"even during the Silver Age, it wasn't every superhero who had a costumed teen sidekick."

The article never said otherwise.

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