Sunday, July 30, 2006

Who is Donna Troy and Why Does She SUCK So Much?

Marvel and DC comics have, between them, literal armies of super powered characters. Some are timeless and beloved by all, others…not so much. Even the most universally despised characters have their fan base, and what’s lame and stupid for one person, may well be the beloved childhood favorite of another.

Then we all have those characters we hate. Maybe you hate the new guy who’s taken up the mantle of the old guy, who was Your Favorite-est Superhero Ever, or it may be a villain you find especially boring, but who keeps showing up in books you like. (Darkseid, I'm looking at you.) In some cases, it’s a writer’s “pet” character, which he insists on carrying around with himself from title A to Title B.

I recently realized that I hate Donna Troy.

It took me a while to figure this out. This doesn’t mean I hate her as a (fictional) person. Some of the earliest DC comics I read were The New Teen Titans, and I liked her fine back then. She was Wonder Woman’s former kid sidekick, and the stabilizing influence on the team. Okay, so she was married to Terry Long, an utter tool:

But other than that, she was fine. Then came Crisis on Infinite Earths, the reality altering event that changed the DC universe forever. Where once there had been a plethora of alternate Earths, there was now one unified DCU. In the aftermath, all of DC’s ongoing series had a restart of one kind or another. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all had their origins revised, with significant changes to Wonder Woman in particular. That’s where Donna’s problems really began.

Apparently, DC editorial weren’t on speaking terms during all this, because the clean slate offered by the ending of Crisis was squandered. It was originally proposed that all DCU titles be restarted at square one post-Crisis. Instead, there were three different approaches to previous continuity: Retcon, Business as usual, and Restart.

Some books, like Superman & Batman retroactively revised the origins of the characters from year one. This approach usually started off with a mini-series to rewrite the origin and establish the new rules. The ongoing series would then pick up in the present day backfilling details as necessary. "Present day" stories took place approximately 10 years into their careers.

Other Books didn’t change much at all. They followed the same continuity and storylines they had pre-Crisis. Teen Titans was a huge moneymaker for DC, one of their most popular titles. They weren’t about to jeopardize that by suddenly starting over again with Robin, Speedy, and Aqualad. This non-reboot would prove to be an incompatible fit with what was done to Wonder Woman.

In the third and most damaging type of reboot, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and others were restarted as if they were brand new characters in the debuting in the present day. In other words, Wonder Woman was just arriving in man’s world about 10 years later than Superman, Batman, the JLA…and The Teen Titans.

Which made Wonder Girl's origin impossible, in this new world. If Wonder Girl was a full grown woman with years of superheroing under her belt when Wonder Woman first shows up, who rescued her from that fire as a child?

Which meant that they had to figure out where she did come from.

And thus began years picking away at her story, adding new details as new contradictions arose. Flailing away at the tar baby, only to find themselves increasingly stuck. Every year, like clockwork, they trot her out and do the retcon fandango, interrupting some title I normally enjoy.

I have in front of me DC Special: the Return of Donna Troy #2-4, and God, what an aggravating pile of aggravation it is. This was the most recent series meant to define Donna’s origin and set her up for the future. Let’s get one thing out of the way: the art is stunning. J. L. Garcia-Lopez and George Perez make a great team, and I’d like to see them work together on something else sometime. Something that doesn’t make my head feel like it’s full of bees, preferably.

Somehow I missed the first issue, so I’m at a disadvantage. Issue #2 opens with the Outsiders chasing a glowing blue ball around their headquarters. Nightwing and Starfire recognize the thing, and seem to be happy to see it. Why so happy? Maybe because next it turns into a Hovering Space Vagina!

The Hovering Space Vagina takes our heroes to another planet, where they find Donna's gone bonkers, tearing the place up and acting all crazy. So they fight, and fight, and fight. Then the Titans of Myth show up, and this is where my eyes glaze over. The Titans of Myth are AWFUL. I hate them. DC already had something like six pantheons of confusingly similar “gods” -why did Marv Wolfman feel he needed these assholes too?

Somewhere in the middle of all the godly preening and whining we find out that Donna is married to one of these Titans, specifically this guy:

His name's Coeus, and unsurprisingly, he sucks. But remember:

She's not so much with the judgement. Anyway, these gods show up, and there’s a lot more talking, scheming, whining, and bombastic posturing before we get to a migraine-inducing two page spread, which gives us the full, official history of Donna Troy. Wanna hear it? Here it goes:

As an infant, Donna was rescued from a burning building by Wonder Woman. Until she wasn’t, because of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Meanwhile, her Earth-2 counterpart was rescued by a fireman, her Earth-S counterpart wasn’t rescued at all, and her Earth-7 counterpart was rescued by the Anti-Monitor, who raised her to be Dark Angel, the evil counterpart to The Monitor’s Harbinger. Remember that, because it’s going to be important later. On the revised post-Crisis Earth, Donna was created by magic, from a reflection of young Diana/Wonder Woman to be her sister. She went on to become Wonder girl, then Troia, until her insane and prematurely aged son from an alternate future came to attack her as Lord Chaos. Chaos was defeated, but Donna gave up her Troia powers to ensure he would never exist. Then she became a Darkstar, then she regained her Troia powers. That’s until she was pulled out of reality by Dark Angel, who was trying to erase all Donna Troy histories except her own by tormenting Donna endlessly through mutiple realities. Dark Angel failed, and Donna was reincarnated as an infant who was rescued from a fire by Rhea, the queen of the Titans of Myth, who recognized Donna as one of a foretold twelve "seeds" who would save the Titans from extinction. Plus now Donna is somehow the living connection to the multiverse.

Well, that clears everything up!

Excuse me while I go bash my head against the wall repeatedly!!

So a bunch of other stuff happens, then the Titans of Myth go away, and everyone goes home. Donna is now charged with custodianship of the Glowing Gold History Beachball of Harbinger. Except I guess she always was Harbinger. Or something. My stomach hurts.

This woman is a continuity disaster. DC recently had a golden opportunity to clean Donna's history up, when Infinite Crisis tweaked continuity yet again. In the current DCU timeline, Wonder Woman is again a founding member of the Justice League, alongside Superman and Batman. All they had to do was to restore the earliest Wonder girl origin: Donna Troy was an orphan rescued from a burning building by Wonder Woman. She’s raised by the amazons, Becomes Wonder Woman’s sidekick, joins the Titans, END OF STORY.

But DC seem intent on slathering layer after layer of complexity on this already baffling character. The latest development, as of 52 Week 11, is that Donna Troy, not Jade, was supposed to have died in the Rann- Thanagar War. Now they appear to be gearing up for another Donna Troy-centric "epic" to make things even more confusing.

Well, They'll have to do it without me. I'm declaring a Donna Troy embargo to preserve my sanity. Bye Donna! I hate you!

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