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!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Time to do what I do best: Ruin it for everyone.

Sorry for the lack of posting around here. I've been wrestling with a particularly difficult article about a character I'm really really starting to hate. It will be fat packed with spite and bile.

I don't necessarily mean I hate the (fictional) person. She's really quite nice. I mean "hate" in the same way I might say: “I hate the Big Wheel because he represents a conceptual turn for Spider-Man villains from “Ridiculous” to “Fucking Ridiculous”. But Jackson Wheele was a lovely chap.

I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of the Big Wheel.

AstroCity Special #1 came out yesterday, and it was outstanding. Busiek and Anderson introduce us to Samaritan's archenemy, Infidel. Dosen't that guy look cool? Busiek crafted a rich engaging story of two old enemies discussing their differences over a fine meal. I remember reading an article online a couple of years ago in which Busiek broke down the whole process of developing Infidel, so it's nice to finally see him in a story. Cool new character, great comic, you should buy it.

More later.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Random Disturbing Dick Tracy Strip of the Week

Each week, a random, disturbing DICK TRACY comic strip, offered without further comment. This week’s:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

AWtC Back-Issue Spotlight: Star Wars Tales #20

Star Wars Tales #20 came out in 2004 and unless you were really paying attention, you probably missed it. I don’t follow the SW comics at all and so preordered this based on the creative lineup, which consisted of such alternative comics luminaries as Peter Bagge, Tony Millionaire, Bob Fingerman, and several others.

The first story is "George R. Binks", by Millionaire, in which we meet Jar Jar’s father, a whaler. George spends the whole story on a low boil as Jar Jar screws up a whaling trip, sinking the ship and stranding then on a desert island. Out of his mind with rage and frustration George attempts to blow his own brains out, but fails and hallucinates a better life. Then he wakes up to see Jar Jar with a squid stuck to his face. Millionaire’s usual approach, a mix of grotesque absurdity and dark humor, comes through in this story.

I’m a huge fan of Peter Bagge, so "Failing Up With Jar Jar Binks" is the highlight of the book for me. It follows Jar Jar’s skyrocketing political fortunes despite his being a complete gibbering idiot. Let’s just say it parodies certain real life politics and politicians ALL TOO WELL.

These were the high points of the book for me, but it also had fun, funny stories by Bob Fingerman, Jason, Rick Geary, Jim Campbell, Chris Eliopoulos, James Kochalka, and Gilbert Hernandez. They’re not all perfect, but there’s more good than bad. I have no idea if it’s still in print, but if you get a chance, Star Wars Tales #20 is well worth a look.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


How the hell did I not know there was gonna be a Doom Patrol movie before today? Someone's fallin' asleep at the switch!

As much as I talk about Marvel comics here, I also love DC. God knows they get enough of my money. My favorite DC team is none other than the DOOM PATROL. No surprise really, as I grew up a Marvel kid and the DP is, in a of ways, a Marvel-style team.

I've liked the DP since I was introduced to them in NEW TEEN TITANS #13-15. Later, I went out and bought the silver-age books, as many as I could afford. Then came Grant Morrison's mid-90's run, reinventing the characters and producing some of the best, most surreal superhero comics I've ever read. I just re-read those, actually, and they still hold up.

I am a total "mark" for the DP, trying all the different takes DC has published since then. Some of which weren't so good. I am very happy with what Geoff Johns has been doing with the team over in Teen Titans lately, bringing the team back to it's roots while acknowledging the past.

All that said, the Doom Patrol has never been that popular. I'm amazed they're being considered for a movie and frankly, I'll believe it when I see it. You better believe that if there is a Doom Patrol movie, I'll be first in line.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bloggin' 'bout THE BEETLE

Time to explain something about my tastes… I’ve always had a huge soft spot for Marvel’s seeming army of second- and third-rate super-villains. MODOK, Mysterio, The Porcupine, StiltMan, Sandman, and the Frightful Four: I fully realize how ridiculous many of them are, but what can I say? I love them all.

To me, THE BEETLE has always been one of the coolest looking of the B-list villains. Despite having the standard issue Green and Purple color scheme of the day, The Beetle stood out with his spooky looking bug-eyed helmet, spotted wings, and his freakish suction cup tipped googly-fingers. When I was a kid, I mostly read Spider-Man, and the first time I saw the Beetle Drawn by kinda weirded me out!

In classic comic-book-disgruntled-scientist tradition, Abner Jenkins started off with a chip on his shoulder. Probably tired of "Dogpatch" jokes and denied a promotion, he skulked off with his prototype Beetle armor, and embarked on a career in crime. He was perhaps a bit overconfident initially:

Let me say it: That would only happen in the MOST AWESOME HISTORY CLASS EVER.

He went on to become a punching bag for the entire Marvel Universe in general, and Spidey in particular. In the mid-80s, he upgraded his armor to a sleek new John Byrne Model, but it did little to help his career. Finally fed up with years of failure, he jumped at Baron Zemo’s offer to join the Thunderbolts. Today, as M.A.C.H. IV, Abe Jenkins has followed a long difficult path to redemption.

Apparently, for Thunderbolts #104 someone actually reached into my brain, and pulled out a single comic tailor made just for me. A comic marred only by the lack of MODOK. (But then, what non-MODOK comic isn’t?) It has, more-or-less in order: The Thunderbolts, The U-Foes, The Porcupine (welcome back, old haystack), The Eel, The Mongoose, The Ox, Cobra, The Unicorn, Quicksand. And best of All…

THE BEETLE BRIGADE. Not one, not two, but THREE Beetles, led by M.A.C.H. IV. The third and largest Beetle armor was introduced a few years ago in Thunderbolts #48.

While nobody in the story actually calls them THE BEETLE BRIGADE, that's certainly what they should be called.

Immediately and without a doubt: Again With the Comics APPROVED.

Random Disturbing Dick Tracy Strip of the Week

Each week, a random, disturbing DICK TRACY comic strip, offered without further comment. This week’s:

Saturday, July 15, 2006


The Mindless Ones first appeared in Strange Tales # 127, and they are AWESOME. They pretty much just exist to fight and smash and blast everything in sight with their eye beams. Absolutely brilliant.

Obviously added to inject an element of physical peril to the mystical threat of Dormammu, the creatures posed a dire threat to Doctor Strange when he visited the Dark Dimension. They've been little used since, but not for much longer. I can't wait to see what Ellis and Immomen do with them when they them show up in Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #8.




Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Random Disturbing Dick Tracy Strip of the Week

Each week, a random, disturbing DICK TRACY comic strip, offered without further comment. This week’s:

Saturday, July 08, 2006


SPOILER WARNING: I’m going to discuss events in this weeks comics, specifically BEYOND! #1 so if you don’t wanna be SPOILED, read that first, then come back.

Sincerely – Spoily McSpoiler III

This was the most-anticipated book of the week for me. Dwayne McDuffie wrote some of the best episodes of the outstanding Justice League Unlimited TV show, and when I heard about BEYOND! I knew it was a must-have.

The basic setup of BEYOND! is simple: Combine 1984's Secret Wars # 1 with an interesting mix of modern-day B- and C-Listers, and watch the fur fly. McDuffie chooses a fun mix of characters, as the Beyonder repeats his cosmic combat challenge to the likes of The Hood, Kraven the Hunter, Gravity, Medusa, Venom, and others.

By the way, I've never been a big fan of Venom, Eddie Brock style, but I quite like seeing Mac Gargan in the role, his ascension to the big time. The tail added in this issue was a perfect idea, adding something of the Scorpion to Venom's existing schtick.

Medusa has also been underused, and she 's among the abducted. she gets a good scene with Spider-Man, and looks to throw down with Venom next.

Can I cast my vote for Gravity to take up the "relatable everyman" character? You know, the role that everyone seems to think is essential to Spider-Man, but that he in fact long ago vacated? He's the POV in this issue, so he gets some good screen time here.

I'm one of the few who enjoyed Get Kraven, so I dug seeing him in here. I fully expected that the next time someone used him, they'd get nostalgic, and make him act like his dad. "I have taken on the spirit of my father..bla bla bla..." I'm glad they didn't go that route.

I like the art too.

So in short: BEYOND!#1 = Again with the Comics APPROVED.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Random Disturbing Dick Tracy Strip of the Week

Each week (ideally), a random, disturbing DICK TRACY comic strip, offered without further comment. This week’s:

Superman vs. Dan Clowes

Is it just me, or does this midget from Superman #136 look exactly like he stepped out of the pages of an early issue of Eightball?