The New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy?
Poor Donna Troy. She’s had so many names — Wonder Girl, Troia, Darkstar — costumes, and origins over the years. Somehow, she’s still managed to develop a dedicated fanbase, and The New Teen Titans: Who Is Donna Troy? should have been the retrospective she deserved, leading to more fans discovering her.
Unfortunately, the publisher instead decided to use it to plug their next big crossover, as though there weren’t enough comics already tied into that mess. The uncredited introduction begins by declaring that “the stories in this volume… are all leading up to something epic. Donna may very well hold the key to the INFINITE CRISIS [sic] that lies ahead…”
Once again, the character is misused as justification for someone else’s pet cause, shoehorned into a story that I’m expecting to be ill-suited to her. This could have been a perennial collection. After all, people have been talking about the first story it reprints, the one that gave the collection its name, since Marv Wolfman and George Pérez first created it twenty years ago. But good stories done by talented creators aren’t enough any more; we’ve got to be sold this book based on promises that she’s going to have a future in the DC Universe, that she’ll be “an all-new and important figure in the DC Universe!” (The repetition of that phrase is theirs, not mine. And if she’s going to be “all-new”, why should a new fan bother reading this collection?)
I just can’t get past the stupidity of the cover copy and introduction. Here’s another ill-thought line: “Reprinted here are arguably their most important works to date.” Doesn’t that ignore the existence of a little Wolfman/Pérez title called Crisis on Infinite Earths? And doesn’t ignoring that contradict all the latest news about how Infinite Crisis follows on directly from it?
Ok, ok, I’m moving on to actually talking about the comics now. It’s a nice, substantial collection on thick paper with good reproduction. The art shows its age a little, with design elements that remind me of the 80s, but that’s part of the charm… and it goes along with the over-dramatic dialogue and narration. (“Now, years later, I know I did love her, more than I ever could if I were only her lover,” thinks Robin.)
These weren’t art comics; they were just very good superhero reads. They aimed to be the best of what people thought comics were at the time, stretching to tell a more meaningful story.
Donna Troy doesn’t know much about her past. She was rescued as a child from a fire that orphaned her and taken to Wonder Woman’s home of Paradise Island, where she was raised as an adopted Amazon. She’s about to be married (to writer Wolfman’s stand-in Terry Long), but she’s concerned that she knows nothing about her parents. Her close friend Dick Grayson (Robin) sets out to find out what he can.
That’s only the first story, a packed tale with all kinds of discoveries for Donna. Following that comes the extra-sized issue that shows her wedding. There are a ton of characters that attend, as you’d expect, and several of them get enough of a focus to make this sensible for those unfamiliar with the wide Titans cast and their friends and families.
After that, a text page explains that after Crisis, Wonder Woman became younger, so she couldn’t have been the one to save Donna years ago. That leads into “Who Is Wonder Girl?”, a five-chapter storyline that was only the first redefinition of the character. At the end of a complex battle involving the Titans of Myth, Troia debuted with a new, more complicated origin. If either it or her costume had been simpler, perhaps they would have stuck, but simplicity isn’t what Wolfman or Pérez are known for.
Once it’s been done once, others think that redefinitions are open game. Thankfully, John Byrne’s misogynistic tweaks to the character are ignored in this book. The last story is Phil Jimenez’s eulogy to the character after her brief death at the hands of a Superman robot (and yes, it was as silly as that sounds). The dark colors and grim expressions throughout not only suit this story; they also symbolize the difference between what artists today aim for contrasted with the happier, older tales.
As a result, the book is an interesting piece of comics history that extends beyond the reprinted material. It’s a shame that so many people have tried so hard with the character over the years. Her story and the ways she’s been changed have become that of the superhero comics genre in many ways.