Saturday, May 29, 2010

Okay, I'll Bite...Who IS Donna Troy?

I geeked out a little more than usual today at the comic shop, picking up some stuff beyond this week's stack.
One of those extras was the trade "Who Is Donna Troy?" which collects the many attempts that were made to fit the character of Donna Troy into continuity.
That was no easy task, given the way the character came about, and the retroactive changes to the history of the DC Universe that occurred afterwards.
For anyone reading this who isn't Scott - though I'm not sure why anyone other than Scott would be reading this - Donna Troy is the alter ego of the super heroine who, for most of her career, was known as Wonder Girl.
(Or, as her male teammates frequently referred to her in her earliest adventures in the swinging 60s, "Wonder Chick," or "Wonder Gal.")
Donna was first introduced in 1965 as a member of the youthful super-group the Teen Titans, a team that consisted of the kid sidekicks of heroes like Batman and the Flash.
In putting together the team of teen heroes, writer Bob Haney clearly felt that they needed a female presence, and since all of the male members were teen counterparts to established heroes, he decided to go with the teen counterpart to Wonder Woman, who had made several appearances in old Wonder Woman comics.
There was just one problem.
Unlike, say, Kid Flash, or Aqualad, who were actually individual characters who were distinct from their mentors, the Wonder Girl who'd appeared in Wonder Woman comics was, as with Superboy and Superman, actually Wonder Woman as a teenager.
But you can't really blame Haney for being confused. After all, there had been stories that had featured Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl in action together. Hell, those adventures often included Wonder Tot.
(Sadly, I'm not kidding. Yes, Wonder Tot was Wonder Woman as a little kid, much like Superbaby.)
So how could this be, if Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, and (*sigh*) Wonder Tot were all the same person? Clearly it couldn't. That would be impossible.
Which is why the stories that featured the three different versions of the same character were referred to as "Impossible Stories."
Literally, that's what they were called. Superman had "Imaginary Stories," which told of things that could never happen in the real continuity (Superman marries Lois! Lana Lang marries Lex Luthor! Perry White insists that everyone call him "Chief!" Superman gives Brainiac a reacharound!), and Wonder Woman had "Impossible Stories."
So yeah, the character who would eventually be known as Donna Troy was nothing but trouble right from the start.
Eventually a backstory was created for Donna.
It turns out that, as an infant, she was rescued from a burning building by Wonder Woman. As she was an apparent orphan, Wonder Woman decided to bring her home with her to Paradise Island to be raised as an Amazon. Using their advanced technology to impart it to her, each Amazon donated a portion of her strength to the infant, giving her all of the powers of Wonder Woman. Donna was raised by Queen Hyppolyta - Wonder Woman's mother - and WW considered Donna to be her little sister.
There was still a problem with this, in that this would mean that Wonder Woman had been active in "Man's World" for much longer than what had been established as current continuity, but that objection was generally greeted with some dismissive hand-waving, and everyone was happy.
In the early 1980s, there was an issue of New Teen Titans entitled "Who Is Donna Troy?" in which Dick Grayson - who was, at the time, between identities, having given up the role of Robin, but not yet having taken on the role of Nightwing - was tasked by a soon-to-be married Donna to find out who she really was and to determine if she had any blood relatives.
It was a great story - and was selected, justifiably, as one of "The Greatest Marv Wolfman Stories Ever Told" 0ver at Comics Should Be Good - and, having been trained by the World's Greatest Detective, Dick managed to track down Donna's identity and a surviving family member.
Then Crisis on Infinite Earths happened. This was an event that completely rewrote the history of the DC Universe. It took a couple of years for things to completely shake out and for that new history to be written, but there was a major problem. In the new timeline, Wonder Woman had only recently started her career as a super heroine, and, indeed, was only a couple of years older than Donna.
So the question was asked, yet again, "Who is Donna Troy?" Yet another answer was put forth, but it wasn't exactly satisfactory, since the new history completely severed her ties with WW, and also made it seem strange that someone would show up calling herself Wonder Girl a few years before a completely unrelated person with the same powers and wearing a very similar costume shows up and is called Wonder Woman.
So then they changed some more stuff, and then still more, and then...well, and then I bought the trade that collects all of that stuff.
I also picked up some bags and boards and a couple of drawer boxes, as the stacks of unsorted and unarchived comics are piling up once again.
And finally I picked up Essential X-Men Volume 2, which reprints the classic Claremont/Byrne run, including "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past."
While the pure value of being able to get reprints of a huge number of comics for a low price makes up for it, most of the time I do lament the lack of color in the Marvel Essential line (and DC's Showcase Presents line), but honestly, in the case of the X-Men collection I picked up today, the lack of color is a feature, not a bug. I don't mean any disrepect to the colorist(s) on the original, and I would really like to see some Absolute Edition style collection of "The Dark Phoenix Saga." In fact, if Marvel put out something comparable to that reprint of The Rocketeer that I bought last year - a book that is so beautiful that I asked it to marry me; it said that it was flattered, but that things are getting kind of series between it and my Absolute Edition of Watchmen - I would buy the hell out of it.
But honestly, the lack of color in that Essential collection just drives home the mind-blowing beauty of the art. In stark black and white, Byrne's pencils complement by Terry Austin's inks are

Jon's Impotent Rage: Free Sample!

I hate when stores give free samples.
Why is that? Here's a list:

  1. Doing so encourages - and even requires - store employees to try to talk to me. Further, many of the people giving out free samples seem to think that they missed their calling and were meant to be carnival barkers. Honestly, do I look like someone whose day is going to be brightend by your cheerful attempts at engaging me in conversation?
  2. They encourage customers to stand around. People stop dead in their tracks and get in my way enough as it is; they don't need an excuse.
  3. While I'm not as creeped out in a borderline-autistic way by it as some people I know, the sight and sound of people eating as they walk around the store is pretty unappealing. I could do without all of the chewing and slobbering.
  4. Free samples are one of the main reasons I can't seem to grab a shopping cart that hasn't been used as a previous customer's personal landfill. They're all full of little sample cups and greasy, crumpled up napkins. I'm surprised I don't have to fight off Sea Gulls to get to the cart sometimes.

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

Doesn't Rocketeer know that Watchmen won't treat her right? I mean, sure, it comes off all intelligent and savvy, but deep down, it has a dark and twisted soul.