I took a small break from reading comics over the holidays to decompress and read a few regular books. After that brief repast, I dove back into “the shelf” with a renewed vigor, eager to find out just what would happen next.
The next trade in the collection, The New Teen Titans: Who is Donna Troy? features stories detailing Donna Troy’s mysterious past. The first portion of the trade focuses on her pre-crisis history, reminding readers how Wonder Woman saved her from a burning building and brought her back to Paradise Island to be raised by the Amazons. We later learn the truth about Donna’s adoptive family and even her birth mother. With this news, she happily marries Terry Long, a wedding prominently featured in a Teen Titans issue.
On this perfect day, Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons makes a rare appearance to wish the couple happiness. Surrounded by friends and loved ones, the couple enjoys a rare, peaceful day, in which no tragedies or shakeups occur.
I must admit that while it was nice to see the wedding, this particular issue felt a bit lackluster to me, if only because there weren’t any big shakeups or villains to defeat. I understand the issue’s importance in the overall story, but I was happy to be through it and on to more exciting stories.
Here the trade takes a sharp right turn. While all of these issues were being published, Crisis was occurring, and as a result many character’s backstories were changing. Donna Troy’s was one that had to change out of necessity, as it no longer made sense for Donna to have been rescued by Wonder Woman. The remainder of this trade focused on the new Donna Troy backstory, removing Wonder Woman from the equation and creating a brand new history for her character.
This is where the trade began to feel more gripping at the same time that it started to lose me. I enjoyed Donna’s backstory and the revelation that she was saved by the Titans and given all of her powers to act as a savior for their race:
However, it is also frustrating to have such a well-established character’s backstory completely rewritten. I understand the need to rewrite her story to make it fit with the new continuity, but at the same time I dislike having to relearn a character’s history. Knowing that there are numerous “Crises” on “the shelf”, I can only imagine how many different times this will happen. I’m just hoping all of these re-vamps don’t start to detract from the overarching story.
Sure, I may be nitpicking at this a bit, but I guess there’s a part of me that wants the entire 60+ years of comics to tie together cohesively. Obviously that’s not entirely possible, and there will always be gaps or necessary rewrites to make that happen. I suppose I still have to get used to reading comics and appreciating them as single issues or perhaps just as a particular run, rather than attempting to fit them all together into one seamless storyline. After all, with decades worth of stories and untold numbers of writers and artists, it only makes sense that there would need to be changes and retcons to make everything flow as smoothly as possible.
While the story of Donna Troy presented here was enjoyable to read, I couldn’t help buy feel that one of the trade’s strengths was also a weakness. Wolfman and Perez craft these stories so deftly that they create an entire world within their comics, with various characters coming and going and past events often alluded to. The stories are written assuming the reader has read each New Teen Titans issue; had I done so, I’m sure I would have absolutely loved the cohesiveness of the comic. As it stands, there are numerous issues I haven’t read, and so there were a number of references I didn’t get or know about (for example, apparently Tara (aka Terra) died at some point). Again, this may play to my need for completion, something it is very difficult to obtain in comics. I’m sure if I went back and read the entire New Teen Titans I would revel in these allusions to past events, but reading the story like this made it feel a bit disjointed and incomplete.
As the trade closed, Donna revealed a new identity to go along with her new backstory:
Donna Troy shed her identity of Wonder Girl (a bit of a misnomer now since she has no association with Wonder Woman) and became Troia, taken from the name the Titans had given her. Although her new look feels quintessentially “80’s” and I initially balked at this new character, looking back I can understand the reason for this change. Creating a new identity for Donna would have made it difficult to keep track of pre- and post-crisis Wonder Girl. With this change, Wolfman and Perez allowed readers to easily delineate the two Donna Troy stories in their mind. I just hope she comes to her senses and changes that god-awful outfit…
While the individual stories featured here left a few holes in the overall narrative (holes likely filled by issues I haven’t read), the trade itself serves a clear purpose on “the shelf”. With so much changing after the events in Crisis, it was only natural for the writers to reimagine certain characters and change their backstories to fit into this new continuity. Although I may not always love the fact that these changes have to occur, I can’t deny that Donna Troy’s story was handled with deft hands in this collection.