Many longtime DC Comics fans probably know Donna Troy as the original Wonder Girl, teenage sidekick to Wonder Woman, longtime member of the Teen Titans. They also probably know Donna’s backstory is a convoluted mess.
There’s a really good reason for that. Donna was added to the Titans by mistake and creators have been trying to fix that screw-up ever since.
The original Teen Titans story was a simple team-up between three of the Justice League’s sidekicks, Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash. The team-up was successful, so, after a few follow-ups, a regular series occurred, and the Titans would go off on adventures together. Feeling the need to add another, female character, the creators added Wonder Girl, and sometimes Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy would show up to help out.
Those early Titans stories are something else. The Titans reportedly go to help teenagers in danger, often in the DC way of conforming to any and all authority figures. The foursome would show up at wherever they were invited walking arm-in-arm with these creepy Children of the Corn grins, and they spoke in what the middle-aged writers of these series thought was current teenage slang (for example, Wonder Girl was often addressed as “Wonder Chick” and she didn’t have any problem with that).
But, see, there was a problem with adding Wonder Girl. Wonder Girl was not actually Wonder Woman’s teenage sidekick. She was Wonder Woman’s teenage self. Any adventures the two shared were due to weird magical or time travel shenanigans that allowed the adult Wonder Woman to team up with her younger self, occasionally also including a pre-teen version known as “Wonder Tot”. Her mother Hippolyta also often joined in. The idea was to create a family, not a sidekick-mentor relationship. Sticking Wonder Girl on the Teen Titans would have been the same as putting Superboy there, and no one made the mistake of thinking Superboy was Superman’s sidekick.
So, what to do with this Wonder Girl? That has become the obsession of various Teen Titan and Wonder Woman writers ever since. The character was given a name, Donna Troy. At various points, she’s even gone by her real name, or some weird superhero version of it (“Troia”). But her origins…
At different points in time, Donna Troy has been:
- An orphaned girl rescued from a fire by Wonder Woman who took her to be raised on the island home of the Amazons and eventually granted powers similar to Wonder Woman by the Titans of Myth.
- A magical duplicate of Diana created to give the young Wonder Woman a playmate while she was growing up.
- The only individual in the multiverse who had the memories and knowledge of all versions of herself after the original Crisis compressed all Earths into one world.
- The mother of a future demigod/despot named Lord Chaos.
- During a powerless period she was a member of the intergalactic peacekeeping force, the Darkstars.
- A cursed soul forced into endless reincarnations that were guaranteed to force her to suffer great tragedies, with her life being erased and rebooted every time she was at her lowest.
- Killed by a rogue Superman Robot, but not for long.
That last one is a bit interesting, actually. During the Blackest Night storyline, various heroes who’d been resurrected were infected by Black Lantern rings and turned into mindless servants to Nekron. Donna was among them, but not because she’d come back from the dead, but because her young son returned as a Black Lantern and bitten her.
Yes, Donna was even a wife and mother at one point, but the rest of her family were killed in a car accident. She and her husband Terry had already been estranged, but Terry was always a little creepy in his Teen Titans appearances, possibly because artist George Perez modeled him after writer Marv Wolfman, and seeing the clearly older guy just hanging around the Titans and flirting with Wonder Girl is kind of weird and creepy and sounds more like some awful fanfic than the best-selling book DC had at that time.
The New 52 did introduce a new Donna Troy at one point, one that would ideally have a clean slate and would make more sense than every other attempt to clean up a Silver Age error. But really, whatever her new story is, just toss it on the pile until someone else comes up with a bright idea to “fix” Donna Troy. Can’t be any worse than her dead husband…