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Thread: Ode to Troy

  1. #1
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    Default Ode to Troy

    Warning: Image Heavy. TL;DRness.

    The Whys and Wherefores

    The point of this post isn't to convert people to liking Donna Troy or becoming a fan of her character. I believe that is all pertaining to ones personal taste and approach to enjoying fiction, so that's not really my job or duty. It's not to convert, but to display. To combat memetic thinking on a message board is like trying to run up into the sky, I know that. Thoughts and ideas self replicate and become alive as they jump like parasites from brain to brain, specifically used for humorous purposes. Of course, they eventually are used for dismissiveness, even when they have the best of intentions or even rationality behind them.

    This post isn't a defense of Donna Troy. It's more of a tribute that showcases her differences from Diana, and exhibits why some people have a strong respect or attachment to a character that has arguably suffered from DC's continuity mess more than any other, bar Hawkman. There is much memetic thinking applied to Donna's character, some of it true, some of it isn't. That her origin story is perplexingly confusing (it is), that her power set is inconsistent (it is), that she's dated all of the Titans and has a long history, lovelife wise (she hasn't, she only dated one ... Wally propositioned her for dates, but she always turned him down; she doesn't), that she dumped Kyle Rayner for Roy Harper (she didn't), and so on.

    Mission

    I will take you to a time before Bryne, before Darkstars and depowerings and family fridging. A time that most people have popularized into defining Donna Troy by her relationship with fandom-reviled Terry Long, rather than look at her as an individual. The story arc I am going to show from The New Teen Titans, Volume2, Issues #20-22, is probably an odd choice. Donna Troy has just had the Titans left in her hands after Nightwing has quit, and despite her great strategizing and supportive ways, is doing a pisspoor job of leading (Donna usually is excellent at this) because of the stress accumulating in her life. These issues exhibit her layered relationship with Dick Grayson, her philosophical clashing (but ultimate respect, regardless) for Hawk (for people who don't know much about the original Hawk and Dove, this might get you a bit interested), and the roots of her lingering affection for Jason Todd. She isn't at her best here, but she's at one of her most interesting times. And, most importantly, Diana would have handled her situation entirely different.

    So first, we have to look at what Donna is dealing with. Dick is gone searching for Raven, Vic and Gar are off after Mentos, Koriand'r is in space, Tempest/Garth is depressed over the loss of Tula and slightly suicidal, Jason is an inexperienced but wide-eyed last-minute stand in for Dick, Hawk is being driven over the edge by the death of his brother, Dove, Wally is dealing with being the Flash now that Barry is gone, and Roy just got out of his mess with Chesire (or so he thinks). Sound like an ideal team to represent the Titans on an overseas mission in Russia to handle Chesire and her mercenaries to you?







    Donna is already met with tension at the reuniting of the Titans. They're all being pulled in different directions (wow, isn't it sad that the current Titans book is basically the same plot, only poorly written? It kind of shows how little everything has developed with this lot), half of them aren't up to getting involved with politics, and Dick's resignation has demoralized most of the team. Hawk's disdain for communism is only being fueled by the slipping grip on sanity he has now that his brother has been killed for his peaceful ways. Wally isn't feeling this at all.

    He demands to know why the Titans have been called for this job, and not another team. Donna explains it is because they've fought the mercenary that has been hired by the communists: Chesire.

    Obviously, Roy is elated.

    While Jason is genuinely excited to be with the Titans, Roy shows hesitance, which concerns Donna and irritates Hawk. The man lives up to his name and calls Roy a wuss for it. Of course, none of the Titans at this point know of Roy's clandestine affair he had with Chesire, or that she has his daughter.



    Wally's in, while Garth is apathetic about it all. Donna tries to talk to him about it and be supportive, but he tells her she can't comprehend what he's going through, basically. Don't worry, Garth! Get Donna in a few years and she totally will! We then have Donna flying the Titans jet and almost embedding it into the Twin Towers because she's so distracted with her previous failures. Good job, Donna. Meanwhile, Jason is cute and starry eyed.

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    Default Part Two

    The Titans, understandably, are like, "What the hell, Donna?" Donna is apologetic as they enter the cabin that will house the Titans during their mission, and reveals she is wavering in confidence when it comes to how the team will work together on this mission. Her concerns seem justified, and the tension of the moment is perfectly caught with everyones body language. Man, I miss Perez! Anyway. They hear something outside, so Wally decides to go take a look as the team Speedster. Unfortunately, if you know anything about Wally's canon at this point in time, his speed is limited. And so he ends up getting shot.



    Chesire shouts about a bomb, and Donna has the Titans scatter out of the cosy little get up they were staying in before the Titans all get blown to bits (never mind the fact that four out of the six Titans there all get killed anyway later on in canon!). Hawk is understandably cranky about almost getting blown up. Meanwhile, Donna has a ton of thought bubbles all the while jumping away from an explosion. She's got some brain, there! Jason goes in for the kill, but not literally, while Hawk actually does go in for the kill ...literally.



    Donna sees this, and has to divert her attention quickly to stop Hawk. Not only is he breaking Hero Code, but he's representing the US right now, and jeapordizing the entire mission.



    The two continue to fight, and Donna shouts that Koriand'r was somewhat excused with getting out of hand because she is from a different planet with different ethics. Hawk retorts that in war time, killing is not murder. Suddenly, it's Donna that gets out of hand.



    As she continues to crush Hawk against the tree and vent her stress at the poor man, Jason Todd desperately grips at Donna and shouts for her to stop. A mentally distressed Donna tosses Hawk aside, and tells Jason to handle the team, projecting Robin on to him. Jason, of course, has no idea what the hell to do as he is only fourteen at this time, or however old DC decides he was.
    Last edited by eligibility; 11-28-2009 at 08:50 AM.

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    Default Part Three

    And so, he tracks down Wonder Girl, confronting her on her impulsive decision and telling her he's just a kid, and that she needs to step up and be a leader no matter how much she doubts herself. Donna relents and the two share a moment. Later, after Chesire and her goons have escaped, the Titans have to follow them up north in terrible weather. Hawk and Donna have a more rational confrontation this time around, thankfully. Wonder Girl, the Flash, Aqualad and Hawk all go outside to search the area, while Jason notices Roy is acting off around Chesire, and before they can get into it, they are interrupted by a commotion outside. During a confrontation with the terrorists outside, Hawk grabs one and throws him off a cliff. Right in front of Donna.

    Oh Hawk. You made these issues so entertaining to me. A loose cannon, really, and Donna makes the last decision minute to jump off the cliff after the man. "But she can fly!" You say. Well, before her powers were retconned into who-knows-what, Donna could only glide on wind currents. In this weather, that doesn't mean good things. After a struggle, Donna Troy saves the terrorist, and ties him up to her so she can lead him in. Meanwhile, Chesire attacks Wally West, cutting him across the chest with her poison claws. Donna finds him, and has to drag him to medical help all the while keeping an eye on the terrorist she captured/saved. Meanwhile, the news reports on what a menace the Titans are. Chesire escapes, but her mission has failed. In this issue, she reveals Lian's existence to Roy, and shows her to him. It's quite touching :)



    As everything is put on hold until Wally West's recovery, Donna Troy calls the University Terry works at to try and get a hold of him, showing how she's trying to juggle the stress of her job and keeping her marriage together. She also thanks Jason Todd, and I think we all see the forming of a crush. Okay, well, I know I would have one if I were Jason, at least.


    Donna tells Hawk that they need to talk, meanwhile ... Terry is going through a severe case of writer's block and has been whining about it for the past few issues. He can't get a paper done in time for his University's standards, and he is "let go" from his job. Terry does what any loving husband would do...



    Blames his wife. And doesn't come home for three days. They work everything out, by working out I mean Donna gets pregnant and then she gives up her powers just for Terry and just so she can try to keep her marriage together and keep her family safe, despite loving being a Titan and growing up in the hero business.

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    Default Part Four

    You see, Donna keeps things in and tries to hold everyone together while neglecting to hold herself together. She's a caring and compassionate woman who will risk her lives for others, but isn't very smart about letting others in and handling the weight on her shoulders. She will do ANYTHING for her friends and is self sacrificing to an absurd level. But she's not a saint. She can be insecure, jealous, and doesn't rely on others to the point of absurdity at times. She's also got quite a temper:



    I could also post her throwing a forklift in anger at a bunch of criminals, but that would be redundant. She's kind of rough with those she loves, specifically Dick, as in that issue the two get into an all out physical tumble. The two love each other dearly, though, and have a very complex relationship.

    Throughout the Titans issues, we see Donna is quite entrapped in femininity in ways that Diana isn't. She has been socialized to openly get kittenish about boys she finds attractive, she enjoys dancing and fashion, she possesses a human beauty more than a Goddess beauty. She is more quick to get temperamental and is less likely to be diplomatic in all situations, but her compassion is based more on human experience than a larger Godly wisdom of human nature. She shows kindness to people like Hawk, Jason Todd, and Angle Man even after they have done revolting things, out of lingering attachment, loyalty, or just compassion for her enemies. She's also grown up as the confidante to a bunch of people, mainly distressed men such as Dick, Roy, Wally West, Garth, Kyle, and Terry. She has helped a bunch of people in a way of not offering this otherworldly understanding and helpfulness that Diana offers, but more of a motherly affection and concern.

    There are reasons why Donna Troy, despite suffering some terrible writing, has remained accessible and durable throughout the years. She helps out people in the least doctrinaire way; she's a mentor to rookies, a best friend and sister to the Titans, a lover to some, and a mother to most. She has had the tendency to be too hard on herself, to blame herself starting with the Titans falling apart, to her marriage with Terry failing, all the way to Terry's and Robert's deaths. As much as I disagree with her family being killed off, and the reasons given for it by the writers, Donna Troy can only become an inspiring woman as she rebuilds her life and finds happiness despite being a bereaved mother.

    She became depowered and then entered the Darkstar program for who knows why, with neglected Lantern John Stewart. She also became the girlfriend of Kyle Rayner, but was never just "Kyle Rayner's girlfriend", despite being in his book. She had her own friends, her own family, her own team and her own goals and hobbies. The two had a very real and endearing relationship to me, but its ending and resolution was about as well-written and detailed as the rest of Donna's life at that point. Unclear, confusing, and not very well understood.

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    Default Finale

    Donna then suffered most of her relationships being flattened, with the exception of a few. Koriand'r had only been an on-again-off-again Titan at that point, and their friendship wasn't exhibited as much. Dick and Donna still had their moments, but were shoved in separate directions. Wally West got married and got his own series, though he played a big role in reconstructing Donna's identity (or destroying it, however you look at it) with his memories of her, and allowing her to confide in him in the Wonder Woman series after seeing Kyle distressed her during a turbulent time with Diana's 20th near death or death or whatever it was. Donna and Roy gave their relationship another shot, but it was doomed from the start, as she had not even known who she was at that point and was using him to find out who she was more than out of a real desire to be with him. Donna had lost her family, still had an ambiguous relationship with Diana (that Jimenez tried to fix), and pretty much ignored Kyle's existence despite Kyle continuously acknowledging hers in his book. Was this because Donna didn't care?



    Not so much. More like writers just didn't care about most of her relationships, as only Girl Frenzy did a good job of addressing that and her feelings for Terry, too. The love she still had for both men and the guilt she held. And this was in, what, 1998?



    Since then, Donna has been reconstructed, much like she was with Wally's memories, except it has been with a writer's vision of fixing her or something. She's been killed, brought back into a new role, had that role discarded, ran around the multiverse with bad lines, then sat in a Titans book about how much the Titans can't stand each other these days.

    Blackest Night has generally given Donna fans some happiness as to her leadership, conviction to do what's right without showing fear, and the love she has for her family and friends. Will Robinson do her justice (pun not intended)? Who knows. Let us just hope none of these things are irrevocable. Donna Troy is set apart from her sister in many ways, good and bad. Her morals are much more circumstancial. She's quicker to temper over petty things. She's more insecure than Diana is. She's much more traditionally feminine in the modern western concept of what femininity is. She's more unstable. The confiding she offers is more of one where she can relate to you and wants to take care of you, rather than inspire you and offer you some keys to going on the right path. She's an artist, a romantic, and much more physically inclined. She's also more humorous and domineering.

    This of course is when she's not written as a bland blob of identity mess!

    Will she be fixed? Will she be killed off for good? Will she shine in the future, or will she just fade off into more obscurity? Only time and talent will tell. I personally like Donna Troy for a few reasons. She originally was kind of a bubbly, fun girl that liked to party without going overboard. In her youth, she enjoyed herself with a bunch of her guy friends while still focusing on her studies and the arts. The moment she got into a serious relationship with an older man, she dressed more conservatively and settled down into a resigned mother role, one of which she was fully ready to take on. It was impressive and interesting and different for a sex symbol in comics to do such a thing. She remained incredibly loyal and faithful to her husband while engaging in complex and deep friendships with the men on her team, that weren't overly romanticized. When her marriage began to fall apart, as editorially forced as it was, it felt real in a sense. Terry was an ordinary guy, which wouldn't and shouldn't automatically disqualify him from being able to work it out with a superheroine. However, Donna was public with her identity, and not very careful about protecting it. It cost her family quite a few times, and Terry got understandably fed up and afraid. His own shortcomings, his unresolved relationship issues with his ex wife, and the way he rushed into things with Donna led to the end of their marriage. Donna then dates someone in complete contrast to Terry: Kyle Rayner. Both were sensitive ordinary "joe shmoe" guys, into art, but Kyle was young and inexperienced. With Terry, Donna had to prod him into responsibility and still seemed the more mature one at times. But Kyle was someone who had gone through loss and was dealing with trying to fit in with a superhero community, many of which his age had grown up in the business. She helped and taught him, and let him confide in her about Alex. They had a kind of "woman as the mentor" relationship that is rare in comics, I find, and envetually that all went to crap for very little reasons given at all. Donna also had a complicated and interesting relationship with Roy Harper afterward, where there was obvious love there but the circumstances were all wrong. Her relationship with Dick Grayson is one of the most functional and close male-female relationships in all of the DC Universe. Her friendship with Wally was strong, and though wrought with some minor complications, interesting. Much of this has been discarded today.

    Donna's life has been full of hardships. First, they were believable. She was confused about her past, she had a hard marriage and was afraid for her child's life. She wanted to keep her team together, and balance her career and family and superheroing. She wanted to keep her new relationship together. Then weird crap happened, she lost her identity, then died, then came back, etc. None of that has changed who she WAS, though, which is where my respect for her comes. For her to pull through all of this would be a surprise and a welcome one. It would be inspiring as a person and impressive as a character. But if her character never recovers from the banal crises she has been put through, in a canon and meta way, it's understandable. There is a purity and directness in Diana's communication that always has spoken to me, just as Donna's very accessible way of conveying grace and trust, even in her moments of greatest agony, that speaks to me. She's a great friend to so many, above all, without being perfect. Far from it, actually. Even in her moments of greatest despair, Donna Troy has impressed me as a character as she's gone through hopelessness and helplessness and emerged from it enriched and encouraged, er... no matter how many times that is forgotten in the next issue.


    She is a very human and flawed woman. She loses it, sometimes. She doesn't practice what she preaches always (she tells people to open up, yet does not do it herself). She holds a lot in, and when she lets it out, it can get dangerous or irrational. Love her or hate her, she's only "Wonder Woman Lite" in her powers, sometimes. Her personality is very VERY different!

  6. #6
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    I remember all of this being posted on scans_daily a long time ago.

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    Ah yes, back when the community was still up on lj. Those were the days. IJ had a couple of panels posted in this during a Jason Todd History post, I believe. I think this is one of the better issues of the entire Titans series, the arc is fantastic and the characterization is fascinating to me.

  8. #8

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    holy wow, this must've took a while to write.

    thanks for the reminders of why I love this woman, though it's a damn shame because they just make me cringe at how most people can't seem to grasp even her main personality traits.!!

    donna and diana are quite different, and I am hoping future writers remember that donna loved her family, donna loves her friends, donna loves her exes, and donna still has bonds that should not be ignored.

    Much Love,
    Miss Ferris of the Sapphire Corps.

    P.S., can we get a grasp on her powers please

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eligibility View Post
    Love her or hate her, she's only "Wonder Woman Lite" in her powers, sometimes. Her personality is very VERY different!
    I don't know, it looks like they both spend a lot of time being confused and depressed. Of course, that describes a lot of superheroes these days.
    -JKC-
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    I don't know, it looks like they both spend a lot of time being confused and depressed. Of course, that describes a lot of superheroes these days.
    The major traits that define both characters, I believe, are represented and conveyed in very different ways though. Through vastly different relationships, temperaments, and acts.

    As for the flaws of their writing? Everything from continuity shifts and errors to power inconsistencies to being shells of their former, happier selves are disturbingly similar. However, as you said, that can be said of a lot of heroes today.
    Miss Ferris of the Sapphire Corps: Fighting hate with LOVE.
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