Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Night Murals: If at first you don't succeed...*

Hey, look, it's Donna Troy! Or, as Speedy knows her, Wonder Chick. You know, fans bicker about Wonder Woman recently changing her costume from bathing suit to work-out clothes, but nobody pays attention to how many times her baby sister goes for an all-new fashion. Pick a look and stick with it, Donna!

The Titans

The Titans #23-25 (January-March 2001), art by Phil Jimenez, Richard Horie, and Tanya Horie
(Click picture to mythologi-size)

Yep, that's pretty much the entire convoluted history of Donna Madonna Troy in three interconnecting covers right there—even including Captain Nazi-Helmet, Kole "Cannon Fodder" Weathers, and creepy ex-husband Terry Long, who was voted only the second most loathsome Terry Long out of all the Terry Longs there are.

Of course, you already know the tale of Donna Troy, right? Well, maybe not. These days, you can stop someone on the street and demand that they tell you who Donna Troy is, and pretty much everyone will punch you in the face. But we all forget the days when millions thrilled to Fess Parker's melodious "The Ballad of Donna Troy" and kids excitedly ran around in their red leotards—the era when Wonder Girl totally ruled, man. Remember? Remember? Remember? ember ember ember

Once upon a time, in the days of legends, comic book writers of olde searched for new stories with which to entertain ye kiddes. And lo, they did look upon the summit of Mount Weisinger, and they did spy yonder "Superboye," wither...oh, heck, I can't talk like this the whole post. They copied their successful Superboy feature and introduced tales of Wonder Woman when she was still attending Themyscira High, home of the Fightin' Femizons: the teenage Diana, Wonder Girl!:

Wonder Girl

So successful were these tales of Wonder Woman 90210, DC immediately introduced the next natural character: Wonder Tot! Or, as I like to call her, Jim Henson's Wonder Baby. And then, in either a nod or a blatant rip-off of the Superman's office's "Imaginary Tales" (or, as Mort Weisinger liked to call them "Swan! Draw me a cover with Jimmy Olsen as a Viking and Superman wearing a gingham dress!"), the Double-W staff dreamed up their "Impossible Stories": comic books, really, get this: Wonder Woman's mom made magic super 8 films in which Wonder Woman met, and teamed up with, herself at different ages. Years later, Marty McFly would hit upon the same money-making scheme, but it was too late, and not acrobatic enough:

Wonder Girl

The youngest member of this titanic trio the language-challenged Wonder Tot, three times voted America's Favorite Tot until losing in '65 to the Tater. With her cute pudgy toddler body and endearing failure to understand how pronouns worked, Wonder Tot surfed her way in our hearts. Until she was killed in Vietnam. Naw, just pullin' yer chain, there. She never made it past the military physical.

Wonder Girl

She and her Hulk-like diction soon starred their way towards solo stories of "the saucy Amazon babe." Um, okay, thank you, comics.

Wonder Girl

Also, there was Gloop, who now stars in an entire licensed line of comics and graphic novels produced by DC. Who can forget last year's multi-billion-dollar grossing Gloop: The Motion Picture or his surprise guest appearance on TV's CSI: Central City?

Wonder Girl

Not long after this, Robert Kanigher killed them all off and introduced a giant talking egg. Which only goes to show.

But you can't keep a good Wonder down. Wonder Girl, now called "Donna," soon popped up again as a member of of the all-hip, all-with-it Teen Titans, DC's first all-non-driving-licensed, unable to step into a bar, can't see Midnight Cowboy-action team. The story goes that Titans creator Bob Haney didn't realize Wonder Girl was supposed to be Wonder Woman and assumed she was Wonder Woman's teenage sidekick. Which means that the origin of W.G. has been much-discussed for decades because technically she doesn't exist. As opposed, of course, to all the real people that really exist in the real universe, like Batman and Metamorpho and Julius Schwartz.

Wonder Girl

As the first of Wonder Girl's many costumes, it was a classic look, and it remains part of her retro history to this day. Even though yes, it does look like pajamas.

Wonder Girl

But you know, those girls...they can't go without changing their outfits every twenty minutes. (Like, I can understand how Veronica has so many different outfits, but how come you don't see Betty wearing the same clothes twice?) Anyways, welcome the all-new, all-different, all-leotarded new Wonder Girl, now with poster-bustin' action!

Wonder Girl

The red leotard with gold stars is a look Donna would rock for years, altho' with some evolution. The W.G. of Earth-16-Going-on-17 introduced Cartoon Wonder Girl, complete with miniskirt and ponytail:

Wonder Girl

The classic red and gold look is how Donna busted burst back onto the scene in 1980's New Teen Titans, the comic book that put DC back in the big leagues by selling one bazillion jillion copies, by taking these classic characters and putting them in new, exciting, up-to-date adventures that mirrored the modern complex world, and popularizing a team of superheroes which include a green guy, the daughter of the devil, a girl in a metal bikini, and a teenager who still ran around in green spandex shorts. Among such a team of dynamic heroes Wonder Girl had to snazz herself up a little bit. So she unzipped her leotard down to there.

Wonder Girl

This was the outfit that Wonder Girl wore, fought in, and never popped out of for most of the run of New Teen Titans, with one short side trip to wear a different outfit to marry Young Marv Wolfman.

Wonder Girl

But the times they were a-changing, and the sales they were a-falling, so Donna Troy jettisoned the old red spandex and got out her waitressing outfit from Hercules' All-You-Can-Eat-BBQ-Hog-Pit to become the superheroine with the name that no one would be able to figure out her secret identity with: Troia! Also, she was still fightin' mad at posters.

Wonder Girl

But don't treat poor fashion-challenged Donna Troy too harshly, huh? It was the eighties...we all dressed like that. And by "we all" I mean Dick Greyson...


...whose outfit which has been charming exactly once in its history:


Eventually Donna joined...I dunno, izzat the Red Lanterns? The Blackhawks? The Superfreaks? Ah, heck, these were the days when DC published eighteen Lobo books a month, so basically anything went, even a red spandex outfit with a giant flying carrot on it. Thus she became a member of...The Vegetable Force!

Wonder Girl

How confusing were all these many identities and rewritten origins stories? So confusing that even John Byrne couldn't keep them straight. So, he did what anyone else would do in the same circumstance: called in the Donna Troy Squadron! (Motto: "When you've got trouble with a Donna Troy, call the Donna Troy Squadron and we'll definitely do something about it, or her, as the case may be.")

Wonder Girl

Eventually and sadly Donna Troy died of complications from a confusing origin, tragically too late for anyone, even Dr. Grant Morrison, to perform a crisisectomy on her. Immediately, of course, she came back from the dead. Which makes me wonder: what's the big deal with Christianity in the DC and Marvel Universes? Heck, if you live there, your mailman comes back from the dead, and you're not living by his scripture.

Wonder Girl

Donna Reborn was rockin' that Demolition Girl outfit you see above for a few issues, but later reverted to her now-current, basic and iconic "it's full of stars" costume. She made one small change only. Can you spot the difference in this "before and after" picture?

Wonder Girl

Of course, we all know Chekhov's famous maxim of the theatre: if you have a zipper in Act One, you're going to have to lower it in Act Two...

Wonder Girl

And, what the heck, at that point, you probably oughta hang around for Act Three, huh?

Wonder Girl

Also, Wonder Girl? Was Debra Winger.

Wonder Girl

So there ya go: the complete and unexpurgated history of Wonder Woman's sidekick, sister, younger self, and wife of Terry Long. Perhaps we haven't discovered who was Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, Troia, and Miss Carrot of Space Sector 2814, but we sure have gotten a good look at her many costumes, with the possible exception of the Hulkbuster Donna Armor, Wonder Girl Red and Blue, and Alien Symbiote Donna Troy, all available in action figure form now from DC Direct. DC Direct! Where 75% of our action figures are Superman and Batman!

Also, may I repeat: Debra Winger.

*Troy, troy, again.


J. L. Bell said...

Terry Long didn’t look like young Marv Wolfman. He looked like young Len Wein. George PĂ©rez knew who was signing off on the checks.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

Great explanation, and yet...I still don't care about Donna Troy. All things considered, though, she hasn't had a really terrible costume. Even the 1980s edition is at least vaguely Hellenistic, and by comparison with the eyesore that Nightwing had to suffer through (was that George Perez? And if so, is it the worst costume design he's ever done?), Donna got off easy.

Sphinx Magoo said...

Ha! "Young Marv Wolfman"... You totally had me with that one!

Jack said...

and by comparison with the eyesore that Nightwing had to suffer through (was that George Perez? And if so, is it the worst costume design he's ever done?)

I don't know, as bad as the Nightwing costume was, it debuted on the same page as Jericho's equally dreadful costume. Must have been a bad week or two for Perez. It was the 80s, though, so weird fashions were pretty much inevitable, even in comics.

Nimbus said...

Wait! I thought this was going to be about the half-Betazoid counsellor on the Starship Enterprise...

...That was Deanna Troi? Oh, my mistake.

And as for Perez costume designs, many of them were bad. I remember seeing his versions of Wasp and Wonder Man when he was drawing the Avengers and they too were hideous.

The guy draws some fantastic pictures but his costume designs were a bit hit'n'miss.