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Jimenez on the Return of Donna Troy

Jimenez on the Return of Donna Troy
MattBrady – 05-06-2005 – courtesy of

Yesterday saw the inking side of the art team of The Return of Donna Troy – George Perez make some news with his five year exclusive contract with DC. Today, we caught up with Donna Troy writer Phil Jimenez to find out more about the upcoming miniseries which promises the return of…well, see the title.

But first, probably a quick look back at “who is Donna Troy?” is in order. It’s a question whose explanation can cause the heads of even the most knowledgeable DC scholars’ heads explode, Scanners style.

Concept-wise, Donna Troy is a bit of a patchwork due to the fact that, as Wonder Girl, she survived Crisis on Infinite Earths, but as a result of Crisis, Wonder Woman’s history was re-jiggered…to say the least. Over the years, as different writers came in to update, patch, and shoehorn some semblance of an origin that worked within DC’s post-Crisis continuity, Donna’s story became more and more convoluted.

Her final version of history, which still has a few bumps, runs along the lines that Donna was created to be a playmate to the young Princess Diana on the island of Themyscrea, home of the Amazons. Thinking her to be the real Diana, Donna was kidnapped by the being called Dark Angel and forced to live hundreds of different life paths with each one ending in tragedy before she was snatched from it, and sent down another. Hey – we didn’t say her story was easy.

In this life, Donna was orphaned at birth, and raised by the Titans of Myth to be one of many sleeper agents who would one day rise with others to save the gods. Returned to earth (and imbued with powers) Donna: became Wonder Girl, joined the Teen Titans, got married, had a kid, embraced her heritage as “Troia,” lost her powers, divorced her husband, became a Darkstar, lived through the death of her ex-husband and child, gave up heroing, had her memories erased by Dark Angel, had her memories restored (from Flash’s memories of her) by Wonder Woman, retook the name Troia, served with the Titans, and was, most recently, killed in Graduation Day, while battling a Superman android. Though dead in this world, it was shown in the end of Graduation Day that Donna had essentially moved to another world, to another battle. Phew.

And that’s the easy version.

And Jimenez is gearing up to bring her back. And he couldn’t be happier with the task at hand.

“I had pitched Dan Didio on being a part of Donna’s return ages ago, and was simply lucky enough to be involved with the process,” Jimenez said about his involvement with the project. “I had some ideas on how to handle the material, and DC seemed very amenable to them. As most folks who read my work know, I have a real affinity for Donna, and I think DC wanted to tap into that for a project that would be important to the character, her Titans peers, and the DC Universe in general.”

Jimenez’s statement that he has an affinity for Donna is putting it rather lightly. Some of his earliest work in comics was involved with Donna in the early ’90s Team Titans series (a future team of Titans were sent to the past to kill the then-pregnant Donna as her child would grow up to be “Lord Chaos” who makes 21st century tyrants look like pussies), Jimenez also incorporated her heavily into his Wonder Woman run, and wrote and illustrated the Wonder Woman: Donna Troy one-shot, which moved her toward her current origin – such as it is.

In comics lingo, Jimenez is a Donnaholic. A hardcore one.

“Donna appeals to me for multiple reasons: 1. in both her pre and post-Crisis origins, Donna is significantly linked to Greek mythology, as both Amazon and child of the Titans of Myth,” the creator said. “That’s a huge draw for me – Donna is linked to legends that are thousands of years old. Further, in both the pre-and post-Crisis DCU, she is linked to Wonder Woman by adopted sisterhood. That’s really fun – she’s Diana’s little sister. I was also immediately drawn to Donna for other reasons – she was an even headed, kind character, accomplished as a student and a professional by the time she was 19. She was a super-hero who knew how and when to use her strength – and, most importantly, when not to. And finally, Donna was also ‘perfect,’ or tried to be – wanting nothing more than to be the best she could in all aspects of her life, even covering her weaknesses – she was never a very good team leader, for example – to try and project the most positive image to her friends and loved ones. When I was younger, I understood that compulsion, and I think I really related to it in Donna.”

As Jimenez explained, since her “death,” Donna returned to the Titans of Myth on New Cronus, the Olympus-like planetoid where she was raised. “She’s now the Goddess of the Moon — so I think she’s moved into a new state of being,” Jimenez said. “As for what she’d been up do since, we’ll certainly see that in the miniseries — it all ties into the The Rann – Thanagar War and the survival of the gods themselves. She’s on a mission she was assigned as a child, but is only now beginning to remember.”

And – adding a little more to the backstory – go back in your mind to the stories about the original Titans of Myth – yup, these are the same ones.

“The Titans of Myth are the forebears of the Olympian Gods in Greek mythology,” Jimenez said. “They’re the parents of Zeus and Hera, Poseidon and Hades. They’ve been active in Donna’s life in both the pre and post-Crisis New Teen Titans series; post-Crisis, Donna was raised by the Titans of Myth, named Troy, and given powers and memories and special knowledge by these Titan gods to advance their teachings on Earth and throughout the universe. The Titans of Myth are very primal beings, governing the elements, and prone to repeat their mistakes. They almost can’t help it. Are they the bad guys? Could be. If anything, they’re just being gods…

“As we learned in the ‘Who is Wonder Girl’ storyline, chronicled by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Donna was one of 12 or so Titan “seeds”; orphans from across the universe, who were rescued by the Titans of Myth, given powers, and raised to become new gods. Only three are left — Troy, her brother Athyns, and her sister Sparta, who had once gone insane because she remembered her upbringing while the other children were given false memories by the Titans of Myth to ensure their lives and their sanity.”

Speaking of memories, that’s part of what gets the ball rolling in The Return of Donna Troy – “She’s got memories that don’t jibe with her current status of the Goddess of the Moon,” Jiminez said.

And as for the involvement of the Teen Titans and Outsiders? “Well, if you’re going to do a Donna Troy story, it’s got to have Nightwing, Starfire, Arsenal, Beast Boy, Raven, Cyborg, and Wonder Girl in it, right? They’re alerted to Donna’s story through an ally…”

Jimenez’ coyness about Donna’s reunion with her friends and her involvement continued as he explained her future role in the DCU, especially with the coming Infinite Crisis, confirming only that she’ll be a leader in a very important future battle. “Dan Didio has long said that Donna would be resurrected in an important role,” Jimenez said. “I’m just happy I got the opportunity to help see the character fulfill this unique status. It actually plays out beautifully, using the character’s complex history and connection to the Titans, the Outsiders, and Wonder Woman.”

Moving to the art side of the miniseries for a moment, early on, Jimenez joined with most fans in being in awe of the names attached: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on pencils (returning to monthly comics for the first time in years), and George Perez on inks.

“I knew I couldn’t draw this thing, since I was penciling Otherworld, my Vertigo series, at the time, and Jose had drawn one of the original Titans of Myth stories in the New Teen Titans, one of my favorites. And lord knows, if it’s got Donna and the Teen Titans, I always feel like George should be involved somehow. I called him, mentioned Jose’s name – and he offered immediately to ink it. I got the art team of a life time, the dream team. I couldn’t have asked for better, more gracious, more talented artists, who compliment each other so well. And, more than anything, I want this series to show the comic world how brilliant Jose is as penciler and storyteller. I want his name to be on everyone’s lips this summer. He’s a genius.”

As for how he’s holding up working with two veterans of the game that he holds in such high esteem, Jimenez gave the typical answer: “It’s frightening beyond words. With every page, I’m asking myself, am I writing something they’re interested in working on? Does it make sense? Are they happy? Will it be worth their time? Will they learn something and enjoy it? Will they make money? An enormous amount of fear abounds. But their work is breathtaking and I’m utterly, completely appreciative.”

Finally, as for seeing the miniseries as a streamlining of Donna’s continuity or origins, Jimenez isn’t sure any real fix is needed, and that the miniseries is aimed squarely at moving her forward into her destiny among the heroes of the DCU.

“I’m still not sure what kind of fix fans have been waiting for,” Jimenez said. “Donna’s history is quite linear, has been explained multiple times, and I’m still not sure what the questions are. I realize it’s a complex history — but in my head, the latest additions were simply that – additions – not alterations, to her post-Crisis history. I was able to nail her history in three panels and a splash page. To me, it’s quite simple: A infant girl, saved from a burning building by the Titans of Myth, is raised in their world, given special powers and a unique destiny, and returned to Earth as a teenager to wait for that destiny to be fulfilled. Inspired by the Hippolyta, the Golden-Age Wonder Woman, the teenager becomes Wonder Girl and joins the Teen Titans. Later, she learns of a mystic connection to the modern-day Wonder Woman, and becomes Diana’s adopted sister and an Amazon. Voila — Donna Troy. Troia.

“Again, it’s a bit long, but not complicated, and this is the place we start from. This is the history we’re using. This story is not about rewriting Donna’s history once again. It’s about using her history to propel her into a new, vital role in the DC Universe, using her unique history to connect her to a number of characters who play an important part in Infinite Crisis, and to once again remind readers and creators why Donna has such a devoted fan following by showcasing the strength of her character, not the complexity of her past.”

DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy #1 (of 4) is due in stores on May 25th.

MattBrady – 10-10-2005 –

Taking the opportunity not only to showcase the return of Donna Troy, the recently completed DC Special: The Return of Donna Troy miniseries by Phil Jimenez, Jose Garcia-Lopez and George Perez answered what has become a recurring question in the DCU: who is Donna Troy?

This time, it looks like the answer might stick.

Oh, and before we get rolling too far: Spoiler warning!

The miniseries, though not named as one of the four Countdown minis building towards this week’s Infinite Crisis #1 was something of a stealth lead in to DC’s upcoming event. The start of the story draws back farther than virtually every previous Infinite Crisis lead-in has, that is, to the final pages of Titans/Outsiders: Graduation Day #3 when Donna was killed in battle on earth, only to wake on a field of battle, and begin a new life, with little memory of that previous.

Since then, she’d been reincorporated into the folds of the Titans of Myth, the original “gods” of ancient Greece which pre-dated Olympus. This, of course, was a direct tie to her previous origin clarification, which showed her to be one of the 12 orphans adopted and raised by the Titans of Myth (and returned to earth with false memories – yeah, we know – there are piece of Donna Troy’s origin story that even Wolverine would get confused about) as Troia.

The bulk of the story of the miniseries involved the Titans of Myth’s assault on (and resultant slaughter of the primitive inhabitants) what seemed to be a backwater planet named Minosyss. Both the Teen Titans and Outsiders were summoned, Donna’s memory was eventually returned, and the Titans of Myth’s plans revealed – due to Donna’s unique abilities and the specific location of Minosyss (upon a Nexus Zone – a natural weakening of the barriers between dimensions and realities), they needed her to activate a portal to a different universe, so they could flee the destruction they saw coming to this one.

In learning why only she would be able to activate the Nexus, Donna’s history – all of it was revealed. All of it. As with a handful of others shown recently in the DCU, due to peculiarities in her history and origin, Donna remembers the multiverse – Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-S, Earth-7 (where she was rescued by the Anti-Monitor and became his version of the Monitor’s Harbinger, and called herself “Dark Angel”) and everything in between.

The Titans of Myth were finally vanquished for good, and Donna was given Harbinger’s sphere from the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, so now, she knows everything, pre-Crisis, post-Crisis, and a bit of the future.

Yeah, if it sounds like a specialist would help in explaining the series, you’re right. We sat down with Jimenez for some answers.

Newsarama: Originally, this wasn’t included in or even necessarily advertised as one of the lead up miniseries to Infinite Crisis, but yet, by the time issue #4 came out, it’s front and center with the major reveal of Donna’s place in both the previous multiverse and the coming Crisis. Did you pitch this initially as a part of the build-up, or as something separate that got pulled in?

Phil Jimenez: It was a little of both. The story had been pitched and written over a year ago in its original incarnation, and when the company decided to make Donna a more prominent character in Infinite Crisis, and make her return connect more directly to Infinite Crisis, a lot of story was overhauled, and items were placed in there to make it a “Cleaner” crossover. Particularly, the timing was very interesting. It was originally scheduled to be a Teen Titans/Outsiders crossover, but it became something much more than just that.

So, it as unexpected, but when it was ultimately decided that was what it would become, we started looking at it to see where we could most efficiently turn things into a crossover.

NRAMA: What was your reaction when something that, as you’ve said previously, was pretty personal for you, was tapped to be a lynchpin of the Crisis buildup as well as a point for the re-introduction of the multiverse concept in the DCU?

PJ: As a creator, I initially thought, “Here we go again” as I’ve been involved in multiple crossovers, and knew the political mechanics of it that are interesting to navigate, but as a fan of Donna Troy, I was excited because I thought this character had been tossed around and abused for so long for so many reasons as they tried to fit her neatly into a box, and this was my chance to hopefully set her straight and a lot of people would get to see it.

NRAMA: And that was part of it as well – though the title, and one could presume “mission” of the miniseries was the “Return” of Donna Troy, you got to streamline her continuity and expand it in other places to make it –one hopes – finally work?

PJ: Right. Since the original Crisis, DC and its creators have tried to figure out what to do with her, and I loved to get the opportunity to make her the lynchpin in the event that will reset the DC Universe for the next twenty years or more. It’s a great opportunity for her character to be exposed to a wider audience, and have her story fully explained.

As with all crossover stories, things change, and this time, as with others, you’re getting something than what was originally intended, but in this case, having my original story morph into something that was much bigger and showed how important Donna is to the DCU was fine.

NRAMA: Taking that cue, and putting you in the unofficial role of “explainer of all things Donna” that you now have thanks to this miniseries – let’s start ground flooring a little. After she was killed in Graduation Day – she returned to the Titans of Myth?

PJ: Right- she was resurrected and reincarnated in her role as the Goddess, which was her Post-Crisis origin, that Donna was taken as a child and raised by the Titans of Myth, who were the parents of the gods of Olympus. That was one time a vague ending was nice – at the end of Graduation Day, she wakes up on an alien planet, and goes to fight a war.

We took that as our lead, and it was easy to put in that she didn’t remember who she was, which is a common thread for Donna anyway, so she was back to being a member of the Titans of Myth.

NRAMA: And with that, as she learned in issue #4, she was shown to be special because, partly, she couldn’t remember her past…because she had a connection to the multiverse that came before the original Crisis?

PJ: Right. Donna was one of those characters, as we showed in issue #4, that the universe didn’t know what to do with. Her pre-Crisis origin was so directly connected to Wonder Woman’s so that, when Wonder Woman’s origin was revised at the end of Crisis, that is, she didn’t come to man’s world until years after Superman, Batman, and even the Teen Titans had been around, Donna’s origin didn’t make sense. How could there be a Wonder Girl before there was a Wonder Woman?

Since then, creators have been trying to figure out how to justify all the pieces, not only of the original origin, but all the pieces of the various fixes that creators have tried to put on to Donna to make things work. Our goal with this – and Geoff [Johns] and I hashed this out for hours – was to address this head on. It doesn’t make sense, so why not make that a part of the story, rather than something we try to fix “outside” of the story itself and then apply to the character.

NRAMA: In other words, you pretty much embraced everything that has been said about who Donna is and said, “It’s all part of her.”

PJ: Exactly. That was the point. The great loss for many Donna Troy fans after Crisis was that she was no longer Wonder Woman’s younger sister. What we wanted to suggest was that she was Wonder Woman’s sister and she had been raised by the Titans of Myth, and she had been all of these other things. It’s all part of the bigger picture of the DCU –all of these things had to have existed for them to have never existed. It’s a theory that Geoff and I talked about a lot, and we thought it out to be one of the bigger parts of Crisis – these other worlds, these others stories, these other characters had to have existed if they were to be merged into one version. Our feeling was the same with Donna – all the stories with her did exist. They had to have in order for them to be written and rewritten.

NRAMA: that goes along the lines of the approach of the modern-day DCU to the original Crisis, right? For those who were around, it was a time of red skies, and shadow beings, but no one has ever really gone into what the “Crisis” was…

PJ: Or – and I’ve thought this for a long time, even before I got into comics – I’m not sure if I read it in an interview or what, but I always understood that it was the policy that what people in the DC Universe remembered was Crisis #11 and #12 – they wake up one morning, the Anti-Monitor attacks, shoved the earth into the anti-matter universe, and shadow demons attack. So, for people of the DC Universe, that was the “Crisis” – the shadow demons attacking, and the Anti-Monitor’s desperate attack on the earth. I’m not sure if I got that idea from an interview way back then or what, but that’s how I always understood it, and couldn’t get why it wasn’t clear to people. Knowing that, whenever I approached the Crisis when I was writing a character, I knew what they remembered and what they didn’t.

But, even above that, for the heroes who woke up that morning –and there were a lot of them – and the world was different…everything had to have occurred for it all to have been condensed into one world, one universe. We wanted to play with that idea.

The joy of Donna is that she’s part of a special club. She’s had all these different lives, and we say they all happened. Pre-Crisis, they happened on different earths. Post-Crisis, the universe, not knowing what to do with her, condensed them all into one lifetime as the universe –i.e., the creators – tried to figure out what to do with her.

I like that idea. The nice thing is that what now makes her fantastic and unique is that, with her past revealed, she is connected with these past lives, and has a particular vision that will allow her to access the lives and histories of herself from other earths. So – while there may be other heroes out there with troublesome paths, Donna can actually connect to hers. She can see all her alternate versions.

NRAMA: And that plays into her recast role now as the Harbinger?

PJ: Right. Like the original Harbinger in Crisis, Donna can travel across universes and see possible paths and futures, and know things about them that nobody else will know.

NRAMA: Speaking of her as Harbinger – that’s the sphere she got at the end of issue #4, the one from the original Crisis era Harbinger who was killed in Superman/Batman?

PJ: Yes.

NRAMA: And as such, has the full “History of the DC Universe” in it that she was recording before, during and after Crisis?

PJ: Yep – she recorded the history and recorded it all. This has been a long-held goal of mine in regards to Donna – I’d wanted to give her a headquarters, and I wanted to give her the sphere. I felt that would go a ways in giving a new angle to the character. Then, when it turned out she was going to be a part of Infinite Crisis, it even worked out better. Suddenly, she has her own monitor satellite, and essentially, all of Harbinger’s Monitor files – from the entire multiverse.

NRAMA: Any other bits that worked out better than you planned when you started hammering all of Donna’s divergent stories into a continuum of origins?

PJ: One of the nice things about Donna #4 is that when it became apparent that we were going to connect this to Infinite Crisis was that Dark Angel’s role as the Anti-Monitor’s Harbinger – that plays out a little in Infinite Crisis, and the planet itself, Minosyss, which seemed to be a throwaway, will play a role in Crisis as well. So – believe it or not, we tried to make it all matter and make sense.

NRAMA: And teasing that out – what she sees in Harbinger’s sphere is the history of everytiong, including all the previous histories of the universes that collapsed into one…

PJ: Yep, it’s a powerful little tool.

NRAMA: And it shows the future to a limited extent as well, and she sees that something has gone terribly wrong?

PJ: Terribly wrong. It’s up to her to collect the heroes that will help right that wrong.

NRAMA: And that’s coming in Infinite Crisis?

PJ: Right – Donna and the heroes she’s gathered will be a major part of the Infinite Crisis storyline. Again, it’s her new special vision that has given her a glimpse into the future, and it’s something that shouldn’t be and is something that she needs to fix.


End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author