Meanwhile, in the 1960’s… Donna Troy’s past is a hotbed of alternate paths, though she is often mistaken as the original holder of the title of Wonder Girl, it was actually Wonder Woman herself that was the source of that character, as put forward by Robert Kanigher during his early 60’s run on Wonder Woman. Wonder Girl during the iconic Kanigher series of issues was actually awesome adolescent Amazon, Princess Diana, brought forward in time to adventure alongside her grown up self, with help from Wonder Tot (yes… really!) and Queen Hippolyta.
The title of Wonder Girl has actually been held by four different characters over the course of Wonder Woman’s extensive run, though only three of them are officially canon as legitimate versions in DC Universe legend. Donna was actually the second holder of the title, making her first appearance in 1965, and was later succeeded by Cassandra Sandsmark in 1996. The other character to briefly hold the moniker was Drusilla, a small role that took place during issues #182 – #184 in the very late 60’s, this is the version of Wonder Girl that was actually featured in the 70’s Lynda Carter starring Wonder Woman television series, played by Debra Winger.
But it is Donna who generally comes to mind whenever Wonder Girl is referred to, similar to how most fans see Babs Gordon as the definitive Batgirl, even though Betty Kane held the title many years before her. And if all that seems mildly confusing… then welcome to the rabbit hole that is Donna’s multiple origin stories, take a deep breath my amazing Amazonian associates for we are about to venture forth into said hole, to ultimately discover… Who Is Donna Troy?
Donna made her first appearance in The Brave and the Bold #60 in 1965, as a member of the sidekick superteam – Teen Titans, which primarily consisted of Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash.
It was Marv Wolfman who first proffered an origin tale for Donna in Teen Titans #22 in 1969. The story established that Donna was human orphan who was saved by Wonder Woman from a devastating fire. Diana, unable to find any parents or guardians for Donna, adopted her and took her to Themyscira, where she was trained by the Amazons and eventually given super powers through the mysterious Purple Ray, which successfully transferred powers from the island’s Amazon inhabitants, it was during this issue that she adopted the name of Donna Troy.
Classic 1985 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths redefined many DC characters in a company wide reboot, including Donna’s genesis. In this new variant of her history it was actually the mythical Titan Rhea that rescued Donna from the fire. Donna is raised on New Cronus by the Titans, alongside eleven other orphans receiving legendary powers, with each orphan named after a famous Greek city, with Troy being chosen for Donna. She also adopted the new pseudonym of Troia and a new Darkstar costume which contained the immeasurable power of the Titans themselves.
Post Crisis on Infinite Earths, Donna’s creation was changed once again. In this new concept, Donna was a magically created duplicate of Wonder Woman created by the sorceress Magala, as a playmate for WW. Being mistaken for Diana herself by the villainous Dark Angel, Donna is kidnapped, and cursed to consecutively live out virtually endless variations of past lives, with each defined by varying degrees of torment and misery. She was later saved from this endless cycle of suffering by Diana, Hippolyta and the third version of the Flash, Wally West. Realising that Donna was created from a sliver of Diana’s anima, Queen Hippolyta accepted her as a daughter, and during a coronation held on Themyscira, announced Troia as a second Princess to the Amazon nation.
DC Comics, seemingly not content with having only three (!?) variants of Donna’s complicated past decided that a fourth version was necessary, which resulted in the 2005 released mini-series The Return of Donna Troy, though this four issue run did attempt to clear up Donna’s multiple origin tales and give the fans a definitive version of their second favourite Amazon warrior.
Through this titanic tale, she realised she was an amalgamation of multiple Donna Troys from across DC’s multiverse, retaining knowledge and memories from each and every variant of herself.
And just when you think that DC had confused poor old Donna enough, along came their 2011 reboot The New 52. Once again DC fundamentally changed their slew of Superheroes’ background storylines, including that of Ms Troy.
Initially Donna is nowhere to be found during this rambunctious reboot, with the most recent version of Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark taking centre stage at the forefront of the Amazon acolytes. It was much later, in the pages of Meredith and David Finch’s take on Wonder Woman, that Donna re-emerged into Amazon mythology with an origin rather similar to an earlier tale. Created in Wonder Woman’s image by her enemies, Donna’s job was to usurp the Amazon princess and wrest control, but is ultimately defeated by Diana, which sets her on a path of some serious soul searching.
“Suffering Sappho” are you confused,and perplexed enough thus far!? well nevertheless it isn’t over yet for luckless Donna and her multiple choice past. In 2016, DC’s Rebirth ushered in another soft reboot of their unique universe and with it another obligatory Donna variable! We can but hope that this time Donna can finally have some closure on her convoluted origin story, but I wouldn’t put money on it…
The far flung, exotic shores of Themyscira bid us once again my Amazon loving affiliates, as we continue our weekly comic cover countdown to the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman. This week we emerge from the depths of the Amazon archives with; Wonder Woman (Volume 2) #124. Written and illustrated by John Byrne, with cover art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Released in August 1997.
This weeks tantalising tale is titled “All My Sins Remembered” and follows Diana and Artemis as they continue their descent into Hell to confront the demonic Neron, it is here that the amazing Amazon will face her greatest challenge and her ultimate tragedy. This issue also presents us with two generations of Diana’s celebrated consort Wonder Girl, Donna Troy whose origin we covered in an earlier episode, and the most recent and current holder of the title, Cassandra Sandsmark.
Cassie was created by John Byrne in 1996, and made her first appearance in Wonder Woman (volume 2) #105. She was first introduced as the daughter of archaeologist Helena Sandsmark, who discovered magical artifacts that bestowed super powers to her daughter, which she subsequently used to fight crime as the new Wonder Girl. It was later revealed to her that she was in fact a demi-goddess and the daughter of Zeus himself.
In 2011, DC relaunched their universe as the “New 52” to re-establish a new continuity for their characters, essentially a massive reboot with many characters having their back-stories retold and in some cases changed entirely. With Wonder Woman’s origin completely revised so that she became the daughter of Zeus, Cassie also underwent a complete revision of her roots. Re-introduced in the pages of Teen Titans as a super powered thief with demonic infused bracelets, she is inducted into the team of teens by Batman’s ex-protege, Red Robin. It is later revealed that she is the niece of Wonder Woman and the daughter of Lennox Sandsmark, Diana’s half brother.
Join us again next week for another classic WW cover, my astounding Amazonian associates!