Donna Troy was one of the most beloved members of the DC Comics Teen Titans. Fans mourned her death in the “Graduation Day” mini-series and rejoiced when DC announced the four-issue “DC Special: Return of Donna Troy” mini-series by writer Phil Jimenez and artist Jose Garcia Lopez. However, when some readers picked up the first issue of the series they found it wasn’t quite what they expected and some were left confused. CBR News chatted with Jimenez by phone last week for some clarification and background on the series and some hints on how it ties into the looming “Infinite Crisis.”
The first issue of “The Return of Donna Troy” that hit comic stores at the end of May was in a different form than originally planed. “This project was originally going to be a Teen Titans/Outsiders crossover,” Jimenez told CBR News. “It was not going to be a stand alone book. When DC Comics decided to turn it into a much more prominent cross over and display their new bullet, it became it’s own special. It was also supposed to come out weekly as opposed to monthly. It was going to come out all in August and go ‘Teen Titans,’ ‘Outsiders,’ ‘Teen Titans,’ ‘Outsiders.’ If you look at the pacing of it it’s very much like the first issue is a ‘Titans’ book and the second issue is the ‘Outsiders’ book.”
“The Return of Donna Troy” is a dense series and each issue is packed with information. Jimenez feels the series might be easier for some readers to follow if there wasn’t a month long gap between issues. “It was written and plotted with the understanding it was going to come out weekly and in two different books as opposed to it’s own series,” he said. “I think we probably would have done it a lot differently with issue one had we known a year ago that it was going to be its own thing.”
In addition, the series wasn’t originally intended to tie into the “Rann-Thanagar War” mini-series. Jimenez explained it was a later addition and not part of the original plot. “Had the decision been made earlier that it was a ‘Rann-Thanagar War’ cross-over, I would have happily incorporated more of that and made it much more clear in the work,” said Jimenez.
In the first issue of “The Return of Donna Troy,” Jimenez used a story telling device he employed with his series ‘Otherworld’ that some readers may not have expected and caused some confusion. “We started in the middle of the story as opposed to the beginning, believing that everything would unfold and it would all sort of tie together at the end,” Jimenez explained. “What I find interesting about that is comic readers, this is my experience on ‘Otherworld’ not necessarily ‘Donna Troy,’ they are much less happy about that than non-comic readers. The non-comic readers I gave ‘Otherworld’ to were much more giving of the convention.”
Some long time Titans fans might have been confused by the way the Titans of Myth have been portrayed as connivers and schemers in “Return of Donna Troy,” instead of being more benevolent like in previous issues of “New Titans.” One of motivations behind the Titans of Myth’s duplicity is fear. “They’re reacting out of a terror of something that’s going to happen, which is an ‘Infinite Crisis’ tie-in,” Jimenez said.
The other thing readers might have forgotten is that the Titans of Myth may be gods, but they don’t always react rationally. ” We wanted to play with that idea that they are not all knowing all seeing gods,” Jimenez stated. “They’re incredibly powerful beings, but at the end oft he day they’re primal beings and driven by primal needs
“One of the things that we were playing with, particularly with Hyperion and Coeus (Donna’s husband) in their very first appearance in ‘New Teen Titans,’ was that Hyperion was a sort of lusty and powerful God who made Donna fall in love with him. For readers who remember, this is sort of an homage to that story line. For readers that [weren’t familiar with that story], we just wanted to say that he’s the god of the Sun, a sort of primal being.”
What’s causing the Titans of Myth to be afraid is not the instability of the “Rann-Thanagar” war itself, but the threat that the chaos of the war might uncover the weapon that’s hidden on the planet of Minosyss with it ultimately falling in the wrong hands. “They have a motivation for trying to get to this weapon,” Jimenez explained. “They also have a motivation for staying off the planet and letting someone else do their dirty work. What is in the planet, what the Titans want with the planet, why they chose Donna for it; it all comes out in issue #3.”
Issue #4 of “The Return of Donna Troy is packed with many revelations that readers have been waiting for. “We learn why Donna was chosen to be one of these 12 seeds of the Titans of Myth,” Jimenez said. “Fans of any version of her history will see sort of an exciting take on it that Geoff [Johns] and I developed. It makes all that crazy history make some sense in a post ‘Crisis’ world. We explain why she becomes so important to ‘Infinite Crisis.’ We explain why the Titans of Myth are so terrified of what’s happening in the universe, why they are trying to get to this weapon and why they have been lying to her about this weapon. We do explain what happened after ‘Graduation Day.'”
The finale of “Return of Donna Troy” will also include a bittersweet reunion for the title character. “She and Wonder Woman are reunited in issue #4, but the story takes place after ‘Wonder Woman’ #219, the ‘Sacrifice’ issue,” Jimenez said. “So, the reunion will probably be more melancholy. Both of these women have gone through quite a bit. So their reunion will reflect that.”
Donna will encounter another recently resurrected hero after the events of her mini-series, Hal Jordan. But readers shouldn’t expect this encounter to go smoothly as Jimenez explained the last time Donna Troy saw Hal was during the events of “Zero Hour.”
One of Jimenez’s goals with “Return of Donna Troy” was to reintroduce the character to readers and clean up her convoluted origin so it could be understood and appreciated by both long time and new “Titans” fans. Jimenez noted that Donna Troy’s history can be quite convoluted, but there’s a nice pay off in issue four. “Geoff Johns and I worked a very long time: many, many phone calls to say like, ‘Okay we have this character that fans who like her, love her. The people who don’t care, it doesn’t matter.’ Not that the fans don’t matter, but this character has to be around for various reasons, so how do we salvage her and how do we make this history a plot point as opposed to something that’s shameful and embarrassing?”
Another goal of Jimenez’s was to demonstrate how powerful Donna Troy actually is, which is seen in issue #3. “We sort of unleash Donna and she fights the Titans and the Outsiders,” Jimenez explained. “She is a goddess and an Amazon and therefore is incredibly powerful, physically powerful. So, she and Cassie, Wonder Girl, have a huge fight. Because Cassie is also now a child of the gods.”
Jimenez’s third goal with the series was to reinvigorate Donna Troy with a new, important and unique purpose in the DCU. “Wally West was very lucky, and I use that term loosely, in that his mentor died, so he took the place of that mentor,” Jimenez said. “One of the things I think plagues Troia and Tempest is that their mentors are alive and kicking and therefore they can never quite graduate.
“One of the goals with ‘Donna Troy’ is that she’s now the middle child, the Jan Brady, of the Amazon set. Basically, she can’t be Wonder Woman and she’s no longer a protege. So what do you do with her? The nice thing about issue #4 and ‘Infinite Crisis’ is that it gives her a pretty substantial reason for being, a really unique role that I think plays perfectly with her convoluted history. What’s kind of neat for me is that Donna gets a bunch of new things, like a new headquarters. What’s good is she has a function.”
Donna’s new role and purpose isn’t the only important tie to “Infinite Crisis” in “The Return of Donna Troy.” Readers should pay close attention to the planet Minosyss where much of “Return” takes place. “We did a lot of talking about what the planet was, why it’s so special, what’s inside the planet that the Titans want and even the people on the planet themselves,” Jimenez stated. “Which seems sort of insignificant now. They’re kind of background characters. They play a more important part in #3 and #4. I would remind people not to forget them because the planet itself does play a role in ‘Infinite Crisis.'”
After the DC Universe settles down from the events of “Infinite Crisis,” readers can expect appearances from Donna in a monthly DC book. “I think there’s been some talk. The plan had always been that once she was reintroduced she would be placed in either the ‘Titans’ or ‘The Outsiders.’ I suspect it will be one of those books.”
Jimenez has enjoyed crafting a story that reintroduces one of his favorite characters and places her at the forefront of the big events in the DC Universe. He urges readers who may be confused or have questions to stick with the book. The final two issues of “The Return of Donna Troy” should tie things together for them nicely. “I just hope readers remembers that it is a four-issue series,” Jimenez said. “Just because everything wasn’t explained in issue one doesn’t mean it doesn’t pan out over the other three issues.”