Let’s round out Women’s History Month with three cheers for three of the Teen Titans’/ Titans’ top leading ladies. Starfire, Raven, and Donna Troy came together in Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s run on the series. Each woman is beautiful, strong, and equipped to face their challenges head on. While Starfire and Raven have been highlighted in DC’s media outlets, Donna Troy lives mostly in the comic books, despite being a driving force not only for the Titans, but the DCU itself. So, what makes them such powerhouses? Well, here we go…
Starfire a.k.a Koriand’r
Totally underrated on DC’s female roster. Firey red hair, emerald green eyes, and skin as radiant as the sun exposed from under her figure flattering (and often revealing) outfits and uniforms. Its easy to think that she was created as just gratuitous fanservice for fanboys and fangirls. Her flighty, gullible, yet determined personality on Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! series lend to this idea. While that’s great for TV, the avid comic book reader knows that the former princess of Tamaran is a force to be reckoned with and you never want to get on her bad side. In fact, she is a role model for anyone who has ever felt inferior and defeated at some point in their life. So, everyone!
Personable and sweet, Starfire has had her share of hardships. First off, she a refugee. She was forced to leave Tamaran under the orders of her younger sister Kommand’r, fans of the shows will know her as the older sister, Blackfire. Why the birth order was changed in the show- I don’t know. Blackfire became the ruler of Tamaran and sold Starfire into slavery. Her iconic purple ensemble is actually the mark of her enslavement. She escaped the slave ship and descended to earth, knowing that she would forever have a target on her back. Once on earth, she assimilated into her new home, befriending the Teen Titans and other humans as the cheerful Kori.
As we explored with Power Girl, women who expose their bodies are seen as loose and aren’t good role models for young women. But, Kori doesn’t flaunt her beauty despite her questionable fashion choices. In fact, she’s quite modest and one of those enviably beautiful people that don’t know how beautiful they are. Simply put, Tamaranians live in a hot climate where they have been depicted wearing Grecian inspired clothes during the Wolfman/Perez run on The New Teen Titans, where Starfire made her debut. I believe on one occasion she mentioned that nudity wasn’t an issue on Tamaran. In the end, her style comes from a place of comfort and her culture.
Starfire comes from a society of warriors, not unlike Wonder Woman and the Themyscarians, and maintains the fierceness of her people. However, despite her fantastic powers and abilities, she is able to temper herself. She is mostly nonjudgmental and is always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, an amazing attribute of someone who could easily be distrustful towards others because of her past. One of the greatest examples of this is her relationship with fellow Titan, Raven. Raven has always had an issue with her demon side and it interrupts her life and the lives of the people around her. It was on Starfire’s and Dick Grayson’s (Nightwing) wedding day that a demonic Raven broke up the nuptials and attacked her friends. The battle resulted in Raven’s death and the two wouldn’t meet again until Geoff Johns breathed new life into the Teen Titans. In this series, Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy became mentors to the new team of teenage crime fighters. One of their missions was to save a newly reborn teenage Raven from Brother Blood and his clan of evil followers. With no malice, Starfire shared the story of Raven to the team and spoke only of their duty to save their friend. After Raven is saved and joins the new team Starfire remains one of her greatest supports, encouraging Raven to be herself. Some people would be angry or begrudging towards the woman that ruined what should have been the happiest day of her life but Starfire never mentions it. Her loyalty and understanding nature is boundless.
From princess to slave to refugee to citizen and superheroine, Starfire is a truly admirable character who encourages people to reach their full potential. She’s the perfect balance of strong and nurturing.
Anyone who has watched the Teen Titans on Cartoon Network know that Raven isn’t the most warm or inviting member of the team. She is plagued by the temptation to give into her demon side from her father, Trigon and is saddened by the separation from her human mother, Rachel Roth. While she may be imperfect, as most of us are, she tries to overcome her shortcomings by working towards the greater good and trying to help as many people she can. Raven is on a never-ending path seeking forgiveness for things beyond her control.
The Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans were brought together not by Robin or the founding members of the Justice League, but by Raven. She came to save the earth by seeking the help of those stronger than herself. She reached out to the Justice League first but was rejected because Zatanna sensed the demon inside her. No one in the League would heed her warning so she turned to their younger counterparts instead, forming the New Teen Titans with Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Changeling (a.k.a Beast Boy) from the Doom Patrol, and newcomers Cyborg and Starfire. Although her personality was somewhat unsettling for some and her methods weren’t always the most honest, Raven is an endgame oriented person. She wanted to stop Trigon from destroying earth at any cost.
While she is human, she was raised on Azarath, where emotions were hidden and thus she had a hard time opening up to others. Trigon continually came after her to use her as a portal and a means to do his bidding on earth. No matter how hard she fights, Raven has lost to Trigon a number of times. However, it’s her unwillingness to give up, despite how bleak the future seems that makes her a great hero. Like everyone, she has moments of weakness and is grateful to be able to draw on the power of friendship (cheesy as it sounds) to give her the stregnth to carry on.
Donna, like her best friend Starfire, she is a survivor. Over the years she has gone through several origin stories but in the end, she is always bound to Wonder Woman by their Themyscarian blood. There is no doubt that she is a powerhouse with both physical and mental strength and discipline. As a founding member of the first incarnation of the Teen Titans, she’s been a strong voice of reason for the group with a touch of feminine support. She and Dick Grayson have a brother/sister relationship that keeps the team on its feet because she is easy to talk to and is empathetic to the issues of others. It also helps that you can always count on her to help even the playing field in the heat of battle.
Despite her ability to support others and seem confident in everything she does, Donna struggles with her identity which is addressed in the comics. In the “Who is Donna Troy?” story arc of the Wolfman/Perez run gave her time to evaluate and find herself with the help of her friends, especially Dick. She found love with fellow Titan, Roy Harper a.k.a Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow but was heartbroken when her friend Lillith Clay prophesized that her red haired husband would die. Later, she married Terry Long, her college professor, in an uninterrupted ceremony and expressed a longing to quit the superhero business to raise a family. She succeeded and despite having to give up her powers to prevent her future son from becoming evil, she was happy when the couple welcomed their son, Robert after a very interesting look into the future. Unfortunately, it seemed that Donna had forgotten not to marry men with red hair, which her husband had. After their divorce and losing custody of Robert, Both her ex-husband and son died in a car crash, leaving Donna alone.
Usually, such a blow would stop most people in their tracks with such a great loss to deal with. However, Donna threw herself into her work with her Darkstar suit emulating her powers until they were restored. She became an integral part in several battles as both a member of the New Titans and then the Justice League. She was killed in battle against a Superman android, devastating those who knew her. Without Donna and her many identities, the DC Universe would not have been able to weave several stories, such as Infinite Crisis.
Donna’s life may be unstable but she makes the most of it, often sacrificing herself and her own happiness for others. She is that person who is behind the scenes and is an unsung hero that is often overlooked in DC history and media.
The Teen Titans in all of its incarnations and the DCU in general would be a very different place if not for these three superheroines. They show the courage and tenacity that we should all strive for in our own lives.
So ends Women’s History Month, but really, women should be celebrated every day and I hope that we will see a world where women can stand shoulder to shoulder with men as equals in the near future. Comic books are a great source of influencing public opinion so I hope to see more strong female characters and leads in the industry’s future.
Who is your favorite DC superheroine? How has she impacted your life? Like this post and write in the comments below!
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All photo credits: The New Teen Titans art by George Perez