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WARNING: The follow piece contains spoilers for the DC Rebirth Detective Comics and Titans series — particularly Detective Comics #968 and Titans #17. Do not read beyond the image below if you wish to remain unspoiled!
Two new comics this week dealt with the same plot concept in surprisingly different ways. Both books are about a character confronting their future self as they attempted to alter their past, but that was all they had in common. One book presented this concept as the conclusion of a long-anticipated story-line. The other introduced it as a sudden plot twist one issue earlier. Is there a connection? This is one of the many things we will examine in this Tale Of Two Comics.
Detective Comics #986 was the final chapter of A Lonely Place of Living – a story which aimed to answer the questions regarding the abduction of Tim Drake and his death being faked by the mysterious figure known as Mr. Oz. The revelation of Mr. Oz’s identity turned out to be the appetizer to a larger meal, as Tim found himself aided in his escape by his future self.
This future Tim Drake – first seen in the Titans Tomorrow storyline from Geoff Johns’ run on Teen Titans – had grown embittered about the circumstances that had caused him to become Batman and was determined to change the past so he could go on to live a normal life free of the pain that comes with being a vigilante. Unfortunately, Future Tim believed that everything went downhill as a result of something Batwoman did and the only solution was to kill her. Naturally this pitted Future Tim against the whole Bat Family, but he was shockingly able to hold his own against them!
Donna Troy finds herself in a similar circumstance in Titans #17. Here, the team discovered that the power behind the team’s recent troubles was a being called Troia – a probable version of Donna Troy from the future, who had renounced her humanity.
What prompted this drastic decision? That requires some explanation.
It was revealed in Teen Titans Annual #1 that Donna Troy’s memories of being an orphaned girl raised by The Amazons were false ones, which the Amazons implanted into her mind. The truth is that Donna Troy was a being of magical clay, given life by Wonder Woman’s enemies as part of a plot to usurp the throne of Themyscria. The revelation shook Donna to the core, but the support of her friends and the knowledge that their love for her was real prevented Donna from giving into despair.
According to Troia, as Donna’s friends began to die off in the future, the weight of ages began to press upon her. Apparently immortal and ageless due to her magical nature, the pain of knowing everyone she ever cared for would leave her in the end drives Donna to throw herself into the only other thing she knows – battle. She ultimately decided to come back and destroy The Titans thinking of all the time her past self wasted on unimportant things like friendship and love.
Both comics are good ones, though A Lonely Place of Living seems the stronger of the two. This is partly because the Detective Comics creative team had more time to build up to the battle between the two Tims. Also, Future Tim’s complaint – that he had to sacrifice any chance at a normal life because nobody else was capable of doing what he did as Batman – is a far more sympathetic plea than Troia’s complaints about people dying.
On the other hand, Titans #17 makes no attempt to make Troia a sympathetic character and indeed she seems to be quite insane in some of the artwork. Despite this, the battle in Titans #17 is more personal, with the rest of the Titans battling Troia’s minions in the background and most of the issue focusing on the dialogue between the two Donnas as they argue while fighting.
Despite one story being about a hero longing for normalcy while the other is about a goddess trying to destroy her humanity, both stories are ultimately about the same thing – coping with loss. While both villains have differing objectives, their motivations are precisely the same. One wonders if there is another link between them – perhaps one relating to a certain Doomsday Clock?
Time will tell. It always does.