The Year of the Villain is in full effect, but not everyone is on board with Lex Luthor and Perpetua’s vision of Doom. Even with the Batman Who Laughs currently under lock and key in the bowels of the Hall of Justice, his influence is still felt throughout the Universe and he’s been slowly creating agents to further his goals. Deathbringer Donna Troy debuted in Batman/Superman #4, but how did she get there?
Donna Troy is a woman of many histories, even in this post New 52, Rebirth world. She’s constantly being retconned and changed to fit whatever mold writers need her to fit at any given moment, even this one-shot changes her in more ways than one. I say this because at the end of the Titans: Rebirth story, following Dick Grayson being shot in the head and losing his memories, Donna had to step up and become the leader that the team needed. She overcame her uncertainty and earned the respect of everyone on the new Titans team.
But then Heroes in Crisis happened and she lost even more of her friends, thus losing her own confidence and slowly building a character arc through her sparse appearances in other books that led her to this one. At some point, she reverted back to the Donna Troy that only saw herself as a weapon that needed something to hit in order to make a difference. With the Titans current mission being to mediate a conflict between the two sides of a town full of metahumans, Donna is out of her element and the bickering amongst the Titans itself isn’t helping.
Thankfully, Zoë Quinn, who is improving her skills as a writer following the mediocre Goddess Mode, manages to characterize Donna as still trying to be a good Leader. She does her best to rally the Titans and stop the two metahuman parties from causing an open riot in their town, but communications break down and turn into a shouting match, causing Donna to have a headache. With the leaders gone, Donna and Raven have a heart to heart with each other and Quinn really builds a fantastic friendship between them, culminating in a toast of their respective painkillers and playful banter.
However, we get jump cuts between the weeks after the meeting to find that the riots are happening (thanks to the Symbol of Doom in the sky) and someone is systematically hunting the Titans. Brent Peeples does the art for this book and while it’s not the most interesting of art, he does draw some pretty good scenes, especially as Miss Martian encounters a tied up Raven and falls into a ring of fire trap set by a mysterious figure. Arif Prianto’s colors and inks, I presume, make things feel dire and dynamic as the fire rages with it’s hot oranges while the figure is obscured with the darkest shadow over their face and only red eyes being seen.
Steel searches for Miss Martian and Raven, entering the hospital where M’Gann was last heard from and we cut back to a week before the riot where a Metahuman was attacked for supporting the wrong side. Steel, Natasha Irons, and Donna clash over Donna wanting to beat peace into both sides and Natasha is having none of it. The Batman Who Laughs waits for Donna to be left alone before springing his trap on her, causing her to be sliced with a piece of Infected Nth Metal. This scene almost looks like something out of Saw or another horror movie because of it’s blue hue, all of the blood and Donna’s pained expression as she hobbles away clutching her side.
Natasha finds the bodies of the Security Guards that The Batman Who Laughs killed for said trap and the mysterious person springs a trap on her, knocking her out and leaves a trail for Beast Boy to follow. She incapacitates him when he finally shows up to her staging ground and has a villain monologue. She says that she had always put the blame on herself for the actions that other people took, taking on the burden of it all. So when she was Infected, she allowed herself to give up control almost willingly. Peeples draws a fantastic double page spread of her actions, ending with a battle of her many psyches from Troia to Wonder Girl with Deathbringer standing amongst the bodies.
She has a protracted fight with the Titans before Raven pleads with her to come back to them, asking what they need to do to get their friend back. Donna only says that they need to fight for her before flying away. Proving far less malicious than Sky Tyrant, Supergirl, King Shazam and Scarab, she leaves her former friends to wallow in their defeat and loss rather than try to Infect them as well. She wants them to be better and not fight for pointless reasons. She also seems to maintain a bit more of her past self than the rest aside from Scarab as Jaime is actively fighting back the Infection.
While not as harrowing as King Shazam, horrifying as the Scarab, or violent as Sky Tyrant, Deathbringer has a more psychological feel to it. Much like the Troia storyline in the Rebirth Titans series, it almost seems like destiny that Donna would end up being evil again at some point. Deathbringer wasn’t my favorite of the introductory one-shots, but with decent art and good writing, it was still an enjoyable experience.
Deathbringer #1: Take Weapon, Point and Destroy
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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