Comics, Roundtable

The Wedding Issue: Donna Troy and Terry Long

Aside from “Who would win in a fight?” nothing gets comic fans more heated than the question of whether or not superheroes should marry. In this mini-feature, recent Bride Rebecca Henely-Weiss and her Maid of Honor Kayleigh Hearn take a trip down memory lane to the most significant times comic companies took the plunge and got their characters hitched! Did we like the couple? Did we like the dress? And more importantly… why did (or didn’t) the marriage last? Today we look at the wedding of Donna Troy and Terry Long …

tales of the teen titansThe Couple: Donna Troy and Terry Long
The Issue: Tales of the Teen Titans #50
Published: February 1985
Today: Terry Long filed for divorce/a restraining order, claiming that Donna’s superheroine lifestyle was too dangerous for their son Robert. Both Terry and Robert, as well as Terry’s daughter from his first marriage, Jennifer, later died in a car crash.

Rebecca: I wasn’t sure what I expected when we chose the wedding of one of comics’ most notorious couples for this edition of The Wedding Issue, but it definitely wasn’t “The Adventures of Changeling: Wedding Planner.” He is the real MVP of this thing. I don’t know if I’m saying that because I’m not a Donna/Terry fan or I’m still kind of floored anyone would just foist their wedding planning off on a teenager, but let’s all give a hand to the once and future Beast Boy and his loud magenta squiggle blazer. You’re doing amazing, sweetie.

Kayleigh: Gar looks like he’s about to host the 75th Annual Hunger Games, but it works! As much as Wolfman nails the soapy melodrama in this issue, he’s pretty guilty of portraying the Titans as basically mini-adults instead of recognizable teenagers. (See also: Terra, the 16-year-old psychopath who smoked and talked like a ’30s gangster moll.) With this wedding, though, it’s interesting to look at a couple that has few, if any, die-hard fans. Donna Troy/Wonder Girl/Troia has certainly stood the test of time as a character, but her husband Terry Long is something of a long-running joke in DC Comics fandom–a convenient poster child for useless, obnoxious supporting characters in superhero books.

Rebecca: The legendary Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans run has always been one of my blind spots as a comic book fan that I’ve wanted to fill, but I would never list the relationship between Wonder Woman’s little sister and a divorced, underemployed college professor 10 years her senior as a reason why. Other people on the Internet have explained in greater detail why his probably-meant-to-be-charming flirting comes off as douchey. I know some people feel differently, but frankly, I don’t think the second-to-last page where Terry drools over Donna in her mini-toga and then immediately says, “You remind me of your Mom” does the character any favors in debunking the “he’s a gross creep” interpretation.

donna troy and terry longKayleigh: Terry Long’s reputation as a creepy loser definitely precedes him. When I finally sat down to read The New Teen Titans I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt–surely he was a more nuanced character than out of context Scans_Daily posts suggested? But there is no defending the divorced beardo who hangs out with teenagers and makes leering “Oooh, kinky!” comments at them. (That issue with Terry ogling modeling photos of Starfire while Donna acts jealous? CALL THE POLICE.) Reading this issue I felt like Anna Kendrick at the beginning of Breaking Dawn Part 1: “Is she pregnant? Who else gets married at 19?” There could be good stories written about an ordinary guy who falls in love with a magical superwoman and isn’t intimidated by her strength (just look at Steve Trevor and Donna’s big sister in this summer’s Wonder Woman) but Terry Long is repulsive at first sight.

Rebecca: Despite my feelings toward Terry I don’t hate this issue. It’s a bit melodramatic — witness Raven not showing up to the ceremony so she can brood in her sadness realm or Vic Stone being upset with Changeling for having Mento use his powers to hide Vic’s Cyborg implants and Changeling thus interpreting this as indicative of everything that has gone wrong in his life ever. It also fails to sell Donna and Terry as a couple, which is weird because that’s usually a problem when the wedding has a supervillain fight interruption and this one doesn’t. However, I do like when wedding comics go through the motions of a ceremony, and artist George Perez never minces when it comes to creative page layouts and intricate details. The page of Donna and Terry reading their vows to each other, each panel focusing more closely in on their faces, sells a sense of togetherness where the story itself doesn’t.

Kayleigh: There is a lot in this comic that works wonderfully, believe it or not. Wolfman and Perez make sure that Donna’s family is a significant presence in the story–of course, it would be weird if Wonder Woman missed her little sister’s wedding, but we’ve talked before about how easily these issues can gloss over the bride’s side of the aisle. Perez draws the hell out of this issue, making every page of the ceremony itself feel Big and Important and Meaningful. I especially love the scene where the panels “pull away” from Donna and Terry’s first kiss as man and wife while doves fly over the page gutters. We’ve covered wedding specials that rushed through the actual ceremonies and all that mushy romantic stuff, but here the emotional beats really work–it’s just painfully disappointing that all this is for fucking Terry Long.donna troy and terry longRebecca: This is one of the more well-attended weddings we’ve covered. Since I’m not a DC super-fan I wasn’t able to catch most of them, particularly when it came to characters like Golden Eagle, Guardian and Bumble-bee, or the original Bat-Girl Betty Kane. On the other hand I enjoyed having my “Oh, Clark Kent and Lana Lang were dating at this point? Weird” moment. I was also touched by Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne’s “Do you still love me now that you have a new surrogate son?” conversation, especially because Dick had the good sense to leave his bad wig at home. I also like how Terry Long’s family is actually a major presence at the wedding, which is a nice change from Kyle Jinadu’s sister not showing up at his wedding to Northstar or popular girl Mary Jane not having a maid of honor.

Kayleigh: Crisis on Infinite Earths hit only a couple months after this issue, which puts some of these cameos in an interesting context. Duela Dent, a confusing character on her best day, gets a particularly confounding cameo as a middle-aged matron even though she served on the Teen Titans alongside Wonder Girl and Robin. Dick’s scenes with Bruce and Donna are the most touching and deeply felt in the issue, which is amusing since he isn’t even one of the characters getting married.

Rebecca: This is also the only wedding other than Scott Summers and Jean Grey’s where you get the couple’s wedding song name-dropped. In this case it’s “Annie’s Song” by John Denver. That struck me as weird because Denver’s relationship with the woman he wrote it for really did not work out. On the other hand, my father-daughter dance was Denver’s “For Baby (For Bobbie)” so I can’t judge.

Kayleigh: Not going to lie, I expected Terry to drop a comment about having an ex-girlfriend named Annie, because that seems like the shit Terry Long would pull on his own wedding day.

donna troy and terry longRebecca: Now for the fashion review! I’m a little torn on this one. On the one hand, I do like that George Perez and his wife Carol Flynn (who designed the bridal party dresses) clearly put some thought into what everyone is wearing. I’ve long decried the scourge of the blue suits, but at least they’re kept to just the groomsmen and the ruffled shirts are dated but make them a little unique. I’m not so sure about the women’s dresses. I like that they clearly have a Grecian influence — the paneled details on Donna’s and the bridesmaids’ dresses remind me of the borders of a toga. I also like how Diana is marked as the maid of honor because the pink-and-blue colors are inverted. On the other hand, I still think they look pretty dowdy and unattractive, more like bad renaissance faire outfits than wedding party dresses. I guess I like them in theory but not in execution.

Kayleigh: I think we may just need to accept that 1980s wedding dresses made women look like frumpy little old ladies and move on. The ruffles on Terry’s shirt feel like a personal affront to me, but maybe that’s just my loathing for his character coming out. Though hey, it’s just now occurring to me–if Donna’s from Themyscira and worships the Greek pantheon, why is she having a standard American Christian wedding? Dick walking her down the aisle is sweet, but would Donna really buy into that patriarchal “giving the bride away” tradition? There could have been something more subversive or unique here, but it’s the kind of thing that portends how boring and milquetoast this relationship would become.

Donna Troy and Terry Long

Can this marriage be saved?

Rebecca: Reading up on why Terry Long and Donna Troy broke up, I actually did feel a little bad for the guy, mostly because the divorce was spurred on by editor Jonathan Peterson being convinced that marriage made Donna boring and that idea grates on me in general. Also, John Byrne taking out not only Terry but both of his children strikes me as needlessly sadistic. That being said, even just going by this comic, I can’t imagine a #Justice4Terry campaign ever emerging. There’s just something wrong about an explicitly feminist character like Hippolyta begging the Greek Gods to let her come to Earth so she can tell an off-putting creep like Terry Long that he’s an amazing guy worthy of a woman raised by Amazons. If Patty Jenkins ever wants to bring Donna Troy into the DCEU, I’d recommend leaving this part of her history in the garbage bin.

Kayleigh: Normally we’re on the same page re: creators scrambling to erase “boring” marriages or killing a superhero’s kid as soon as they become inconvenient to the stories they want to tell, but in this case I really can’t fault any post-Wolfman and Perez creators who were like, “You know what? Fuck this guy.” Terry Long and his entire family being wiped out by a perfectly ordinary car crash–not even anything orchestrated by a supervillain, Terry just loses control of the car and dies–is just such an utterly black joke that shows how little anyone thought of Terry, I have to cackle. We’ve covered superhero marriages that ended badly, and while psychic infidelity and deals with the devil are rough, I’m not sure anything tops Blackest Night digging up Terry’s corpse just so Donna can cremate him with her fists.  (And yeah, it looks like Zombie Terry over there was buried in his wedding tuxedo, because ahahaha holy shit.)  Tales of the Teen Titans #50 sincerely tries to sell Donna and Terry as soulmates, but he’s more of a human boat anchor than husband of the year. You know when you go a wedding but it’s one of those “I give it five years, max” couples? Yeah, that was Donna and Terry.

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  1. Damien

    September 12, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Apparently Perez based Terry Long’s appearance on Marv Wolfman. That makes him even creepier. It also adds a disturbing element to Byrne killing him off particularly when you consider that Byrne appeared in court against Wolfman as part of his copyright case against Marvel.

    1. Kayleigh Hearn

      September 12, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Oh wow, I hadn’t heard about that thing between Byrne and Wolfman. Comics are weird!

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