We've previously discussed how Hawkman is a supremely confusing comic book character, thanks to his cluttered character history. But he's a marvel of concise storytelling compared to Wonder Girl, arguably the most fucked-up character in all comics. Here a list of all the different ways DC tried to make the junior Wonder Woman make sense. Warning: None of this makes any sense.
1) A Young Wonder Woman
It started out so simply, too. Back in the '40s, Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston would write a few back-up stories featuring Wonder Woman in her youth. In Wonder Woman #105, in 1958, she was given the name Wonder Girl. The super-young Wonder Woman was named Wonder Tot, because '50s comics were ridiculous.
2) A Young Wonder Woman Who Hung Out with Regular Wonder Woman
Things immediately got weird, because suddenly Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, and even occasionally Wonder Tot would start hanging out together from issue #124 (published in 1961). These were presented as "Impossible Tales," but slowly this appellation was dropped, and Wonder Girl began to have her own stories set in the present day. She was still technically Wonder Woman, though.
3) Wonder Woman's Sister
And then suddenly she wasn't. When DC debuted the Teen Titans in 1965, Wonder Girl was a part of the team, while Wonder Woman was of course in the Justice League. Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl would actually be seen together, and they were no longer "impossible tales," but regular continuity. In one of these issues, Wonder Girl calls WW's mom Queen Hippolyta "mother," so suddenly WW and WG were sisters.
4) An Orphan Wonder Woman Rescued and Her Mom Adopted
This was clarified in 1969 in Teen Titans #22. Suddenly, Wonder Girl was some random orphan Wonder Woman rescued from an apartment fire, took to her home on Paradise Island, and essentially pawned her off on her mom. Technically, this meant Wonder Girl was a normal human; she was given her Wonder Woman-esque powers by the Purple Ray, which WW had invented to save Steve Trevor back in the '40s, and had quickly turned into a "Does Anything the Writers Need It to" Ray. At this point, Wonder Girl takes the name Donna Troy.
5) Donna Troy, Former Child Slave
When Marv Wolfman and George Perez relaunched The New Teen Titans in 1984, they elaborated on this origin in an appropriately gritty '80s kind of way. Instead of just being an orphan Wonder Woman rescued from a fire, Donna was the child of a dying teen who dumped her at an orphanage and eventually fell into the child slave market. All the slavers died in the apartment fire. Fun!
6) A "Titan Seed" Who Had Nothing to Do with Wonder Woman
And then came Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, and Donna Troy's life took a turn for the retconned. Suddenly, Wonder Woman was a new arrival to the world of man, and thus suddenly Donna Troy never spent time on Paradise Island (now called Themyscira), never met Wonder Woman, or was hit by a Purple Ray. The orphan/fire/slavery thing stayed the same, though, except this time Rhea, one of the Titans of Greek mythology, had rescued her. As it turns out, she was a "Titan Seed," one of 12 orphans scattered throughout the universe destined to save the Titans, who had been overthrown by Zeus and relocated to a planet named New Cronus. The plan was this: The orphans would be raised on New Cronus and given powers, they would be returned to their home planets at age 12, with no memories of their time on New Cronus, and they would eventually come back as adults and be gods or something. This completely incomprehensible plan bak fires when Sparta, one of the 12 Titans Seeds, goes crazy and starts killing her fellow Seeds to gain their powers. Donna stops her, and all her powers are retuned to the Titans, who promise not to mess with this sort of nonsense again. Donna takes the new superhero name Troia, and suddenly gained crazy new powers, like creating 3D images of people's memories.
7) A Mom
Suddenly in 1991, Donna is married and pregnant, and even more suddenly, a group called the Team Titans appears and tries to kill her. They're from the future, where Donna's baby boy is born with the powers of a god, goes crazy, kills Donna, starts calling himself Lord Chaos, and becomes dictator of the world. Donna, realizing this is not an optimal situation, gives up her powers in order to have a normal son. After he's born, she asks the Titans of Myth for her powers back, but they say no.
8) A Space-Cop and a Bad Mom
What's a powerless mom to do? Abandon her family to become a space cop, obviously. She joins the Darkstars in 1992, another of the DC universe's intergalactic space cops (the Green Lanterns corps was more or less defunct at the time). The Darkstar uniform gave Donna her old powers back, more or less, along with the ability to shoot laser bolts. Between that and the Zero Hour miniseries, in which Hal Jordan went crazy and destroyed her former teammates, Donna's husband filed for divorce and got custody of their son. Then they both died in a car wreck.
9) Wonder Woman's Magic Clone Sentenced to Eternal Anguish
The understandably depressed Donna retired from the Darkstars and was now a normal human. Someone at that point had the great idea to just give her a wholly new origin. Now Donna was a magical duplicate of Wonder Woman created when she was young, in order that the little princess could have someone to play with. Why they had a sorceress clone Wonder Woman instead of giving her a Speak & Spell is unknown, but little Donna Troy was quickly stolen by an evil sorceress named Dark Angel, who thought she was Diana. Dark Angel then made Donna live out a variety of lives, all of which ended super-depressing for her, while making the world forget about her previous life so she could start a new, super-depressing one (it was weirdly elaborate). So having fully bummed Wonder Girl out, Dark Angel restarted her life again. Only this time, Wonder Woman and the Flash somehow remembered the old version, and managed to rescue Wonder Girl, which also somehow gave her her original powers back. Queen Hippolyta re-adopted her, since, you know, she had been created out of part of her actual daughter's soul, and that was nice. Then she was killed by a robot Superman.
10) The Goddess of the Moon
And here's where things get complicated. Suddenly, Donna Troy is resurrected and now a Moon goddess. This only lasts for a little bit until we learn that the Titans of Myth are back to dicking around with her, and made her think she was the goddess of the Moon for some reason. It was all part of another unnecessarily overcomplicated scheme to get them off New Cronus, and ended with Donna tossing them into hell.
11) All the Donna Troys in the Multiverse
With that taken care of, Donna get busy being one of very few characters who remember the multiverse before it was merged into one during Crisis on Infinite Earths; moreover, she remembers all her different lives in each of those universes… except for the Donna Troy of Earth-7, who somehow avoided the merge, and became the evil Dark Angel. This kind of explains all her different incarnations, but DC couldn't leave well enough alone. She became an assistant to the Monitor, the Guardian of the Universe Orb, and basically started patrolled the cosmos. During this time, she tried to stop Alexander Luthor of Earth-2 from recreating the multiverse, but blew it, leading to Infinite Crisis.
12) Fake Wonder Woman
Infinite Crisis led to One Year Later, which found Donna Troy impersonating Wonder Woman while the real WW took a break. Oh, and all insanity in entry #9? That was destroyed. Now she was still a magic clone of Wonder Woman, and still kidnapped by Dark Angel, but she was only put in suspended animation for a while, rescued, and then grew up with the Amazons on Themyscira, following Wonder Woman to the world of man a few years later.
13) A Briefly Dead Member of the Justice League
She mucks about the Titans, the Amazons, and Jason Todd for a bit before getting killed by the Black Lantern versions of her son and ex-husband in Blackest Night. But she was resurrected as a White Lantern, helped beat Nekron, and then joined the Justice League. And then she quit, which takes us to the New 52 reboot of 2011.
14) An Imaginary Ghost or Something
Donna Troy has yet to be seen in the New 52-iverse. Cassandra Sandsmark is currently Wonder Girl (she's the blonde one, for the record), who is Wonder Woman's actual half-sister because both she and WW were fathered by Zeus. Now, Donna Troy has been mentioned a few times in the New 52 — specifically in the early issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws — until co-publisher Dan Didio declared she didn't exist at all, and had the old comics rewritten to take out all mention of her in the collected trades. Why this decision was made several months after the New 52 began, and not, say, before is as unknown as Donna Troy herself.