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Donna Troy as Wonder Woman

DCD Wonder Woman
by Artemis

Every once in a while, someone (usually a pretentious fanboy, sometimes a DC executive) has a little rant about how Wonder Woman's costume is "silly." "It's a swimsuit made out of an American flag," they say, and then they set about designing something with shoulder plates and bronze armour and leather skirts, occasionally with an eye towards authentic Grecian design, but more often just nicking ideas from Xena. And then everyone else is reminded that what works on film doesn't necessarily work in comic book art, and there's a reason Wonder Woman has remained essentially unchanged for the better part of seven decades.

Filling in for her Amazonian sister, Diana Prince, Donna Troy quickly learns the perils of working as Wonder Woman when she is abducted by Circe.

During her less-than-successful stint as Wonder Woman - which, regardless of Circe's help, basically consisted of her jobbing to Cheetah, Giganta and Dr. Psycho just so they could look tough when Diana showed up - Donna adopted this new look, but by the fifth issue she'd gone back to her old red Wonder Girl costume, and subsequently took to jaunting around the multiverse with a jerk and a plot contrivance (Jason Todd and Bob the Monitor to you) in her starfield Troia outfit. So with a grand total of four issues in which she wore this Xena/She-Ra mishmash - two of them spent unconscious - it doesn't seem likely we'll see it again. Certainly not in action figure form, which does give this figure some allure in terms of being the one-and-only of its kind.

Donna's Wonder Xena costume is mainly gold, with some silver here and there, a skirt of leather straps, a cape, and starfield armbands as a link to her earlier costume. Compared to her big sister, Donna's appearance is dominated by her armour - the shoulder plates and breastplate define her upper body, while the skirt and the boots, with their high knee plates, conspire to hide her thighs from prominence. Her breastplate is more cleavage-enhancing, compared to Diana's costume (which just supports her breasts without really moving them anywhere they wouldn't be anyway). Her body is reasonably powerful-looking, in much the same athletic vein as Diana's, but it shows far less, and the combined effect of all the armour pieces is actually to make her look a bit awkward. Combined with her hair and cape both resting more or less straight down, with little evidence of motion, she's a rather static-looking figure.

Speaking of the cape, it's pegged and glued in place, but the weight of the soft plastic against the small area of contact is a worry - just in the course of posing Donna I've had the cape start to work away from the glued areas, and depending on how deep and solid the mounting pegs are that may become a breakage issue. On the plus side, the fine detail in the etched armour plates is all quite crisp, and the degree of sharpness in the sculpt is damn near identical from top to bottom of her torso armour, which is impressive since the silver belt and the gold diamond-shaped panel below that are actually soft rubber, like the leather skirt.

There's a clear resemblance to Diana in Donna's face, but they're not identical. Donna looks a little tougher, but less serene - fittingly for her character concept in this appearance, it looks like she wants to seem tough, rather than simply being tough without giving it a thought. Darker lips and some eye shadow further differentiate her, but what mostly sets her apart is her hair. I don't know whether there was a design change since the prototype, or if the hair section came out of the mould differently or didn't quite fit onto her head, but her hair sits up very high - her eyebrows only just reach the middle of her head's height, from chin to the top of her hair (not her crown, which wouldn't be so bad, but the top of her hair at the front). It's not an uncommon problem for artists drawing Wonder Woman and her ilk that, due to the tiara, they end up making the forehead too big and subtly throwing off the dimensions of the head - this figure has the solid version of that artistic quirk.

Donna's paint work is reasonable, but held back by one annoying problem. The gold and silver of her armour is applied cleanly and clearly, and shines well in the light, catching the edges of the sculpt rather well. The "eagle"/WW symbol on her chest is actually a slightly paler, more silver shade of gold - I'm not sure if that was intentional since it all looks the same in the comic, though it's difficult to believe random quirks of paint could result in such a specific effect, but it looks really nice in any case. Aside from a tiny amount of slop in a couple of places the edges are crisp, and her skin is smooth and consistent - her clenched left fist is quite good, with good paint coverage but not so much that it pooled in the crevices, which would have looked pretty bad had it happened. Her armbands are plain black, without any starfield detail, which is a disappointment compared to her appearance in the comic, but doesn't detract a great deal from the figure taken by itself.

The problem is the intricately-detailed armour plates, on her shoulders and elbows and knees. These have been given a drybrush of the same gold used on the armour, and while that's been done well - ample coverage, but no slop or pooling - it leaves a lot of the underlying base coat showing, which makes these sections of armour look very much darker than the flat pieces, and creates a bit of a visual disconnect between their more ancient look, and the modern curves of the torso armour and boots. It's especially noticeable on the knees, which are intended (artistically) to be part of the boots - they're a separate piece of sculpt, attached to the knees, and even if they're slid down flush with the boot tops, it's not very easy to look at them and see a seamless whole. A darker gold base coat with a silver/gold highlight would have been a much better option, even if it had resulted in a little of the detail being played down.

Donna has the same articulation as big sis: balljointed neck and shoulders, peg elbows, swivel wrists, T-crotch, peg knees. The elbow and knee plates are, as I said, separate pieces, essentially clipped on using the exterior hollows of the peg joints as mounting points. There's not a lot of mobility in the elbow armour, but the knee plates can swing up and down a fair way - they're meant to be part of the boots, though, so there's not much use to be had from moving them. (The left elbow plate on my Donna, incidentally, is on upside-down, but since it's a tight fit, and can't be seen from the front anyway, I haven't tried to pop it off and fix it.) The combination of her hair and shoulder plates is very restrictive on the neck joint, and with no ankles there's not a lot you can do with the legs and still have the feet flat to the base.

Donna comes with two accessories, the main one being Wonder Woman's sword, a gift from Hephaestus described as being so sharp it can carve the electrons off an atom. It's well sculpted, and painted with a good gold highlight on the hilt, though the blade could stand to be a bit shinier - the dull silver coat is even, and fits well with the rest of the figure, but (loathe as I am to suggest it) I'd have liked to have seen it vac-metallized, so long as it was done well. It's a sword that can make a Hattori Hanzo look like it's made of wood, after all - it should gleam. Donna's other toy is the Lasso of Truth, mounted on a clip on her belt - it's the usual gold cord, and though the clip (part of the soft belt/skirt section) can be easily opened, Donna doesn't have a free hand to hold the Lasso, since her scabbard is missing. There's also the standard red disc base for this series of figures, and the lack of leg articulation means it's pretty necessary to keep her standing stably.

Donna's a decent figure, but she's not exceptional - she gets by on the strength of her sculpt and (aside from those etched armour plates) paint job, but her awkward posture, so-so design, the fact that she only appeared in four issues (even if it did take Allan Heinberg nine months to write them), and above all the fact that the figure, visually, is trying to be Wonder Woman but isn't, means that this is the runt of the litter for this series.

-- 12/19/07

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