For Your Consideration: DC’s Wonder Woman Villains: The Cheetah


Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Wonder Woman Villains: The Cheetah

Wonder Woman Villains: The Cheetah


It makes perfect sense for Wonder Woman Villains: The Cheetah to be released in early 2020. After all, she’ll be the antagonist in June’s Wonder Woman 1984 and fans may need a refresher course in the character, since there have been four different women wearing the fur body outfit. The 216-page collection collects Wonder Woman #6 (1943), #274, #275 (1980), #9 (1987), The Flash #219 (2005), Wonder Woman #214 (2005), Justice League #13-14 (2012), Wonder Woman #23.1 (2013), and Wonder Woman #8.

Wonder Woman #6

Wonder Woman #6


It all began with spoiled socialite Priscilla Rich, who suffered from both an inferiority complex and a split personality and after perceiving the Amazon snubbed her at an affair, donned the spotted catsuit to commit robberies and attempt to destroy Wonder Woman. Her 44-page debut in WW #6, from William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, sees her enslaving several women and making them wear zebra costumes before taking on Paradise Island, briefly overwhelming even Queen Hippolyta.

Wonder Woman #275

Wonder Woman #275


She was a recurring foe throughout the Golden Age, disappearing seemingly forever. On Eartth-1, the two didn’t cross paths until Wonder Woman #160 (February 1966), which is not included here. Instead, we skip ahead to the latter part of the Silver Age when Priscilla is now an invalid, stuck in her Maryland mansion. She dies in Wonder Woman #274 before she can reveal her dual identity to her niece, Debbie Domaine. Kobra, who tried to recruit Rich, turns the unwitting young woman into a villain. Debbie, a student of the martial arts since her teens, meant her Cheetah was an aggressive combatant, with her strength fueled at times by irrational rage towards the heroine. Gerry Conway, Jose Delbo, and Dave Hunt attempted to give Princess Diana a formidable foe, especially after the villain gained a following via the Super Friends Saturday morning series.

Wonder Woman #9

Wonder Woman #9


Crisis on Infinite Earths provided DC a chance to try again and this time it was under the revisionist hand of George Pérez. He reimagined the villain to be British anthropologist and heiress Doctor Barbara Ann Minerva, who uses the African plant god Urzkartaga to channel the forces that made her the deadly Cheetah. The trick here is that it was intended to be used only by virgins, which Minerva was not, twisting her soul and giving her a blood lust. The introductory story, dialogued by Len Wein and inked by Bruce Patterson, is a seminal point for the character. It is this incarnation of the villain that has had the most enduring following and is the source for the various media interpretations.

Flash #219

Flash #219


In an unusual pairing, Zoom and the Cheetah partner up to take on their foes, the Fastest Man Alive and the Amazon Princess, in a two-parter from Flash (by Geoff Johns, Justiniano, John Livesay, and Walden Wong) and Wonder Woman (Greg Rucka, Drew Johnson, and Ray Snyder). In the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Minerva seduced Zoom, who in turn talked her into killing Rich, that reality’s first Cheetah, convincing Minerva the act would symbolically empower her.

Justice League #13

Justice League #13


Johns is back to reimagine a New 52 origin for the Cheetah as revealed in the Justice League two-parter, with art by Tony Daniel, Richard Friend, Batt, and Sandu Florea. Here, it is established that the Priscilla Rich and Debbie Domaine names were merely aliases used by Minerva.

Wonder Woman #8

Wonder Woman #8


Soon after, John Ostrander steps in with artists Victor Ibañez and Wil Quintana for a Cheetah spotlight issue, oddly numbers as Wonder Woman #23.1. And once the New 52 was deemed inadequate, the back-to-basics Rebirth reality has a fresh origin for Barbara Ann Minerva as revealed in Wonder Woman #8, from Rucka and Bilquis Evely. This new version more closely ties Minera to Wonder Woman as the young archeologist seeks to prove the existence of the Amazons.

(For the record, there was one male Cheetah, Sebastian Balleros, from Phil Jimenez’s run on the title but he’s not in this collection.)

The sheer feral nature of any of these Cheetahs makes for an interesting contrast against the highly trained Amazon. The colorful costume of fur also allows for a nice visual, which may help explain her enduring popularity. This collection of stories, as a result, will represent an entertaining assortment of takes on the villain.