Classic Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman #275
It’s time once more for us to delve into the Amazon archives, in our ongoing weekly comic cover countdown to the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman. This week we present you with; Wonder Woman #275, written by Gerry Conway, with cover and interior art by Ross Andru, Dick Giordano and Jose Delbo. Released in January 1981.
The tale contained behind this classic comic cover is titled, “Claws of the Cheetah”. The newest incarnation of Wonder Woman’s nemesis the Cheetah, makes her debut with a splash, as she sabotages the Hampstead dam in Maryland, causing a catastrophic flood throughout the nearby town. Diana mounts a rescue attempt, saving most of the residents from a watery grave, but when she later clashes with her foe, Cheetah manages to briefly overpower Diana and steals her golden lasso.
Though Diana has fought a plethora of mythological creatures, gods and criminal masterminds throughout her long and illustrious career as Wonder Woman, one character in particular rose to the forefront to become her lifelong nemesis… Cheetah. There have been three significant versions of Cheetah since her initial introduction in Wonder Woman #6 in 1943. Priscilla Rich was the original character to take up the name of Cheetah, a bored socialite with a split personality, who would dress up in a Cheetah outfit to combat Wonder Woman on a regular basis. Priscilla was the longest running version of the character, holding the title up until her retirement in 1980.
The next significant version of Wonder Woman’s arch-enemy was Deborah Domaine, Debbie is the niece of original Cheetah, Priscilla Rich. A beautiful and smart debutante who feels remorse for her wealthy upbringing and decides to devote her life to becoming an environmental activist. When Debbie is summoned to her aunt’s home, she finds her suffering from a grave and ultimately terminal illness, Priscilla attempts to tell Debbie of her former secret identity, but succumbs to her illness before she has the chance. Soon after Priscilla’s death, Debbie is captured by Kobra, an international terrorist and mad scientist who originally wanted her aunt to join his gang but settled for Debbie after Priscilla’s untimely death. After revealing the secret of her aunt’s dual identity, Kobra tortures and brainwashes Debbie into becoming the new face of Diana’s feline foe.
Cheetah number 3, and quite possibly the most popular is Barbara Minerva, a British born archaeologist and heiress of a vast family fortune. An ambitious, highly intelligent but unstable personality who develops a passion for archaeology and treasure hunting, that eventually leads her on a journey into Africa to search out a tribe who use a female guardian with the powers of a Cheetah for protection. After a band of marauders kill the original guardian, Barbara along with the support of the tribe’s priest sets out to become the new embodiment of the mystical Cheetah.
Upon being told she would become immortal, Barbara agrees to the ceremony that would endow the spirit and powers of the Cheetah to her through ingesting human blood mixed with leaves from the tribe’s plant-god Urtzkartaga. Unfortunately for Barbara, the host is required to be a virgin, which Barbara is not, this results in her experiencing bouts of severe pain and discomfort whilst in human form, and bloodthirsty intoxication and euphoria whilst in her animalistic form of the Cheetah.
Join us again next week for another classic WW cover, my astounding Amazonian associates!