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!
Super-Villain Sunday this week is dedicated to one of my personal favourite villains and Wonder Woman’s lifelong nemesis, Cheetah. There have been several different versions of the character over the years beginning with Priscilla Rich who was created by William Moulton Marston and HG Peter in 1943 making her first appearance in Wonder Woman #6. Priscilla is the original golden age Cheetah, a spoilt rich girl with an inferiority complex and a split personality, who when shown up by Wonder Woman at a charity event attempts to kill the awesome Amazon but ultimately fails. Later falling into the mire of her split personality, Priscilla dons a costume and becomes the first Cheetah.
Cheetah number 2 was Debbie Domaine niece of Priscilla Rich, a very different personality than that of her Aunt, Debbie was an ecology activist and originally a good friend of Wonder Woman. After her Aunt dies, Debbie is kidnapped by the villainous group Kobra and told of her Aunt’s secret identity, tortured and then brainwashed by them she becomes the new embodiment of the Cheetah.
Cheetah number 3 and the current and most popular is Barbara Minerva, a British archaeologist and heiress. Barbara originally got her powers from an African tribe who have a female guardian with the abilities and powers of a Cheetah, after the original guardian is killed by a band of fortune hunters, Barbara with the aid of the tribe’s priest takes over the role as the Cheetah. She first clashes with the Amazonian Princess when she hears stories of the Lasso of Truth and sets off to wrestle control of it from Diana, so she can add it to her vast collection of historical items. Barbara’s history was altered recently when DC relaunched it’s titles as the New 52 in 2011, she is still a treasure hunter who comes into possession of a long lost dagger once belonging to the Amazons, after accidentally cutting herself with the blade she becomes possessed by the Goddess of the Hunt turning her into a half Cheetah replete with super speed, strength and agility.
Super-Villain Rating: This cat got the cream, and everything else!