Barbara Ann Minerva as the Cheetah as seen on the cover of Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #28.
Art by Aaron Lopresti.
Wonder Woman #6 (October 1943)
Wonder Woman #274 (December 1980)
Wonder Woman vol. 2 #7 (August 1987)
Wonder Woman #170 (July 2001)
William Moulton Marston
H. G. Peter
Gerry Conway William Moulton Marston
|Alter ego||- Priscilla Rich
- Deborah Domaine
- Barbara Ann Minerva
- Sebastian Ballesteros
Secret Society of Super Villains
The Cheetah is a super-villainess appearing in DC Comics publications and related media. Popularly regarded as the archenemy of Wonder Woman, the Cheetah first appeared in 1943 in Wonder Woman #6 (volume 1), written by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston. Since then, the character has undergone several updates as comic book continuities have evolved and shifted. Indeed, there have been four different Cheetahs since the character's debut, including Priscilla Rich (the Golden Age Cheetah), Deborah Domaine (the Silver Age Cheetah), Barbara Ann Minerva (the modern age and current Cheetah), and Sebastian Ballesteros (a male usurper who briefly assumed the role in 2001). In 2009, Cheetah was ranked as IGN's 69th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
Golden Age and Silver Age comics history 
Prior to the 12-issue DC Comics series Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 (which is regarded as the starting point for DC's modern continuity), there were two women who donned spotted cat costumes to fight Wonder Woman as the Cheetah: socialite Priscilla Rich and her niece Deborah Domaine. While modern incarnations of the Cheetah possess superhuman powers, Rich and Domaine do not.
Priscilla Rich 
The first woman to become the Cheetah, in Wonder Woman #6 (October 1943), is Priscilla Rich, a 1940s-era blonde Washington, D.C. debutante of aristocratic upbringing who also has an overwhelming inferiority complex and suffers from a split personality. After being eclipsed by Wonder Woman at a charity event and failing to kill her during an escapology act, Priscilla retreats to her room and collapses before her makeup mirror. There she sees an image of a woman dressed like a cheetah. "Horrors!" she cries, as she gazes at her evil inner-self for the first time. "Don't you know me?" replies the reflection. "I am the REAL you—the Cheetah—a treacherous, relentless huntress!" The image commands her to fashion a Cheetah costume from a cheetah-skin rug. "From now on," intones the reflection, "when I command you, you shall go forth dressed like your TRUE self and do as I command you..." The Cheetah frames Wonder Woman for a robbery by hiding the money in her apartment and tipping off the police, then sets fire to a warehouse Wonder Woman is in, although Wonder Woman escapes. Cheetah survives and goes on to menace Wonder Woman in subsequent stories.
Priscilla was a member of Villainy Inc., a criminal association between several of Wonder Woman's female foes.
Priscilla has several run-ins with Wonder Woman before retiring to her North Shore Maryland mansion. In Wonder Woman #274 (Dec. 1980), the villain Kobra attempts to recruit the villainess for his organization. His operative finds the reclusive Priscilla an invalid. Priscilla's niece Deborah Domaine had come at her bidding, and the operative stays to observe. Before Priscilla can unburden her alter ego as the Cheetah, she dies.
Modern Age Comics History 
The original Cheetah, Priscilla Rich, is established as still existing post-Crisis when Queen Hippolyta becomes the Golden Age Wonder Woman. In the present, she is seen as an elderly woman when she is murdered by Barbara Minerva (the Modern Age Cheetah; see below). It is also established that she never became an invalid post-Crisis, as Minerva mentions how Priscilla had written books condemning her when she became the Cheetah. Rich is murdered in her home by Minerva, under the urging of Zoom. Zoom theorizes that if Minerva kills Rich, she would solidify herself as the one true Cheetah and thus be a better villain.
New 52 
Priscilla Rich is one of the many alliases Barbara Minerva used which she committed many crimes.
Deborah Domaine 
Deborah 'Debbie' Domaine was introduced as the niece of Priscilla Rich. A beautiful young debutante, Debbie feels remorse for her wealthy upbringing and decides to become an ecology activist, meeting Wonder Woman and striking up a friendship with her. Later that same day, Debbie is summoned to her Aunt Priscilla's mansion and finds her there, succumbing to illness. After Priscilla Rich dies, Kobra's operatives capture Deborah and bring her and the Cheetah costume to Kobra's headquarters, where he questions her: "You didn't know about your aunt's secret life, did you? Well, you'll learn—Since we couldn't have the original, we decided to make do with a recreation. You shall be that recreation, Ms. Domaine."
Kobra tortures and brainwashes Debbie and provides her with an updated version of the Cheetah costume. The original suit included a cat-eared cowl and clawed, flat-soled boots. Debbie's version has a V-neck, slit to the sternum, a headband with cat-ears (concealed for the most part beneath her long, auburn hair), and heeled boots. Both costumes include razor-sharp chrome steel nails, painted bright red. "You are my servant, and I, your master. You are the Cheetah!" he cries, "And you will fill the world with terror!" Debbie has several conflicts with Wonder Woman and also serves as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains in a conflict with both the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, before her role as the Cheetah is retconned out of existence due to the history-altering after-effects of the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985–1986). Debbie still exists post-Crisis, as referenced by a photo in Priscilla Rich's mansion inscribed to "Aunt Priscilla, Love Debbie."
New 52 
Deborah Domaine is one of the many alliases Barbara Minerva used which she committed many crimes.
There are two post-Crisis Cheetahs: Barbara Minerva and Sebastian Ballesteros, Minerva being the more prominent of the two. While the pre-Crisis Cheetahs are simply women in costumes, the post-Crisis Cheetahs have taken on a more mystical note, being champions of a god much as Wonder Woman is to her patrons; actually morphing into powerfully ferocious humanoid were-cheetahs with great strength, agility, and deadly claws and fangs which make them challenging opponents to Wonder Woman and other powerful heroes in battle.
Barbara Ann Minerva 
The third Cheetah is British archaeologist Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva. Born as the heiress of a vast fortune in the ancient family site in Nottinghamshire. Ambitious, selfish, and severely neurotic, Barbara develops a passion for archaeology that eventually led her to search out a tribe in Africa who utilizes a female guardian with the powers of a cheetah. A band of marauders kill the guardian and most of what remained of her original expedition party. Barbara, with the aid of the priest, Chuma, the caretaker of the ancient plant god Urtzkartaga, takes her place after being told that she would gain immortality. Her powers are conferred to her by ingesting a combination of human blood and the berries or leaves of Urtzkartaga. Unfortunately for Minerva, the host of the Cheetah persona is intended to be a virgin. Minerva is not, so her transformations were part curse and part blessing, as she experiences severe pain and physical disability while in her human form and blood-thirsty euphoria while in her cat form.
This version of the Cheetah comes into Wonder Woman's world when Barbara discovers that Diana possesses the Lasso of Truth. As an anthropologist, Barbara covets the lasso hoping to add it to her collection of historical items. She first attempts to do so through trickery, claiming that there is a matching ancient Golden Girdle of Gaea of the same kind from which the lasso was fashioned. Unfortunately, although the scheme proceeds far enough for Minerva to hold the lasso, its magical power to make people tell the truth forces her to confess her true intentions. Diana, profoundly distraught that a woman would be so treacherous, takes back the lasso and returns home in tears. With the subtle approach having failed, Minerva resorts to attacking the Amazon as the Cheetah in order to rob her of the lasso. Their initial battle ends with inconclusive results, as Diana's friend, Julia Kapatelis, shoots the Cheetah and forces her to retreat.
Over the years, Barbara's interest in the lasso wanes and she becomes more interested in besting Diana in battle due to her bruised ego. The rivalry between the Cheetah and Wonder Woman fluctuates, though. Wonder Woman saves the Cheetah's life during an adventure in the Balkan country of Pan Balgravia. The country's dictator Baron Von Nastraed, for unknown reasons, chooses to aid a demon named Drax by capturing a powerful metahuman woman. The captive woman's body would be used to house Drax's alternate dimension bride Barremargux. When the Baron captures the Cheetah for this purpose, Wonder Woman travels to the country to save her. At the last moment, when Barremargux is about to enter Earth-One, Barbara closes the gateway before the crossing could be completed by jumping into the gateway instead. Barbara is trapped in this demonic dimension until the Boston mob boss Julianna Sazia has scientists open the dimensional gateway to retrieve Barbara to serve her own ends. Barbara double-crosses Julianna, choosing to aid Wonder Woman when she is caught in the mob war between Paulie Longo and Julianna Sazia in Boston. Seeing her debt to Wonder Woman paid for attempting to rescue her in Pan Balgravia, the Cheetah continues her quest to defeat Wonder Woman when it is convenient to her.
For a brief period of time, Minerva loses her powers to the businessman Sebastian Ballesteros (see below), who convinces Urtzkartaga that he could be a more effective Cheetah than she was. Minerva later kills Ballesteros and regains her powers.
The relationship Minerva has with Urtzkartaga is strained at times for all of Minerva's intense devotion and loyalty. For a brief period of time the god punishes her by leaving one of Minerva's hands human looking and untransformed even while she is in Cheetah form. Though it appears to still be fully empowered as the rest of her body and equally as deadly.
With help from Zoom, Minerva attains a level of super speed even greater than she previously possessed. She accomplishes this by murdering Priscilla Rich, who previously went by the codename Cheetah. They later join the latest Secret Society of Super Villains, and seem to be engaged in a sexual relationship, though Zoom considers himself to still be married to his former wife.
One Year Later, the witch Circe places a spell on Minerva that allows her to change her appearance from human to Cheetah at will, even though she still remains in her Cheetah form in either guise. She controls three actual cheetahs and still possesses her super speed, which is shown demonstrated by her ability to steal the golden lasso away from Donna Troy several times in battle.
In the pages of Wonder Woman, she is revealed as the power behind the Secret Society, responsible for the creation of Genocide. She arranges to have her ally Doctor Psycho take the place of Sarge Steel as director of the Department of Metahuman Affairs which, in the middle of Genocide's onslaught, she targets for destruction.
New 52 
In the new 52, Barbara Minerva's version of Cheetah appears in Justice League #13. Minerva is referred to as an accomplice to Wonder Woman and an expert in dangerous relics. In the possession of a dagger once belonging to a lost tribe of Amazons, she cut herself on it. The dagger changed her, and possessing by the Goddess of the Hunt, making her into a half-cheetah woman. Her claws can also turn Superman into a Cheetah-like being. The origin of the Cheetah is dated back to the San Tribe, who for centuries had hunted alongside the cheetahs and every generation one of their members is chosen to become the host of the Goddess of the Hunt until one day a hunter killed the current host, the knife used to kill her was cursed until it fell in the hands of Minerva. Cheetah is subdued by the Justice League and placed in Belle Reve. However, once there, she makes contact with someone telling him she is where he requested, implying her capture was staged as a part of a bigger plan.
Sebastian Ballesteros 
Argentine business tycoon Sebastian Ballesteros becomes the fourth Cheetah, as well as the only male Cheetah. He is an agent of the Amazon's enemy, Circe, as well as her lover. He seeks the plant god Urtzkartaga to become a new version of the Cheetah, a supernatural cat-creature like Barbara Ann Minerva. Appealing to the plant god's ego, Sebastian makes the case that the previous Cheetahs have failed in their actions and that a male Cheetah could be superior. Once Urtzkartaga is convinced, Barbara Minerva's access to the Cheetah is cut off and Sebastian is given the power in her place. Later, Sebastian proves responsible for turning Wonder Woman's old friend, Vanessa Kapatelis, into the third Silver Swan. Angered at the loss of her powers, Barbara Minerva eventually battles Bellesteros for control of the power of the Cheetah by becoming the temporary host of Tisiphone, one of the Eumenides or Furies. Minerva accesses this new power by stealing it from the Furies former host, Helena Kosmatos, the Golden Age Fury. This does not assist her in regaining the right to become the Cheetah, however, and at a later time Minerva hunts down and kills Sebastian in his human form, regaining her Cheetah form as a result. She is later seen giving his blood to the Urtzkartaga plant as a sacrifice.
New 52 
Sabrina Ballesteros is one of the many alliases Barbara Minerva used which she committed many crimes.
Amazon Cheetah 
A new version of the Cheetah appears in the "Odyssey" storyline, which involves the Gods altering Diana's history so that Themyscira was destroyed when she was a child. The new Cheetah is created from the corpse of a murdered Amazon after it is lowered into a mystical restoration pit and infused with the spirit of Magaera by the Morrigan (the villains who are hunting Wonder Woman). Alongside new versions of Artemis and Giganta (both of whom are also created from dead Amazons), the new Cheetah is tasked with hunting down and killing Wonder Woman. After tracking down the safehouse where Diana lives with the last surviving residents of Themyscira, Cheetah brutally ambushes and slays a young Amazon as she steps outside. Cheetah is then shown carrying the woman's body away from the scene, muttering about how she too will be reborn soon.
Other versions 
Wednesday Comics 
A modernized version of Priscilla Rich appears as one of the primary antagonists of the Wonder Woman feature in Wednesday Comics. Here, she is portrayed as a young archeologist from a wealthy Baltimore family, who relies on enchanted artifacts to grant her superhuman abilities. She initially befriends a young Diana, (before she has become Wonder Woman), after meeting her, but soon reveals her treacherous nature when she kidnaps Diana's friend Etta and uses her as bait for a trap set by Doctor Poison. In the end, both Priscilla and Poison are defeated by Wonder Woman.
The Priscilla Rich version of the Cheetah appears as a member of the Legion of Doom in Alex Ross' Justice maxi-series. Here, she is shown to have fashioned her costume from the fur of her pet cheetahs, which she violently killed and skinned in an ancient ritual (likely reminiscent of the Barbara Ann Minerva version). This version also appears to have retired at some point before the events of the series, as Wonder Woman mentions that Priscilla returned to the side of the "Dark Gods" and having been friends with her at some point. She is first seen at the opening of the series as one of the many villains suffering from nightmares about the end of the world, and the Justice League's inability to stop it. Priscilla reappears in the fourth issue, attending a peace conference held by Wonder Woman with her cheetahs, but kills them once in her hotel room before performing an ancient ritual and donning a costume made from their pelts. When Wonder Woman leaves the conference, Cheetah attacks her in the hall, slashing her several times before she escapes. It is later revealed over the course of the series that Cheetah's claws were infected with Centaur's Blood, and was turning Diana back into clay. Priscilla's attack is apparently the most successful, as Wonder Woman was slowly crumbling to the point that her face had become black and cracked by the time the Justice League attacked the Hall of Doom, relying on the powers of her lasso to keep her from crumbling apart. It is mentioned by a citizen that Cheetah ruled over a city filled with those deemed "ugly" by society. After the League attacks the Legion of Doom, Priscilla is one of the few villains to escape the initial attack, retreating to her city in wait for Wonder Woman. When Diana follows Cheetah with several other JLA members, they quickly realize Cheetah is stalking them and Wonder Woman tells them to leave so she can face Priscilla herself. Almost immediately after they leave Cheetah ambushes Wonder Woman, who removes her protective mask to expose that Cheetah's Centaur blood had almost killed her. Diana tells Cheetah that she has lost all patience for her before violently slamming her head into Priscilla's, breaking her Cheetah mask in half and knocking Priscilla out.
DC: The New Frontier 
An alternate version of Cheetah briefly appears in the final issue of DC: The New Frontier.
Wonder Woman: The Blue Amazon 
Another alternate version of Cheetah appears in Wonder Woman: The Blue Amazon.
In other media 
- The Priscilla Rich version of Cheetah appears in Challenge of the Super Friends and was voiced by Marlene Aragon. In one of the Cheetah's most memorable episodes, "The Secret Origins of the Super Friends", the Legion of Doom travel into the past to eliminate Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman before they can become heroes. The villains arrive at Paradise Island, moments before Princess Diana will compete in the Tournament she will win to become Wonder Woman. The Cheetah disguises herself as an Amazon to compete in the games and stop Diana, her athletic skills allowing her to get through most of the competition. As the tournament ends, only Diana and the Cheetah remain in contention and meet each other in a battle of stun rays to crown a winner. To assist her, the Cheetah uses "radar controlled" bracelets to deflect Diana's laser rays back at her, stunning the Amazon Princess. The Cheetah is hailed as the winner and is presented with the uniform and weapons of Wonder Woman. The blonde villainess, now wearing the uniform of the Amazon champion, gloats in her victory, "I've done it! Now I am Wonder Woman!" The Cheetah's victory causes Diana to be removed from the future timeline, thus eliminating Wonder Woman. However the Legion of Doom's triumph is short lived. The remaining Super Friends uncover the scheme and travel back in time to undo the damage. The Flash arrives at Paradise Island and uses his super-speed to deflect the rays meant to hit Diana and back at the Cheetah, stunning her. Diana is named the winner and goes onto become Wonder Woman.
- In the Cartoon Network's Justice League, there is a new Cheetah, voiced by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. This version of Cheetah (loosely based on the Barbara Ann Minerva version) was once a scientist who was involved in valuable genetic research. However, she explains that her funding was running out, and she was unable to perform proper experiments. In a last-ditch effort to prove the value of her research, she tested her theories on herself. The result was a mutation into a half-human-half-cat hybrid. She was shunned by the scientific community for her recklessness and ostracized by humanity as a freak. With no alternatives, she turned to crime to fund further research to undo the change. Her first appearance is in the episode "Injustice for All" as a member of the Injustice Gang. She joins Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang for the same reason she became a criminal in the first place: money - but unlike the others, she has little criminal intent, and merely wants to be normal again. When the Injustice Gang succeeds in capturing Batman, he realizes that Cheetah is not like the others and offers her a way out, in exchange for helping him topple Lex Luthor. However, Cheetah hesitates to take up Batman's offer, and instead, another disgruntled member betrays them. When Luthor realizes they have a traitor in their midst, he points the blame toward Cheetah, thanks to a clip from a security camera showing her and Batman kissing. She is defeated by The Joker, and then taken away by Solomon Grundy, where he supposedly kills her by petting her to death. However an animation error causes Cheetah's existence to remain intact.
- Sheryl Lee Ralph reprises her role as Cheetah in Justice League Unlimited. She makes minor appearances in the series after this, and is only heard speaking again in "Kid Stuff". Cheetah joins Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society in the 2005–06 season of Justice League Unlimited, though she remains a minor character.
- The Priscilla Rich version of Cheetah appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Triumvirate of Terror" voiced by Morena Baccarin. She collaborates with Lex Luthor and Joker in order to come up with a plan to defeat Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. She easily beats Superman with martial arts, Kryptonite, and the magic amulet of Orzchartaga which channels the full power of her namesake. She is later defeated by Superman who freezes her with his super breath leaving her vulnerable to Wonder Woman and Batman's finishing blows. Cheetah makes a cameo appearance in the series finale, "Mitefall!" getting hit on by Booster Gold.
- The Barbara Minerva version of Cheetah appears in the third Super Best Friends Forever short. She battles Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wonder Girl while the three girls argue over the name for their group.
- Cheetah appears in Wonder Woman. She is seen near the end where she steals an artifact from a museum and attacks the police. At this point, Wonder Woman changes into her costume, jumps over the police cars, wraps Cheetah with the Lasso of Truth and tugs Cheetah towards her. Just as Wonder Woman is about to deliver a punch to Cheetah, the film ends.
- The Barbara Ann Minerva version of Cheetah appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. She appears as one of the many supervillains trying to collect the bounty on Superman.
- The Barbara Ann Minerva version of Cheetah appears in Justice League: Doom, voiced by Claudia Black in her English accent. She selected by Vandal Savage as part of his Legion of Doom, and is selected to kill Wonder Woman. She fights Wonder Woman on a boat and manages to cut Diana's arm, infecting her with a poison. The poison's power is revealed when Cheetah jumps onto the docks and attempts to escape, but when Diana follows her everyone she saw was Cheetah, including civilians, cops, and Cyborg. She began fighting every Cheetah she saw, knocking out police, civilians, and ripping off Cyborg's arm (he was able to reattach it soon after). Cyborg deduced that, due to Wonder Woman's upbringing as a warrior, she would keep fighting to the end, overstraining herself, and causing her heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing go off the scale, therefore, Cheetah's intent was, to either make Wonder Woman's heart give out, suffer an aneurysm or have her get shot by police, and managed to cure Diana before either of those eventualities came to pass. She joins Savage's plan for genocide, and slits his throat when he says he cannot die. She does kill him, but he quickly gets up and hits her in the head. When the League storms the Hall of Doom she takes on Wonder Woman herself, but she is eventually defeated by Diana. Of special note she the only character from the original Legion that appears in the film.
Video games 
- The third comic book version of Cheetah (Barbara Ann Minerva) also appears in the Justice League Task Force video game for the SNES and Sega Genesis as a playable character.
- The Barbara Ann Minerva version of Cheetah appears in DC Universe Online voiced by Adrienne Mischler. In the hero campaign, Cheetah serves as a boss in the Hall of Doom. In the villain campaign, Cheetah works as the vendor in the magic wing of the Hall of Doom.
- The DCAU version of Cheetah appears in "Justice League: Injustice for All" for the Game Boy Advance, serving as both a miniboss, and a full on boss.
- Cheetah also appears in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, with Claudia Black reprising her role from Justice League: Doom.
Audio book 
- In 1982, the Wonder Woman audiobook story "Cheetah on the Prowl" was released with actress Sonia Manzano voicing the Deborah Domaine Cheetah.
- In the first two issues of the non-continuity Super Friends comic book series, Priscilla teams with a group of other villains (Penguin, Toyman, Poison Ivy, and Human Flying Fish) to mentor junior criminals. Priscilla's partner is a teenage girl, going by the name Kitten.
- Cheetah (Priscilla Rich) appeared alongside several other villains in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book series based on the animated series of the same name.
- In the "Krazy Kripples" episode of the TV show South Park, the Legion of Doom is spoofed. The Legion has a member that looks like Cheetah (Priscilla Rich).
- In an episode of Attack of the Show! a short list of problems with being Wonder Woman listed #3 as "Your Villains are Lame", features Blair Butler (who also wrote the short) dressed as Cheetah attacking Olivia Munn (who was playing Wonder Woman), only to be easily beaten. Butler reprises the role in a second short entitled "Wonder Woman's Guide to Office Safety", in which Cheetah emerges from a refrigerator after being formed from an old lunch containing correct chemical components essential to creating her.
See also 
- Cheetah is number 69, IGN.
- Wonder Woman: Our Worlds at War #1 (September 2001)
- The Flash #219 (April 2005)
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Cheetah II", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 80, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Wonder Woman Special (vol. 2) #1 (February 1992)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #63 (June 1992)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 3) #26-28 (January–March 2009)
- Justice League (vol. 2) #13 (December 2012)
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Cheetah III", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 80, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #606 (February 2011)
- Wonder Woman (vol. 1) #607 (March 2011)
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
- Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #2 (July 2011)
- "Cheetah". Jl.toonzone.net. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- Beatty, Scott (2009). Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Princess. Dorling Kindersley Publishing. pp. 76–77. ISBN 0-7894-9616-X.