Cheshire, Art by J. G. Jones.
|First appearance||New Teen Titans Annual #2 (1983)|
|Created by||Marv Wolfman (writer)
George Pérez (artist)
|Alter ego||Jade Nguyen|
|Team affiliations||Injustice League
League of Assassins
|Abilities||Lethal martial artist
Cheshire (Jade Nguyen) is a fictional DC Comics supervillainess.
Fictional character biography
Born (allegedly, see below) to a French father and a Vietnamese mother, Jade Nguyen had an unhappy childhood and was sold into slavery. As a young adult, after killing her master, Jade was informally adopted by Chinese freedom fighter Weng Chan, who taught her all he knew about guerrilla fighting. She acquired knowledge of poisons from Kruen Musenda, a famed African assassin known as the "Spitting Cobra", whom she was married to for the two years prior to his death.
She is a long-standing rival of the superhero team the Teen Titans. However, when Roy Harper, a.k.a. the archer Speedy, went undercover for the government in a mission to get her confidence and turn her over, the two fell passionately in love. Knowing he would not be able to turn her in, he walked out; Cheshire would not learn his true identity until later. The result of their romance was a daughter, Lian, whom Roy raised.
Returning to her mercenary ways after leaving Lian behind for Roy, Jade saved Deathstroke's life so he could help her in stealing nuclear weapons from Russia in an attempt to blackmail the world. To prove she is not bluffing, she obliterates the fictional Middle East nation of Qurac, reasoning that since Qurac is a stronghold of Muslim terrorists, that Western countries would be secretly grateful. Cheshire's plans were foiled when her base came under attack and she was forced to flee. She later created her own team, The Ravens.
Cheshire volunteered to join Tartarus, a group created by Vandal Savage with the objective of destroying the Titans. During a confrontation with the Titans and the H.I.V.E, Savage shot Cheshire to distract Arsenal. She recovered, but was taken into custody for crimes including destroying Qurac. Sentenced to life imprisonment, she was broken out by the Ravens. Arsenal, however, forced her back into custody.
Eventually, Cheshire discovers that her biological father was a Senator named Robert Pullman, and she attempted to torture and kill him. To that end, she defeated Lady Shiva, and devised a plan to use her to fake her own death and flee the country with her daughter. Jade ties up Shiva, duct tapes her mouth shut, and locks her in the trunk of her car (which was wired to explode), hoping that the authorities will find the charred body of an Asian woman in the flaming car wreck and believe that Jade was killed while fleeing the Senator's murder. Unfortunately for her, Catwoman and Gypsy show up and untie Shiva, while Huntress and Black Canary stop Jade from murdering the Senator, and then took her into custody. While escaping the scene of the attempted assassination, Jade is punched in the face and thrown out of the helicopter the women were escaping in by Black Canary to avoid being beaten to death by an enraged Shiva.
In 2005, she appeared in the miniseries Villains United as a member of the Secret Six. Cheshire had been blackmailed into joining by Mockingbird, who claimed that there was a small bomb implanted in the back of Lian's head. During the series, she slept with Thomas Blake, a.k.a. Catman, and became pregnant with a replacement child, thereby allowing her to leave the team and no longer needing to worry for Lian's safety. At the end of the miniseries, having betrayed the Six to Luthor's Society, she is shot and critically wounded by Deathstroke. As the faux Luthor orders the Society's withdrawal, one of his last commands is to bring Cheshire with, provided she's still alive.
After the "Villains United" series, she later turned up alive, living in a mansion in the Himalaya Mountains with her son by Blake. Working with Vandal Savage again, she put out hits on the other members of the Secret Six except for Blake. Taking matters into her own hands, she stabs the Mad Hatter, who is working with the Six. Her blade was poisoned (as usual) and she later bartered the antidote to the poison to Catman in exchange for her safety.
In Justice League of America (vol. 2) #12, Cheshire was shown in prison, receiving a visit from Roy Harper and Lian.
Cheshire returned as a member of a small army of villains attempting to collect massive bounties on the heads of the Secret Six. She manages to poison the meals of her targets, but is defeated by Jeannette.
In Justice League: Cry for Justice, Star City is destroyed by Prometheus, killing Lian. Cheshire attacks Roy, outraged at him for not keeping Lian safe, injuring him in the process. Both Roy and Cheshire continue to fight however Roy manages to pin Cheshire against the wall. Cheshire loses the will to fight and tearfully recalls the loss of her child. Roy comforts her and the two of them attempt to sleep together. However, due to Roy's impotence he is unable to please Cheshire in bed, which causes more turmoil in Roy's life forcing him to angrily leave.
In Secret Six Cheshire's son from her involvement with Catman (Thomas Blake) is kidnapped, chronologically this takes place after the death of Lian. Catman goes on a murderous rampage believing the child to already be dead only to find the man who orchestrated the kidnapping has given the boy to a loving childless couple and that the kidnapping itself was an act of revenge against Cheshire for murdering his family. Catman, after realizing the child is better left where he is, informs Cheshire that their son is dead. This sends her in to a sorrowful rage, while Catman tells his son to rest in peace after killing all of the kidnappers involved.
Cheshire is now a member of Deathstroke's new team of Titans. Their first assignment was murdering Ryan Choi. It is unforeseen how long she will stay on the team, but it seems one of Deathstroke's goals is to taunt her into overcoming her lost edge after Lian's death. She later contacts Roy, forcing him into joining Deathstroke's team so the two of them can kill Deathstroke. Cheshire rationalizes that Roy "owes" her for Lian's death, but while it appears Roy double-crosses her, it is part of Cheshire's plan. Afterward, Deathstroke and his team arrive at South Pacific Island to kill cult leader Drago over the arena production of blind warriors; however, his team, Cheshire, and Roy betray him, revealing that they had been working with Drago. Cheshire and Roy's plan backfired, because Drago never intended to give Cheshire her freedom back. Their attempt to defeat Drago and escape failed miserably. Later, Drago explained to Cheshire that he needs an heir,and she was going to provide him with one. Drago tries to convince Cheshire to succumb to him, but Drago was reading her mind and using her thoughts against her. Cheshire is rescue by Deathstroke and the Titans. When Drago was defeated, Deathstroke allows him to live and the Titans then leave from his island. Cheshire and Roy choose to re-join the Titans. Upon returning to the labyrinth, Deathstroke reveals to them that his proceeding items were used to create a healing machine called "Methuselah Device" for his dying son, Jericho. After healing Jericho, Deathstroke claims the machine can also resurrect the dead, offering Cheshire and Roy the chance to revive Lian. Cheshire accepts, but Roy refuses, saying that he has been punishing himself for his daughter's death and that Lian is in a better place. Cheshire joins Tattooed Man and Cinder in fighting the other Titans to destroy the Methuselah Device. After Cinder sacrifices to destroy the Methuselah, Cheshire leave and tells Roy that she will never forgive him.
It was in the Birds of Prey story arc Sensei and Student that Cheshire herself states that she had found out the real identity of her father, U.S. Senator Robert Pullman. According to her, Senator Pullman raped her mother and left her alone and with a child. This would be a retcon, but it remains to be seen whether Jade is really telling the truth.
The New 52
In The New 52, Chesire was solicited as appearing in Grifter, becoming a team with Deathblow to aid Cole Cash. However, the character in never referred to as Cheshire, only as Niko. Later, she betrays Grifter and Deathblow revealing she was an undercover agent for Helspont, but later was defeated by them where they tried to stop Helspont's plans.
Powers and abilities
Cheshire is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, and is one of the premiere martial artists and hand-to-hand combatants in the DC Universe. She is trained in several martial arts thought forever lost. In addition, Cheshire is also an expert triple-jointed acrobat, and uses this skill to move quickly and unexpectedly, and to also augment her fighting abilities. Of bigger concern are her artificial fingernails, which she dips in several varieties of poisons. She gives her weapons and other accessories a similar treatment. In Birds of Prey #63, Black Canary calls her "the second most deadly assassin in the world", only topped by Lady Shiva.
In other media
Cheshire was one of the new villains appearing in season 5 of the Teen Titans animated series. She appears as a recruit of the Brotherhood of Evil. She resembles her comic incarnation, just apparently younger with a cat mask. She has the ability to turn invisible except for the eyes and grin of her mask, much like the Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland. She is also extremely skilled at martial arts, and uses her long kimono sleeves, metal claws and her long hair as her primary weapons. She first captures Speedy for the Brotherhood, and later helps in defeating Herald inside the Brotherhood HQ, but she is not seen for the remainder of the battle.
As for this character's cultural impact, the Cheshire mask of this version has proven so popular that it appeared in several subsequent animated versions of Cheshire in other DC-related media (see below)
Cheshire appears in the Young Justice episode "Infiltrator" voiced by Kelly Hu. She carries a pair of sai for hand-to-hand combat, and her mask can perform a number of functions such as enhancing footprint images and filtering out poisonous gases. She is a member of the League of Shadows who is sent to assassinate Serling Roquette. Cheshire ultimately lets the woman live, but reveals that she has a past connection with Artemis. Later in "Targets", she and Sportsmaster are apparently hired by Ra's al Ghul to assassinate Lex Luthor and a pair of diplomats from warring nations. She is foiled by Aqualad and Red Arrow. In the episode "Home Front," it is revealed that this version of Cheshire is Artemis' sister who ran away from her father when she was young. In "Insecurity," Cheshire runs into Artemis when Young Justice is staking out Sportsmaster's activities; in the episode it is revealed that Sportmaster is Artemis' Father and that her mother used to be The Huntress. In "Usual Suspects," Cheshire joins Riddler, Mammoth, and Shimmer in an ambush upon Young Justice at a crashed airplane. Cheshire later brings Artemis to Santa Prisca to meet up with Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, Sportsmaster, Bane, and Blockbuster for her, Miss Martian, and Superboy to do their parts. Cheshire later joins Sportsmaster in fighting Artemis. When Sportsmaster ends up trapped in tar, Cheshire runs away stating that "it's every girl for herself."
In season two, In "Salvage," it is shown that Cheshire is married to Red Arrow and has a baby girl, Lian Nguyen-Harper. In "Bloodlines," Red Arrow and Chesire infiltrate a temple in Tibet where they believe the real Roy Harper is hidden. After fighting through the guards, Red Arrow and Cheshire find the real Roy Harper cryogenically frozen. In "Satisfaction," Sportsmaster and Cheshire oversee Paula Crock and Kid Flash visiting Artemis' grave. Sportsmaster tells her that Black Manta let Aqualad "kill" Artemis without permission, damaging Sportsmaster's image, and seeks payback. In "True Colors," Cheshire pilots a helicopter to help Sportsmaster escape from The Light's headquarters in the Mongolian Mountains. Afterwards, Sportsmaster tells Cheshire that they are free to pursue their goals of vengeance and/or restoration of Sportsmaster's reputation. In "Complications," Cheshire and Sportsmaster infiltrate Black Manta's ship in order to get revenge on Black Manta and Aqualad. After Tigress shuts down the controls of Miss Martian's Inhibitor Collar, Miss Martian uses her powers to stop the fighting, and to reveal that Artemis is alive posing as Tigress. Afterwards, Tigress and Miss Martian let Cheshire get away with Sportsmaster. After picking up her child, Cheshire starts to tell her mother about the truth of Artemis.
- An evil version of Katana of the Outsiders appearance in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths as part of the villainous Crime Syndicate (an alternate version of the Justice League). She fights Wonder Woman, but is swatted away. In this version, however, Katana also wears a cat mask similar to the Teen Titans series' Cheshire and is designed similar to Cheshire's costume in the Young Justice animated series.
- Cheshire appears as a boss in Young Justice: Legacy, with Kelly Hu reprising the role.
- In Batman: Arkham Origins, Cheshire is briefly referenced in Sionis' Steel Mill, where a folder with a "rejected" stamp bearing her name on it is seen, indicating that she was considered to be among the assassins hired to kill Batman, but never made the cut alongside Black Spider and David Cain.
- Cheshire appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Tara Strong.
- The Teen Titans animated series version of Cheshire appeared in Teen Titans Go! #34. In Teen Titans Go! #39, she appeared again, but her rematch with Speedy was interrupted when Larry the Titan shot the two of them with Cupid's arrows, causing them to (at least temporarily) fall in love. On the page where all the couples are creating chaos in the Titans Tower, it is seen in the back that Cheshire has taken off her mask to show Speedy her face, but it's shown from the back so the reader isn't able to see her face.
- Beatty, Scott (2008), "Cheshire", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 81, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Deathstroke #19 (Feb 1993) DC Comics
- Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (March 2010)
- Justice League: Rise and Fall of Arsenel #2 (April 2010)
- Justice League: Rise and Fall of Arsenal #3 (May 2010)
- Secret Six (vol. 3) #22 (June 2010)
- Titans: Villains For Hire Special (May 2010)
- Titans (vol. 2) #25 (July 2010)
- Titans (vol. 2) #26 (August 2010)
- Titans (vol. 2) #33 (March 2011)
- Titans (vol. 2) #34 (April 2011)
- Titans (vol. 2) #35 (May 2011)
- Titans (vol. 2) #36 (June 2011)
- Titans Annual 2011 (July 2011)
- Titans (vol. 2) #37 (July 2011)
- Titans (vol. 2) #38 (August 2011)
- Grifter #9 (July 2012)
- Grifter #12 (October 2012)
- Red Hood and the Outlaws #21
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)