Comic Book Origins: Cheetah

Comic Book Origins: Cheetah
VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Script written by Craig Butler

She's fast as her namesake – and even more ruthless. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Cheetah.

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Script written by Craig Butler

Supervillain Origins: The Cheetah

She’s fast as her namesake – and even more ruthless. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Cheetah.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1943’s Wonder Woman #6 which was expanded upon in 1980’s Wonder Woman #274, 1987’s Wonder Woman #7-9, 2001’s Wonder Woman #171 and 2013’s Wonder Woman #23.1.

Every superhero needs good villain, and the deadly Cheetah is one of Wonder Woman’s most iconic. There have been several individuals who have taken the name Cheetah through the years. Some have worn a costume, others have taken on an animalistic form. But in all cases, they have been a deadly and ferocious hunter with a taste for Wonder Woman’s blood.

The first Cheetah was socialite Priscilla Rich. She became jealous when Wonder Woman stole the spotlight from her at a charity event. When Wonder Woman performed a dangerous stunt, Priscilla tied the unwitting Wonder Woman with her own magic lasso, hoping to sabotage the stunt – and kill the heroine in the process. Needless to say, Priscilla failed.

Later, alone in her apartment, Priscilla raged out. Looking in the mirror, she saw her reflection dressed in a cheetah costume. The reflection talked to her, telling her to take her own cheetah rug, make it into a costume and become a villainess intent on wiping out the Amazon princess. Priscilla, apparently the victim of a split personality, did as she was told – and the Cheetah was born.

Wonder Woman tangled with Priscilla numerous times over the next few decades, but in 1980 a new Cheetah emerged. Debbie Domaine was Priscilla’s niece. Debbie visited her aunt, who was on her deathbed and accidentally discovered her secret identity. Unfortunately, she was kidnapped by the master villain Kobra. He brainwashed her so that she was transformed into the new Cheetah.

In 1987, DC relaunched Wonder Woman in a new series that took her back to her very beginnings. In this series, a woman named Barbara Minerva became very interested in Wonder Woman. She was especially interested in the Amazonian’s iconic magic lasso, and decided she must have it. With her companion, an African priest named Chuma, Barbara arranges to meet Wonder Woman, promising that she had an Amazonian artifact that the heroine should see. Unfortunately for Minerva, as soon as she touched the magic lasso, which compels people to speak the truth, she was forced to admit that she was deceiving the Amazon.

Her chance ruined, Minerva decides to take revenge on Wonder Woman. Chuma prepared a special potion using a mysterious African plant and the blood of a human sacrifice, which transforms Minerva into the Cheetah. Rather than a woman wearing a costume, this Cheetah is a half-human, half-animal hybrid. She has the speed, the claws, and the feral instincts of the jungle animal – and is swift enough and skillful enough to draw blood from even Wonder Woman.

Yet another Cheetah appeared in 2001 – and this one was significantly different than those that came earlier. A man named Sebastian Ballesteros had come into possession of Minerva’s plant and used it to become the first male Cheetah. This character’s carrier in comic books was short lived however.

When DC revamped its entire line with the New 52, the Cheetah got a revised origin as well. Readers learned that the San tribe of Africa had for eons been protected by the Cheetah. The Goddess of the Hunt would choose one tribal member in each generation to be the host for the Cheetah’s spirit. But a hunter used a magical knife known as the Godslayer to kill the Cheetah – and thus transferred its spirit into that knife.

That knife ended up in possession of a woman named Lyta who was the leader of an all-woman commune called Amazonia. These women worshipped the hunt and ruthlessly enjoyed killing humans. Barbara Minerva was raised in this commune and was ordered to hunt down and kill her own brother. Her mission accomplished, Lyta then stabbed her with the Godslayer – transferring the spirit of the Cheetah to her.

Minerva took on numerous aliases, including Priscilla Rich and Debbie Domaine, over the years. Eventually, she returned to kill Lyta – her last tie with Barbara Minerva, after which she could be the Cheetah full time.

Cheetah has grown more and more bloodthirsty over the years, making her an increasingly dangerous foe for the Amazing Amazon. She’s also spent time with various groups of villains, as well joining up as a member of the Suicide Squad. With her magic-based abilities, even Superman can fall prey to her.

Are you a fan of the nefarious Cheetah – any of them? For more awesome comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to