In last month's issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE we saw the return of one of Wonder Woman's most formidable opponents to comics; Cheetah. In the issue, Cheetah fought against both Wonder Woman and Superman, and even managed to cause The Man of Steel to draw some blood -- not an easy task and not one that should be taken lightly. Reading the last issue and getting a peek at issue #14 which is set to hit comic shops tomorrow, we got to thinking; who is the Cheetah now compared to pre-New 52? How strong is she really? And will she be a formidable opponent not only to Diana, but to the Justice League as a whole?
There have been five different versions of Cheetah over the years, but we will specifically be focusing on the Barbara Minerva version of Cheetah that was first introduced in the second volume of Wonder Woman #7 in 1987. Initially, she was seen as an opportunistic lover of ancient artifacts with a crazy obsession -- not only was she obsessed with Diana's "golden girdle of Gaea" (lasso of truth) and wanted to steal it for herself, but she was also a bloodthirsty killer. In issue #9 of the series readers witness Barbara Minerva's character engage in a ritual that would turn her into the Cheetah; something she would have to do every full moon in order to maintain her strength. But how did it all begin for Minerva? What led her to become the Cheetah? Was it her own choice?== TEASER ==
Cheetah's story as Minerva pre-New 52 started when she was in Africa as part of an archeological dig in search of the Urzkartaga Temple. Minerva eventually finds the temple and when she does, learns of the bond between the plant God and the Cheetah. It is then that she binds herself to the plant God and embraces the form of the Cheetah, a ritual that would lead her to become a flesh-eating, blood thirsty killer and one of the strongest of Wonder Woman's adversaries.
Aside from the fact that the current version of the character and the pre-52 version of the character both look like a cross between a cat and a woman, these two versions of this character actually have several things in common. First off, they are both pretty crazy and don't like humanity very much. This is evident in the dialogue between Minerva and Diana when they fight in the very first pages of JUSTICE LEAGUE #13. Both characters seem to draw their power from some sort of magic. However, this is where their identities begin to get really different. While pre- New 52 Barbara Minerva chose to become the Cheetah, it doesn't seem like this current incarnation of the character did. According to a panel in JUSTICE LEAGUE #13, Barbara Minerva had been working for the military categorizing ancient artifacts when she cut herself on a "ritual dagger." Based on the conversation in this panel, it sounds as if Minerva became the Cheetah not by choice, but by accident. Not only that, but the ritual dagger that gave her her powers is not of African origin, but a lost tribe in the Amazon. According to the issue, Minerva is currently "possessed by the Goddess of the bloodthirsty Cheetah."
As of right now, we don't have a whole heck of a lot of information about the character, but we do know a couple of things. According to the previous issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE and the preview to tomorrow's JUSTICE LEAGUE #14, Minerva is extremely powerful. In the recent preview the Justice League engage in a discussion following a fight between Superman, Wonder Woman and Cheetah. During the fight, Cheetah manages to bite Superman and literally break his skin, drawing blood and readers see the Man of Steel shapeshift into a Cheetah, himself. He also starts to go bezerker crazy -- lashing out at Wonder Woman and his teammates. Now, drawing Superman's blood isn't something that should be taken lightly and it's a great example of both the Cheetah's strength as well as Superman's weakness. One of the issues that has not yet really been addressed is whether or not Superman's weakness is still magic like it had been before the new 52. Given that the dagger that turns Minerva into Cheetah seems a little, well, magical; we would venture to say that that's something that might be staying the same. Not only that, but this sort of makes Minerva as powerful as Superman, doesn't it? It also makes her a serious opponent for both the League as well as Wonder Woman.
It will definitely be interesting to see just how powerful this character is and whether JUSTICE LEAGUE writer Geoff Johns plans to make her an opponent for all members of the League and not just Wonder Woman. Additionally, how the heck is Superman going to find a cure for his Cheetah-face? What do you think of the changes made to the character? How do you feel about the fact that Cheetah was literally able to tear into the Man of Steel and draw blood? Are you planning on picking up JUSTICE LEAGUE #14 tomorrow?