Somebody better pick up that phone, because I f&$%ing called it.
This month’s issue of Justice League picks up where the last chapter left off, showcasing the League battling Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis, the Cheetah, in the Congo. With Superman now under her thrall, Cheetah appears to be winning before the timely intervention of the tribe that worships the Cheetah deity.
Yeah, I know people have been complaining about this story’s Geographical fail in regards to where cheetahs (the animal, not the super villain) live. They are more prone to flat, grassy plains where their speed is more suited, not in jungles densely populated by trees. But this is a story where Amazons fight cat-women, so I don’t know why everyone is so hung up on one detail.
Also, for once I thank God Cyborg is with the League, because otherwise we have an entirely Caucasian League interacting with the “uncivilized” black natives of the Congo. I know it’s part of the larger mythology here, but Africa is a developed continent people. It’s not all jungles and spears.
Anyway, the story goes on to detail that the Cheetah was actually a benevolent protector Goddess for this tribe, before the last host was killed by a hunter wielding some sort of mystical knife capable of killing deities. As we now know, the knife eventually fell into the hands of Barbara Minerva, who became the host for the Cheetah spirit that was somehow trapped inside the knife (because magic, I guess).
And here’s where we come to the part where my theory was correct: according to the tribal leader, Barbara Minerva’s innate evil corrupted the Cheetah, not the other way around. In fact, they want to kill her in order to save their Goddess. I’m glad to see that Minerva’s agency has not been sacrificed, and that she didn’t just go “I cut myself, herp derp.” She clearly planned to become this monster, and that’s perfectly in line with her previous characterizations.
But then we get some other interesting tidbits that I was not expecting. Throughout the character’s long history, there has been more than one woman to don the Cheetah identity. Barbara Minerva was created in the 1980’s, and has been the longest lasting, but the original Cheetah was Priscilla Rich, who battled Wonder Woman in the 1940’s. There have been a few others of less renown in between.
Geoff Johns has solved the multiple Cheetah problem by deftly combining them all into one character. Minerva is revealed to be a criminal with a long and checkered past, who has assumed numerous aliases: Priscilla Rich, Deborah Domaine and Sabrina Ballesteros. Barbara Minerva is most likely another alias, and her true name is unknown. I thought this was a pleasant surprise, and effectively gives each Cheetah (particularly the two major ones, Minerva and Rich) a place in the new canon.
We also get a hint towards a larger plot. While trapped inside her cell, Cheetah converses with an unknown person through a transceiver, revealing that her capture was planned. She says she will wait for Black Manta (Aquaman’s arch) to arrive.
Do I sense a Legion of Doom plot? One can only hope, particularly if it means giving potentially awesome villains like Cheetah and Manta the spotlight. Knowing Johns’ affinity for the Superfriends cartoon, we may be seeing another of Wonder Woman’s classic rogues, Giganta, get a much needed revamp as well.
So overall, I have to say I’m mostly happy with the new version of Cheetah, and Johns has hinted that we’ll be seeing much more of her. I hate that we didn’t actually get to see her “friendship” with Diana and her descent into villainy develop, but maybe a future writer can flesh out that backstory if Johns doesn’t do it himself. And her motivation needs some work, because as of now she’s mostly just evil for the sake of it, though there are some hints that her feelings for Diana aren’t entirely a ruse.
Still, she’s hasn’t been portrayed as this competent a threat in a LONG time. Let’s not forget that before the reboot, she got punched out by Batman, among other things like-
Wearing this stupid outfit:
And having sex with this:
I mean, there’s nowhere else for her to go but up, right?
Among the other subplots and interpersonal relationships between the League, we get some cool moments. Aquaman comes up with a plan to save the day; Batman shows great concern for Superman, because BROMANCE; and the Superman/Wonder Woman romance continues, and I continue to pray that it will end sometime soon.
Look, I love both characters, but I do not love them together. Particularly since Superman seems to be receiving the most focus out of the two. Hell, some news pieces discussing the pairing have referred to Wonder Woman as “Superman’s sexy new sidekick.” It’s really annoying that the only plotlines focused on Wonder Woman in this book revolve around her relationships with men.
At least I can rest in the knowledge that it most likely won’t last. Anyone who thinks Superman is going to permanently be with anyone besides Lois Lane is deluding themselves. Same holds true with Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman, to a lesser extent.
Seeing as how this solid (if somewhat bland) little two-parter reinvigorated one of my favorite villains, I may stick around for the upcoming “Throne of Atlantis” epic that will be crossing over with Aquaman.