Real Name: Barbara Ann Minerva
First Appearance: Wonder Woman Volume 2, #7 (August, 1987)
Powers: Cheetah possesses superhuman strength, speed, and agility.
Affiliation: Suicide Squad, Legion of Doom
Did You Know? Barbara Ann Minerva is the third character to become Cheetah. The two before her were Priscilla Rich and Deborah Domaine.
A Little History
Created as the third Cheetah by industry icons Len Wein and George Pérez, Barbara Ann Minerva’s version of Cheetah first appeared back in 1987 inside the pages of Wonder Woman (volume 2) #7.
Each version of Cheetah has been given roughly the same power set. Each possesses superhuman strength and superhuman speed. They also have an extremely heightened sense of smell and sight. Each also has reflexes and agility that succeed that of a cat. Finally to round out their cat-like appearance, each has claws and fangs. Unlike the others, Minerva was altered by the enchantress, Circe that allowed her to change into Cheetah at will. This also gave her control over all felines.
Born as a heiress to an incredible fortune in Nottinghamshire, Minerva was a British Archaeologist who developed a reputation of going to the extreme to get what she wanted. On one of her digs, she took a crew out to the African Jungle. She went to the jungle to find the Lost City of the Urzkartagans. As soon as the crew got deep into the jungle, the guides that were escorting the group betrayed them. Worse yet, while the guides betrayed them, the Urzkartagans ambushed them.
Of the group, only two, Minerva and Dr. Leavens, managed to survive. They were able to do so after jumping in a nearby river and making their way downstream. Luck was on their side and the river led them to the Lost City. Unfortunately for the two, the Urzkartagans were in the middle of performing a ritual that would’ve saved an old woman. Before the ritual could be complete, it was interrupted by people from outside the tribe. The outsiders proceeded to kill everyone, save for Chuma (the High Priest performing the ritual) and Minerva.
Chuma explained to Minerva that the ritual would’ve transformed the Old Woman into a Cheetah God. Minerva immediately demanded that the ritual be performed on her. She did this because she wanted to achieve immortality and the power of the big cat. Chuma told her that to perform the ritual a sacrifice must be made. By sheer coincidence Dr. Leavens had just returned and he became the sacrificial body needed.
As she drank the blood of Dr. Leavens the ritual began. Chuma worked hard to make it a success and it kind of was. While Minerva did get the powers she desired the ritual was meant to be performed on a virgin. Minerva was not a virgin and as such, when she was in human form she was extremely weak. This meant that to keep her strength she had to turn into the Cheetah on full moons, eat flesh, and drink blood. But it doesn’t end there. In between her transformations she was left to deal with pain and weakness.
There have been many iterations to her origin but almost all involve this story or one similar to it.