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Cheetah (Wonder Woman enemy) (DC Comics) (Domaine)

Cheetah

(Deborah Domaine)


Power Level: ,
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Domaine (the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth-1 Cheetah II) was meant to revitalise the Cheetah concept and become a major Wonder Woman foe. However, she appeared but a handful of years before the Crisis and the eventual Pérez reboot.

She thus has but one solo appearance, and the stats therein are quite tentative. Especially since the material is… all over the map.

If you’re not a Cheetah pro, we strongly recommend a glance at our Cheetah Cheat Sheet for orientation among the various versions of the Cheetah. This profile assumes that you’ve read the Cheat Sheet.


Background

  • Real Name: Deborah Domaine.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Priscilla Rich (aunt, deceased, formerly the Cheetah I).
  • Group Affiliation: Agent of the Kobra cult, Secret Society of Super-Villains (pre-Crisis Ultra-Humanite version).
  • Base Of Operations: East Coast of the US.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 122 lbs.
  • Eyes: Greyish green Hair: Auburn


Powers and Abilities

Domaine was brainwashed using a special technology that gave her great — but not superhuman — strength, ferocity and speed. This conditioning made her an exceptional fighter, able to engage even such superior hand-to-hand combatants as the early 1980s Black Canary.

Her nails are covered by red plates of metal, which reportedly allow her to shear through steel. The First Edition DC Heroes stats block call them “promethean claws” which I assumed was a reference to fictional super-metal promethium that didn’t carry over the phone.

On the other hand, Wonder Woman describes the claws as chrome steel. But we can make everybody happy by guessing they’re promethium blades plated with chrome steel.

Cat power, part 1

The captions and all secondary sources insist that Domaine is not a superhuman. Some even explain that she has no combat training and relies on her instinctive ferocity. Yet other captions instead describe her as a fantastic mistress of karate, able to shatter large objects with her bare hands.

Cheetah (Deborah Domaine) from the Who's Who

The subject is made even more confusing by the fact that Cheetah repeatedly demonstrates superhuman abilities while fighting Wonder Woman, even by the lax standards of comic books.

After pondering the subject at length, here’s our best hypothesis.

Cat power, part 2

Cheetah can under specific circumstances reach a frenzied state of rage. It confers her manifestly superhuman strength, speed, agility and aggression. In this state she’s faster than even Wonder Woman (assuming that Wonder Woman isn’t going all out and doesn’t want to harm Domaine), usually forcing the Amazing Amazon on the defensive.

Cheetah’s manic strength is great enough to shove off-balance people with massive superhuman strength. She was also seen punching through 20 centimetres (about 8 inches) of armoured Plexiglas.

Cheetah tends not to use her Hero Points  much in her normal state. This leaves her with a remarkable Hero Points total to spend when she goes into a frenzy.

The frenzied state doesn’t lower her intelligence. In fact she’s craftier and more decisive in her superhuman state, and more likely to use tactics such as a Dupe Manoeuvre rather than just pounce on stuff that moves.

When is this state triggered ? In all cases it was set off by an authority figure or remembering the instructions left by an authority figure (usually Kobra, but at one point Killer Frost (Dr. Crystal Frost), who visibly rolled a double in her early Character Interaction checks with Domaine) and in all cases it involved fighting Wonder Woman.

Since Domaine was brainwashed, it seems reasonable that there existed a suggestion that enabled superhuman prowess when the boss told her to attack Wonder Woman.


History

Debbi Domaine was a wealthy East Coast debutante. She was particularly close to her aunt, Priscilla Rich. As a girl she loved spending her vacations at her aunt’s estate of North Shore.

Though she knew that Aunt Priscilla was something of an eccentric and would often leave for months, she never suspected that she was the strange thief and mercenary the Cheetah.

Save the Earth

During a North Shore vacation, at 14, Domaine came across one of the famous geese of Chesapeake. It had been matted in crude oil after a tanker accident. The bird was crippled, and overnight it died of suffocation despite the local vet’s efforts.

This impressed the teenager, who generally felt guilty about having been born in wealth. She now wanted to volunteer for progressive and environmentalist causes.

The young Domaine joined a number of militant environmentalist organisations such as the local OES (Organisation for Ecological Sanity), providing money and leadership. In particular, she had volunteers help her patrol Chesapeake Bay in her yacht.

About a dozen oil transportation incidents occurred each year in the area. This was presumably the result of policies of companies specific to the DC Universe such as Argon Oil, since this is much higher than the number of incidents in the real world. Domaine and the OES volunteers would film the leaks and raise public awareness about the damage done.

During one such expedition Debbie met with Wonder Woman, who was saving a burning oil tanker. She invited the oil-covered heroine to take a shower and have a hot drink on her yacht.

The venom of Kobra

Debbi’s aunt Priscilla had fallen very ill. As she went terminal she wrote her niece to come visit her one last time. Priscilla Rich wanted to tell Deborah Domaine about her career as the Cheetah, but by the time Domaine received the letter Rich was partially delirious and about to pass away.

Rich tried to warn Domaine about men watching her house and died while grasping her. The startled Domaine stumbled back and was briefly knocked out when a heavy mannequin clad in the Cheetah costume fell on her.

The Cheetah (DC Comics) (Debbie Domaine) leaps in

Rich’s house was under surveillance by Kobra’s cultists. They wanted to hire Cheetah, as they did not realise how sick she was. One of the operatives came in, saw that Rich was dead and grabbed the unconscious Domaine.

On a whim, Kobra decided to turn her into the next Cheetah so he’d have a Cheetah to hire after all. Presumably, Domaine’s capture coincided with the finalisation of the Kobra cult research that would soon be used on her.

Mental conditioning

Said research was a means to drive prisoners insane in such a way as to give them incredible animalistic ferocity. In Domaine’s case, the “treatment” was supplemented by endless videos depicting environmental destruction and cruelty toward animals all over the world, preying on a her girlhood memories of the goose.

The program worked fine. Domaine was driven completely insane. She became convinced that she was some sort of avenger of wronged Nature and the saviour of oppressed animalkind. She was given a variant of her aunt’s Cheetah costume.

It would seem that part of her conditioning was focused on Wonder Woman, Cheetah’s traditional enemy.

(The captions paint an odd timing for this episode. If followed closely they give the impression that the whole procedure took place within a few hours. Presumably there was a very minor continuity error somewhere in there.)

Cheetah engaged on a murderous, frenzied campaign of sabotage. She damaged the Hampstead Dam in Maryland, drowning a valley and razing a village, though some of the inhabitants could be rescued by the authorities and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman tried to intercept the Cheetah, but was knocked out in a collision with rocks.

However Wonder Woman had recognised Cheetah as Deborah Domaine, and came to investigate her yacht. In the subsequent struggle, the boat crashed against a much larger ferry, and Cheetah was presumed dead in the explosion.

Countdown to Crisis

Cheetah seemed unable to contact Kobra after her yacht was destroyed. Not knowing what to do, the brainwashed young woman lived as a vagrant on the docks closest to the site of her reported death. She killed or wounded several persons, including a group of drunks who intended to rape her.

Cheetah was eventually approached by Killer Frost. Frost was assembling a group of heavies on Earth-1 on behalf on the new version of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Domaine seemed impressed by the psychotic Frost, and agreed to follow her. Frost’s team was Cheetah, the Signalman and the Floronic Man (Jason Woodrue).

Their Society liaison Brainwave took them to Earth-2. There they met the master of this conspiracy on two Earths, the Ultra-Humanite.

The Humanite wanted a crew that was known for opposing certain key heroes. Domaine was thus specifically contacted as the successor of the Priscilla Riches of two Earths. The Ultra-Humanite seemed to consider that the current bearer of the name Cheetah was by definition Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis.

The Cheetah (Deborah Domaine) rushes in

Cheetah was thus sent to ambush Earth-1’s Wonder Woman in Washington, and was successful. The Society’s plan worked fine, as they defeated and captured 10 heroes and returned to the Ultra-Humanite.

At this point, the Earth-1 team was summarily banished back home. The Earth-1 villains were furious after this betrayal, and Killer Frost kept the team together so they’d obtain vengeance.

Heed the words of the frozen dead…

The Earth-1 villains invaded the JLA’s satellite. They took Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and the Elongated Man down by surprise, then went to Limbo where the Ultra-Humanite had imprisoned the captured super-heroes. The plan was to free them, then sic them on the Ultra-Humanite.

While the rest of the crew couldn’t affect the Humanite’s rapidly-spinning prison, Killer Frost told Cheetah that Wonder Woman was inside for her to kill. The maniacal Domaine broke the prison.

The villains were immediately defeated by the assembled heroes, though. Presumably, Frost had assumed that they’d be groggy or unconscious. The heroes did defeat the Ultra-Humanite and his Earth-2 crew, but all villains were left stranded in Limbo until special prison cells could be arranged.

The Monitor’s tests

A few years later, Cheetah was one of the villains who were manipulated by the Monitor. The cosmic entity was then still pretending to be a weapons dealer and criminal broker. He used Earth’s criminals to test the heroes in preparation for the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

His schemes resulted in an ad-hoc alliance between Dr. Psycho, Angle Man, Silver Swan and the Cheetah. But the unlikely band was defeated by Wonder Woman and Etta Candy wielding the powers of Wonder Woman.

Crisis and consequences

Cheetah was still around during the Crisis. She was one of the villains teleported in by Psimon and Lex Luthor of Earth-1 to attack the heroes at the height of the Crisis. Luthor and Psimon’s roster had two Cheetahs – Earth-1’s Deborah Domaine and Earth-2’s Priscilla Rich.

As far as can be determined, Deborah Domaine never became the Cheetah on New Earth. The only hint that Domaine even exists on New Earth was a photo in Priscilla Rich’s apartment signed by her niece Debbi. This niece is presumably New Earth’s Deborah Domaine.


Description

Domaine seemed quite young when she was turned into Cheetah. 19 sounds about right.

In combat, Domaine often holds her hand in front of her face, fingers ready to claw and wrists limp, like a kid trying to make a big cat impression. While fighting she will often hiss like a cat or laugh maniacally.


Personality

Domaine is an aggressive, obsessive, fanatical nutbar. She talks all the time about defending nature and animals as if these were a community of persons such as, say, her hometown.

Her insanity doesn’t feel natural. It’s just too repetitive, too shallow, too forced. She just says the same simple things on and on with but minor variants, without ever trying to explain, expound, justify or convince.

Cheetah (Deborah Domaine) growls

There’s a childlike character to it. This is presumably a result of having been brainwashed with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. She’s not an actual political fanatic, but someone whose mind has been artificially walled off and is left with but a tiny cage to pace in.

There are some other weirdly child-like traits to the Cheetah. For instance after a murderous act of sabotage she left as a calling card… a cartoon-like cat head balloon with a simplistic slogan (“Death to the planet killers”) painted on it like a clumsy protest sign.

Presumably the brainwashing feeds off and enormously amplifies memories from when she was but 14. A lot of the Cheetah’s anger, self-righteousness and ideals seem to come from her 14-year-old self. She also has some animal-like mannerisms, perhaps due to her weak sense of identity.

Enthralled

Cheetah is completely in Kobra’s thrall. She only ever refers to him as “the Master” in a cult-like fashion. He’s the one who tells her which dam, power plant, factory, pipeline, tanker, whaleboat, etc. to destroy and she faithfully carries out his plan.

She has very little initiative on her own. She needs a master to tell her what to do, and when in close proximity to such a person she’ll behave much like an attack panther.

Once she has been told what to do, though, she has a normal level of intelligence and initiative. She can execute on her plan, improvise back-up approaches when something goes wrong, etc. Her lack of direction is strategic, not tactical.

Cheetah hates Wonder Woman because she’s been told to. She came to rationalise this as hatred for having “let her die” in the explosion of her yacht, and ignores that this explanation doesn’t make any dang sense.

Despite her feline theme the Cheetah retains Deborah’s love of boating and is very comfortable operating over open water.


Quotes

Cheetah (Earth-1 Debbie Domaine)
“Now that you’ve invaded the territory of the Cheetah… you won’t be permitted to leave alive !”

Cheetah (manic state)
“You… side… with THEM ! They ravage our planet, kill our fellow creatures, dam our streams… and you defend them ! Traitress !”

“The planet-rapists must be slain ! The Cheetah will champion the Earth !”

“The Master told me you probably hadn’t been killed in Hampstead ! I didn’t believe him, but the Master was right… as always !”

“Don’t say that name ! Debbi Domaine was a child ! She didn’t know about the world’s evil, she didn’t understand how vile mankind could be… but I understand. Someone has to fight for life on this planet ! The fight is mine !”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cheetah (Domaine) – baseline stats

Dex: 09 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Psycho
Int: 05 Wil: 03 Min: 04 Occupation: Avenger
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 020 HP: 080

Skills:
Acrobatics: 10, Martial Artist: 09, Vehicles (Land, Sea): 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
Acrobatics and Martial Artist are Powered Skills.

Advantages:
Alter-ego (Manic rage, Involuntary).

Connections:
Kobra cult (Low, lost after her second fight with Wonder Woman).

Drawbacks:
Minor Rage, CIA toward Obeying Kobra, Minor Psychological Instability.

Equipment:
PROMETHIUM CLAWS [BODY 14, EV 02 (05 w/STR, 10 w/Martial Artist), Sharpness (EV): 01].


Catharsis for a cat erratic

The scores in the main stats block are for the typical performance of Deborah Domaine based on her Justice League of America appearances. Under specific circumstances, she can reach a state of manic rage that let her perform at a manifestly superhuman level. See the Powers & Abilities section for more.

Her stats in this state are :

Dex: 14 Str: 07 Bod: 06 Motivation: Psycho
Int: 05 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Avenger
Inf: 06 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 031 HP: 080

Powers:
Enhanced Initiative: 04

Skills:
Acrobatics: 15, Martial Artist: 15, Vehicles (Land, Sea): 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Acrobatics and Martial Artist are Powered Skills.
  • Acrobatics can often be used as AV/EV for Duping Manoeuvres.

Advantages:
Alter-ego (Absence of manic rage, Involuntary), Schtick (Group control, Unfettered Fist).

Connections:
Kobra cult (Low, lost after her second fight with Wonder Woman).

Drawbacks:
Serious Rage, CIA toward Obeying Kobra, Minor Psychological Instability.

Equipment:
PROMETHIUM CLAWS [BODY 14, EV 02 (08 w/STR, 16 w/Martial Artist), Sharpness (EV): 01].


Money’s too tight to mention

Originally, Debbi Domaine is wealthy, with a Wealth of about 007.

After she is thought dead in the destruction of her yacht, she lives as a vagrant. She’s too insane to access her bank account and other assets. Presumably she’s too detached from reality and lacks the life experience to know what to do. Her Wealth falls to 001, though her employers might give her access to a place to stay and some gear.

Though this is not mentioned in the story, it is likely that Kobra had Domaine give him her fortune. It’s trivial to do, there’s no point in leaving that much money on the table, and that’s what cults do.


Power of the Cheetah

As noted above there’s too little material about Domaine in action to hazard solid stats. Observation leaves just too wide a range of APs even for key values, especially given the differences between her performance against Wonder Woman and her performance against anybody else.

As often in pre-Crisis Wonder Woman stories, this is compounded by the fact it’s pretty hard to tell what the Amazing Amazon is trying to do during the fight. Setting possible AVs and OVs for Domaine’s foe is thus difficult.

Thankfully, when the first edition DC Heroes Role-Playing Game was released it was assumed that the new Cheetah would become one of the core foes of Wonder Woman. She thus has a stats block in the third book in the Famous Blue Box.

While there’s no real way to derive 1st edition stats into 2nd/3rd edition stats — especially DEX, which was a different animal in First Edition — it does provide inspiration. The stats for early 1980s Wonder Woman are also benchmarks of a sort.

More importantly, Domaine’s official stats can be assumed to have been cleared with DC Comics. One can get a sense of the questions that were fielded by the Mayfair writers to come up with stats (“Is Cheetah faster than Wonder Woman ?” and so on to get her a proper DEX, etc.).

Between these loose inferences and what’s in DC’s Who’s Who one gets some sense of authorial intent, and thus a sense of scale.

Thus, while there’s no way to have precise stats for Domaine due to the lack of primary source material, it is still possible to come up with credible numbers.

The stats in this entry assume DEX/Martial Artist scores of circa 8/9 for early 1980s Black Canary, 6/7 for early 1980s Hal Jordan, and 12/13 for early 1980s Wonder Woman.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Pre-Crisis DC Universe.

Helper(s): DCindexes.com , 1st edition DC Heroes RPG rulesbooks, Ethan Roe, Chris Cottingham, Darci, Peter Piispanen.

Writeup completed on the 11th of June, 2011.

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