5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Cheetah (Wonder Woman enemy) (Golden Age DC Comics) of Earth-1

Cheetah

(Priscilla Rich of Earth-1)


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

Context

This is the Silver Age  version of Wonder Woman enemy the Cheetah, debuting in 1966. Before reading further, we strongly suggest that you scan our Cheetah Cheat Sheet for context and orientation among the various versions.

This version existed in the zany style used by several DC books back then, perhaps best known through the Adam West version of Batman on TV.


Background

  • Real Name: Priscilla Rich.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Deborah Domaine (niece).
  • Group Affiliation: Leader of her own crews of mercenaries, possible member of the Super-Foes.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile throughout the US and possibly beyond ; her estate on Chesapeake Bay’s North Shore.
  • Height: 5’8” Weight: 135 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde


Powers and Abilities

Cheetah’s most distinctive asset might be her manic intensity and raw presence.

She has tremendous energy, takes a lot of initiatives and something about her just compels people to pay attention. Her charisma has been described as animalistic and it suits the Cheetah just fine. She loves having people looking at her and wondering what the fudge is going on.

Her presence is so strong that with a suitable prop she can hypnotise people. However, a mentally strong person like Steve Trevor can eventually shake that yoke.

The Cheetah is physically adept, fast and agile. Jumping and climbing on a telephone pole then sprinting on the less-than-taut cables is not something that gives her pause. She steps very lightly, is very stealthy, and is super-good at tightrope walking (or sliding, or running). As befits her name, she’s also an excellent sprinter.

The Cheetah creates a diversion at the zoo

The Cheetah likes playing up the “wait, what ?!?” reaction her strange behaviour and costume evoke. She twice had her henchmen dress in ape costumes. The only point was to make the persons witnessing the scene have no idea of what could possibly be going on and who were all these crazy people running around. And it worked !

Cheetah knew a lot of things about Wonder Woman. For instance that the Amazing Amazon would be compelled to obey her if she caught her in her own lasso, that she was gaga about Steve Trevor, that she had a robot plane she could summon whenever she needed, etc. This sort of data was not difficult to get pre-Crisis, though.

On the other hand she grossly underestimated her strength, and didn’t know about the bullets and bracers thing.


History

Rich was apparently old Virginian money, owning a large house on Chesapeake Bay and being quite affluent. Her known family — her niece Debbi Domaine — was also wealthy, lending credence to the idea that much of Pricilla Rich’s wealth was inherited.

On Earth-1, Priscilla Rich was a redoubtable mercenary and thief. She occasionally decided to steal money for her own use, but was usually hired by moneyed interests facing challenging situations requiring good amounts of guile and/or violence.

Rich had her own crew of armed henchmen. They would enter any mercenary market that looked interesting — from stealing valuable animals from a zoo for a wealthy collector, to hiring out a small mercenary air force and armour squadron for some brushfire war.

Cheetah and her henchmen drive away with the loot

While Cheetah came across as a very active person, she had scant appearances. Yet one caption referred to her as Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis. This history might be vaguely similar to the Earth-2’s Cheetah, with loosely comparable clashes with Wonder Woman. But there’s no way to tell.

Though she was usually arrested at the end of her encounters with the Amazing Amazon, it would seem that she always swiftly escaped from prison. Her niece mentioned that sometimes aunt Priscilla would be gone for several months. This delay that is much shorter than any reasonable prison sentence for the Cheetah.

The Cheetah certainly never seemed too concerned when being sent to the slammer. Given how she was portrayed one can definitely see her always escaping within weeks, laughing all the way.

Cheetah’s catty capers ! (part 1)

Cheetah was once hired to steal a collection of rare, valuable animals from a zoo. She started by creating a commotion by entering the tigers’s cage. As the public came running to see what would happen, Cheetah’s well-armed henchmen, puzzlingly dressed in ape costumes, stole the animals.

They all fled in one of the zoo’s train-like cars that ferry visitors. However, they accidentally ran into Wonder Woman and were soon defeated. Cheetah managed to escape, swearing revenge.

Having observed that Wonder Woman had an interest in military officer Steve Trevor, the Cheetah ambushed Trevor. She hypnotised him and had him snuggle with her. When Wonder Woman happened on the scene, she was so distraught that the lightning-quick Cheetah managed to grab her lasso and restrain the Amazon with it.

Cheetah has her gunmen shoot Wonder Woman

Knowing that Wonder Woman was compelled to obey by the magic lasso, she had her summon her invisible plane to fly her to one of her secret bases.

This hidden airfield was the headquarters of Cheetah’s mercenary military force. That meant about a half-dozen fighter-bombers, and as many tanks and field artillery pieces plus attendant crew. Howbeit this considerable equipment seemed to be WWII surplus gear, presumably intended to fight in poor countries and brushfire wars.

Cheetah’s catty capers ! (part 2)

Cheetah ordered Wonder Woman to take off her bracers so her men could shoot her. But no Amazon had ever taken her sacred bracers off before, and the results came as a surprise even for Wonder Woman. Free from the bracers, she turned into a raging juggernaut of destruction.

The Amazing Amazon wrecked the entire base before anybody could react, though Trevor managed to stop her by slipping her bracers back on her wrists when she pounced on him. The fascinated Cheetah hid to watch, but Wonder Woman spotted her and dragged her to an Amazon prison to be reformed.

Cheetah got out very quickly, though. Presumably, she escaped before she was actually flown to Paradise Island.

She and her henchmen (still sporting ape costumes – I suppose they liked wearing those) soon attempted to rob a charity event. It was organised by Diana Prince, and Wonder Woman was expected to make an appearance. But the Cheetah and her crew were completely overpowered and were soon captured.

Post-1966 appearances

The Earth-1 Cheetah barely appeared after these capers. Ten years later, she was one of the Super-Foes – a band of baddies who were the opposite numbers of the “Super-Friends”. The Super-Foes were the Toyman, Poison Ivy, the Penguin and the Human Flying Fish.

In their one known outing, they took on young protégés to help them fight their enemies. Cheetah’s sidekick was Kitten, an acrobatic teenaged girl in a tiger-stripes yellow leotard and a Cheetah-style hat. The sidekicks eventually turned against the “Super-Foes”.

Cheetah runs on telephone wires

(These events presumably didn’t occur exactly as depicted in the all-ages Super-Friends comic book. Yet, something along those general lines is thought to have occurred on Earth-1. Presumably the Super-Foes were organised more along the lines of the later Society of Super-Villains than the cartoonish gang depicted in the comics).

The rest of Cheetah’s career is unrevealed. But it was strongly hinted that she continued to serve as a mercenary for numerous concerns, including the Kobra cult.

And death a note unsaid

In 1980 she was terminally sick, dying of what may have been a cancer. Apparently the disease brought her to the brink of death within months. Thus, regular employers of hers were unaware that she was sick.

Refusing to die in a hospital, Rich went back to her old Chesapeake home. She wrote to her favourite niece, Deborah Domaine. She wanted to see her and confide in her the truth about her life before passing away.

Domaine came as soon as she could, but her beloved aunt was nearly dead, and delirious. Rich, having noticed Kobra agents staking out her house, tried to tell her niece to run. However, she died before she could properly warn Deborah.

Ms. Domaine would soon be turned into a new Cheetah by agents of Kobra. They also told her the truth about who her aunt had really been.


Cheetah of Earth 1½

The appearance of Cheetah in Wonder Woman vol. 1 #230 is a tad odd. Without getting into uninteresting continuity issues, this woman was logically Earth-2 Priscilla Rich. Yet her overall style was closer to Earth-1 Priscilla Rich. Some bits foreshadow a physically more powerful Cheetah, which will come to exist as Deborah Domaine of Earth-1.

Our entry for Earth-2 Priscilla Rich notes the discrepancy. It conservatively presents this incident as specialised equipment and good luck.

The Cheetah fights Wonder Woman

However, some among the teeming millions of the writeups.org readership may want to poach this uncharacteristic Earth-2 Priscilla Rich appearance as inspiration for what the undocumented 1970s career of the Earth-1 Cheetah may have been.

Statting generously

A much less conservative reading of Wonder Woman vol. 1 #230 as fodder for a hypothetical 1970s Earth-1 Cheetah :

  • Augmented Physical Attributes bringing her to DEX 09 STR 06 BODY 05.
  • The Cheetah also had prehensile tail in that appearance. The simplest approach in this context is to assume that it’s a Power — Extra limb: 01, Limitation: Extra limb has No Fine Manipulation. Between the boosted DEX and the tail, her Acrobatics score is cranked up to 10.
  • The Cheetah’s eyes in this appearance were also clearly catlike, perhaps as an indicator of Ultra-Vision: 04 or so. On her deathbed, Rich’s eyes were normal-looking though.
  • Her claws-like nails could easily have been equipment, but between the eyes, the strength and assuming that the tail wasn’t a Gadget the simplest approach is to have her have Claws: 07, Sharpness (Claws): 02, Limitation: Claws is Contingent on STR.
    These are presumably retractile. She didn’t have claws on her deathbed – even if they were retractile she would he probably had had them out given the circumstances.
  • Which leaves her with one piece of equipment, her SPIKES-LAUNCHING BRACERS [BODY 06, Colour: 01, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo (Projectile weapons): 10, Bonus: Colour can be Combined with Projectile Weapon, Limitation: Colour is only used to mark something hit with Projectile weapons using an ink charge – Rich used a semi-permanent invisible ink, only visible with special lenses]. Cheetah uses her boosted DEX as the AV for this weapon.

If you use a super-powered 1970s Earth-1 Cheetah in your campaign, the simplest explanation is that she associated with the Kobra cult to receive powers through some experimental procedures. Kobra agents seemed to consider that they were entitled to her services, and proved that they had germane technologies with her niece, so it would make sense.

However, in this scenario, side effects resulted some years later in the loss of her powers, a sudden weakening and soon a terminal cancer.


Description

Cheetah’s moves also have an animalistic quality. People would often wonder the person in that suit is not some sort of strange cat-woman hybrid rather than a human being.


Personality

Cheetah is hyper, aggressive, preening and jealous. She is forever looking for new and exciting ways to make money. Howbeit, the thrills and attention involved in acquiring it seem at least as important as the cash. The henchmen working for hire also seem to be action enthusiasts, diving headlong into her strange plans.

Cheetah shows her private army to Wonder Woman

The Cheetah is superiorly intelligent. She can and will come up with devious, cunning plans exploiting the weaknesses of her opponents.

Her plans tend to include surreal flourish – such as having henchmen in gorilla costumes, pretending to have seduced Steve Trevor to shock Wonder Woman, or making a spectacle of herself by strutting her stuff in a cage full of tigers while only armed with drugged frankfurters. This usually works, throwing her opponents off as they try to make sense of the situation.

Debbie Domaine considered that her aunt was a good person. Since she was but a kid and Priscilla hid her career from her, Domaine presumably just liked her eccentric, smart and energetic aunt. But this could interpreted as Earth-1 Rich having a split personality vaguely like Earth-2 Rich, with a sweet Priscilla side and an aggressive Cheetah side.


Quotes

“Out of my way, Amazon ! Or Cheetah will send you back where you came from — in a box of Crackerjacks !”

The Cheetah and her henchmen in ape costumes

“No one double-crosses Cheetah more than once ! Not even 1 ½ times ! Give her a permanent wave – with a lead lotion !” (henchmen open fire)

“I’m ten times more beautiful than that female strongman ! I’ll fix her ! And I’ll use her weakness for that soldier-boy to do it !”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cheetah (pre-Crisis Earth-1 Rich)

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Mercenary/Thrill
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 05 Occupation: Mercenary
Inf: 08 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 010
Init: 021 HP: 025

Powers:
Hypnotism: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Hypnotism requires some sort of prop to transfix the subject’s gaze, and each suggestion takes at least a minute of work to be implanted.

Skills:
Acrobatics: 07, Animals handling (Big cats): 05, Thief (Stealth): 06, Weaponry (Firearms)*: 05

Advantages:
Lightning Reflexes.

Connections:
Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Pride, Secret ID.

Equipment:

  • Semi-automatic pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 08, R#02]. The Cheetah’s costume apparently includes a concealed holster since the gun disappears when not in use.
  • Cheetah’s costume is made of real cheetah fur. It includes short, likely metallic claws on the fingers, though she never used them on-panel.
  • Cheetah is rich, and can procure equipment as needed.

Design Notes

Given the implied ease of her escapes from prison, having her have the full Thief Skill and throwing in one or two more APs into it would be reasonable – but it wasn’t demonstrated on-panel so it’s not reflected in the stats block.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe.

Helper(s): Darci. For the two Priscilla Rich entries I am entirely, wholly, solely relying on Mike’s DCindexes.com database  for appearances and Earth-1 vs. Earth-2 classification of same.

Writeup completed on the 27th of April, 2011.

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.