5898 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Cheetah of Earth-2 (Wonder Woman enemy) (Golden Age DC Comics) weirdly perched at a window

Cheetah

(Priscilla Rich of Earth-2)


Context

This is the Golden Age , 1940s version of the Cheetah. For context, we suggest that you first check our Cheetah Cheat Sheet.

The continuity for Earth-2’s Priscilla Rich is a hot mess. Thus, keep in mind that :

  • The chronology presented in this article is largely arbitrary. There’s no way to tell in which order the stories happen.
  • Our suggestions as to what happen between the stories are hypotheses.

Advertisement


Background

  • Real Name: Priscilla Rich.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Claudia Rich (cousin and adoptive sister), unnamed uncle (deceased). On New Earth, Rich had a niece named Debbie (presumably the New Earth version of Deborah Domaine).
  • Group Affiliation: Villainy, Inc., leader of her own crews.
  • Base Of Operations: Washington, D.C..
  • Height: 5’4” Weight: 109 lbs.
  • Eyes: Green Hair: Blonde


Powers and Abilities

The Cheetah is remarkably lithe and dexterous. This makes her a particularly stealthy and competent thief as well as a great dancer.

She’s also very intelligent, with good deductive and planning skills, and her suppleness is borderline superhuman.

Somehow, Rich is also a trained pilot, and could sail a military attack submarine (!).

In one appearance she demonstrated superior strength and speed, which informed our game stats. But historically she wasn’t depicted as a fighter-type character. Still, with Hero Points  and the benefit of surprise, she could shove Wonder Woman off-balance and achieve other minor effects.

In one appearance, Rich hypnotises Diana Prince into forgetting that she’s Wonder Woman. However, that only worked because Diana did not know about hypnotism and wasn’t prepared. The Cheetah could also brainwash young women into becoming her slaves. The authorities were unable to reverse this.


Advertisement


How glad am I to be superhuman

One appearance seemed to feature Cheetah as a superhuman. She has high strength, a prehensile tail, catlike eyes, claw-like nails. That didn’t match any other material, and took place during the impossible-to-place-in-any-continuity “new old” era on Wonder Woman.

In our game stats it has been rationalised as equipment (the Cheetah Claws and the Prehensile Tail) and lucky dice rolls.

The notion of a super-powered Priscilla Rich is explored in more depth in the entry for Earth-1 Rich – using this strange story as a base.


History

Priscilla Rich was a wealthy East Coast society debutante. In 1938 she won a beauty pageant and became Miss New York. Despite this she developed an inferiority complex, which she usually kept hidden.

(The dates in the necessary mean that Rich was almost certainly born in 1921. For instance, the Miss New York pageant entrants had to be aged 17 to 25.)

In 1943, Miss Rich was the leader of the Junior League Committee for War Work, raising funds to help against the Axis. With Courtley Darling, chairman of relief for restored countries, they organised a funds-raiser featuring the famous Wonder Woman.

The event was a hit, raising $100K (about $1.2M in 2010 dollars). Yet Rich was furious since all the attention was directed at Wonder Woman, to the point of rudeness.

While Wonder Woman was making an escape artistry demonstration, the debutante dexterously bound the Amazon with her own lasso without anybody noticing. Wonder Woman but narrowly survived that sabotage.

One hell of a nervous breakdown

Still fuming with jealousy, Rich got back home and had a breakdown. She saw her “real self” talking to her in the mirror, and ordering her to make a costume out of a cheetah skin rug.

This evil and envious self within Rich, calling herself the Cheetah, was determined to wreck Wonder Woman’s life. She also wanted to destroy Courtley Darling – solely because he preferred to be with Wonder Woman than with Priscilla.

Now in her Cheetah persona, Rich :

  • Stole the earnings from the funds-raiser.
  • Planted them in Diana Prince’s flat. Since she knew Wonder Woman often was at Prince’s place.
  • Called the police.
  • Influenced the detectives into discovering the money.
  • Led them to the conclusion that only Wonder Woman could have stolen the money.

The Cheetah cracks a safe

After Wonder Woman was arrested, the Cheetah bailed her out. She then lured her and Darling into a death trap. The Cheetah forced them to jump in an enormous mass of wheat to drown. Wonder Woman escaped using her gigantic strength, but the Cheetah set the warehouse on fire.

Seeing Wonder Woman escape once again, she let herself fall through the burning roof to her apparent death. She couldn’t stand to be defeated.

A respite

Priscilla Rich survived unscathed. She left Washington to get distance from her other self.

She did not publicly become the Cheetah again for some months. Erroneously thinking that the Cheetah was gone, Rich then resumed her activities with the Committee and as a socialite.

Though Wonder Woman suspected that Rich could still become Cheetah, she had no proof. The Amazon apparently didn’t make any accusations. Priscilla Rich apparently began her career as an actress during that time – perhaps in War Works propaganda films.

Amazing Amazon exposed by Crazy Cult Chief

Priscilla saw Wonder Woman again during a gala dinner at the White House. The heroine stopped an assassination attempt against the President. The Cheetah then appeared to Rich as soon as she came across a mirror. Within hours, Cheetah was in costume and sporting new weapons.

She robbed a sightseeing boat until Wonder Woman intervened. During the fray the Cheetah had Wonder Woman fall into the water, where she couldn’t use her Amazon bracers as efficiently. The Cheetah thus shot Wonder Woman in the head, stunning her long enough to run away.

The projectile was loaded with an invisible ink. Having deduced that Wonder Woman was associated with military intelligence, the Cheetah spent days surveilling the War Department. She used special lenses that could reveal the invisible ink. This is how she discovered that Diana Prince was Wonder Woman.

Presumably, it is also during that time that she assembled a cadre of slave girls using brainwashing techniques.

Cry of the Cheetah

The Cheetah then forged a letter by Rich. It invited Wonder Woman to appear in a public service film the Junior Committee for War Works was shooting. She then booby-trapped a camera with explosives. However Cheetah then unwillingly switched to being Rich. Priscilla read Cheetah’s diary and learned about her other self’s plans.

While Rich didn’t want to kill anyone, she hoped that getting rid of Wonder Woman would banish the envious Cheetah. She thus hypnotised the surprised Diana Prince into forgetting that she was WW for several days.

However, Steve Trevor agreed to replace Wonder Woman in the public service movie. Not wanting him to be killed by the trapped camera, Rich restored the Amazon so she could save Trevor. The appearance of Wonder Woman triggered an immediate switch to Cheetah, but the villain couldn’t prevent the Amazon from saving Trevor.

Wonder Woman captured Cheetah, and she was sent to Paradise Island to be imprisoned and cured.

Loving submission

The Cheetah escaped from Paradise Island’s jail. She even stole an Amazon artefact (the Girdle of Aphrodite) allowing her to go toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman, but was defeated.

(That issue actually depicts the Cheetah smuggling herself to Paradise Island to steal the Girdle. That she instead escaped is our suggestion to make things more coherent.)

Rich was reimprisoned by the Amazons. Though she wanted to stay on the Island, Wonder Woman returned her to the US. It seemed that only Rich could break the conditioning of her slave girls.

The Cheetah soon reasserted herself thanks to Rich’s feelings of inferiority. She used her most athletically-gifted “zebra girl” as a body double, setting up a deception. This way Wonder Woman would not suspect that Rich had become the Cheetah again.

Stealing the Wonder Woman

The Cheetah stole the newest American military submarine, the Wonder Woman. She turned it into the ultimate secret base.

Still dreaming of vengeance, the Cheetah passed herself for Rich. She invited Etta Candy and Wonder Woman to her yacht, telling them she had information about the Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was felled using a weapon from the sub. She agreed to surrender and be bound to save Etta Candy.

The Cheetah fights Wonder Woman

But when ordered to dance for the Cheetah’s pleasure, the Amazon feigned clumsiness and incompetence. She then dared the Cheetah to do any better. Loving to dance, the villainess gave a great performance. She was cheered by everyone aboard the submarine.

Being clearly better than Wonder Woman at something she loved made the Cheetah persona disappear, restoring Priscilla to her senses.

Just dance

Rich was a model prisoner. She was even allowed to go without her magical reforming girdle. However, she then learned that her parents had replaced her by adopting her cousin Claudia.

Claudia Rich knew acclaim as a dancer, which triggered a reversion to the Cheetah persona. She escaped, faked her suicide and sneaked into Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. She was spotted in mid-flight and handed over to the American police, but promptly escaped.

Seeing her cousin (and apparently adoptive sister) in her room with her things led to a ferocious attack by the Cheetah. She captured Claudia and used contact lenses to pass herself for her. She danced in Claudia’s stead, to great acclaim.

The Cheetah then tricked Wonder Woman into wearing an Amazon prison girdle. As Rich, she then kidnapped Steve Trevor with a knock-out pill.

Wonder Woman was in her power through the magical girdle. The Cheetah had her perform tightrope walking tricks whilst carrying Claudia and Steve. She kept upping the difficulty until Wonder Woman would fall and her charges would die. But thanks to her mental radio and Etta Candy, Wonder Woman saved the day and captured the Cheetah.

Villainy, Inc.

Eviless organised a breakout and takeover of the Amazon prisons. The Cheetah was among her cadre of allies, called Villainy, Inc.. But the plot failed, and the Cheetah was recaptured while still on Paradise Island.

Presumably, Eviless had used her Saturnic power of hypnotism to turn Rich into Cheetah. The recaptured Rich thus became a model prisoner again, repeatedly stating her happiness under the “submission to loving authority” philosophy of the Golden Age Amazons.

Bite the ballet

Priscilla’s uncle died, willing a fortune to her. American authorities requested her in the US to handle the inheritance. An adopted Amazon, scientific genius Paula von Gunther, equipped Rich with mind control tiara so she wouldn’t revert to being Cheetah in Patriarch’s World.

That didn’t work. In mid-transit, Rich reverted to being the Cheetah and snatched the tiara for her own use.

Cheetah took over Tigra’s Oriental Ballet, a dancing troupe. She mesmerised the dancers to serve as her gang. She also replaced Tigra, the frontwoman (no relation). The dancers kidnapped the Holliday Girls, whom Cheetah turned into more cheetah-costumed agents.

But Wonder Woman discovered the ploy. She had Steve Trevor shoot the tiara off the Cheetah’s head, defeating her. Rich was returned to the Amazons’s prison.

Nice weather, eh ?

The Cheetah escaped once again. In short order she stole a weather control machine from an improbable scientist. She used it on a ship carrying much gold and known allies of Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman rescued the passengers, then the gold, and finally Steve Trevor – whom the Cheetah had trapped underwater.

The Cheetah struck back by taking the Holliday Girls hostage. She hung them all by their wrists from a lighthouse. She then had her weather machine hammer the lighthouse with lightning.

Wonder Woman saved the day and Cheetah appeared to jump to her death in frustration.

Crisis !

The Cheetah did not die. But she wasn’t seen again until Earth-2 was threatened by the Crisis decades later. Somehow, she wasn’t looking any older.

The Cheetah was among the crowd on the Monitor’s satellite. She later joined the super-villains assembled by Brainiac and Luthor.

Earth-2 was then destroyed, and New Earth replaced it.


History (New Earth)

In the New Earth continuity, there was a Priscilla Rich comparable to the Earth-2 Priscilla Rich. She may also have shared some ground with the Earth-1 Priscilla Rich.

The Cheetah persona gives orders to Priscilla Rich

This version of Rich/Cheetah joined a New Earth version of Villainy, Inc.. She clashed at least once with the wartime Wonder Woman I (Queen Hyppolite) when she stole a diamond.

Rich seemed even more ill. She was constantly struggling between her Priscilla persona and her Cheetah persona. The Cheetah implied several times that something traumatic had happened to Rich, leading to the creation of the Cheetah split personality so nobody would ever hurt her again.

How much the events on New Earth during the 1940s came to resemble those on Earth-2 is unrevealed. The Cheetah had claws and enough maniacal strength to superficially gouge and hurt Queen Hippolyta.

Later days

Priscilla Rich seems to have aged normally, and may thus not have had a Cheetah career after the 1940s. She became an actress, appearing in the movie Cat Burglar and others.

She remained a wealthy woman. Rich lived in a vast house filled with souvenirs of her youth as a famous debutante, beauty queen, actress and costumed criminal. It seemed to be in Revere or Nahant, MA.

When a new Cheetah, Barbara Ann Minerva, appeared, Rich spoke against her. She even wrote a book condemning her. Priscilla Rich, aged 84, was brutally murdered in her home in 2005 by Cheetah. This was part of Minerva’s quest to unlock the secrets of the Speed Force.


Description

The Cheetah looks a bit surreal. She moves in a feline, lithe way that looks out of place in a human being. Her whole body language is creepy, animalistic and huntress-like. She often ends her sentences with weird catlike growls.

Rich seemed young when she became the Cheetah – maybe 17.


Personality

Priscilla Rich is severely ill. Her condition being halfway between the fictional version of a split personality disorder, and a Jekyll and Hyde situation.

In DC Heroes terms this is not really an Alter-Ego or even a Psychological Instability. She’s dissociative, but in her main appearances her evil side is absolutely not hampered by Rich. She remains in full control of her abilities at all times.

The Cheetah is pathologically hateful, jealous and vengeful. She will go to great ends to take her cruel and manipulative revenge on anybody who gives her real or imagined trouble. She uses the usual girl-bully techniques mixed with more overtly physical assault if she can afford it.

The Cheetah is downright hyper and visibly deranged. She is a killer, but her petty cruelty means that she prefers deathtraps and complicated set-ups to kill her foes.

Dissociated

Most of the time, she’s just Priscilla Rich. But when her feelings of jealousy and inferiority swell up, she will become Cheetah as soon as she sees a mirror. The Cheetah will take over her reflection and order her to take action and tell her what to do.

Rich in herself has no special level of initiative or decisiveness. She might be unable to come up with a workable plan if she’s deprived of mirrors where the Cheetah can contact her. When her anger and negative feelings start receding, she’ll likely look for a mirror (such as her compact) so the Cheetah can give her new orders.

One appearance depicted Rich and Cheetah as completely separate persons. Rich did not know what the Cheetah was doing when she was “possessed”, and Cheetah always ran a danger of reverting to Rich whenever she slept or was knocked out.

To help with this Cheetah kept a detailed diary to remind herself of what she was doing from one appearance to the next, à la Memento. The Cheetah did not know that Rich knew where that diary was.

Generally the depiction of her disorder was incoherent. Perhaps this can be rationalised as the side effects of the Amazons’s attempts at curing her condition.

Both Rich and the Cheetah love to dance, especially if there is an audience.


Quotes

(Talking to herself in the mirror) “Don’t you know me ? I am the real you — the Cheetah — a treacherous, relentless huntress !”

“I swear it on the sacred word of a cheetah – ha ! Ha ! Get up those stairs or I’ll shoot him now !”

“Arrrr-rrrrgh !”

(As Rich, staring into a mirror) “Oh horrors ! Can that terrible creature be my second self ? I – I’m a cheetah !”

(In a frenzy, the Cheetah frantically races to the top of a lighthouse, jumps onto the roof and gives a weird animal cry)
Cheetah: “AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE !”
Followers: “The Cheetah calls ! It is her victory cry !”


Sharing



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cheetah

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 04 Motivation: Psycho
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Debutante
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 009
Init: 019 HP: 025

Powers:
Hypnotism: 04, Running: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Hypnotism can only be used as Rich, and is a Serious Marginal Power.
  • Hypnotism is a Skilled Power.
  • Hypnotism requires time, a willing or surprised subject offering no resistance, and a prop (such as her pocket watch).
  • Running is a Skilled Power, can only be used as Cheetah, and is there to be Pushed when needed.

Skills:
Accuracy (Cheetah-Claws): 07, Acrobatics (Athletics)*: 05, Acrobatics (Climbing): 06, Artist (Actress, tailor): 03, Artist (Dancer): 07, Martial artist*: 05, Medicine (Brainwashing): 05, Military science (Demolition): 05, Thief (Locks & Safes, Pickpocket, Stealth): 07, Vehicles (Air, Land, Water): 03, Weaponry (Firearms): 04

Advantages:
Attractive, Iron Nerves.

Connections:
High Society (Low).

Drawbacks:
Secret ID, SIA toward Vengeance and Jealousy (especially against Wonder Woman), “Power Loss” (see the Personality section).

Equipment:

  • The Cheetah costume was equipped with small claws on the hands and feet, but were never used for offence. CLAWS [BODY 04, Enhance (Acrobatics (Climbing)): 01 (cap is 07)].
  • In her first outing, the Cheetah used ordinary weapons, namely :
    • .45 semi-automatic pistol [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 07, R#03]. She owns at least two and sometimes carries both.
    • Poniard [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (Cap is 06), Descriptor: Piercing, Slashing]. Those two weapons were not used again in subsequent appearances.
  • At one point she stole an Amazon artefact, the sacred Girdle of Aphrodite. It gave her DEX, STR and BOD roughly similar to the Golden Age, Earth-2 Wonder Woman.

Advanced gear

In one story, she equipped what she called Cheetah-Claws. Those included bracers that could shoot claw-like projectile, and some sort of artificial claws on top of her nails. From the art it would seem that these press-on claws were transparent, and the Cheetah-Claws may have included transparent reinforcements on her hands to facilitate clawing.

CHEETAH-CLAWS [BODY 06, Claws: 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].

When she had the CHEETAH-CLAWS her costume’s tail had become prehensile. Presumably that was some sort of equipment, though one can only ponder at how such a thing would be possible in 1943. This prehensile tail was chiefly useful to help her with her acrobatics.

PREHENSILE TAIL [BODY 03, Enhance (Acrobatics (Athletics)): 01 (cap is 07), Extra-Limb: 01, Limitation: Extra Limb doesn’t seem to include a Wrestling/Grappling Bonus].


Servants of all stripes

There have been several waves of Cheetah followers.

First wave

Ordinary young women clad in zebra costumes. They were slaves with the usual BDSM vibe, though one was also used as a body double and lookalike. Called Sandra, that particular slavegirl was actually pretty competent – something like DEX 04 STR 03 BODY 03, Acrobatics*: 04, Vehicles (Land): 04 and Martial Artist: 05.

There were about a half-dozen “zebra girls”, counting Sandra. Several slave girls, including Sandra, could mimic Priscilla Rich’s voice to impersonate her on the phone.

Second wave

About 10 girls, and it likely included some or all of the zebra girls. They were all dressed in jumpsuits – of a darker orange than Cheetah’s costume, and with tiger stripes. It was implied that they followed Cheetah due to her deranged, animalistic charisma – they don’t seem to be the most psychology stable people in the world.

This gang of sorts didn’t appear to have any special combat skills – DEX 02 STR 02 BODY 02 seems like a good baseline, as they didn’t stand a chance against the Holliday Girls. They were more like groupies, really.

Third wave

Her gang of groupies wore duplicates of the Cheetah costume (with climbing spikes in the gloves and feet, but no prehensile tail) and were much more athletic – DEX 04 STR 03 BODY 03, with Acrobatics*: 04. They had been thoroughly mesmerised using an invention of Paula von Gunther, explaining their ferocity and making them impossible to interrogate.

Apparently, the whole gang was actually the Tigra’s Oriental Ballet troupe, a group of all-female dancers. They seemed to be French.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Cheetah — Averaged PL 7.4

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
02 02 04 03 05 01 01 02

Powers

Startling dash ● 1 point (Sustained) ● Descriptor: Skill
Feature 1 (+6 to Athletics rolls for the Running application).

Hypnosis ● 6 points ● Descriptor: Skill
Cumulative Concentration Affliction 6 (resisted by Will, Entrance/Compelled/Transformed), Limited 2 (requires a lot of time, a surprised or willing subject, and a prop such as a pocket watch).

Devices

Cheetah-Claws ● 9 points (Noticeable, Removable)
– Close attack 2.
– Array :

  • Clawing — Strength-based Slashing Damage 3.
  • Shooting — Ranged Ballistic Damage 4 w/Feature 1 (ink charge).

Combat Advantages

All-out attack, Close attack 2 (4 w/claws), Defensive Roll 2, Evasion 1, Ranged attack 2.

Other Advantages

Attractive, Benefit 2 (Wealth), Equipment 3, Fearless, Inspire 2, Minions 10 (in various numbers and points value).

Skills

Acrobatics 4 (+8), Athletics 7 (+9), Close combat (Unarmed) 1 (+8), Close combat (Cheetah-claws) 2 (+9), Deception 4 (+6), Expertise (Dancer) 10 (+11), Expertise (Brainwashing) 5 (+6), Expertise (High society) 4 (+5), Insight 4 (+5), Charisma (Intimidation) 2 (+4), Perception 5 (+6), Persuasion 3 (+5), Ranged combat (Cheetah-claws) 6 (+11), Sleight of hand 7 (+10), Stealth 7 (+11), Technology 10 (+11) (Limited 2 to the Demolitions and Security application), Vehicles 2 (+5).

Offense

Initiative +4
Unarmed +8, Close, Damage 2
Cheetah-claws (melee) +11, Close, Damage 5 Slashing
Cheetah-claws (shooting) +11, Ranged, Damage 4 Ballistic

Defense

Dodge 8 Fortitude 6
Parry 8 Toughness 4/2*
Will 7

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Disability Dual personality.
  • Identity Secret ID.
  • Obsession Jealousy, vengeance (esp. vs. Wonder Woman).
  • Power loss See the Personality section.

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 8, Dodge/Toughness PL 6, Parry/Toughness PL 6, Fort & Will PL 7.
  • Point total 139. Abilities 40, Defences 17, Skills 39, Powers 7, Devices 9, Advantages 27. Equiv. PL 10.


Servants of all stripes

There have been several waves of Cheetah followers.

First wave

Ordinary young women clad in zebra costumes. They were slaves with the usual BDSM vibe, though one was also used as a body double and lookalike. Called Sandra, that particular slavegirl was actually pretty competent – something like a +7 offence bonus, Parry 7, Dodge 7, STR 1, STA 1, Athletics +4, Acrobatics +6, Vehicles +5 (Limited 2 -common land vehicles only).

There were about a half-dozen “zebra girls”, counting Sandra. Several slave girls, including Sandra, could mimic Priscilla Rich’s voice to impersonate her on the phone. Most of them were presumably 15-points Minions.

Second wave

About 10 girls strons, and likely including some or all of the zebra girls. They were all dressed in jumpsuits – of a darker orange than Cheetah’s costume, and with tiger stripes. It was implied that they followed Cheetah due to her deranged, animalistic charisma – they don’t seem to be the most psychology stable people in the world.

This gang of sorts didn’t appear to have any special combat skills – use standard bystander stats with maybe one bonus point somewhere, as they didn’t stand a chance against the Holliday Girls. They were more like groupies, really.

Third wave

In another appearance, her gang of groupies wore duplicates of the Cheetah costume (with climbing spikes in the gloves and feet, but no prehensile tail) and were much more athletic – about +5 offence, Parry 5, Dodge 6, STR 1, STA 1, Athletics +4, Acrobatics +6 and a 1-point Feature making them immune to interrogation.

They had been thoroughly mesmerised using an invention of Paula von Gunther, explaining their ferocity and the Feature. Apparently, the whole gang was actually the Tigra’s Oriental Ballet troupe, a group of all-female dancers. They seemed to be French.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe (pre-Crisis Earth-2 — this entry also covers her New Earth version).

Helper(s): Darci, comicbookdb  (for spotting a missing appearance). The master appearances list, and the distinction of Earth-1 vs. Earth-2 material is taken straight from Mike’s DCindexes.com database , without which we’d have no Cheetah entries.

Writeup completed on the 24th of May, 2010.

Writeups.org is a non-commercial, community site

We chat and work at the DC Heroes Yahoo! group .