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Cheetah

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

We've made lots of fun of Wonder Woman's shallow pool of villains before - and we're not about to stop now!

Several Individuals have taken the name of Cheetah over the years. The first was a socialite named Priscilla Rich who resented the fame of the Wonder Woman of the 1940s, turning a cheetah-skinned rug into a costume. She tangled with the Amazon several times. Decades later, glory-hunting archaeologist Barbara Minerva stumbled across an african tribe in the midst of a bloody ritual. She forced them to make her a part of the ceremony so she could become the vessel for the Cheetah spirit, attaining the abilities and feral nature of one of Wonder Woman's greatest, most enduring foes.

Yes, and there was a third version in between those two, but nobody ever seems to remember her. Poor, poor Deborah Domaine - no one loves you. Although, on the other hand, maybe they do - more on that as we go through the review.

This figure represents the original Cheetah, Priscilla Rich. You'll remember her from Alex Ross's Tortured Souls take on the character, but this is much more traditional. You can tell it's her by the cute little "cat cap" that covers her hair. She's got a terrific smirk, and the shape of her face is great, as well: the Four Horsemen have had some trouble with flat faces, but not here.

Cheetah uses the same body seen on this series' Donna Troy. It's a far sight better than DCU's other female body, so it's nice to see it again so soon. Surely we'll eventually start to notice problems with it, like the arms being too thin around the joints or something, but for now, we're just too giddy about getting rid of that stupid super-wide uniboob. Cheetah's shins are smooth, since she doesn't have any boots to worry about sculpting, and her hands have the fingers splayed in a claw-like manner.

The paint is very good. Cheetah is molded in a dark mustard color, so she avoids the "fake" look of things that are molded in yellow. The brown spots are painted with crisp edges, and there are some subtle shadows painted down her front and on the inside of her thighs. However, while the face is clearly meant to be Pris, the particulars of the costume design are wrong: the Golden Age Cheetah had flat (yet cat-shaped) feet, a high neckline, and her hands were covered with gloves; Debbie's costume added heels, a plunging V-neck, and had the hands uncovered. Now, which of those two sounds like it describes this toy?

Cheetah's articulation is everything you'd expect: balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. Because she has a tail, her crotch piece is new; the tail doesn't have a joint where it joins the body, oddly, but there is a swivel near the top.

The figure doesn't really have any accessories to hold, but she is wearing one. There's a pointy silver bracelet on her right wrist. What is it? That bracelet is her "cheetah-claws" weapon, which can fire like a dart gun. It first appeared in Wonder Woman #230, where she used it to discover Wonder Woman's secret identity by tagging her with infared ink. That's actually pretty clever! Unfortunately, the cheetah-claws weapon was worn on the left wrist, not the right, so you'll have to boil and pop the hands to correct that.

Sidenote: the costume worn in that issue? Matches this one, with the heels and the cleavage and everything, so it seems that wasn't a mistake after all!

Cheetah is one of the figures in DC Universe Series 13 to have a variant. As you may have been able to guess by the bitartite bio at the top of the review, is the modern Cheetah, Barbara Minerva. When Series 13 was first shown off to fans, the variant was the first version of Minerva: fully pantherized, but naked as a jay bird. Apparently a few figures with this "nude" paintscheme actually reached the market, but I certainly don't know anyone lucky enough to have ever found one. The more common variant (produced in a 50/50 split with the Classic Cheetah) is supposed to be the modern modern Cheetah, wearing the costume designed by Terry Dodson for the "Who is Wonder Woman?" story, but again, it's not quite right.

This figure is painted with solid black panels on her chest and legs - it ends up looking like a two-piece outfit, comprising pants and a top. You can see in the original art that it's a one-piece bodysuit, with a leopard-print sash only creating the illusion of a visible midrif. She should also have matching panels on the inside of her legs, but then that would go back to making the unaware think she was showing off her (cat)lady-business, and avoiding that is almost certainly the reason Mattel went with the costumed version in the first place.

If we're going by Dodson's designs, Cheetah should also be wearing odd little boots, but this figure has bare animal feet. That may be a change for the better, because Mattel surely would have told the Horsemen just to make the boots with paint, and this way we get new sculpts. Her hands are the same molds as Priscilla's, but the left isn't nearly as curled. Interesting difference, that.

Modern Cheetah has a new head, obviously, but the expression on the face is just... vacant. I know the fans start bitching any time the Horsemen try something a little more dynamic, but if any character calls for an open mouth and some personality, it's Cheetah. The plant-god that gives her her powers requires blood sacrifice, not "Paris Hilton posing on the red carpet."

Like all the DCU figures released in 2010, Cheetah includes a DC 75th Anniversary collector button. Hers shows a portion of the cover of Superfriends #1. If you ever get the chance to read that issue, it's a goofy one: among others, we meet Cheetah's evil kid sidekick, Kitten. (And you absolutely must see Honeysuckle, Poison Ivy's girl.)

Both Cheetahs also come with a piece of the Trigon BAF - his right leg. Honestly, I would have much preferred that the leg be given to this series' garbage figure, Cyclotron, and that Cheetah came with one of her pet cats. That way, if you got both versions, you'd have two awesome attack cats, not two red-and-while dismembered legs.

Wonder Woman actually isn't doing too badly in the villain department when it comes to the DCU line. She already had Ares and Giganta, and now there are two Cheetahs (one of whom killed the other). Both versions have their problems, sure, but none of them are truly terrible. The Cheetahs are fairly well done, and thanks to the overall slow sales of DCU13, you can get them easily.

-- 12/02/10


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