It’s Villain Month over at DC Comics, which can also be translated to “Gimmick Month” mostly because I think it’s a bad idea to have every single book take a month break simply to highlight the villains of each series. Can’t we get these in smaller doses? On top of that a lot of them seem pointless or underwritten. The New 52 surged the sales, but since then it all feels like the concepts driving the stories are more important than the stories themselves. Now that my total downer opening is done, is it good?
Wonder Woman (2011-) #23.1 (DC Comics)
Missed my gushing review of Wonder Woman #23? Check it out here!
Cheetah is a character that always seemed to be created so that artists could draw her topless. I mean…she’s got fur so technically she’s not nude, right? Thankfully it appears this issue is trying to dispel the idea that she was created for gratuitous sex and actually has a character deep inside her (that’s what she said). Obviously she’s an animal on the outside, but what of the human she used to be? This comic sets out to explain her past, but also her deep-seated connection to Wonder Woman. Sounds good, right? That’s because it kind of is.
The issue opens with a U.S. Marshal on the hunt for Cheetah who has recently broken out of prison. His superiors send him off to uncover a location she grew up in that she may return to. It appears she grew up in some kind of Amazonian commune. This commune shunned men, but also specialized in the hunt. It’s an interesting setup, because in a way Cheetah could have been like Wonder Woman, only she grew up in a bonkers Amazonian culture obsessed with being predators and focusing on prey. They also really dig a magic knife that ends up giving Cheetah her powers. It all boils down to a clear explanation for why she’s a Wonder Woman villain and how she may feel jealous of the Amazon woman she wishes she could be. Props to writer John Ostrander; he outlines all of this in a concise way, using the U.S. Marshal as a cipher for the audience, and still maintaining the wildness of Cheetah in the narration.
That’s an ouchie!
Artist Victor Ibanez also does a bangup job throughout. He nails the gore and blood by making it look less like a wound a human would shed and more like a gutting of a deer or prey. The blood has different colors to it, the hearts being torn out look warm and trophylike, which help make Cheetah all the more animalistic. He also nails an interesting dream sequence of Cheetah’s deepest desires to end Wonder Woman.
- Interesting backstory that makes Cheetah more rounded
- Amazonian communes are scary places to live
- Seems like Ostrander put a period on this story where I’d have liked to see it more open ended with a promise for more
Is It Good?
I take back what I said in the intro about these villain issues being pointless. Ostrander makes me believe Cheetah needs her own book because he shows us some complexity I never knew the character could have. There is however, a bit of the Hunger Games in her backstory, and that’s fine because it’s less for the pleasure of observers and more of a rite of passage. My only complaint would be that it seems we’ve gotten all that we need from her backstory, when there could have been a more open ended story to kick off our imagations.