[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
Well, here we are, after admittedly quite a hiatus, with the final repost of my Cheetah series. This overlaps the prior Pfeifer chapter a lot in terms of publish dates, and actually all falls before the Salvation Run stuff as far as the in-universe timeline goes, but chronologically and thematically it's more recent, it's essentially consistent with the most recent Cheetah, and being the take in JLA, it's probably the one that's going to stick with the average fan for a good while regardless of anything Gail might yet do in the Wondy title, so "current" it remains.

Which is depressing, but more in a mildly melancholy way than the frustrating VU stuff or the outright stupid Pfeifer Cheetah. Because while this Cheetah is still clearly of that same ilk, she's at least got some nuance to her beyond the mindless cardboard sociopath, and a bit of a suggestion of what she once was.





I have no further chapters to promo the way I usually do after the cut, but dedicated Cheetah fans, if there are any left after this tremendous fall from grace, may be interested in checking out the current Grand Unified Theory of Cheetahs, which achieves the extraordinary by reconciling all seven chapters of this series into a single coherent character arc by dint of massive unsupportable fanwank.
[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
And we're back; this time with an installment so ludicrous I can't even work up any real ire for it. I'm just left shaking my head in depressed bemusement, wondering how it all went so wrong. I mean, it's not that getting Cheetah a little cross-DCU exposure is a bad thing in principle, and even the basic formula of "catwoman + cat woman = double the feline fun" does seem sensible at first, cursory glance. Enough, even, that we've seen it not once, not twice, but three times with this incarnation of Cheetah at least - very impressive considering that a) Selina's not even remotely connected to Wondy, b) she's not even really exactly a *hero* and c) barring Injustice-type "everyone and their mother who was ever a bad guy is there" crossovers, her fights with Selina are the only times Cheetah's ever gotten coverage outside Diana's book. Ever.

Of course, "cursory glance" is a pretty pathetic thing to hang a story on, and it all falls apart like a house of oversize novelty cards after the Batmobile crashes into them the second you take even a fractionally deeper look at the characters involved. But Pfeifer and Loebs never let continuity or consistent characterization stop them before, and dammit, they aren't about to now.





Next up, we find out why Cheetah's wearing stupid pants, with post-ICk JLA and v3 WONDER WOMAN. Yeah, I know. But hey, at least there's pretty Dodson art.
[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
It's kind of odd to say, but up till this point, the Cheetah has actually had a certain consistency to her. I mean, obviously, in four different chapters we've had four completely different characters, but every different take on Barbara Minerva has actually followed pretty reasonably from the one before, enough that you can actually trace a coherent thread of development through the whole thing - you can see where WML got his reluctant ally from in Perez, you can track Jimenez' calm mastermind to Byrne's deliberate restoration. There have been wild shifts in character, yes, but nothing truly out of left field (Boy!Cheetah excepted, but he doesn't reflect on Minerva herself). You can always pretty much figure where any given emphasis sprang from.

Yeah, that was apparently too good to last.





Next up, somewhat less annoying but possibly even more stupid: Cheetah as portrayed by Pfeifer, with bonus Jeph Loeb. Because apparently the purpose of this series was to torture myself and then spread the pain to you.

[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
I actually lied when I started this series; Cheetah doesn't show up in every run of Wonder Woman. Luke never touches her (or any other Wondy rogue, barring his own obligatory reintroduction of a Golden Ager), so for our next take on Cheetah we jump ahead to Jimenez' run and a tale that can probably be most accurately summed up, both in its content and its absurdity, by two words: Boy Cheetah.

Now last time, I called this story "confusing," which isn't entirely true. Provided you know who Fury *is*, how her powers work and how she's involved with the Wonders, and are able to keep track of a story told in two-page installments over the course of twenty issues, it's actually pretty straightforward right up until the very end. And even then it's more plot-hole-y than genuinely hard to follow.

However, the fundamental point of it seems to have been "let's get rid of Barbara Minerva, Cheetah works so much better as a man," which... what? I mean, I'm the first to admit the woman's been a little inconsistent as a character but seriously, what?

Behold, BOY CHEETAH!



Next time: Rucka and Johns compete over who can annoy me more. To no one's surprise, Johns wins handily.
[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
This is a pretty short chapter, because Byrne spent 90% of his Wonder Woman run on guest stars rather than established Wondy characters. But that, in and of itself, is significant; of all the foes Diana faced during Byrne's run, the only actual currently extant member of her rogues gallery that made his cut was Cheetah (apparently the fans clamored for her). That Byrne would give even three issues to her that he could have spent on fake!Doomsday or Morgaine le Fay or Wally West or Etrigan speaks volumes about her significance.

And look, pretty pretty Garcia-Lopez art!





Next up, I do my best to piece together the utter confusion of Jimenez' Sebastian Ballesteros plot. I may have to do a quick Fury rundown first just to get all the context out there. Oh, Jimenez...
[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
Ah, Messner-Loebs. I have some serious problems with his run, which are only exacerbated by the repellent atrocity that is the later Deodato pencilling. But one thing I've got to credit him with, he did some good work with Diana's rogues.



The thing about Diana is that she's too practical and effective for the Joker Problem. She kills monsters and she saves victims, and she's really good at both. Run into her two or three times, and she either cuts your puppet strings, converts you, or decides you're too dangerous to live and sends you the way of Drakul and the khunds. You can't really sustain "can't be reformed" around Diana.

So there's only three real ways to do a lasting Wondy rogue. One, you make the villain flat-out more powerful than her. Circe's a good example. She's a freaking god, and not the chump kind like Phobos and Deimos either (moly weakness notwithstanding). No matter how much of a danger she is, Diana's not killing her unless Circe lets her. But that's incredibly hard to write - how do you defeat a more powerful foe without diminishing that foe or looking stupid or pulling a deus ex? Perez and Jimenez were awesome at it, but not everyone can be.

The second way is to make rogues who aren't actually malicious or even necessarily dangerous. A genial, swashbuckling gentleman thief, for example, who would never dream of actually hurting anyone. Then you have the problem of explaining why someone on Diana's field of play should *care* - Angle Man seems like a shot at this, but it's hard to justify Diana giving a crap about some petty theft when she's routinely embroiled in actual wars and armageddon events. At her power level, it's actually harder to write a believable amiable rogue story than a well-done conflict with a Circe or Darkseid. (A Mxy-like magical prankster who doesn't ever quite understand the consequences of his "harmless" jokes could actually work quite well, though, adding humor and giving her a regular opportunity to showcase her wisdom and diplomacy; really, why doesn't she have one of those already?)

The third way, somewhat tricky to establish but relatively easy to maintain, is to complicate the fuck out of Diana's relationships with them. Make them her friends, make her owe them or need them or feel responsible for them, make sure that "can't be reformed" is close enough to true that the enmity never ends, but is also a conclusion that Diana's constitutionally incapable of coming to. This was WML's go-to method, and he was actually pretty good at it (...at least, on the conceptual level).

As usual, I apologize in advance for the 90s Imagesque art. )

Next up: Deals with demons and yet another indistinguishable Generic White Cop with a Crush on Wondy, as we move onto Cheetah as perceived by ye olde John Byrne.
[identity profile] bluefall.insanejournal.com
(Yes, I'm starting the Cheetah posts before I finish the Wondy posts. Variety is the spice of life, you know.)

It's said that every good hero needs a good villain. I don't know that I completely agree with that, but certainly the most iconic four-color heroes have a diverse array of equally iconic foes - Joker and Two-Face and Poison Ivy, Sinestro and Hector Hammond and Star Sapphire, Braniac and Lex and Zod, the Keystone Rogues.

Wondy pretty much gets the Cheetah. Sure, there's Dr. Psycho, and Giganta, and the Silver Swan (any given iteration), and you could even make a case for poor Veronica Cale, but basically, all of Wondy's rogues are either a) super-lame and not a credible threat to far weaker heroes, b) long since beaten, or c) spend far more time fighting other heroes in other books than they ever have on Diana, post-Crisis. [Or d) some or all of the above, ::coughGigantacough::]. Circe actually puts in a decent showing, and Psycho's a good villain when he's around, but the one and only Wondy rogue who's been present since the relaunch, kept up with her through every subsequent changing of hands, and focused on her to the exclusion of any other hero in the DCU like a proper arch-nemesis should, is the Cheetah.



Gaia forbid, of course, that that actually amount to any consistency in Diana's history, though. Because it is not, perhaps, completely accurate to say that the Cheetah has been with Wondy since the Perez days; certainly there's been a Cheetah with her in every run, but her portrayal has been so schizophrenic as to put Supertorso to shame. Hence, this project - a look at the many different iterations of the Cheetah - starting, as one should, at the beginning,* with the original Wondy maestro, George Perez.

Introducing Dr Barbara Minerva. )

Next up: Good ideas if you can get past the art - Cheetah through the eyes and pen of William Messner-Loebs.

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