Another really great issue of Wonder Woman? Big surprise, you say. But wait, there are some caveats here.
First off, this issue is (technically, the best kind of correct) the first Wonder issue since the reboot not written by Brian Azzarello! Instead this Villains Month tie-in goes to John Ostrander (X-Men, Star Wars, Secret Six, Martian Manhunter) with artwork by Victor Ibanez.
So how does it fair? Check out below!
Mr. Ostrander weaves an interesting and viscous tale with his entry into the Villains Month pantheon. Cheetah has long been one of Wonder Woman’s most identifiable villains.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean she’s been the most menacing. Up until relatively recently, she’s been portrayed as a catty cheetah in pajamas. Look up any Wonder Woman issue from the 80s and you’ll see what I mean. It’s hard to take the character seriously.
When Geoff Johns reintroduced the character in Justice League #13 he did, to his credit, boost her power set and make her a more formidable foe.
Mr. Ostrander, however, has created a fully fleshed out and interesting character, one that fits right at home in the Wonder Woman story that Brian Azzarello is creating month to month.
Not only does this issue fit into the greater storyline of Forever Evil, it also firmly stands on its own as one of the better Villains Month books. The reader is given a glimpse into Cheetah, aka Barbara Minerva, and her upbringing on a pseudo-Paradise Island. Under the tutelage of Cheetah’s Aunt Lyta (Lyta / Hippolyta ) the women in this cult worship the teachings of Minerva, the Goddess of the Hunt over all others. Equal parts cult and Jesus camp, this gang of women act as a foil to the Amazons and their gods-worshipping ways. Mr. Ostrander provides some nice commentary on the values and pitfalls of such blind faith. It is in this environment that the Cheetah is born. It is here that U.S. Marshall Mark Shaw first goes to help track down the fugitive villain.
Cheetah is depicted, both in writing and artwork, as pure viscousness. She’s described to be “as fast as Flash” and has an “unbelievable bloodlust” – which she displays by eating the hearts of her victims.
Victor Ibanez’s artwork in this issue is beautiful. Crisp, clear, exciting. He knows when to break panels to put the reader on edge and he portrays the bloodiness of Cheetah’s kills with expertness. The action is always easy to follow and the book never lulls, in either artwork or story. These two are a dream team and should work together more often.
I really haven’t a negative thing to say about this issue. It was a fantastic one-and-done that I could potentially see spinning out into its own series. The possibility of that happening is unlikely, but it was a fantastic read.
John Ostrander and Victor Ibanez knock this issue out of the park. Together they create a Wonder Woman tie-in that forges its own territory while still staying true to the story that Brian Azzarello is telling every month. If you haven’t been a fan of Cheetah in the past, give this issue a read. You won’t be disappointed.