This issue sees the return of Wonder Woman’s perhaps most infamous of enemies – The Cheetah!
This issue sees the return of Wonder Woman’s perhaps most infamous of enemies – The Cheetah!
It is a winter’s eve in 1942 and a gala dinner is being held at the White House. The occasion is to honour the Junior League Committee for War Work and it is being hosted by President Roosevelt and his wife. The guests represent an array of the prominent social and political figures including the glamourous debutante heiress Priscilla Rich, Maxwell Stanhope, the political columnist for the Washington Post (who has not been too kind to the President in his recent pieces) and none other than war hero Major Steve Trevor, accompanied by his secretary Yeoman Diana Prince.
Diana tells Steve she feels uncomfortable at such a grand event and asks him whether he would rather have had Wonder Woman as his dinner date. He replies that he had asked the Amazon Princess but she had declined, saying that she did not want to upstage the President at such an important function.
Diana decides to make her excuses for a moment but just as she leaves the State room, Maxwell Stanhope suddenly stands up and produces a razor sharp stiletto from his cane! Yelling “Death to the Warmonger President!”, he lunges at Roosevelt too quickly for the nearby secret service men to stop him.
Meanwhile, Diana has heard the commotion and instantly transforms into her Wonder Woman costume before racing back into the room. Just as the assassin grabs Roosevelt, preparing to plunge his blade into the President, he suddenly finds his weapon whisked from his hand by the Amazing Amazon’s magic lasso!
Furious that his assassination attempt has failed, he advances on Wonder Woman. As this is going on, Priscilla Rich flees the room holding her head, wondering why she has so suddenly been struck by a splitting headache.
Back in the state room, Wonder Woman uses her feet to kick the advancing mad man in the stomach…
Priscilla has now entered the rest room and still holding her aching head, cannot understand why she feels so angry and confused. As she glances in the mirror she sees her reflection – except she wears a cheetah like cat suit and a look of pure evil. As Priscilla cannot believe her other self has returned, her reflection speaks to her, telling her that the ‘Cheetah’ is a part of her and that she is the suppressed part of Priscilla that must be set free! The Cheetah then tells her that soon she will completely take over Priscilla’s personality – in order to kill Wonder Woman! With that, Priscilla smashes the mirror in frustration…
Back outside, the Amazon Princess KO’s Maxwell Hope and a grateful President thanks her for saving him. As this is happening, Priscilla has made a hasty exit and tells her driver to take her home. But it seems that Priscilla was not successful in stopping her other self, for in fact the woman getting into the car is now the Cheetah!
Once back at her mansion, the Cheetah muses to herself how Priscilla had tried to banish her other self by fleeing Washington so as to avoid coming into contact with Wonder Woman. But attending the dinner had been her last mistake! Now, Cheetah was free to settle her score with the Amazon using her new weapon – the Cheetah Cat Claws – to help her do it!
The following day, a tourist boat makes its way down the Chesapeake and Ohio canal and a woman in an overcoat watches the vessel as it passes underneath the bridge she is standing on. Suddenly, the figure removes the coat revealing herself to be the Cheetah! She leaps down onto the boat and slashes the throat of the surprised tour guide to the horror of the watching tourists. Grabbing the guide’s loud hailer, she informs everyone on the boat to empty their purses and wallets, collecting the valuables in a bag.
At that moment, Wonder Woman is over flying the location in her invisible jet as part of her regular patrol and sees the robbery in progress. She realises the stupidity of a robber using a loud hailer to broadcast their intentions, but also recognises the voice as that of her arch foe, the Cheetah. She knows, therefore, that her foe is not at all stupid and that it may well mean she is heading into a trap. Nevertheless she leaps down onto the boat right on top of Cheetah, sending her sprawling.
Instantly, her opponent raises her arm and fires a volley of claw shaped darts from a bracelet around her arm, telling Wonder Woman that she has lured her here for just this purpose. But the Amazing Amazon effortlessly deflects the projectiles with her own bracelets, telling Cheetah that she is not at all impressed! However, Cheetah uses the distraction to advance on Wonder Woman, allowing her to deliver a powerful blow which sends the Amazon overboard.
As Cheetah leaps in to the water after her, she tells Wonder Woman that she now has the Amazon just where she wants her! She says that the next time they meet, she will know Wonder Woman’s secret identity – and that it will also be the last time they will ever meet! Cheetah then opens fire again with her cheetah claws but as the Amazon Princess attempts to deflect the deadly projectiles a second time, she finds that the water slows her reflexes. Unable to move fast enough, one of the claws finds its mark, hitting her square on the forehead and sending her into the blackness of unconsciousness.
And as the Cheetah climbs back onboard, melting into the throng of horrified spectators crowding the vessel, it continues its journey up the river leaving the beautiful Amazon floating lifelessly in the water – unaware of just how great a victory her enemy has won!
That night, Cheetah is back at her mansion, reviewing a list of female personnel working at the War Department who match Wonder Woman’s build and height. Over the course of the next few days, using a special pair of contact lenses, she spies on her list of candidates, working her way down the list. She is looking for the tell tale signs of the indelible ink her claw has etched into Wonder Woman’s skin. The mark is invisible to the victim, but Cheetah’s infra red contact lenses can pick out the blemish. And eventually she arrives at the office window of a certain Yeoman – and detects the mark! Diana Prince is really Wonder Woman!
The following Monday at the War Department, Diana opens a letter from Priscilla Rich on behalf of the Junior League Committee for War Work, addressed to Wonder Woman and care of the War Department. Steve reads the letter and tells Diana that the League apparently would like the Amazon Princess to appear in a Public Service film to promote war bonds…
Elsewhere, at that same moment, Priscilla smiles at her deviousness in signing the letter as if it were from Priscilla and making sure that Diana gets to see the letter – for if Diana reads it, so will Wonder Woman! The film she refers to is actually a legitimate venture, but the Cheetah plans to plant explosives in the camera and use the sign, which warns that the camera is rolling, as the detonator. She imagines the scene as Wonder Woman delivers her lines and the director yells cut, switching off the sign and blowing the Amazon to kingdom come!
She carefully records the details of the trap in her diary, just as she has done for every scheme so far, making sure she has covered every detail to ensure nothing goes wrong. But even the Cheetah has to sleep sometime and when morning comes, it is not the feline villain that awakens but Priscilla Rich! She sees the discarded Cheetah costume lying on the floor and tries to fill in the gaps since her last memory of being at the White House.
She picks up her diary and discovers to her horror that she has been the Cheetah for several days, that she has discovered Wonder Woman’s secret identity and that she intends to kill the Amazon! She muses how much simpler life would be if Wonder Woman no longer existed. Technically, Priscilla would not be responsible for her death and with the removal of the Amazon once and for all, there would be no more Cheetah. “Hmmm…”
The next day she invites Diana to her mansion. Diana presumes it is to discuss the details of the film but Priscilla has other ideas. She produces a pocket watch and manages to hypnotise the Yeoman. Making her stand in front of a full length mirror, she commands Diana to tells her whose reflection she sees. Entranced, Diana replies that she can see two images, one of her as Yeomen Prince and one of her as Wonder Woman. Priscilla then tells her that the Wonder Woman image is an hallucination and that she is not really Wonder Woman. Using a hammer, she smashes the mirror and instructs Diana that now she has destroyed the image she will never believe she is the Amazon again. A few seconds later Diana comes out of her trance, confused. Priscilla quickly bids her good-bye and sends her home…
A week later in Steve’s Office, the Major is reading the paper which carries the headline “Where is Wonder Woman?”. Steve tells Diana that he cannot understand why the Amazon Princess has dropped off the face of the earth. She replies that it is probably nothing to worry about. He disagrees, saying that it is not like her to shirk from her responsibilities and that she is scheduled to film her war bond movie today. Steve tells Diana that he is going to the studio to see if she turns up and she agrees to go with him.
When they arrive on the set, the film crew are standing around looking at their watches, wondering why Wonder Woman is almost an hour late. As they consider abandoning the whole film, Major Trevor suggests that he do it instead and the director agrees, saying “I’d rather shoot a war hero than some broad in a silly get-up anyway”.
Priscilla, who is watching the proceedings suddenly realises that if Trevor gets in front of the camera and they go ahead with the film, he will be killed. She panics because she does not want to be responsible for anyone’s death and urgently asks to speak with Diana in private.
Once out of sight, she tells Diana that Steve is in danger and only Wonder Woman can save him. The puzzled Yeomen cannot understand why Priscilla is telling her this. Priscilla knows that the appearance of Wonder Woman will cost her dear, because the Cheetah will not be far behind, but she needs to convince Diana of who she really is. She therefore takes the cheetah claw weapon out of her hand bag, puts it on and raises her arm as if to fire. Instinctively, Diana raises her own arms and adopts the bullets and bracelets pose in self defense.
In an instant it all comes flooding back and Diana wastes no time in transforming into Wonder Woman. Priscilla tells her that the Cheetah has planted a bomb in the camera but she, in her Priscilla Rich guise, as no idea how to defuse it. The Amazon Princess sprints up the corridor, knowing now that Priscilla is also the Cheetah. However, she does not see Priscilla’s transformation taking place behind her.
Suddenly, a Cheetah Claw whizzes through the air, snagging the Amazon’s lasso on the wall. Taking the opportunity to catch her foe up, Cheetah throws herself at Wonder Woman, grabbing her by the legs and sending them both crashing down a flight of stairs. When the two women finally reach the bottom, it is Wonder Woman who gets to her feet first and grabs a nearby piece of scenery. She smashes it over Cheetah’s head…
Upstairs, Steve is already delivering his lines in front of the rolling camera, but the director is not happy with the uniform the major is wearing and is about to yell cut when one of his aides stops him, saying that the uniform looks fine. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman is now racing back up the stairs towards the set…
In the next moment, the director realises that the cue cards have not been changed and yells cut. The camera stops and the light winks out! In the same instant, Wonder Woman smashes through the door, telling everyone to stand back.
Moving at super speed, she picks up the camera and hurls it out of a nearby window, just in time before it explodes! Before the smoke has even cleared though, she is running back the way she came to continue her fight with the Cheetah.
Her foe is already making her way back up the staircase, swearing to kill the Amazon Princess. But Wonder Woman applies a double footed kick, sending Cheetah flying back down the stairs. As she screams, the Amazing Amazon quickly uses her lasso to catch her opponent in mid air before any injuries are sustained. With her foe captured, she realises that Cheetah is not responsible for her actions and that she is, in reality, a sick woman. She decides to take Priscilla to a rehabilitation centre run by her sister Amazons on Transformation Island where Priscilla can receive help.
Some time later at the War Office, Steve is remarking to Diana that he never did find out where Wonder Woman had disappeared to, although he was glad to see her back. Diana continues her filing and replies that perhaps if it happened again, he might try spending more time looking for her. Who knows? Maybe next time he might actually find her. “In fact”, she smirks, “I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d been nearby all the time!”