This issue breaks from the main story arc and instead focuses exclusively on the Cheetah, giving some insight into her origin story. This issue, together with the one that follows, are tie in issues to the Forever Evil crossover event that was taking place at this time – following directly on from the events of the Trinity War story arc. At the end of the Trinity War, the Injustice Society triumphed over the heroes – completely defeating them and apparently killing them – before taking over the world. As a result almost every title in the New 52 featured these “interlude” issues during this month, each focusing on a particular nemesis of the associated hero or heroine whose titles they appeared in. They also carried a sub-numbering convention i.e. 23.1, 23.2 etc.
Barbara Minerva is on the loose, after a breakout from Belle Reve prison. Some time ago, she had worked her way to maintaining A.R.G.U.S.’ Black Room, where mystical artefacts are gathered, and befriended Wonder Woman. While there, she came in contact with an artefact called the God-Slayer Knife, which transformed her into the Cheetah. In addition to her speed and sensory enhancement, she gained an unbelievable blood lust.
Not long after her escape, Cheetah receives a call from the Secret Society, demanding her obedience. Pausing, she promises to be there soon – but first, she has business to attend to.
Meanwhile, the Terrebonne Parish Emergency Command Center scrambles to track Minerva with the Justice League and Amanda Waller AWOL. As such, Captain LeRoi Holmes has been called out of retirement to handle the issue, and he has selected Mark Shaw, one of the US Marshals’ best manhunters to find her, and Mark is pretty convinced he’s going to his death. Holmes suggests he start with the group home she grew up in at Idaho, and sends him on his way, promising a nice funeral – as nice budget constraints will allow.
Some time ago, Barbara had given Wonder Woman a tour of the Black Room, paying particular attention to the God-Slayer Knife. Wonder Woman confided that she appreciated the friendship Barbara had offered her so early in her new life outside of Themyscira. Barbara admitted that her Aunt Lyta had told her tales as a child of the Amazons; real life Goddesses she had grown to admire. The admission made Diana laugh, because, after all, Amazons are merely mortal women. This disillusionment sent Barbara into a rage, and she turned the knife on her friend, thrusting it into Wonder Woman’s chest. She hoped that by doing so, she would make Diana see what a real Amazon is, by transforming her into the avatar of the goddess of the hunt – a feral cat. Cheetah shakes awake from her memory in a rail car carrying a shipment of live cattle, and then gorges herself on the bovines before escaping.
Shaw arrives at Aunt Lyta’s “Amazonia” group home, and is met with hostility and suspicion. Identifying himself, he demands only to speak with Lyta, to warn that Barbara may be coming to kill her. He is led into a strange commune that seeks to emulate and revere the lifestyle of the Amazons. Shaw considers it something of a cult. He is informed that the women of this commune are taught to live life as though it was a hunt. Upon learning that Barbara has already killed her father and his family, Lyta comments that it was overdue. Annoyed, Mark asks whether Lyta might know where Barbara’s mother Thena and her brother Alexander might be.
Lyta responds that it has been years since she heard from them. When last she heard from them, she had been officiating a test of Barbara and Alexander’s hunting skills. She demanded to know which of the two was best, and they would prove it to her by hunting one another. Only the best would survive. Thena had begged Lyta not to let the children fight each other, but she was silenced by her sister’s chiding her for being flirtatious and attractive. Whatever became of the children, Lyta had trained Barbara and Thena had trained Alexander. The real test would be seeing who was the better trainer of the two. Before long, Barbara had killed her own brother, and won the tournament. In doing so, she had proved herself ready to leave Amazonia and fulfil her destiny – to retrieve the God-Slayer Knife.
Many years later, Barbara returned the knife to her aunt, and was instructed to thrust it into her own chest. Though she was reluctant, Lyta explained that it was her destiny to become the avatar of the goddess of the hunt, and to do that, she would need to kill her mortal self. With the dagger impaling her, Barbara was transformed.
Sensing the story behind Lyta’s lie, Mark suggests that he stay, in case Barbara returns. Lyta, however, responds that he is no longer welcome to stay, and in fact, he is to become prey for her to hunt. She gives him a five minute head-start to run for his life before she comes after him. Cleverly, Mark hides in a pond, beneath the cover of some reeds, and leaps out just as Lyta rushes by. Unfortunately, he takes an arrow in the shoulder. As Lyta prepares to finish him with her knife, she is suddenly knocked aside by Barbara.
Barbara explains that she has not come to protect the man, but to kill her aunt. With Lyta’s death, there will be no more ties in this world to Barbara Minerva. The hunt will end. Angrily, Lyta brandishes the God-Slayer Knife, warning that it can unmake Barbara, just as it made her. Soon, Barbara’s teeth are in her aunts throat, and Mark watches with horror as she tears the older woman’s heart out of her chest. Dedicating the kill to her goddess, Barbara declares herself quit of the goddess’ command. Stumbling, Mark tries to arrest his quarry, but she responds that the Barbara Minerva he seeks is dead. Now, there is only the Cheetah.
Soon, Warp appears, and demands that she attend to her duties with the Society. Turning to Mark, Cheetah comments that killing him while injured would not be a worthy hunt of the goddess, and lets him live. He responds that it will be he who hunts her, picking up the God-Slayer Knife for himself.