Name: Barbara Ann Minerva
Voiced by Sheryl Lee Ralph
A skilled scientist specializing in genetic engineering, Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva studied the possibilities of genetic animal augmentation for the purpose of improving human attributes. However, as her research funding ran out—removing the possibilities of test subjects—Dr. Minerva chose to use herself as one, and spliced cheetah DNA into her own body. The resulting experiment transformed her into a human / cheetah hybrid, providing her with the best attributes of both species, but also with the physical appearance of a humanoid cat.
Now ostracized from the scientific community, Dr. Minerva must now acquire funding through less-than-legal means, such as through theft and mercenary work, in order to continue her research. Now known as the Cheetah in criminal circles, she utilizes her cat-like agility and reflexes, night vision, razor-sharp claws, and a prehensile tail that can strangle prey in service to the highest bidder. However, despite her belief in her work, she is still insecure over her transformation and resents the fact that society has deemed her a freak.
Cartoon Network on Cheetah: "A feline femme fatale who is scratching for a fight (courtesy of Cartoon Network press materials)."
Bruce Timm on Cheetah: “We definitely have the Cheetah. My Cheetah is a really radical interpretation. She’s not just a gal in a cat suit anymore; she’s half-woman / half-cheetah—a biological fusion—and looks different from the original comic book version (courtesy of Starlog Magazine).”
Mighty Isis on Cheetah: “Very interesting character—other than Luthor, she’s the only Injustice Ganger whose past we get to briefly peer into. Half-woman, half-beast, her powers are what you would expect: she’s incredibly fast, she’s agile, she’s strong, and she scratches things and people. It appears that her heart isn’t completely into her new job as a criminal, however—apparently she used to be a scientist—and she harbors a bit of insecurity about her feral condition.
"She’s also responsible for one of the most unexpected moments in 'Injustice for All,' but any more detail would spoil the fun. Let’s just say that she discovers some surprising common ground with a member of the Justice League (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
DarkLantern on Cheetah: “In Justice League continuity, the Cheetah was a scientist that was working on a genetics experiment for the betterment of humankind. She was about to lose her funding, so she used herself as a test subject to prove [that] her experiment was a success. And there is a reason [why] she was ‘replaced’ by Tsukuri in 'Fury' (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
DarkLantern on Cheetah's fate: "It was implied that Cheetah was killed by Solomon Grundy behind-the-scenes [in 'Injustice for All'], except she shows up in the police paddy wagon in the next-to-final scene (and surprisingly, the already-jailed Copperhead is there too; courtesy of Toon Zone).”
on Cheetah's fate: “Funny thing
about that—DarkLantern’s right. It
was a mistake—she was supposed to be dead—the implication being that
[Solomon] Grundy ‘[pulled] a Lenny’ on her [meaning that he petted her to
death; a reference to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men].
my co-producer James Tucker kept saying we should bring her back, [and] I kept
saying, ‘No, she’s dead, she has ceased to be, she is an ex-Cheetah,’ and,
lo and behold, someone pointed out that she was in the paddy wagon—all in one
piece, apparently still breathing—at the end of 'Injustice for All.'
Cheetah Image #1 (Small) | Cheetah Image #2 (Large) | Cheetah Image #3 (Pre-JL)
Cheetah Image #4
Tigress Image #1 | Tigress Image #2
"Too much curiosity can be dangerous."
Cheetah (to Batman) in "Injustice for All"
A classic Wonder Woman adversary, the Cheetah has opposed the Amazing Amazon in multiple forms since the Golden Age of comics and, in a fashion similar to most characters thus far, the Cheetah of Justice League is a combination of these previous incarnations. Historically speaking, there have been three female Cheetahs in DC Comics’ history—Priscilla Rich (the Golden Age Cheetah), Debbi Domaine (the Silver Age Cheetah), and Barbara Ann Minerva (the Modern Cheetah)—and, in her various incarnations, she’s been a wealthy debutante with a split personality, an eco-terrorist, and a human / cheetah hybrid imbued with the power of the African plant god Urzkartaga, respectively. Based on Bruce Timm’s comments above, it is obvious that this version of the Cheetah is based upon the modern version of the character (hence the use of Minerva's name in the above bio) but, surprisingly, this character also derives part of her visual appearance from the Golden Age version of the character, as this version lacks the long hair of the Silver and Modern Age versions (this also makes her resemble the Cheetah from Challenge of the Superfriends, the version most familiar to the public).
Eschewing the mystical origin from the comics, this version utilizes a scientific origin that—either by accident or by design—links the Cheetah thematically to the splicing story arc from Batman and Batman Beyond. Against this backdrop, it could be argued that the Cheetah was continuing the research of Dr. Emile Dorian, the scientist and cat fancier from the Batman episode "Tyger, Tyger" (an argument further validated considering the similarity between the Cheetah and Selina Kyle’s transformation in that episode). In addition, her research may tie into the future dealings of Dr. Cuvier and his Chimera Institute (from the Batman Beyond episode "Splicers"), which may explain the presence of another cat / human hybrid, Tigress, in that particular episode (coincidently, both Tigress and Cheetah utilized similar animal noises during their fight scenes). Of course, it’s all conjecture—several parties during Cheetah’s time period are known to be researching splicing at some level (Copperhead, the Man-Bat, and the werewolf from the Batman episode "Moon of the Wolf" are all examples)—but the thematic link is compelling, and likely to exist.
Originally meant to die by the hands of Solomon Grundy in the original script for "Injustice for All," she was spared her fate by way of an animation error that clearly shows her, alive and breathing, in the police wagon at the end of the episode, setting the stage for her return appearance in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Kids' Stuff." As for how she escaped, it is safe to say that Cheetah, who was conscious as she was dragged away by Grundy, managed to escape with minimal injuries, only to be arrested fleeing the scene by police (in fact, she might have turned herself in for protection). In the end, I say that this error is for the best, as we now have the potential for additional appearances by a as-yet underused villain, and while she missed her chance to continue her research for the Cadmus Project (replacing fellow hybridization specialist Dr. Milo, who perished in "The Doomsday Sanction"), "I Am Legion" revealed her presence as a member of the new Legion of Doom, which will make frequent appearances throughout Season Five.
Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Toon Zone, Cinescape, DC Cartoon Archives, Shane Glines, DC Comics, and Heroic 'Toons!
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