Elsewhere, the superheroes having vanished, Mark Shaw has been called in to track down the Cheetah. He's not a metahuman, but he's 'one of the best Manhunters that the US Marshals have'. His boss thinks the Cheetah may head for Idaho, where she was raised by her Aunt Lyta after she, her mother and brother were abandoned by her father.
The Cheetah, meanwhile, has hidden herself on a train and she's dreaming. Dreaming of when she was the human Minerva, and her friendship with Wonder Woman came to an end after the heroine laughed at her dedication to the 'other' Diana. Awake, the cattle truck becomes her diner car. Happily we don't see the Cheetah maul livestock, but the sound effects tell their own story.
By the time he gets to Idaho, Mark Shaw has reports that the Cheetah has, in fact, been to Chicago, where she's slaughtered her father and his replacement family ... nothing for it but to continue with his assignment, see if Lyta, on her Amazonia compound, can help with his hunt - and warn that her niece may be heading her way.
As it turns out, Lyta is a horrible person, the one who filled young Barbara Minerva's head with tales of a goddess who demands blood sacrifices, twisted her and sibling Alex out of shape to the extent that sister hunted and killed brother. And Barbara's reward? To stab herself through the heart with a mystic dagger, so becoming a were-Cheetah and servant of Diana.
Shaw doesn't get this information, he gets surrounded by bow-toting cultists who force him to drop his gun. Lyta gives him a five-minute head start into the woods before she follows, intending to hunt him down, because: 'The goddess wants me to prove myself again. The goddess demands.' But Shaw is no amateur, no easy mark for the formidable huntress. Still, she eventually has him at her mercy - and then Cheetah shows up.
I'm no fan of superhero comics which trade in easy murder and gore. I am a fan of writer John Ostrander, though, and when he has someone tear out a beating heart and eat it, you can be sure it's to drive the story forward. What's more, Ostrander is so efficient at establishing character, and so proficient at pacing a story, that the 20 pages feel like a much longer read. He gives us an insight into the Cheetah's beginnings and shows us her state of mind today, while introducing two new characters (longtime readers will likely recognise the concept of a manhunter named Mark Shaw). Lyta, especially, is fascinating, a heartless fanatic who lights up the pages. And Amazonia - a backwoods take on the Amazon culture Lyta has heard about - could make for a few interesting stories.
Then there's the dialogue, whether it's denoting drama ...
DC would be wise to give this consummate craftsman, who's been filling in around the universe lately, a series of his own. His Eighties Suicide Squad remains a classic and this issue, along with his Aquaman work, shows he still has plenty to offer.
Drawing Cheetah #1 is Victor Ibanez, and he brings the script to startling life. The flight of the Cheetah in the opening scene is a dynamic delight, and Ibanez makes the heart-rending horrific rather than a dark pleasure, with good use of shadow. He excels, also, in the quieter scenes, such as Shaw's briefing, and colourist Wil Quintana adds to the mood with scene-appropriate tones.
Ibanez also provides the illustration for the cover and it would be striking even without the 3D effect that's been applied. With the 3D, it's one of the best of the Villains Month batch, with the blood looking ready to splash the reader, and the belt, tail and plaits all adding levels of interest.
Despite the Wonder Woman branding, this should really be a Justice League tie-in because the latest version of the Cheetah is more a JL villain than a character in Diana's gods and monsters saga. It doesn't matter, though - what matters is that the creative team have provided an excellent solo spotlight for a villain who sorely needed it.