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You are in: Galleries > Wonder Woman > Volume One > Issues 251-300 > Issue 275

Issue Number: 275
Published: January 1981
Cover Artists: Rich Buckler, Dick Giordano
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Jose Delbo
Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: Ben Oda
Colourist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Len Wein
Story Title: Claws of the Cheetah!
 
Main Characters (in order of appearance):
Debbi Domaine
(The Cheetah)
Wonder Woman
(Diana Prince)
Etta Candy
Colonel Steve Trevor General Riger Kobra

Cover of Wonder Woman Issue 275

Comments:

The mysterious villain who has been operating from the shadows during previous issues is finally revealed.

Synopsis:

As dusk falls in Maryland the evening crickets suddenly fall silent as something wild moves through the undergrowth along the banks of a river overlooking a large dam. As a maintenance technician checks the computers which monitor the pressure valves, the Cheetah stealthily drops down behind him. Before he can even react she has closed the distance between them and baring her deadly claws, she strikes!

Inside the control room two of his colleagues hear what sounds like a wild animal attacking but before they are able to venture outside an alarm goes of, warning that the spill gates have malfunctioned. As the main spillways overload, they can no longer hold back the increased pressure and with a mighty roar the dam breaks!

As Cheetah smiles watching from the embankment, millions of gallons of water pour through the breach into the valley below...

The next morning at the Pentagon, Captain Diana Prince is reviewing some files in her office while chatting to Etta. They both had little sleep the previous night due to the amount of noise coming from the apartment below theirs. It sounded like someone had been pacing half the night and Diana wonders whether they should talk to the senator about it as he is the landlord responsible. Just then she overhears raised voices in Steve's office and turns to see General Riger storm out.

While Steve is distracted looking through his binoculars down into the valley, Diana slips away and transforms into Wonder WomanHe tells Steve that the Hamstead Dam Computer was one of Trevor's personal projects, to show how defense technology can be used in civil engineering. But after last night's disaster, that has now backfired and Steve's job is on the line. Steve interjects that not all of the facts have been established yet and the General replies that he had better get those facts as there is going to be a congressional investigation into the whole affair. With that he leaves.

As Etta and Diana look enquiringly at Steve he explains that General Riger was referring to the major flood which occurred last night. Apparently a dam had burst which had been using Defense Department technology. The rescue operations are still being carried out and he orders a helicopter to take him and Diana straight there.

Some time later they stand on a ridge overlooking a large area of water that used to be farmland and homes. Diana cannot believe the suffering and devastation and wonders how such a thing could have happened? Steve replies that he believes it to be sabotage as the computer system had been specifically designed for safety. Although he does not have the proof yet, he is betting on the fact that someone wrecked the controls.

While he is distracted looking through his binoculars down into the valley, Diana slips away and transforms into Wonder Woman, intent on finding the proof that Steve needs. As he continues to peer thorough his binoculars, he suddenly sees the Amazon drift into view, riding the air currents down to the valley below. He is surprised and wonders where she has just materialised from, but is nevertheless glad to see her here.

As Wonder Woman glides downwards, she spies a child trapped on the roof of a flooded house. A rescue boat pulls up alongside and the firemen shout across to the boy not to panic. But the child is hysterical and seems about to jump into the raging flood waters. Moving swiftly, Wonder Woman swoops down and grabs the boy's hand, carrying him across the water and dropping him into the boat.

With the boy safe she prepares to look for some proof of sabotage when she suddenly hears the sound of a speed boat approaching. She turns to see a familiar figure at the helm. Although the criminal's hair is different to the last time they had met, she recognises the Cheetah's spotted costume and deduces her arch foe must be involved with the sabotage somehow. She quickly uses her lasso to loop round one of the seats on the boat as it races by. As the Cheetah accelerates away, Wonder Woman uses her boots to water ski behind the fleeing craft.

However, the Cheetah sees her and tries to smash the Amazon Princess against the submerged houses. As Wonder Woman concentrates on avoiding a collision, she hears the Cheetah cry out "Enjoy the ride while it lasts Amazon. When it's over, you'll be dead!".

Wonder Woman realises that the voice is not that of Priscilla Rich but the young girl she had met a few days before - Debbi Domaine! As Wonder Woman pulls herself along her lasso to climb on board, she wonders whether the girl from the O.E.S. has gone mad? As she boards the craft and sees the Cheetah's wild eyes it appears that she has indeed gone insane! With a snarl the Cheetah lashes out at her and she only just manages to deflect the razor sharp chrome steel claws with her bracelets.

Wonder Woman is attacked by Cheetah!The Cheetah rages how mankind ravages the planet and kills our fellow creatures by damming our streams. And Wonder Woman is a traitor for defending them! The Amazon Princess tries to reason with Debbi, saying that destructive actions like this will lead to the end of human civilisation. As she tries to punch the wildcat, her foe avoids the blow and snarls that persuasion is pointless. The planet rapists must be slain! With that she pushes Wonder Woman off the back of the speeding boat.

As the Amazon plunges into the icy water and sinks downwards, she thinks to herself that Debbi is even worse than Priscilla Rich was, as all the original Cheetah cared about was personal revenge on her imagined enemies. This new Cheetah thinks the whole world is her enemy and she will stop at nothing to destroy it. Wonder Woman's spiral down to the bottom ends as her head smashes on a parking meter on the submerged street. Momentarily stunned unconscious, the Princess floats upward through a bizarre underwater world - a vision perhaps of the future as the Cheetah would have it.

On the surface, the would be Earth champion releases a stylized cat balloon with the words 'Death To The Planet Killers' written on it. The Cheetah uncoils Wonder Woman's lasso which is still wrapped around the seat. She muses to herself that her hated enemy will not be needing it now and as the lifeless Amazon floats to the surface, Cheetah speeds off in her boat to report back to her master.

Sometime later in one of the tented evacuation camps that have been set up, Steve watches a slightly bruised Wonder Woman receive attention from a medic. He asks her condition and the medic replies that she is in better shape than she should be. She is a lucky woman because she could have drowned or come out of this with a concussion. Instead she will be just fine.

As Steve and Wonder Woman leave the tent, he says to her that he wonders what the doctor would say if he knew that she had once saved Steve from drowning too? She thanks Steve for returning the favour by pulling her out of the water but he replies that they will never be even for what he owes her.

He then produces a police report. He tells her that in her delirium she had mentioned someone called the Cheetah. He had taken the liberty of checking with the local cops and discovered that Priscilla Rich, otherwise known as the Cheetah, is dead. This only confirms Wonder Woman's suspicions and she immediately summons her invisible plane. He asks her why she has to rush off so soon but she replies that she has important things to attend to. As he watches her fly off he ponders to himself that he will have to face facts - he is in love with a woman who does not even know he exists!

Later that evening in a Georgetown apartment, a weary Diana Prince dresses for an evening excursion. Without her magic lasso she has to change her clothes by hand. She plans to confront Debbi in her civilian guise - as a sister not a symbol of authority. Just as she has finished doing up the last button on her blouse Etta walks in, taking her by surprise. Another second earlier and she would have seen her with her Wonder Woman costume on!

Etta has made a special meal for them as they had planned but Diana makes her apologies and says she has to attend to something. As she walks down the stairs she feels a little rude for treating Etta so brusquely, as her room mate is easily hurt. She passes by the door of the apartment below them, wondering what on earth goes on in there at night. Still it is no business of hers. But as she walks off however, the gnarled, taloned hand of an unseen figure appears around the door...

Wonder Woman is thrown to the floor by Cheetah!Sometime later at the Chesapeake Bay south shore marina, Diana searches the empty yacht belonging to Debbi Domaine. While searching for clues as to what could possibly have turned the young girl into a rabid environmental terrorist in a single day, she prises open a locked draw and discovers her lasso.

Suddenly she hears a voice behind her and turns to see Debbi in her Cheetah costume. She realises that there is no use trying to reason with her and using her lasso quickly changes into Wonder Woman. Cheetah does not seem surprised to see her foe and says that her master had told her the Amazon had probably not been killed. As Wonder Woman asks Debbi who this 'master' is, Cheetah leaps at her and they both tumble back against the yacht controls. Wonder Woman's elbow accidentally jams the throttle into reverse and the boat begins to slowly move backward from its slip.

As the Amazon Princess tries to pin her down, Cheetah rages at Wonder Woman for calling her 'Debbi'. She yells that Debbi was a child and did not know about the world's evil. She did not understand how vile mankind can be. But the Cheetah does! With that she hurls Wonder Woman off her and sends her flying across the cabin. As she advances on the prone Amazon, she says that more dams must be destroyed as well as power plants, factories, pipelines, tankers and whaleboats. Men must die so that the world can live!

Wonder Woman tells Debbi that while there are no doubt injustices in the world, her way leads to chaos. She pleads with the rabid girl to shake off her brainwashing but there is no reason in the Cheetah's eyes and no sanity in her feline cry. She leaps at the Amazon Princess who at the same moment sees a car ferry bearing down on the boat. She warns Debbi, who thinks it is a trick, but when she turns to see the massive vessel almost on top of them she realises the truth.

At that last moment, was there a flicker of rationality in the Cheetah's gaze? It is a question that will haunt Wonder Woman for many nights in her dreams as the two are thrown from the exploding yacht.

When Wonder Woman resurfaces she desperately tries to find Debbi but there is no sign of the girl amongst the burning wreckage. The Amazon is convinced that the girl was being used by someone for his own designs and she will not rest until she has brought this 'master' to justice and avenge Debbi's death. She swears to her namesake, Diana, the Goddess of the hunt, that she will find this man!

But she is not the only person to make an oath this night, for in a place hidden from men the 'Master' himself views the events on a monitor screen and curses that Wonder Woman has cost him yet another agent. She must die! So swears the Lord of Serpents - so swears the Kobra!

To be continued...

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