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Cheshire

Alias: Jade Nguyen

Titans Member
Joined:
 Titans [second series] #26 [2010]
Related Links: Roy HarperLian HarperChanda Madan

Cheshire Quick Bio: Vietnamese orphan Jade Nguyen learned to survive in the Far East through the study of martial arts and the craft of poison. Taking the name Cheshire, she became a feared and famous international assassin. Jade later had a daughter named Lian, the product of a brief yet passionate affair with Speedy.

 Teen Titans File Photo:

Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

 

History


Pretty Poison

Born of a French father and a Vietnamese mother, Jade was separated from her parents under unrevealed circumstances before the age of ten. Left to wander the Far East, the young orphan was eventually sold into slavery. She swore, however, that no man would ever be her master and killed her new “master,” making her escape. Sometime later, Jade was unofficially adopted by Wen Ch’ang, Chinese freedom fighter who, during the Second World War, had battled tyranny as a member of the Blackhawks. Together, Jade and Ch’ang explored the Far and Middle East.

By the time she was sixteen, Ch’ang had taught Jade everything he knew about guerilla fighting, skills which have served her well over the years. She then gleaned her tremendous knowledge of the craft of poison at the feet of Kruen Musenda, a famed African assassin known as the “Spitting Cobra,” to whom Jade was married for the two years prior to his death. The now eighteen-year-old Jade returned to Wen Ch’ang.

Cheshire makes her deadly debut in NEW TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #2 [1983].


An Arrow Through The Heart

Cheshire first encountered the Titans when she and five other super-powered assassins were hired by mob boss Anthony Scarapelli to destroy the young super-heroes. Though Scarapelli’s employees failed in their mission, Cheshire escaped unscathed.

Some months later, Jade met Roy Harper, who had temporarily abandoned his identity as the costumed archer called Speedy, and was working undercover for the U.S. government. His assignment was to track down Cheshire, gain her confidence, and hand her over to the authorities. But plans changed when Harper fell in love with Cheshire and she with him. Though he could not bring himself to turn her in, he knew his presence would eventually lead his people to her. Consequently, he walked out on Jade, vanishing in the night and leaving her to learn much later his true name and affiliations.

Speedy was captured by Cheshire’s friend Wen Ch’ang, who despised him as the man who represented his mistress’ one weakness. Nightwing located and freed his friend, as Cheshire was forced to abandon her daughter during a hasty retreat. After Roy recovered from Cheshire’s slow-acting poison, Nightwing reunited him with Lian. At last, Roy was free to raise his daughter as his own.

Cheshire reveals Roy Harper as the father of her child
in NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #21 [1986].

 

An Unspeakable Act

After the loss of her daughter, Cheshire resumed her mercenary career and her actions became increasingly erratic and unstable. Cheshire brought back Deathstroke from the brink of death and recruited the famed mercenary in her latest twisted scheme. Meanwhile, the government agency known as Checkmate sent Roy Harper undercover to bring in Cheshire.

With Slade’s coerced help, Cheshire secured nuclear weapons from Russia in an attempt to blackmail the world. As a display of her power, Cheshire nuked the nation of Quarac, believing the country was full of terrorists and criminals. The horrific act would prove her point, and Cheshire assumed the world would secretly secretly be glad she did it. Slade revealed he was actually working undercover for the C.I.A., and with Roy Harper and Checkmate’s help, they prevented Cheshire’s extortion scheme. Although Cheshire escaped, her bombing of Quarac earned her a place on the top of the World’s Most Wanted list.

Cheshire later organized her own mercenary group – a trio of females known as the Ravens – who often clashed with Oracle and Black Canary. Ever the opportunist, Cheshire worked with the Ravens only when it suited her needs.

Declawed

When Cheshire learned that an anti-Titans super-group was forming under the leadership of the immortal Vandal Savage, she volunteered for membership. During a conflict with the H.I.V.E. and the Titans, Vandal Savage exploited Cheshire’s relationship with Roy Harper, now the Titan known as Arsenal. During the melee, Savage shot Cheshire, which served as a distraction to facilitate his own escape. Cheshire was taken to a hospital and placed under custody to stand trial for her crimes against humanity.

Cheshire finally pays for her crimes in TITANS #30 [2001].

Cheshire was sentenced to life in prison at the Slab, where her former associates from the Ravens had returned and were also incarcerated there. While Roy and Lian were visiting, the Ravens attempted to kill their former leader and Arsenal came to Jade’s defense. Tugging at Roy to help her escape, Arsenal refused. Trying to push past him, Lian unfortunately witnessed the whole experience. Roy finally realized that Cheshire was a killer who will never change – that’s all she knows.

Secrets and Six

Cheshire later escaped prison to fulfill a mission of a more personal nature. When Black Canary and Lady Shiva investigated the death of their Sensei, the trail led directly to Cheshire. Insisting her innocence, Cheshire blamed the murder on U.S. Senator Robert Pullman. Oracle and Canary later discovered that Cheshire did indeed kill the Sensei in an elaborate scheme to exact revenge on the unscrupulous senator, who Cheshire claimed was her real father. Seeking to kill Pullman for abandoning her mother, Cheshire was prevented from doing so by Black Canary.

Cheshire later joined a cadre of villains known as the Secret Six. But Jade’s loyalties never run deep – and she soon betrayed the team to secure her own safety. During her time with the Six, Cheshire took a sadistic, romantic interest in her teammate, Catman. The two briefly became lovers and unknown to Catman, Cheshire became pregnant with his child. Cheshire later retreated to the Himalayan Mountains and gave birth to a son.

Cheshire’s son was later kidnapped and believed dead. Seeking vengeance, Catman later learned the child had been given to a loving childless couple and the ruse was actually a revenge scheme against Cheshire. Catman realized the child was better off, and upheld the deception by informing Cheshire their son was dead.

Cheshire mourns her daughter in TITANS (second series) #26 (2010).

Villain For Hire

Cheshire’s life would continue to unravel in unimaginable ways. In an insane plan to destroy the Justice League, the scheming Prometheus used his super-technology to target each of the cities the Leaguers called home. He brought armageddon to Star City and the death toll was enormous. But one small loss proved most devastating: Cheshire’s daughter, Lian, was crushed and killed during the attack.

Alone and filled with rage, Cheshire drifted into Deathstroke’s new villains-for-hire team of Titans. The team’s true purpose was later revealed, as each mission served to create a life-restoring Methuselah Device. Deathstroke used the technology to restore his son, Jericho, and offered Cheshire and Arsenal the opportunity to try and resurrect their deceased daughter. Cheshire was willing to accept the devil’s bargain, but Arsenal was reluctant to use the macabre machine. Arsenal then rallied Tattooed Man, Jericho and Cinder to challenge Deathstroke’s leadership and dismantle the Methuselah Device. In the wake of these events, both Cheshire and Arsenal gained a sense of closure regarding the death of their daughter. While Cheshire fled, Arsenal and Jericho vowed to restart the Titans and restore their good name.

Arsenal and Cheshire part ways in TITANS #38 [2011].

 Powers & Weapons


Besides being a skilled hand-to-hand combatant trained in several martial arts thought forever lost, Cheshire is an expert triple-jointed acrobat and uses this skill to move quickly and unexpectedly. Of bigger concern are her artificial fingernails, which she dips in several varieties of poisons.

 Cheshire’s Code of Ethics


Cheshire is a woman with her own code of ethics. She does what she is paid to do, but if her employers repulse her, Cheshire may find a way to get back at them. The only person who can cause Jade’s personal feelings to interfere with her work is Roy Harper, the father of her child. Wen Ch’ang, however, has the privilege of being the only person allowed to call Cheshire “Jade” while she is in her villainous persona, reflecting the closeness these two have fostered over the years.

A Cheshire commission by Brad Walker from the 2008 New York Comic-Con.

Essential Reading


New Teen Titans Annual #2 [1983]: Mob boss Scarapelli gets the Monitor to sic several villains-for-hire on the Titans, including Cheshire and the Scorcher; Kid Flash almost dies from Cheshire’s poisoned claws. First appearance of Cheshire.
Tales of the Teen Titans #51-52 [1985]: President Marlo of Qurac hires Cheshire, who abducts Adeline Wilson, Jericho’s mother, a former agent of his who had stolen information on the military strength of Kyran, a bordering nation which he intends to invade. Jericho travels to Qurac with one of his mother’s agents, a young woman named Amber, to rescue Adeline. Jericho uses his powers to help them get free and to defeat Cheshire. Cheshire reveals that she has borne the child of one of the Teen Titans in this story. First appearance of Lian Harper, Cheshire and Roy Harper’s daughter, although not revealed as Roy’s daughter.
New Teen Titans (second series) #20-21 [1986]: In Switzerland, the villainess Cheshire resurfaces and battles Wonder Girl’s “new” Titans; Hawk is out for blood, and Wonder Girl stops him from needlessly killing one of Cheshire’s henchmen; Cheshire comes face to face with Speedy and informs him that he is the father of her child. Roy claims that he didn’t know about the child; Cheshire fakes an assassination attempt for the Church of Blood, battles the Titans, and escapes with some Church of Blood acolytes, who arrive via helicopter for her; The Titans’ popularity is now at an all-time low, having been set up to look like the assassins; Speedy goes to Hong Kong to find Cheshire and is allowed to hold his daughter, Lian.
Action Comics Weekly #613-618 [1988]: In 1988, Action Comics experimented with a new format from issues #601-642: Each issue contained six 8-page short stories and switched to a weekly format. “The Cheshire Contract” A 6-part Nightwing story with Speedy. Nightwing encounters Speedy as they stop some illegal contraband. Speedy tells Nightwing he is on a case for the Central Bureau of Intelligence [CBI] and enlists his help in tracking down Cheshire. The two heroes try to prevent Cheshire from fulfilling her contract, which is to assassinate various ambassadors to prevent a peace treaty from taking place. Speedy and Nightwing prevent one assassination attempt, and Nightwing starts to become suspicious of Speedy’s actions. By checking up with the CBI through Danny Chase, Nightwing discovers Roy [Speedy] had been fired from the CBI months ago. Meanwhile, Speedy reveals his true objective: He used Nightwing to track down Cheshire so he could get his daughter, Lian, from her. Roy is attacked and captured by Cheshire’s friend Wen Ch’ang, who despises Roy as the man who represents Cheshire’s one weakness. Nightwing tracks down Cheshire, stops her bombing attempt of the peace treaty and is able to plant a trace on her. Nightwing tracks down and frees Roy, who battles Cheshire as she curses herself for loving him. She gives Roy a slow-acting poison and leaves. As Roy recuperates in the hospital, Nightwing surprises him with his daughter; Cheshire left Lian behind and Roy is reunited with his daughter at last.
Deathstroke #17-20 [1992]: Deathstroke is brought back from the brink of death by Cheshire, who recruits him to help her. Checkmate is reactivated and agent Roy Harper is sent undercover to stop Cheshire. Cheshire, with Slade’s help, secures nuclear weapons from Russia in an attempt to blackmail the world. As a display that she is not bluffing, she nukes the nation of Quarac. Cheshire chooses Quarac, thinking it is a country full of terrorists and criminals, and although the world would act outraged, they would secretly be glad she did it. Slade reveals he is actually working undercover for the CIA, and with Roy Harper and Checkmate’s help, they prevent Cheshire from blackmailing the world. Although she escapes. Cheshire bombs Quarac in issue #19. Roy Harper appears throughout the storyline. Mammoth and Shimmer appear throughout the storyline, working for Cheshire.
Titans #10-12 [1999-2000]: ”Immortal Coil”: The newly formed super-villain team of Tartarus takes on the H.I.V.E., with the Titans caught in the middle. Cyborg faces the ultimate test of his loyalty when the immortal Vandal Savage offers him a human body to call his own. As the battles with Vandal Savage’s villain team, Tartarus, and the malevolent H.I.V.E. heat up, the Titans are at odds…with one another.
Titans #21-22 [2000]: The Titans have never met anyone quite like the assassins know as the Hangmen! Their ultimate target is Cheshire, but to get to her, they’ve targeted her and Arsenal’s daughter, Lian. Lian’s babysitter, Chanda, is torn when Quaraci nationals approach her for aid. Meanwhile, they hire the assassin Deathstroke – and it’s Arsenal vs. Deathstroke for the life of Cheshire. During the melee, Cheshire avoids capture. Meanwhile, guest star Green Lantern teams up with the mysterious Epsilon to stop a new threat to the Titans.
Titans #30 [2001]: “Sins of the Past” presents the definitive conclusion to the long-running love affair between Titans member Arsenal and Cheshire – the mother of Arsenal’s child and the terrorist wanted around the world for her international crimes. After Cheshire is sentenced to life in prison, she resigns herself to her fate. A break-out attempt by Cheshire’s former allies in the Ravens affords Cheshire an opportunity to escape – but Roy Harper takes a heartbreaking stand against her – as she is taken back into custody. Cheshire is seen in her jail cell, left to reflect on her crimes.
Birds of Prey #62-67 [2004]: ”Sensei & Student”: When Black Canary and Lady Shiva investigate the death of their Sensei, the trail leads directly to Cheshire. She has plans to kill the man she claims is her real father, U.S. Senator Robert Pullman, and part of her plan includes the Sensei’s death. Cheshire later has an emotional stand-off with Pullman, but Black Canary prevents Cheshire from murdering the unscrupulous senator.
Villains United #1-6 [2005]: Six of justice’s deadliest enemies band together under the enigmatic Mockingbird: Catman, Deadshot, Cheshire, Ragdoll, Scandal Savage, and Parademon. Cheshire takes a sadistic yet romantic interest in Catman. She later betrays the team and announces she is pregnant with Catman’s child, before being shot by Deathstroke.
Secret Six #1-6 [2006]: Dr. Psycho orchestrates a series of attacks designed to wipe out the Six. Catman discovers he has a son through his union with Cheshire. Cheshire is used to assassinate thee six, but holds back in her dealings with Catman.
Titans #26-27 [2010]: Straight out of the JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE OF ARSENAL miniseries, Arsenal signs up with Deathstroke and Cheshire when the Titans target a child slavery ring for takedown.
Titans #38 [2010]: The team is split over whether or not to use the Methuselah Machine to bring back their various loved ones, as Arsenal challenges Deathstroke for leadership. Arsenal then rallies Tattooed Man, Jericho and Cinder to challenge Deathstroke and dismantle the Methuselah Device. In the wake of these events, both Cheshire and Arsenal gain a sense of closure regarding the death of their daughter. Arsenal and Jericho vow to restart the Titans and restore their good name.

A Cheshire commission by Dale Eaglesham  from the 2006 New York Comic-Con.

 Creator Commentary


Artist George Pérez on Cheshire [from The Titans Companion, 2005]: “Ah, she was fun! Basically, she was designed as an Oriental Victoria Principle. I just loved that big smile of hers. Her smile, actually, has a bit of my wife’s smile in there. Again, a fun, slightly amoral [character]. I just thought it was a great name that Marv came up with. Cheshire; that smile became very, very important in her character, and the green costume, the way it was designed to empathize the oriental influence by having a color like green, like jade, to further the emphasis.”

“I liked her. Again, more of a little fetishy in the costume. Hey, why would she be wearing a skirt? Because she looked hot in it! I didn’t care! She was just a lot of fun, and she was inspired by Catwoman and Black Cat and all those other feline villain characters, so it’s like, Cheshire, named after, in this case, a fictional cat.”

 

 Titans In Love: Roy & Jade


In Tales of the Teen Titans #51-52 [1985], Cheshire revealed one of the Titans had fathered her child. But the truth behind the child’s parentage was not uncovered until New Teen Titans (second series) #20 [1986]. On the last page, Cheshire blurted the shocking truth, “Speedy — my lover, and the man who fathered my child! And I wondered what would happen once I tracked you down. Once I stared into your eyes. And now I know exactly what I’m going to do. Roy Harper, I’m going to kill you!”

In the opening pages of issue #21, Jade failed to make good on her threat, admitting Roy Harper was the “one weakness in my life.”

And that scene laid the groundwork for the tumultuous relationship between Speedy and Cheshire. Their sordid history started with one of Roy Harper’s undercover missions for the government. His assignment was to track down Cheshire, gain her confidence, and hand her over to the authorities. But plans changed when Harper fell in love with Cheshire and she with him.  Their one night of passion left Jade pregnant, as Roy vanished into the night. In the closing pages of New Teen Titans (second series) #21, Jade allows Roy to hold his daughter Lian for the first time.

ABOVE: Cheshire is having a moment in NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #21 [1986].
BELOW: Cheshire allows Roy Harper to visit Lian for
the first time in NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #21 [1986].

With the help of Nightwing, Speedy later freed Lian from Cheshire’s guardianship in Action Comics Weekly #613-618 [1988]. Once again, Cheshire’s feelings for Harper led to her own undoing, as she cursed herself for loving the amorous archer.

Roy and Jade eventually came to some sort of understanding, as witnessed in Titans #8 [1999]. There, Roy leaves a picture of Lian in a diner for Jade’s retrieval. Unfortunately, Cheshire proved beyond redemption by taking up with the anti-Titans group known as Tartarus (Titans #10-12). After Taratarus’ botched mission, Cheshire was forced to stand trial for her crime against humanity (Titans #21-22 [2000]).

Titans #30 provided  a turning point in their relationship, as Cheshire’s attempted prison break-out is witnessed by a visiting Lian. Realizing Jade was well beyond redemption, Roy was forced to take a heart-breaking stand against her.

Upon breaking out of prison, Cheshire emerged more sadistic than ever. Her erratic behavior made her an unpredictable assassin and dangerous adversary. Lian Harper was later killed during a brutal attack on Star City ( Cry For Justice #5-7 [2009-2010]), leading an enraged Jade to attack her former lover (Rise of Arsenal #3-4 [2010]).

Roy and Jade’s relationship is pretty volatile in many ways, but it has certainly sparked years of passion-fueled stories!

Romantic Reads:
New Teen Titans [1986] #20-21
Action Comics Weekly [1988] #613-618
Titans [1999] #8, 10-12, 21-22, 30
Titans [2008] #26-27, 38


Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Binder Series, The Official Teen Titans Index [published by ICG in 1985], The New Titans Sourcebook [Mayfair Games, 1990], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com


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