Pantha's Origin Revealed?
Pantha spent her whole Titans membership searching for answers (New Titans #74-114 in 1991-1994). Virtually nothing was known of Pantha's history before her transformation. Was she a human turned into a cat or a biologically altered cat?Was she a cat turned human? Or a human turned were-cat? Was Steve Dayton involved in her creation, or just Dayton Industry technologies? When Superboy-Prime beheaded Pantha in Infinite Crisis #4, it seemed like readers would never learn her origin.
Leave it to Geoff Johns to tidy up soem loose ends in Booster Gold #8. Booster Gold and the rescued-from-death Blue Beetle come face-to-face with the all-new, all-different Freedom Fighters (Hawkman, Green Arrow, Anthro, Wild Dog and Pantha) as time continues to crash down around them. After saving Beetle, an alternate timeline was created in which Max's OMAC agents conquered most of earth's heroes.
As related in the story, Pantha's real name is Rosabelle Mondez. She was a vet student at NYU until she was kidnapped and traded to the Wildebeest Society by Max Lord, leader of the shadow group known as Checkmate. Rosabelle became a failed test subject - a prototype of the real Wildebeest animal-human hybrids created later. Once she discovered Max's involvement, she vowed to hunt him down for revenge. Sadly, Pantha is slaughtered again in this alternate reality, along with the other Freedom Fighters.
This can now be accepted as Pantha's origin, even though it was an alternate reality. Too bad poor Pantha didn't learn all this before she was permanently declawed.
Just for fun, here's the original origin idea as related by New Titans editor Jonathan Peterson, from TwoMorrows' Titans Companion:
TTC: What about Pantha’s mysterious origin? Was she planned to be revealed as someone the Titans knew before? Was that worked out?
JP: The idea was supposed to be that she was actually created by the original H.I.V.E. group, and I remember that the character tied back with Deathstroke. He was somehow involved. The H.I.V.E. was responsible for her creation, and at one time she was a real woman. I do remember we had it on the drawing board as something Louise Simonson would write. There would be a story where she actually turned back into a normal woman. She pulled a Hulk/Bruce Banner, and that would be the shocking reveal of seeing who she really was. I think we toyed with the idea that she was a bookworm librarian and had all this repressed anger, and that all came out as Pantha, and at the end of the story, it would be a “Ben Grimm” type story where she tragically becomes Pantha again. The emotional thing for her would be “Good, I’d rather be Pantha.”
TTC: So was human Pantha someone the Titans knew, or just Deathstroke?
JP: Just Deathstroke, as far as I recall. I do remember planning that with Weezie, and I did challenge her to be creative about it, that maybe Pantha could be some C-level character from Titans history, if that worked. It would give us the excuse to [go],”Ah-ha!” But obviously, that story never came about.