Do They Even Have Foxes in Africa?
Welcome to this week’s article, suggested by u/hargendarsh, whose name sounds like some kind of Swedish delicacy. So, in the noble Swedish tradition, bork bork bork. That is all.
This week, we’re focusing on everybody’s (third or fourth) favorite character with animal powers, Vixen! Vixen is another character with a somewhat decent showing outside of comics, having made several appearances in both Justice League Unlimited as well as Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but her star is about to be even more on the rise with her character’s introduction to the Flarrowverse. Whether or not they’ll cock up yet another character remains to be seen, but frankly, my money’s on them fucking it up, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
You know what we don’t have to wait and see about? The rest of this article! It can disappoint us all right away! Let’s fake an education in comics!
Man, Flarrowverse is Such a Dumb Word
SCENARIO: Do you need an animal-power based hero to brag about, but don’t want to talk about any of the ones that most people already know about? Tired of Beast Boy? Don’t want to talk about Animal Man again? Then boy howdy, is Vixen the character for you!
Actually, she’s got a lot more to her than that, but this section of the article is basically just filler at this point anyways, so… yeah. Deal with it, I guess.
Step One: Try Really Hard Not to Make a Joke About “Lonely Space Vixens”
The Vixen, otherwise known as Mari Jiwe McCabe, is an African woman born in what I’m about eighty percent sure is a fictional place, as well as a highly successful business woman and supermodel, because sure, why the hell not. After her father was killed by a warlord who happened to be his half-brother, she left Africa to become successful, and would later use the money from her exploits to travel back home and steal something called the Tantu Totem from her father’s murderer. The Tantu Totem, of course, was a relic that Mari’s father, who, being a priest, would of course collect ancient African magical relics. After putting on the Totem, Mari gained access to animal powers, and decided “eh, what the hell”, thereby becoming the hero known as Vixen! Fun fact, no one seems to really be able to agree on what her powers actually come from. Originally it was just the will of the African trickster god Anansi, later Animal Man’s same Morphogenetic Field, and later still the Red from Swamp Thing’s lore. Personally, being a rabid fan of all things Swamp Thing (yes, even the awful, awful movie), I prefer the Red being part of her powers, but hey, that’s just me.
Anyways, she then promptly disappeared for like, four years, only popping up twice in order to fight poachers and some douchebag named Admiral Cerebus, a character so lame and forgettable that he has no actual wiki entries anywhere. To put that into perspective, I can pull up a full page on fucking Red Bee, a character who I forget existed until this sentence. After these less-than-entertaining escapades, Vixen would rise to prominence as a member of the JLA when it was reformed by Aquaman, quickly becoming a fan favorite despite the fact that she used to dress up like this.
During her time on the team, she actually did a lot and featured pretty prominently, even getting closure with her backstory when she beat the shit out of her father’s murderer. Of course, as soon as the team disbanded she went right back to being a model because, come on, that’s good money right there. However, as is all too common in the life of a superhero, things didn’t go all that well. Mari’s fellow models were murdered by drug smugglers in the Caribbean, because I guess that’s just what happens out there. This led to the next team-based chapter of Mari’s life: The Suicide Squad.
Step Two: I Couldn’t Think of a Title For This Part But it’s About the Suicide Squad
See, Mari wanted revenge, but it turns out animal powers are only moderately useful at best, so she needed additional help. And seeing as how the Justice League isn’t quite the group of people you would go to for mob justice, Vixen knew exactly who to call: the Suicide Squad. After some negotiations with the government, she managed to get an undercover spot on the team, leading to successful retribution. Of course, since the Tantu Totem basically has a magical morality clause, Mari began exhibiting more and more vicious animal tendencies, and decided to hang out with the team until she could learn to curb them, because she’s kind of an idiot sometimes.While she was there, she would fall in love with Bronze Tiger, because they were the only two black people on the team and the 80s were a simpler time. However, he was basically the only thing keeping her on the team after she resolved her own personal issues, proving that Mari has kind of a thing for damaged goods.
All jokes aside, Mari proved to once again be an integral part of a team, effectively becoming a third of the group’s moral center. If you’re beginning to see a pattern here, then you are absolutely on the money. Vixen is one of those characters who only ever seems to work as a team character, with her few solo ventures over the years never quite gaining enough steam to make a lasting impact. As with most of the characters of this variety, this flies in the face of Vixen’s popularity. Of course, as popular as she is with her fans, she just can’t attract a big enough crowd to sustain a regular audience.
Over the years, she bounced from the JLA, to the Suicide Squad, to the Birds of Prey (ever notice how like, none of those characters are bird themed? Except for Black Canary I guess), to the Justice League Task Force, and all the way back to the JLA again. Despite being a memorable enough character, however, she seemed to stop taking part in very memorable storylines after her time with the Squad. Besides the one time she started mimicking other people’s powers instead of animal powers, she ultimately became window dressing, even taking a back seat during Identity Crisis, an event that seemed to be trying to focus on lesser known characters. Of course, this was also the event that decided that Firestorm would die in one page after being stabbed with a sword. You know, just how any other nuclear reactor works. What? You mean nuclear reactors don’t immediately explode when they breach? Say it ain’t so!
…man, fuck Identity Crisis.
Anyways, you might be asking what she did after all this team shit. Well…
Step Three: Twice as Bright, Half as Long
Vixen eventually got her own miniseries after a decade or two of being crammed into teams or into already overstuffed events, and one written by the awesome G. Willow Wilson no less! And it was pretty damn good. Featuring a return to Mari’s homeland, voodoo made specifically to target superhumans, and uh… Intergang, I guess, it was a good amount of fun, and a refreshing return to the spotlight for the character.
But of course, because this is Vixen we’re talking about here, she pretty much got shafted until the New 52. What happened after the New 52, you ask?
Take a fucking guess.
Vixen became a part of the all new, all forgettable Justice League International, which made it through precisely two cliched story arcs before folding. Despite having a lineup of awesome, unique characters, as well as a theoretically interesting premise, the series utterly failed to have anything unique about it. After the series was cancelled, Vixen pretty much just… disappeared. Seriously, I can’t find a single thing about her after this team ended. Shit, I could barely find any from before the team ended.
There’s pretty much nothing else to say here, because there’s nothing else to even talk about. So, uh… let’s move on.
Step Four: So Where is She Now?
In line with her many animated appearances over the years (to once again harp on about BTBAB, she was one of the best characters on that show), Vixen now makes her extended universe home in an animated miniseries of sorts on the CW. Interestingly, the show is actually canon in the (SIGH) Flarrowverse, which is pretty cool. So it’s great that she got to have such a cool take on her original look, right? R-right?
Someday the Flarrowverse will stop hurting me.
Continuing the nonstop vortex of putrid, vile dog shit that was season 4 of Arrow, Vixen made her first live action appearance, and it was… well, it certainly happened. Out of all the mistakes they could have made, they made the worst possible one: they made her boring. Well, that and the lipstick, if I got to pick two things.
So, Vixen’s honestly kind of in the same place as she was at the beginning of the New 52 right now. But it could be worse. She could have been Superman-ed.
In conclusion, Vixen deserves better than what she’s been getting lately, and if discussion on animal-based characters comes up, after ranting about your childhood crush on Cheetarah/Lion-Oh for a good thirty minutes, you should make sure others know. Or just talk through a conversation like a normal human being, I guess. Whatever floats your boat.
I’ll see you all next week folks! Normally I’d plug my shitty Youtube gaming channel here, but our uploads are pretty inconsistent at the moment, so I’ll spare you this week. We do have better audio quality these days though, so if you’re at all interested in hearing me and a friend bullshit our way through various video games, feel free to come check us out through one of the links I’ve dropped in previous articles. If not, well, thanks for continuing the status quo!
Honestly, I might as well have just plugged the channel anyways with how much I wound up talking about it. Ah well. See you all next time!