Wednesday, January 21, 2015

5 Reasons You Should Care about... Vixen

The CW recently announced it was developing an animated series about the DC superhero Vixen for its Web-content hub, CW Seed. The series would be in the same continuity as its live-action Arrow and Flash series. In related news, the CW is considering adding a third live-action DC show, possibly starring Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Zack & Miri Make a Porno) as the Atom. Which means my hopes for an Ambush Bug show remain a dream deferred.

Anyway, in the pantheon of DC’s super friends, Vixen isn’t exactly Big 7. So here’s a few fun facts and some recommended media consumption.

She’s kinda like Shazam for animals: When Billy Batson yells Shazam, he inherits the powers of the ancient gods. When Mari Jiwe McCabe touches the Tantu totem around her neck, she channels the powers of any number of animals, from the mass of an elephant to the speed of a cheetah to the regenerative abilities of lizards and worms.

Her first appearance was shelved for three years: Vixen, created by Gerry Conway and Bob Oskner, was to be DC’s first major black female superhero and was to start off in her own series in 1978. Her title and many others fell victim to a wave of cancellations known as the DC Implosion, and that series never saw the rusty metal of a spinner rack. So her first appearance became 1981’s Action Comics #521.

She’s been a member of the Justice League: Vixen joined the league in the mid-1980s, when the team featured an obscure lineup that included Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, the Elongated Man, Gypsy, Vibe and Steel. Conway, Vixen’s creator, was responsible for this era. She also featured in a post-Infinite Crisis league that included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Black Canary, Red Arrow, Red Tornado, Hawkgirl and Black Lightning. Vixen would at one point lead the team. In the New 52, Vixen was a starter member of the since-canceled Justice League International.

She’s been a member of the Suicide Squad: Thanks to the upcoming movie no longer starring Tom Hardy, the Suicide Squad is like Hansel – so hot right now. Vixen joined the team of mostly villains during the original John Ostrander run after some of her modeling colleagues were killed by drug smugglers. She briefly dated one of the squad’s members, Bronze Tiger.

She’s dated Green Lantern: In Justice League Unlimited, Mari was involved with Green Lantern John Stewart. One of the show’s running subplots was a love triangle among Vixen, Stewart and Hawkgirl, Stewart’s previous girlfriend. That triangle became a square when Hawkman arrived on the scene.

Read this: Vixen: Return of the Lion, a five-issue 2008 miniseries written by G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel).

Watch that: Justice League Unlimited. Vixen appeared in five episodes of the 2004-06 series, voiced by Gina Torres (Firefly). Episodes include “Grudge Match,” in which female superheroes including Vixen, Hawkgirl, Huntress, Black Canary and Wonder Woman are mind-controlled into doing battle for the delight of supervillains; and “Ancient History,” in which the Shadow Thief reveals Hawkman and Hawkgirl to have been lovers in a past life, only for past-Hawkgirl to have had an affair with past-Stewart.

Dan Grote has been a Matt Signal contributor since 2014 and friends with Matt since there were four Supermen and two Psylockes. His two novels, My Evil Twin and I and Of Robots, God and Government, are available on Amazon.

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