“I have all the powers of Africa now. From the fox to the elephant, from the spider to the man—I am the life of Africa—and I believe in life“– Vixen, JLA Classified Vol 1
Mari McCabe is a woman of many forms with unique talents. She’s imbued with the power of the animal kingdom, and hails from the fictional nation of Zambesi. Although in recent years Mari, aka Vixen, has been given more exposure. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always like this, and Vixen was shelved shortly after her creation. But what makes Vixen such a ferocious meta human, and why is she not the household name she should be?
Tantu, Africa’s First Legendary Hero.
Created in 1978, Mari is the descendant of Tantu a warrior from Ghana, who created the Tantu Totem, a necklace. The Tantu Totem imbues the wearer with the spirits of the Animal Kingdom, allowing them to use the powers and abilities of any animal in the past or present. Although, Mari’s life growing up was not kind to her, and she doesn’t posses the Totem until later in life.
Mari grew up in a small fictional village in Ghana called, Zambesi. Growing up she heard many stories about the legendary warrior Tantu, and his mystical totem from her mother. Tragedy stuck Mari young in life when her mother was murdered by poachers, and Mari and her father, Reverend Jiwe had to figure out life without her. Jiwe at this time was entrusted with the Totem, and was murdered by Mari’s uncle, Maksi. Maksi wanted the Totem for himself, and Mari knew someday she’d avenge her family.
Mari leaves Zambesi and becomes a successful and wealthy model in America. She earns enough money throughout her modeling career to travel the world, this ultimately brings her back to her homeland. She seeks the Tantu Totem, and to be like the legend her mother spoke of. Mari defeats her uncle, and decides that with her new powers that she would become a hero. A hero that protects innocence, she gives herself the name Vixen.
Vixen uses her powers to defeat crime, and many times finds herself fighting along the likes of the Justice League, Suicide Squad, and The Birds of Prey. She takes part in notable story arcs in DC such as Blackest Night, Final Crisis, and her own series Vixen: Return of the Lion. It’s safe to assume that Vixen is one of DC’s most notable heroes of color. But Vixen hasn’t always seen the respect that she should.
One of a Kind
Vixen was created to be DC’s first ever female African hero, but in 1978, the same year she was created she was shelved. In fact, in 1978 is when the DC implosion happened, and caused 30 comic series to be cancelled and sadly this included the debut of Vixen. It wasn’t until Action Comics #521 in 1981 when Vixen makes her comic appearance. In this she is seen stealing a van of furs, and being chased by Superman. Yet at the end, Superman and Vixen join together to save the day.
In recent years Vixen received her only solo title, Vixen: Return of the Lion, in which she brings to justice her mothers murderer. The is her only solo title, other than the cancelled debut in 1978. Her cancelled debut was ultimately printed in a cancelled comic series. Most of Vixen’s comic appearances comes from team ups, and non solo titles.
Small Screen Success
It’s no secret that Vixen hasn’t been a comic success, but she has been quite a bit on screen notarization. Whether the shows are animated, or live action Vixen is more known for these roles, than her print counterpart. Vixen appears in the CW DC series Arrow, as a supporting character. Portrayed by Megalyn Echikunwoke, and is shown to be a fashion designer who possess the Ansani Totem. Although this portrayal is the granddaughter of the original Vixen, she uses the name to fight crime as a vigilante.
Mari is not the only Vixen that is in the CW, in DC Legends of Tomorrow, they show Amaya, the grandmother of Mari. She is the Vixen of the past, but during a time line mix up meets her Granddaughter. Amaya is portrayed by Maisie Richardson-Sellers, and is a reoccurring character in the series that goes by Charlie.
Piggybacking on the success Vixen sees on the CW, and animated web series was established. This series uses the same actress of Mari from the CW, and debuted in 2015. The show is in it’s has 2 seasons, and brings the adventures of the CW hero’s to the animated world. The show follows Vixen fighting crime, and getting help from the Arrowverse throughout the 2 seasons.
As a reader of DC comics it seems that there is a high potential for Vixen to have much more success when it comes to solo titles. There is a large world within her African heritage that DC has yet to fully tap into. As a character that was to be their first women of color, it seems that Vixen still hasn’t been utilized in the way they intended back in 1978. It’s an easy excuse to use that then implosion set her back, but in her 41 years since her creation the world hasn’t seen nearly enough of Vixen.