Black History Month returns with a look at Vixen!
Mari Jiwe McCabe, codename Vixen, was originally going to be the first black heroine with her own solo series until the first issue was canceled due to the DC Implosion of 1978 which also took out various other titles. Mari is an African born supermodel, from the fictional village of Zambesi, who grew up with her mother and Reverend father, Richard McCabe. Her mother told Mari the stories of the Tantu Totem, a magical Totem with the abilities to give it’s wearer abilities of animals which was given by Anansi, the Trickster, to Tantu who became Africa’s first superhero. The Totem was passed on through descendants until reaching the McCabes. When Mari’s mother is killed by poachers and her father murdered by her uncle, General Maksai, for possession of the Totem, Mari goes to the United States, becoming a New York City supermodel. With the money and fame, she traveled worldwide and eventually went back home to Zambesi where she was able to get the Totem back and channel the powers of the amulet and became the costumed hero named Vixen.
As Vixen, she draws the abilities of various animals through a morphogenetic field called The Red. She can channel abilities of a spider to crawl up a wall, the strength of an elephant, agility of a monkey, sonic vision of a bat, protective hive of a rhino, ability of contract enemies as a snake, eye site of an eagle, and so on and so forth. She has been a member of various superhero teams from the Justice League to Suicide Squad where she had a romance with team mate The Bronze Tiger and has even teamed up with Animal Man, both sharing similar abilities to channel the abilities of animals. She had also experienced various animal-like rage due to staying channeled to animals for a long duration of times where she would get very violent and have to control herself. There has been some occasion where she even shape shift into specific animals and even turn into a humanoid hybrid.
During her membership as a member of the Justice League, her powers started to mysteriously change. She was no longer channeling the powers of animals from the Totem but instead was draining the abilities of her League-mates and gaining them for herself, such as Superman’s Kryptonian abilities, Green Lantern’s ability to use his ring, Red Arrow’s archery skills, Geo-Force’s abilities to control the earth, and so on. When Vixen is found by chairman Black Canary to be a potential threat and liability, she is released from the team and told to sort out help. Vixen visits Animal Man who is also experiencing troubles of tapping into the Red. It was finally revealed that their fluctuated powers were due to being tested by Anansi himself, who had taken residence in the Totem and had trapped both Mari and Animal Man with him where he altered their histories. When Mari threatened to shoot the Totem and thus destroy it, Anansi returned them to reality and told Vixen that in the future, he’d be looking towards her again.
Recently, Vixen has decided to take a leave an absences to recover from a broken leg and other injuries due to an intense battle with Prometheus. Let’s hope she’s used again soon as she has been growing as a favorite of mine, especially due to her portrayed in Justice League Unlimited as John Stewart’s girlfriend and friendly rival to Hawkgirl for his affections.
Vixen's Adventures Can be Found:
Justice League of America: Tornado’s Path
Vixen: Return of the Lion
Suicide Squad #11-58
JLA: The InJustice League
Justice League of America: The Second Coming