Vixen’s Animated Series
Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t. But the CW recently announced that a Vixen animated series will be coming to the CW Seed network. The CW Seed is part of the larger CW network that produces original content for digital distribution. So it looks like Vixen’s series will be online exclusive, similar to the latter half of the Legend of Korra series. However, Vixen’s animated series will be factoring into the Flash and Arrow live-action shows on the CW network. Does this mean we’re going to get Young Justice quality storytelling and animation on a platform that’s free to have more mature themes? Only time will tell us that as Vixen isn’t slated to premiere until Fall 2015.
This is a monumental undertaking. Not only are we getting the first piece of animated material that’s going to tie into the larger DC televised universe, but it’s a black female lead. SciFi/Fantasy queen Gina Torres voiced Vixen on the legendary Justice League Unlimited animated series, and after that Cree Summer took up the mantle on Batman: The Brave and The Bold. But one would say that the JLU version of Vixen was her big exposure to mainstream media. Outside of Storm on the multiple X-Men animated series that have graced television over the years, there really wasn’t a large role for black female superheroes on television.
For those of you who are unaware, Mari Jiwe McCabe gains her power from an ancient family totem that is connected to the earth’s morphogenetic field a.k.a. The Red. By tapping into the power of The Red, Mari can gain the abilities of any creature in the animal kingdom on earth. Her traditional comics history establishes her as a young child who grew up in the fictional nation of Zambesi in Africa. The totem is passed to her, and she travels to America, becoming a successful model and using her wealth to travel the world as the superhero Vixen. During Justice League Unlimited Mari was a model who owned a loft in Chelsea (fancy!), juggling her duties as a superhero and a supermodel. Mari also doesn’t rely on the auspice of a secret identity, a trait many lesser known superheroes don’t normally do.
Unfortunately Justice League Unlimited didn’t expand on Mari outside of her relationship with Green Lantern John Stewart. Yes, we knew she had a career outside of the hero business, but she never really got the kind of character development that the other supporting characters on JLU received. A bedchel test failure. However she still was popular enough to continue to appear throughout the series and maintain that supporting character status. Her only non-green lantern related appearance was in the episode ‘Grudge Match.’ After being kidnapped and mind controlled by Viper, she is forced to participate in underground fighting, ultimately forced to defend herself against a rampaging Wonder Woman. Yes, she got her ass WHOOPED.
My biggest hope for the new web series is that we get to see a strong black female character on television that isn’t defined by her blackness or her womanhood. Vixen should be defined by her goal as a hero; to help others. If she gets to be a sickening model who slays everything in sight, I won’t be upset either. But first and foremost she’s filling a gap that exists in superhero adapted media. We all love Storm, we all adore bumblebee. But neither of these woman have been at the helm of a series. It might be because DC entertainment wants to expand the growing universe of The Flash & Arrow, but a win is a win. And Vixen is definitely a win.
If you want to learn a bit about Vixen, pick up G. Willow Wilson’s 5 part mini-series ‘Vixen: Return of the Lion.’ You can also catch her throughout Justice League Unlimited as John Stewart’s girlfriend. Or you can wait with baited breath until her web series premieres this fall on the CW Seed.