Throwback Thursday: The Animal Power of Vixen
Jul 29, 2021
By Amanda Sheriff
There are lots of comic characters with abilities that mirror animals, but very few can embody a multitude of animals. With the ability to call forth the strength and abilities of any animal, Mari McCabe, aka Vixen, is one of those superheroines.
Vixen channels the power through a magical family heirloom to protect the natural world from anyone who tries to harm it. She was introduced by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner 40 years ago in Action Comics #521 (July 1981).
Mari grew up in a small village in a fictional country called Zambesi. Her mother was the bearer of the Tantu Totem, a powerful necklace that was passed down through her family, which gave her powers, but she was killed by poachers. She was raised by her father, who was then killed by her uncle, General Maksai, because the latter wanted the Tantu Totem.
Mari moved to New York City where she became a model and began traveling the world. On a trip back to Africa, she confronted her uncle and took the Tantu Totem. Gaining the ability to fly like a bird, breathe underwater like a fish, be nearly indestructible or powerfully predatory, she became the superheroine, Vixen.
She had a few solo adventures before joining the Justice League when Aquaman reorganized the team. Maksai stole the totem from Vixen, but since the power is meant to protect the innocent, it turned him into a rage-filled beast. Vixen was able to stop him and Maksai died in the battle. In another outing with the JLA, the team was captured by the android Amazo, and Vixen used her power to break their bonds and dig a way out.
After that, she was a part of the Suicide Squad, working as a model and doing undercover work as a superheroine. This was followed by a stint with Checkmate and she did missions with the Birds of Prey.
Once she was back with the Justice League, her powers changed and she started drawing energy from those around her. Vixen sought help from Animal Man, which resulted in the pair being sucked into the Tantu Totem by Anansi, the Trickster God of African folklore. When they were freed from the totem, Vixen threatened to destroy it to stop Anansi, prompting him to restore her powers.
During the Vixen: Return of the Lion limited series, she returned to her home village to find that a warlord named Aku Kwesi had conquered villages. While confronting him, Vixen learned that he was the same person who had killed her mother. He revealed that he had powers that rivaled hers, which were created through advanced technology. With the help of her Justice League teammates, she was able to stop him.
Keep an eye on PREVIEWSworld.com's Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram for more character profiles! And if you're interested in more Sleepwalker, head to your local comic shop and check out the following.
Art by CAFU
Cover by Joshua Middleton
A Justice Leaguer rediscovers her own heritage in this collection of the 5-issue VIXEN minseries. When the JLA discovers a startling truth about the death of Vixen's mother, it sets her on the road back to her homeland to confront her own past.
Advance-solicited; on sale December 16 o 128 pg, FC, $17.99 US