Minorities in cartoons: Vixen

This week’s entry is DC superheroine Vixen. Vixen (real name: Mari Jiwe McCabe) first appeared in “Action Comics” #521 in 1981. Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner created Mari.

Background

Mari was raised in a (fictional) African nation. After her parents’ deaths, Mari eventually moved to America. There, Mari became highly regarded in the modeling and fashion worlds.

While on a return trip to Africa, Mari confronted her uncle (who was responsible for her father’s death). She seized from him a family artifact that turned out to have mystical powers.

Mari can tap into Earth’s “morphogenetic field,” gaining the abilities of any animal that’s ever lived. Mari also gains powerful claws. Her claws can even scratch the likes of Superman, given his weakness to magic.

Mari decided to use these abilities to become a superhero. Vixen later joined the Justice League of America, during its mid-80s “Detroit” era. After the team dissolved, Mari went on to various other appearances over the years. These included a stint with the Suicide Squad, and joining a later incarnation of the JLA.

Other media

The late Dwayne McDuffie, a writer on “Justice League Unlimited,” was a fan of Vixen. Thus, he heavily promoted Mari in various media spin-offs.

Vixen’s first wide media exposure outside of comics came in the 2000s “Justice League Unlimited” series. Actress Gina Torres voiced Mari.

Vixen next appeared in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” Cree Summer voiced Mari.

Mari’s evil Earth-3 counterpart also appeared in the direct-to-DVD animated movie “Crisis on Two Earths.”

More recently, Vixen appeared in the “Teen Titans Go!” animated series. She also has her own series of animated shorts on the CW Seed website.

(Updated 11/15/16)

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