The Enigmatic Vixen
Ah, Mari McCabe. Nowadays, one of the usual issues surrounding the industry is about whitewashing and the underrepresentation of non-white superheroes in the pages of comic books. And if there’s one character in mainstream comics that has mostly been absent in all the talk about race representation, it’s her, which is weird considering that Vixen has been around for quite some time now unlike others who are relatively new (e.g., the new Ms. Marvel, Michonne from The Walking Dead, and Equinox, to name a few). Furthermore, we seldom hear about Mari McCabe when it comes to another point of debate in comics today, which is about gender representation. Again, it’s rather peculiar given that Vixen is one of those rare female heroes that aren’t portrayed in an overly sexualized and objectified manner. Given her mostly low-key presence, we certainly hope it’s not the case that this is due to her being both female and black; that’s just too much ignorance and bigotry to have in the medium in any era.
In a way, though, things are starting to turn around for Vixen even if only at a gradual pace. Most recently she was featured in CW’s hit series Legends of Tomorrow and prior to that had her own solo animated miniseries on the web that led to guest appearances on Arrow.
Now, barring issues about race, sex, and gender, Mari McCabe’s existence appears to have been plagued with delays and mishaps right from the beginning. You see, Vixen was originally supposed to be DC Comics’ first black female superhero, but because of the mass cancellation of titles in DC’s line back in 1978 that led to a lot of changes in their publishing methods – an event that is now known as the DC Implosion –, Vixen won’t appear until three years later as part of a back-up story in Action Comics #521. And while we’re on the topic, it’s also worth mentioning that the circumstances surrounding her first appearance on the comic book page is rather unique. Technically speaking, she was supposed to have appeared in her very own series – one that would have added another milestone to DC’s already storied existence by having a black female superhero have her own solo title – but the DC implosion happened and a change of plan was called for.
Since then, Vixen has been a constant albeit minor presence in the whole DCU. There was a time that she indeed had her very own standalone limited series in the form of Vixen: Return of the Lion, but she’s mostly appeared as a supporting cast in other titles throughout her existence. And honestly, the publisher is missing out by not directing the attention she deserves right at her. If you look at it, without even having to barrage readers with an exorbitant amount of retcons, expositions, and narrative revisions to the character, Vixen is already a shining example of a strong female character that’s not just there to please fanboys’ more primal appetites.But hey, as we said, an effort is being made; maybe we’ll get a solo Vixen TV series someday.