Vixen is a DC Comics character created by Gerry Conway. The character was created c. 1978, intended to become the protagonist of a new series (and consequently the first headlining black female in the DC lineup). However, the DC Implosion cancelled many ongoing titles of the time and ended the plans for new ones. What was intended as her debut story ended up published in "Cancelled Comic Cavalcade" #2 (Fall, 1978), an edition which saw only 35 copies created and only available to DC employees purely to copyright the stories that had already been finished but not published before the cancellation. But the character was not forgotten. Her official introduction to the reading public was "Action Comics" #521 (July, 1981).
Growing up in an African village, Mari Jiwe heard the legend of the “Tantu Totem” from her parents. She was the daughter of Reverend Richard Jiwe, the village priest, who was her sole caretaker, as poachers, lead by a man named Kwesi, killed her mother years ago. Reverend Jiwe himself was killed by his half-brother (Mari’s uncle) General Maksai. Maksai wanted the Tantu Totem, which had been in Reverend Jiwe’s possession.
Now orphaned, she fled to America. She set up an identity for herself as Mari McCabe and used her beauty to become a well-known fashion model in New York City. She used her newfound wealth to travel the world. On a trip back to Africa, she came across her uncle, and stole back the Tantu Totem, using its power to become the Vixen.
The New 52 relaunch of the entire DC Universe in September 2011 reintroduced Vixen as part of the Justice League International. Her origin was subsequently tweaked a little with the DC Rebirth relaunch in 2016 - her father gave her the Tantu Totem for safekeeping just before his brother killed him, and she escaped with it, becoming Vixen later in life after getting involved with a kidnapping case.
She was a recurring character on Justice League Unlimited and, consequently, its comic book series. Additionally, she made appearances in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League Action, and has also appeared in Justice League × RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen.
Starting in August 2015, Mari has been appearing across The CW's Arrowverse, first appearing in her own animated web series, voiced there by Megalyn Echikunwoke. In December 2015, it was announced that Echikunwoke would be reprising the role (in live action) on Arrow. Season two of Legends of Tomorrow introduces a previous Vixen, Mari's grandmother Amaya Jiwe, played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers.
Mari is the protagonist of the webcomic Vixen: NYC, released in May 2022. This version of her is a Ghanaian-American college freshman who has only recently been given the Tantu Totem.
The tropes on this page refer much more heavily to her comics version than the DC Animated Universe version.
Tropes associated with Vixen include:
- '80s Hair: Her bizarre horned mullet from the '80s.
- Action Heroine: Being one of the more physical superheroines of DC.
- Animalistic Abilities: Vixen wears a magic totem which allows her to use the abilities of any and all animals. The totem was created by the spider god Anansi and given to Vixen's ancestor Tantu, whose family has passed it down from generation to generation. Vixen has also been able to mimic the abilities of extinct animals, mutated animals like Gorilla Grodd, mythical beasts and even sapient creatures like Kryptonians.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: She uses an Animal Alias (a vixen is a female fox), and has the ability to copy the abilities of any animal she can think of.
- Arch-Enemy: Aku Kwesi, the murderer of her mother.
- The Beastmaster: With the ability to communicate with animals, she can override the natural predator/prey instinct found in most wild animals.
- Brought Down to Badass: Any of the many times she's had her Tantu Totem stolen.
- Calling Your Attacks: In her solo miniseries and one-shot, she shouts out the name of the animal that she is using the powers of.
- Captain Ethnic: When she was in the Ultramarine Corps with Goraiko (Japanese monster with a rising sun motif) and Fleur de Lis (French swordswoman with a name and costume inspired by her namesake symbol), just to name a few. Vixen is the only one with any character development, and that's only because she subsequently joined the Justice League.
- Clark Kenting: She is a maskless hero, although the rest of her costume may be enough of a distraction - or maybe she just has a public ID, since she's a supermodel in her civilian identity.
- While Vixen did wear a mask at the beginning of her career, her identity is definitely public knowledge by now. In Grant Morrison's Animal Man run, she showed up at the title hero's house in-costume, and Animal Man's wife was shown Fangirling over the fact that a popular supermodel was in her living room.
- In her Rebirth origin, virtually the first thing she does after deciding to become Vixen is announce it on TV.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: In Identity Crisis (2004) she was drawn to look like Geena Davis... which is odd because Davis is not black (according to Rags Morales, she was originally supposed to be based on Grace Jones).
- The Diva: Hustled her way up from being a poor refugee to the heights of the fashion world. She is glamorous and poised as a model, and well known for her bickering with Amanda Waller while she was on the Suicide Squad.
- Energy Absorption: While the full extent of Vixen’s control over the morphogenetic field is unknown, she has on occasions drawn pure energy from it and displayed this energy as a force field and energy claws.
- Evil Uncle: Her uncle killed her father, his brother.
- Flight: Mimicking a bird allows her to fly.
- Foxy Vixen: Not only does she use "Vixen" as her alias, but she is also appropiately quite attractive.
- From a Single Cell: She once regenerated after seemingly being disintegrated by the Queen of Fables. She did so by channeling the abilities of a flatworm.
- Healing Factor: When generating a couple different animals, though the most notable are earthworms and snakes.
- Mega Manning: In addition to her Animal Mimicry, Mari was temporarily able to mimic the abilities and skills of other metahumans and superheroes, such as Superman, Black Lightning, and was even capable of generating her own Green Lantern power ring. This ability was later revoked by its source, Anansi the Spider, who had deliberately altered her powers to push her to be a better hero, so she could be worthy of her animal-based abilities.
- Modeling is Glamorous: Mari is a supermodel in her day job. She has a lot of money, travels a lot, and enjoys a lot of luxuries as a result, on top of the additional public adoration from being a superhero.
- Most Common Super Power: Most of the time, she has a very large bust.
- Ms. Fanservice: She is very busty and her most famous outfit is a yellow/orange body suit that is very form-fitting with a really long cleavage.
- Navel-Deep Neckline: Vixen's costume has changed with the times, but her most famous outfit is a form-fitting yellow/orange body suit with a long cleavage that reaches her midriff.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Took a punch from a Brainwashed and Crazy Superman and is still here to tell the tale.
- The Nose Knows: Many animals have a sense of smell that trumps that of a human, so it would be relatively simple for her to copy the senses of (say) a dog. Her Rebirth one-shot showcases this by having her copy a bear's sense of smell.
- Parental Abandonment: Her parents are dead by the time she becomes Vixen, both before and after the New 52.
- Poisonous Person: When channeling a cobra. She also once poisoned an opponent by channeling a poison dart frog, so that he would soak a bit more poison into his skin every time he hit her.
- Power Copying: Vixen can copy the abilities of any animal in existence.
- Powers as Programs: Mari can copy the abilities of any animal in existence without needing to alter her physiology.
- Reality Warper: With the help of Animal Man, using the Morphogenetic Field, she created her own universe.
- Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Pre-New 52, Vixen is frequently reminded of the time she punched a hole in Amazo.
- Ret-Canon: When Vixen rejoined the Justice League after Infinite Crisis, she was given her look from Justice League Unlimited.
- Sassy Black Woman: While she's generally a nice person, she has absolutely no qualms about speaking her mind, and is quite proficient in sarcasm. Which led to interesting verbal conflicts with Amanda Waller, who is also a Sassy Black Woman, when they bickered at the time Vixen served in her Suicide Squad.
- Semantic Superpower: Vixen has the ability to mimic the abilities of any animal in existence. Given that she lives in the Fantasy Kitchen Sink that is the DCU, this means she can copy the abilities of mythical beings such as dragons. She can also copy the abilities of the human animal which allows her to copy the speed of Jay Garrick (one of the the Flashes), Black Lightning's electrokinesis as well as the Kryptonian Superman's powers.
- Shock and Awe: When channeling the abilities of an electric eel.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Vixen also has the ability to communicate with animals.
- Statuesque Stunner: In her more muscular portrayals and, of course, she's a model.
- Sudden Name Change: Her name was originally given as "Marilyn MacCabe" in her 1978 mini-series, which had been scrapped and reprinted in an anthology titled "Cancelled Comic Cavalcade". After her official debut in Action Comics, her name was revised to "Mari Jiwe McCabe" and has stuck that way ever since.
- Superpower Lottery:
- Originally she could only mimic a few animals at a time with the Tantu Totem. Eventually, pre-New 52, not only did she not need the totem for powers, she could mimic the characteristics of absolutely any animal at any time, without losing control. She was also temporarily able to mimic the abilities of other metahumans and superheroes, such as the Kryptonian abilities of Superman, Red Arrow's archery skills, Black Lightning's fulgurkinesis, and could even generate her own copy of Green Lantern's ring. This power was later removed and her original animal mimicry was restored.
- In her Rebirth origin, the totem connects her to every animal on the planet, allowing her to borrow their abilities.
- Super-Reflexes: When mimicking a fast animal such as a cheetah.
- Super-Senses: Most animals have senses that are superior to humans in one way or another.
- Super-Speed: When mimicking a fast animal such as a cheetah.
- Super-Strength: When mimicking a large strong animal, such as an elephant.
- These Hands Have Killed: Vixen frequently struggles with the more bloodthirsty and bestial aspects of her powers at times, which comes to light when she angrily kills Xavier Cujo, the leader of a Columbian Cartel who murdered an innocent person she befriended, much to her shock and shame. After that she resigned from the Justice League and joined Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad because she felt she deserved to die for needlessly killing and losing control, but was convinced by Martian Manhunter to resign after Manhunter mentioned how her prolonged remorse after the fact and desire to control herself made her redeemable instead of a damned killer.
- Upgrade Artifact: The Tantu Totem originally, a fox-shaped talisman, which enables her to tap into the "morphogenetic field" of the Earth. This allows Vixen to mimic the abilities of any animal she can think of, by simply focusing on a specific animal's abilities and then drawing it directly from the field. Pre-New 52, she got to a point where she didn't need it.
- Wall Crawl: Mimicking spiders, insects, etc. allows her to walk on walls.
- Wolverine Claws: Vixen's claws/nails are particularly sharp and tough, enabling her to rend through a variety of substances, such as fabric, wood, cinder block and even soft metals with ease.