Vixen (comics)

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250px Vixen JLoA4 Vixen
Vixen, as seen on the variant cover for Justice League Of America Vol. 2 #4. Art by J. G. Jones.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Action Comics #521 (July 1981)
Created by Gerry Conway (writer)
Curt Swan (artist)
In story information
Alter ego Mari Jiwe McCabe
Team affiliations Justice League
Suicide Squad
Ultramarine Corps
Birds of Prey
Abilities Vixen possesses the innate power to mimic the abilities of any animal. The Tantu Totem increases her mimicking range and protects her mind from overwhelming animal instinct.

Vixen (Mari Jiwe McCabe) is a fictional character, a superheroine in the DC Comics universe. She was nearly the first black female DC superheroine to star in her own series, but the first issue of her series was canceled in the DC Implosion in 1978, never to be released (it was subsequently printed in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade). Her first appearance distributed to the public was in Action Comics #521 (1981).



  • 1 Fictional character biography
    • 1.1 Fighting Crime
    • 1.2 Suicide Squad
    • 1.3 Other adventures
    • 1.4 Infinite Crisis
    • 1.5 One Year Later
    • 1.6 Justice League of America
    • 1.7 Return of the Lion
  • 2 Powers and abilities
  • 3 Other media
    • 3.1 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
    • 3.2 Justice League Unlimited
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links
  • 6 See also

Fictional character biography

In ancient Africa, there was a legend that the warrior Tantu asked Anansi the Spider to create a totem that would give the wearer all of the powers of the animal kingdom, if they would use the power to protect the innocent. As shown in the pages of Animal Man, it is possible that the “Anansi” who Tantu met, may have been a member of the alien race who gave Buddy Baker the ability to tap the Morphogenetic field. This field allows Buddy to imitate the abillities of nearby animals. According to the Animal Man series, Mari’s Tantu totem may tap into that same field. Tantu used the totem to become Africa’s first legendary hero. The totem was later passed down to Tantu’s descendants until it reached the McCabes.

Growing up in a small African village in the nation of M’Changa, Mari Jiwe McCabe hears the legend of the “Tantu Totem” from her mother. Sometime later, Mari’s mother is killed by poachers and she is raised by her father Reverend Richard Jiwe, the village priest. Reverend Jiwe himself is killed by his half-brother (Mari’s uncle) General Maksai. Maksai wants the Tantu Totem, which Jiwe had been in possession of.

150px Vixenfirstapp Vixen

magnify clip Vixen

Vixen meets Superman.

She moves to America, where she establishes an identity as Mari McCabe and gets a job as a model in New York City. She uses her newfound wealth to travel the world. On a trip back to Africa, she comes across her uncle and takes back the Tantu Totem, using its power to become the costumed superhero Vixen.

Fighting Crime

After this, Vixen made only two appearances as a solo crime fighter: once fighting poachers in India[1] and then against the techno-psycho criminal, Admiral Cerebrus.[2] In fact, she was a reluctant hero until the Justice League of America was reorganized by Aquaman. She applies for full-time League membership and is accepted.[3] During her time with the JLA, the totem is taken from her by General Maksai, who still sought its power.[4] The totem would only grant its full power to those who would use it to protect the innocent, and it causes Maksai to be transformed into a raging beast. Maksai dies in battle with Vixen.[5] Vixen continues with that particular incarnation of the JLA until two members were killed, Steel and Vibe, and it was disbanded by the Martian Manhunter.[6]

Around this time, Vixen teams up with Animal Man again. She travels to his suburban house with knowledge of a mysterious murderous force. Animal Man’s own powers have become affected because of this force, as he finds himself unable to correctly access the right powers.

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad

Vixen returns to modeling; but a Caribbean photo session turned violent. Mari’s colleagues were killed by drug smugglers. She appeals to the government, who turn the matter over to the Suicide Squad. She goes undercover to capture the drug kingpin Cujo, who had been revealed by footage shot during the shoot. Along with Captain Boomerang and Black Orchid, she destroys the operation, but not before she loses control and kills the criminal kingpin, too. Revolted by what she had become, she agrees to work with the Squad until her animal instincts could be curbed.[7] She works with the Squad for some time, again seeing more teammates and friends killed. When it was disbanded for a year, Mari returns to modeling and even launches a successful line of clothing. Her failed romance with Ben Turner (the Bronze Tiger) makes Vixen decline an offer to rejoin the Squad. She realizes Turner needs mental support; she reluctantly returns and serves through the end of its existence. She ultimately gives up on a future with the Tiger, sensing that he would never admit to needing help.[8]

Other adventures

After the Suicide Squad’s heyday, Mari continus to do undercover work. She is drafted for at least one mission for Checkmate (the Squad’s brother organization). [9] At some point, she signs on to work with Oracle’s Birds of Prey. She goes undercover to investigate a strange “superhero” cult, where the leader was using mind control. The Huntress tries to help her and is nearly killed. Vixen regains her senses and used the stubbornness of a mule to hold back the mind control of the cult leader. She and Huntress then rescue the other brainwashed heroes.[10]

Vixen may still have trouble controlling her animal side while using the totem, as witnessed when she worked alongside the Flash to stop Gorilla Grodd.[11] She also serves on one mission with the Justice League Task Force[12], came to Wonder Woman’s aid during a battle with Circe[13], and helps her former JLA comrades protect Lex Luthor (JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice). She then joins the loose-knit Ultramarine Corps[14] until they moved on to another universe.[15] She also manages to remain active in the fashion industry.

Infinite Crisis

Infinite Crisis

After the murder of Sue Dibny in the Identity Crisis miniseries, Vixen rejoins her Justice League colleagues. She is present when the original Firestorm dies during a battle with the Shadow Thief. Vixen adopts a new uniform in Infinite Crisis #7, similar to the one worn by her television counterpart on Justice League Unlimited.

One Year Later

One Year Later

Vixen is tricked into battle in Hub City by a currently intelligent Solomon Grundy (whose rebirth came with increased intelligence). The totem is essential to Grundy’s plans: he intends to use it as a catalyst to merge his perpetually reincarnating soul with the shell of the Amazo android, and thus gain further power. Grundy uses the totem to increase the metahuman mimicking abilities of Amazo. Without her totem, Vixen finds that her innate connection to the “Red”, the ‘essence’ of animal life’, is falling apart. She manages to ‘lock onto’ the totem, but her mind becomes lost in a flock of migrating birds. After mimicking the abilities of a young boy, Vixen manages to regain her mind and quickly flies to New York to retrieve her totem. Vixen literally drops into the JLA battle against Amazo. After the villains are subdued, Vixen becomes a charter member of the newly revamped Justice League of America.

Justice League of America

Vixen’s main story arc in the early issues of the New JLA center around a change in her powers which means she is no longer drawing on animal characteristics but rather the powers of those around her, matching their skill levels and, she suspects, draining powers from the owner him / herself. Superman is first to catch on to this and she subsequently reveals it to Red Arrow.

In JLA #22 she seeks out her former Suicide Squad teammate Bronze Tiger to discuss her situation, and subsequently admits everything to the League. Chairperson Black Canary instructs her to hand in her credentials and removes her from the team, but then discusses with Mari the possibility of seeking Zatanna’s assistance in fixing the properties of the totem.

When Zatanna attempts to find the source of the problem, she sees a mystic image of Vixen and Animal Man as puppets. When she tries to break the spell, she is repelled by an unknown force. When Vixen attempts to defeat the newly-restored Amazo by absorbing all his stolen powers, she becomes mysteriously weak. She falls unconcious, with Amazo bearing down on her.

Return of the Lion

In October, Vixen will star in her own limited series which will reveal that what really happened to her parents and the truth about who really killed them.

Powers and abilities

Vixen possesses the innate ability to make direct contact with the Earth’s Morphogenetic field, which is sometimes known as the Red. This contact with the Red allows Vixen to mimic the abilities of nearby animals, by simply focusing on a specific animal’s abilities and then drawing it directly from the field. Her natural range for mimicking these abilities is about 150 feet. Vixen wears a mystic artifact called the Tantu Totem, a fox-head shaped talisman given to her ancestors by the African trickster god Anansi. It was previously thought that the totem was the source of her powers but according to Justice League of America #5; it merely prevents her natural link to the Morphogenetic field from overwhelming her mind. It is assumed that the totem also increases her range for mimicking the abilities of animals, as she has been known to mimic the abilities of animals on the other side of the world. She has also demonstrated the ability to hold onto the Morphogenetic traits of all the animals in a forest.[16] Currently, she seems to have to call out the name of the animal she wishes to draw power from in order to use that power (such as saying “cat” before she could use the agility of a cat).

So far, Vixen has used the following skills: the telepathic and physical abilities of Gorilla Grodd,[17] the flight of a hawk, the swimming ability of a dolphin, the speed of a cheetah, the echolocation of a bat, the wallcrawling of a spider, the jumps of a cricket, the constriction of an anaconda, the strength of a bull elephant, the senses of a wolf, the agility of a monkey, the debilitating shock of an electric eel, the regenerative abilities of earthworms,[18], and the ability to spit venom like a spitting cobra. She has even been shown to be able to channel the powers of extinct animals, such as the saber-toothed tiger, and domestic animals like the Doberman Pinscher.

Vixen’s claws are particularly sharp and tough, enabling her to rend through a variety of substances, such as fabric, wood, even soft metals and cinder block with ease. Her claws are magically enhanced and have drawn blood from individuals who are considered highly durable like Geo-Force and Pre-Crisis Superman.[19][20]

Occasionally, she has been known to physically transform into animals—for example, she has shapeshifted into a wolf, a great horned owl, and a cougar.[21] Vixen can also assume a hybrid form, in which she maintains a humaniod form but with certain animal adaptation, like when she took on the gills, fins, and lack of eyes of a blind cavefish in JSA Classified and later shapeshifted into a humanoid wolf (retaining the cavefish’s blindness). The totem also allows her to heal bruises and wounds within seconds by simply touching it.[22]

It is unknown what would happen if Vixen tried to use her magical abilities on an alien animal, or if she would gain access to the morphogenetic field of another planet.

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.[23] While in cooperation with Animal Man and the woman known as “Tristess”, she helped to create an entire universe.[24]

One apparent drawback of Vixen’s powers is that she is not always able to control the inputs from the morphogenetic field. Sometimes, she has absorbed unwanted animal behavior, such as instinctive rage. The longer she stays in contact with the morphogenetic field, the less human and more animal she seems to become.[25]

After being forced to tap into the human template as a matter to purge herself from pure animalistic sensations, Vixen is as now left with a crippled connection with the morphogenetic field, unable to reach any animal except the human animal. However, she can mimic metahuman powers, such as Jay Garrick’s speed, Geo-Force’s earth-based powers, Black Lightning’s elemental control, as well as the Kryptonian superpowers of Superman, an extraterrestrial. [26] Her abilities are not only limited to that of metahumans, as she was able to duplicate Red Arrow’s archery skills and even Green Lantern’s ring in a recent issue of Justice League of America, suggesting that she has gained powers similar to that of Amazo.

Other media

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

In “Faster Than a Speeding Vixen,” Vixen is a Caucasian android with super strength, super speed, and the power to fire explosive energy blasts that was created by Lex Luthor’s son as part of the first of a plot to break up Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Vixen was played by actress Lori Fetrick. She is portrayed as a corrupt vigilante, and bears very little resemblance to her comic book counterpart.

Justice League Unlimited

Vixen has made numerous appearances on Cartoon Network’s Justice League Unlimited animated series. Voiced by Gina Torres, Vixen first appeared on the episode “Wake the Dead.” Her first scene was on the catwalk and she was later revealed to be Green Lantern’s girlfriend, to the jealousy of his former lover Shayera Hol, who still harbored strong and perhaps requited feelings for him.

Though not a regular on the show, Vixen was later featured in “Hunter’s Moon,” where she, along with Vigilante, came to terms with Shayera Hol’s actions in the Thanagarian invasion of Earth. They even established a friendship of sorts. In another episode, she and Shayera are teamed up with Black Canary and Huntress in a forced (and unsuccessful) battle against the powerhouse Wonder Woman. As the series ended, John Stewart and Vixen were a couple, though the durability of their relationship is called into question by the creators’ post-show comments and the existence of a future son, Warhawk between Shayera Hol and John Stewart.

On Justice League Unlimited, Vixen is apparently unable to fly, but can adjust her mass to that of larger animals (like an elephant), and land on an opponent with the weight of several tons, while retaining her normal shape.


  1. ^ Action Comics #521
  2. ^ DC Comics Presents #68
  3. ^ Justice League of America Annual #2
  4. ^ Justice League of America #234-235
  5. ^ Justice League of America #239
  6. ^ Justice League of America #261
  7. ^ As seen in Suicide Squad #11-12
  8. ^ Suicide Squad #58
  9. ^ Hawk and Dove vol. 4 #2-5
  10. ^ Birds of Prey #69-72
  11. ^ Flash vol. 2 #44-46
  12. ^ Justice League Task Force #7-8
  13. ^ Wonder Woman vol. 2 #174-175
  14. ^ JLA #26
  15. ^ JLA: Classified #1-3
  16. ^ JLA Classified #24
  17. ^ Flash #46
  18. ^ Birds of Prey #71
  19. ^ Birds of Prey #73
  20. ^ Action Comics #521
  21. ^ Hawk and Dove #4-5
  22. ^ Animal Man #12
  23. ^ Animal Man #44
  24. ^ Animal Man #48-50
  25. ^ Flash #45
  26. ^ Justice Society of America #11

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