Mari McCabe was born in Africa (though the actual country is often changed depending on the story.) She is the daughter of Reverend Jiwe who later possessed the magical Tantu Totem. This is a magical artifact, supposedly created by Anansi the Spider, the African trickster god, which bestowed the wearer the same powers as Anansi. Soon, Mari found herself as an orphan after her mother was killed by poachers and her father was killed by Maksai, his half-brother. She then moves to New York City where she began a career as a model. She later returns to Africa to reclaim the totem.
Vixen was originally stated to become the first African American female superhero to lead her own series, yet the series was canceled before its publication (though these issues were later printed in a collection). This was during an event known as the DC Implosion. Although her series had been canceled, the character was not and eventually made her first appearance in the DC universe in Action Comics #521 - The Deadly Rampage of the Lady Fox / Grow, Little Growfish! in 1981, created by Gerry Conway & Curt Swan
Despite nearly being the first female African character to be featured in her own comic book series, Vixen was subsequently characterized somewhat stereotypically as a stock African American character for the period after her eventual introduction into the DC Universe. Undoubtedly, one of the most important moments for the character was her induction into the Justice League of America. At the time in the early 1980s, the comic book industry was dominated by youth oriented series. The main source of this was at Marvel where the X-Men were leading sales across the entire industry, but at DC the Teen Titans were equally one of the best sellers. With this formula in mind it was decided to relaunch the Justice League of America with a younger and less mainstream cast. While most of these new characters were entirely new creations, Vixen was one of the more experienced of the new members, and one with a publication history (albeit limited) prior to her joining.
Despite the attempt to give the title new life, this version of the League (dubbed by many as Justice League Detroit as it was based in Detroit) was not popular as fans did not take to the disappearance of the traditional League members very well. Soon after, the series was canceled, but Vixen did not stay in the background for long as John Ostrander chose her as a member of his new Suicide Squad. This version of the character was a bit grittier as she wrestled with the fact that despite being a hero she had killed for revenge against some drug dealers that had killed some of her modeling colleagues. Despite this, she eventually found peace with her past and became a valued member of the team, and during this time developed one of her most enduring relationships, Ben Turner. After the dissolution of this version of the Squad she would stay mostly in the background, appearing only during company-wide crossovers, until she rejoined the post Infinite Crisis version of the team in 2006.
Major Story Arcs
During her first appearance in the League, the team battled many threats, among the most daunting the Overmaster’s Cadre and Despero. During her time with the Suicide Squad she partook in a majority of the missions, being a major player in such storylines as the hunt for Rick Flag and Senator Cray and the Janus Directive. At one point Vixen worked with Wally West to take down Gorilla Grodd, who was using a machine to give the animals of Keystone City advanced intelligence and turning them against the humans. During the battle, Grodd would use his machine on Vixen, forcing her to become largely useless animals, such as a slug. Luckily Wally broke free of the cage and defeats Grodd.
Justice League of America
After her departure from the Squad she would occasionally work with Animal Man. She would return shortly to the Justice League during the events of Infinite Crisis. During the events of One Year Later the Justice League is reformed once again behind the direction of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. She was not initially considered as a member but everyone who partook in the story arc The Tornado’s Path was offered membership as the spontaneous nature by which the team came together was considered a sign. Her role in the story arc was small but key. Amazo had been using her totem to channel his energy, and as she regressed to a more animalistic nature she sought only its return, the end state of which was her defeating Amazo almost single-handedly. During her time with the team though she did take part in numerous story arcs, the most relevant one being between her and Animal Man after she had started to steal the powers of other superheroes. This was later revealed to be the work of Anansi.
Sinestro Corps War
During the Sinestro Corps War, Vixen was with the Justice League when they tried to capture Professor Zoom, to question him about Sinestro. She was also with the group on the Watchtower, in Earth's orbit, when Cyborg Superman attacked. Later she was part of the team of superheros who tried to bum rush Superboy Prime before sunrise and failed.
Final Crisis & Blackest Night
She was soon after featured in her own miniseries, Vixen: Return of the Lion. In this series she returns to Africa to hunt for her mother’s murderers, but discovers new focus when using her powers. It is also revealed that Intergang is interested in her. She later plays a small part in Final Crisis. Following Final Crisis, the Justice League is forced to go on without many of its key members and a smaller and less powerful team is maintained with Vixen as its leader. During Blackest Night the League takes part in the action, but she is injured and takes a leave of absence.
Justice League International
With the reboot of the DC Universe into the New 52, Vixen was a founding member of the new Justice League International. Vixen is shown as one of the many heroes chosen to join the Justice League.
With the changes in the universe as a result of DC Rebirth, Vixen's history has been partially rewritten. Her story starts in Zambesi, living with her father Richard after her mother died defending her people. One day, she is seen sitting in her father's church mourning her mother. When he comes in, they remember her mother's sacrifice. Mari wishes she could have killed the warlord responsible, but her father replies that doing so would have only doomed the village. He then offers her the Tantu Totem. As his mother cannot fulfill the duty of passing it along, he took it upon himself to do so. However, she refuses it because she does not believe in its power. Then the two hear gunfire outside, cutting the conversation short. Her father hears the voice of his brother outside, and orders Mari to hide the totem and stay inside. He then goes outside to try to talk his brother down. Mari does what she is told, but looks outside underneath the door. The two argue because Mari's uncle wants the Totem, but her father sees his selfish nature and refuses.He threatens to him and his niece, but Richard is prepared to sacrifice them both for the sake of the Totem. In response, Mari watches as her father is gunned down. Traumatized, she flees the church with the totem.
In the present, Mari has risen from street orphan to a top tier fashion designer, model, reality show star, and animal activist. On a talk show, Mari's latest project, a series of after-school programs for children. Then, a surprise guest appears on the show; Charlotte, a girl who was part of one of her programs. The girl explains that while Mari tells everyone she is involved in her programs, she has never actually showed up at one. She then tells Mari that her mother is missing, and that she reached out to Mari for help. When she did, Mari never responded. She then rants about her caring more about animals than other people, moving her to tears. Later, Mari is checking her messages, when she finds several from Gary, her agent. Upset about a child is falling through the cracks of her system, Mari tells Gary she will track down the girl's mother herself.
Having a friend track down the girl's address, Mari, now wearing the Tantu Totem, taps into its power for the first time. Using the powers of an eagle, she travels to the Charlotte's home in Brooklyn. Seeing the living room torn apart overwhelms her, as it reminds her of the loss of her mother. Getting over it, she gets to work, and taps into the totem again, realizing that everything her father told her about the totem was true. Even though no police dog could find a scent, Mari uses the superior nose of a bear to track the trace scent of Charlotte's mother. Along the way, Mari gets a call from Eunice, her social media coordinator, saying that her movements have been spotted across the internet. She tries to dissuade Mari, but she hangs up on her. As she closes in, Mari thinks about how she was so caught up in herself, she failed see that she had the power to actually help people. She then reaches her target: Charlotte's mother, several other people trapped in cages, and their jailer, who's surprised that someone came to him.
Mari asks who the perp is, and calls himself Spiderbite, an ex-convict. He reveals that he was jailed for murder, and when he got out, he felt further punished because he was denied any rights to be near his of his daughter. He then reveals that everyone he kidnapped was on the jury that put him away. Mari responds that even though he says he is fighting back against everyone who wronged him, his circumstances are his fault and that he's only hurting others to protect himself, and she will not let it happen again. However, he replies that she is in his element, and she is then surrounded by thousands of spiders that he managed to train. However, Mari easily scares them off using the strength of an elephant. Since spiders tell predator from prey by sensing the vibrations they give off with their legs, the shockwave scared them away despite how well trained they were. He says that she can't do that, but she replies that no matter how many time's she's heard people tell her that, she's never listened.Using the tail of a dolphin, she easily takes out Spiderbite, then works on freeing the victims. Mari personally returns Charlotte's mother home, and sees them happily embrace.
Later, Vixen is seen flying to an engagement, after announcing that she was stepping back from running her multiple operations. On the same talk show she was on earlier, Mari is asked about what she is planning to do next. She ells that she is taking up a new mission to help others, and officially declares herself to be Vixen.
Powers & Abilities
Originally Mari required the Tantu Totem for her powers. This allowed her to channel the abilities of various animals to giving her access to their unique abilities. The totem will only work when being used for the benefit of mankind. She has been shown to channel this power for various purposes and from various animals, though the most common applications are for speed, flight, enhanced senses, and strength. It is later revealed that she does not need the totem itself, rather that it focuses her own innate power, which she later learns to control. She has been shown to channel the power of the animal abilities into pure power and create a force field, though this ability may be non-canonical. She can also occasionally use the healing abilities of certain animals and has even been seen to fully transform into animals.
Vixen originally could only assume the abilities of one animal at a time. However, she has been seen in one instance using the speed of the cheetah, combined with the durability/momentum of a rhinoceros, and the dexterity of a Capuchin monkey against a member of the Royal Flush Gang, and in another instance holding onto the traits of an entire forest of animals to get her comrades to safety. It has been thought that the totem increases her natural range for mimicking animals to 150 feet; however, as seen in her own mini-series, Vixen: Return Of The Lion, she does not require the totem.
For a period Vixen was able to mimic the powers of other superhumans, though this was due to Anansi’s influence, and she can no longer do this.
She possesses razor sharp claws which she is skilled in using in combat. She also possesses some abilities in animal control.
- Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
- Weight: 140 lbs (64 kg)
- Eyes: Amber
- Hair: Brown
- Identity: Secret Identity
- Occupation: Former Model
- Citizenship: Zambesian
- Place of Birth: Zambesi, Africa
- Marital Status: Single
- Known Relatives: Reverend Richard Jiwe (father, deceased), Jeanne-Mari Jiwe (mother, deceased), General Mustapha Maksai (uncle, deceased), Tantu (ancestor)
Justice League Unlimited
Vixen was a relatively common member on the television show Justice League Unlimited, appearing for a time as the girlfriend of John Stewart. She appeared in the episodes “Initiation,” “Hunter’s Moon,” “Wake the Dead,” “Shadow of the Hawk,” “Grudge Match,” and “Ancient History."
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Vixen also appeared in the television show, Batman: Brave and the Bold, where she began a relationship with B'wana Beast.
Teen Titans Go!
Vixen makes a cameo appearance in the Teen Titans Go! episode "You're Fired!" as one of the superheroes auditioning to replace Beast Boy.
Starting in 2015, Vixen will star in her own self-titled animated series. The show will air on the CW Seed, and will be set in the same shared universe as Arrow and The Flash. She is voiced by Megalyn Echikunwoke.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
An evil version of Vixen called Vamp appears in the movie Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Vixen makes her debut in Arrow season 4 episode "Taken", in continuity with the Vixen Web Serie. The actress who voiced her, Megalyn Echikunwoke, portrays her in live action. In the episode, Green Arrow enlists Vixen to help him to find his son William, who has been taken by Damian Darhk.
DC Universe Online
Vixen also appears in DC Universe Online, a computer game based in the DC universe.
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Vixen is a playable character in game.
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Vixen is a DLC character in the game.