Publisher: DC Comics
Writer(s): Steve Orlando, Jody Houser
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Release Date: 11th January 2017
This week, it’s the turn of Mari McCabe – AKA Vixen – to get the post-Rebirth introduction treatment ahead of next month’s Justice League of America ongoing series. This one-shot issue is split between Mari’s troubled childhood and her present day supermodel philanthropist self. However, when an oversight on her part leads to a young girl’s mother going missing, Mari finds herself compelled to act as she decides to invoke the powers handed down to her as a child in order to try and rescue the woman.
Okay, so this is pretty much a textbook case of ‘origin story by numbers’, but the strength of Steve Orlando and Jody Houser’s writing, not to mention the intriguing nature of the lead character herself, ensures that this is still an enjoyable read. Mari is introduced well, feeling like a faint blend of Bruce Wayne and Buddy Baker, although it’s worth mentioning that her younger self seems a lot more interesting than the grown-up version, to this point at least.
The artwork, provided here by Jamal Campbell, is a bit of an enigma to me. For a large portion of the book it comes across as fairly bland, almost intentionally sterile in places. But then Vixen decides to use her powers, and… wow. Just wow. The splash page that shows her using the totem to connect with nature deserves to be made into a poster, and every subsequent use of her powers is depicted with a vibrant, richly coloured overlay. The colours themselves are slick and stylish throughout, giving the book a glossy aesthetic and switching to a more basic palette to help differentiate the flashback sequences from the present day.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of this issue is going to boil down to your prior familiarity with the character. If you know the deal with Vixen, there’s not a huge amount of new material here, although it’s worth mentioning that the artwork in the second half of the issue is probably worth the cover price on its own, that splash page in particular. If nothing else, it’s clear that Orlando and Houser have a firm grasp on the character, which is going to make her inclusion in the JLA all the more interesting. Let’s hope she’s isn’t lost in the inevitable shuffle of a team comic, as there’s a tremendous amount of untapped potential here.
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