Saturday, 12 March 2016

Vixen: Return of the Lion Review (G. Willow Wilson, Cafu)


Superhero and Justice League member Mari Jiwe/Vixen discovers her mother’s killer is still alive and sets off to Zambesi for revenge. 

Yup, it’s just that straightforward for this relatively unknown DC character but I think it’s a good idea to not get too kerazy plot-wise when you’ve only got five issues to tell a story. But who the Final Crisis is Vixen? Her power is that she can say the name of an animal and temporarily gain its characteristics. Kinda like Animal Man. Exactly like Animal Man. I guess calling her “Animal Woman” was too derivative? 

Anyways, I’m a huge G. Willow Wilson fan after reading her fantastic Ms Marvel comics so I picked this up hoping for more brilliance... but unfortunately it wasn’t as inspired. You can tell it’s early in Wilson’s career as it’s very rough around the edges with lots of clumsy exposition (Mari calling, helpful characters answering) and nearly all of the characters are one-dimensional. The worst part was a cringe-worthy after-school-special-type scene when Mari meets the archetypical old wise man who teaches her that the power was always within her, all she had to do was believe in herself. Bleeurghhh! 

Still, you can see Wilson circling the themes that will be brilliantly realised in her Ms Marvel run: the importance of remembering and honouring your racial and cultural background and finding strength in them to forge your own identity.

The Justice League follow Mari to Africa as they’re tracking a crime syndicate called Intergang that Mari’s mother’s killer is conveniently a part of, and their scenes in this book weren’t bad. Wilson writes a decent Superman and the battle scenes were more-or-less believable in how they played out even if temporarily turning Superman against the League was another eye-rolling moment (it’s a cliché at this point). Also, “Whisper A’Daire” might be the worst supervillain name ever! 

Cafu’s art though is very pretty – he depicts the beauty of the African savannah so well and you get a strong sense of its primal nature and massive space within the panels. Vixen: Return of the Lion is really a two-star story but the art definitely deserves another star. 

I suppose this is a decent introduction to Vixen if you want to learn about the character though I can see why DC haven’t done much with her recently – she’s just not that interesting. Definitely not a must-read even if you’re a G. Willow Wilson fan but worth a look if you see it in the library.

Vixen: Return of the Lion

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