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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vixen: Episode 1

So it's arrived, the first of an influx of shows that I've been looking forward to settling down with. This past month has felt so empty without my weekly dosage of favourite serials. 

Available on CW SeedVixen is a thirty-minute animated web series divided into six short instalments, set within the continuity of Arrow and The Flash and with the possibility that the transition from animated series to a live-action appearance will occur later down the track.

People following me on Tumblr will know I love animation, and those who read my blog will know that my viewing experience of Arrow has been a very slow and sporadic process – but combining the two in an animated spin-off starring one of my favourite superheroines immediately piqued my interest.

Granted, I'm not an expert on Vixen's comic book history – and honestly, I'd like to keep it that way so I can enjoy the show without too many preconceptions. I'm most familiar with the character's incarnation on the animated Justice League, in which she was voiced by Gina Torres. Though she was largely used as the third point (along with John Stewart and Shayera) in the most mature love triangle ever, she was an appealing character with an inspired set of powers.  
Here, Mari McCabe (voiced by Megalyn Echikunwoke) is a young woman with newly discovered superpowers – though since she was nowhere near the particle accelerator explosion that resulted in so many other "metahumans" popping up all over Central City, the source of her abilities remain something of a mystery (well, not to any audience member with a functioning eyeballs, but certainly to Oliver and Barry).
The In Medias Res opening heavily invokes The Worf Effect when it comes to the effect Mari's powers have on Arrow and the Flash – she almost effortlessly evades the two of them, up to and including catching one of Oliver's arrows in mid-air. Even the fact that these two have had to team up in the first place is an indication of how much of a challenge she poses.
The story then moves back in time three days, showing us the first step on the path toward this confrontation. Of course, it's all over before it really begins, the episode clocking in at just under four minutes. It's frustrating, though there's also something to be said for the fact that the shorter a story is, the tighter and more controlled the narrative has to be. Every second must count, and in this brief introduction to Mari's story we learn the following:
She's been arrested for assaulting a man who offered her a job: "if I gave him one."
She's in possession of a strange necklace and resists the temptation to sell it for fifty dollars.
She has a foster father who seems fond of her, though she's searching for her biological parents.
She's a fashion designer; but not yet a successful one.
That's a nice little collection of facts that give us a grounding in who she is and what she wants – and how she's going to respond to the mugging that ends the episode.
Miscellaneous Observations:
The opening sequence give us a glimpse of how her necklace works, and the effects look amazing. As in Justice League, the spirits of the animals she's channelling appear in the air around her.
It was a neat idea to utilize the thematic scores of both Arrow and the Flash as they're pursuing Mari.
Between Mari's reasons for impaling a would-be employer's hand with a pencil and one of the muggers dropping the b-word during his assault on her, it would seem Vixen is being aimed at a slightly more mature audience than its parent-shows.
So who's Patty? My guess is Mari's previous foster mother.
Did the cop who offered Mari money for her necklace know it's full significance? Perhaps the writers just wanted to draw our attention to the necklace; perhaps it's an indication that there are other forces with a vested interest in it.
And there was a figure sitting behind Mari at the diner who seemed way too prominent to simply be a background detail. Was someone listening in on her conversation?
It's not difficult to see this show as a "test run" of sorts, gauging whether Vixen is popular enough to be adapted into a live-action series; a ploy that's markedly unfair for a number of reasons (obviously the likes of The Flash and Constantine weren't given any similar conditions) but which also means that it's up to fandom to boost its ratings. So if you're interested, please watch it on CW Seed (provided it's available in your location). If not, here's a link to a Tumblr download, which will at least record how many times it's been viewed.

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