Monday, July 13, 2015

From Vixen to Vibe?

Sigh. Have we come to this? I'm actually having to concede to a point about comic books made in Forbes magazine?  

I mean, it's a bit overstated for effect, but that doesn't negate its point.  Vixen--VIXEN!--may be a key player in saving the future of DC's cultural impact.  

Just as soon as she's found the restroom.

Now that's not really because Vixen's a good character (because she's not).  

I just call 'em like I see 'em, Mari.

But she is the one to whom they are applying a unique trans-media strategy.  I watched the promo for her new cartoon series and, although I knew CW was making it, I didn't really occur to me that they would place it so squarely within their existing Flasharrowverse.  As in, "that's Gustin playing Flash, and Arnell playing Arrow."  

But even more astonishing is: Carlos Valdes as Cisco. Real, honest to STAR Labs, Cisco Ramon.  Who gives her her stupid name (which, of course, makes it suddenly okay; because that's what Cisco does).  That's kind of amazing.  Trying in the recognized superheroes you already have in your stable to the one you're trying to start up?  That's pretty standard.  But supporting cast as well?  It doesn't get more "tied in" than that.  

It's also significant because Flash and Green Arrow have virtually zero comic book ties to Vixen-- but Cisco Ramon DOES.  He's Vibe, who was introduced into comics at roughly the same time as Vixen, with whom he was a member of the "Justice League Detroit".  

But don't hold that against him.

I stand by everything I've said about how regrettable I find Vixen as a character.  But, you gotta hand it to DC: they never give up on trying to make her work.  She certainly worked well in Batman: Brave and the Bold--but that series was its best with its ability to take some of comics more absurd characters at face value.  

I wish them great success with this series. Not so much for Vixen's sake, but for the host of other DC Comics characters that could, if the show goes well, get limited cartoon series of them and thus gain exposure to a whole generation that's never heard of them.

Vibe included.


John said...

In a lot of ways, I think of Vixen as DC's answer to Captain America, a character whose creators always have their hearts in the right place and has a lot of potential as a character to say something important. Unfortunately, like Captain America's writers would usually rather tell stories about nationalism than patriotism, Vixen's writers would rather play up her exoticness. (Seriously, just make her a citizen and give her a desk job!)

That said, while I don't have high hopes for the series, I always thought that DC should jettison Green Arrow completely, so it's entirely possible that the creative team will make me care about Vixen, too. (If they introduce Steel, they need to keep that random thigh pouch that I don't think was ever seen again...)

Regarding Vibe, given the prominent statement that the reactor explosion changed Cisco and that we got a glimpse of Caitlin in her Killer Frost makeup, I'll be shocked if we don't see Valdes in costume by the end of the season.

Actually, speaking of animation giving minor characters a chance to shine, you have seen the DC Nation shorts, correct? Vibe, Atom ("Sword of the" incarnation), the Doom Patrol, Amethyst, and a bunch of others, most at least entertaining if not genuinely good.

Bryan L said...

Yes, Vibe is on his way, Scipio. You won't have much longer to wait.

Producer Andrew Kreisberg made some interesting remarks on the Flasharrowverse, particularly in light of your post: "When we first started, we were afraid that we’d implode by expanding too much. Instead, they seem to lift each other up."


Mark said...

I actually think the JLU Vixen was pretty great and I don't really see what you meant by "insecure." I thought the character was self-possesed and maybe had a little attitude but that was part of what they did right - stripping away the faux-exotic layer and the faux-Wolverine layer and going with a clear persona; in this case the big city model with the non-urban powers. The episode with the Thanagarians was especially good and I thought their handling of the relationship with Hawkgirl was surprisingly adult - no catfight, no pat rom-com resolution. The show rarely did much of note by way of design but they notably improved Vixen's costume.

Vixen is a perfect character for animation. Her powers come across as static on a comic page and they would be hard to make work in live action, but in animation the animal imagery overlay creates an interesting visual hook.

DC doesn't have many African-American heroines and those that they do seem to do better in animation. Bumblebee had more personality in Young Justice than she had in years of Titans comics. And the Pierce sisters (Thunder & Lightning) were much more fun in their DC Nation shorts than they were in the comics.

Hopefully, they'll get this right. It would be nice to see digital series functioning for TV as the modern day equivalent of back up stories in Bronze Age comics.

Scipio said...

"digital series functioning for TV as the modern day equivalent of back up stories in Bronze Age comics."

That's a perceptive comparison!

Dan said...

I agree with Forbes in the sense of "if DC can make Vixen work, it can make anything work."

I have zilch interest in this character. I thought she was just a weak female-Wolverine for DC.

Slaughter said...

Scipio was right all along: Vibe is inevitable. Even the Reverse-Flash knows that Vibe is destiny.

As for Vixen... yeah she's one of these characters I never found much interesting, like Katana, Deathstroke, the Teen Titans (Young Justice forever!), etc. Can be fixed. Me, I would make her a actual AFRICAN heroine, not a foreigner who does heroing in America (is the USA so bad a country it needs foreigners to patrol it? Aliens excluded). Give her a nice fictional country/city to be her fictionopolis, try not to be 'relevant' or 'diverse' (apparently contradictory, but I find the american obsession with DIVERSITY deeply disturbing - yes dear, there are lots of different people in the world, but that's not their entire identity, now stfu! Its as bad as bronze age "relevancy".), write well, and above all: GIVE VIXEN A MISSION STATEMENT, A WHY TO HER BE! Any super-hero that has no reason to be has already lost. We know Vibe is inevitable, but why should Vixen be?