Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Vixen: Return of the Lion #4 (March, 2009)
Mari hunted a mad and/or diseased lion rampaging through the Nzembas’ village, reeking of blood. “The Totem is like a distant heartbeat; I’m channeling the power that flows through it. I hear insects moving in the dust… the velvet footfall of the lion.” Mari knew she must kill the beast, and hoped she was capable of doing so without the Tantu Totem around her neck. “I don’t think of tokens and symbols. I don’t think of Anansi… My vision goes red. I am the lion. I am the lion.”
Brother Tabo made another big speech about how strong Mari was, and how she might return to defend her nation, but if not how the people must rise up against the evil in their midst. Mari returned with the corpse of the lion, because nothing says “impressive A-List super-hero” like killing a big cat with your powers. “You were right… my powers are my own. All these years I was afraid… Afraid of what would happen if I lost control. I felt like a fake around the other Leaguers… They’re so confident because their powers are inborn. Part of them. But it was fear itself that held me back. It kept me from realizing that my powers are apart of me. The Totem doesn’t control me… I control it. From a distance, even for a little while-- if I have to.” Mari and Brother Tabo would tend to the wounded back in the village, but then Vixen would have to confront Aku Kwesi. “I just hope I can keep in the anger I feel about my mother’s death long enough to beat him. Last time, it made me irrational. It almost got me killed.”
Arsenal, Batman and Jefferson Pierce secured Superman and Black Canary within their aircraft, then defended it against armored Intergang troops. Roy Harper took out most of them out on his own with a bow and arrow without once whining about being underpowered, fake, or out of place (which used to be Roy’s side job, so suck it up, Mari.)
Mari tracked down Sia and again enlisted his aid. “So I owe you one. Now I’ll owe you two.” Sia was resistant to taking down the man who paid him, since at least Kwesi was “a Zambesi thug,” rather than another foreigner raping Africa. Mari explained that Kwesi was just “a puppet, and his strings are pulled by outsiders.” This caused Sia to relent, and take Mari to a secret lab he’d stolen the key to. Inside, Mari discovered some of Kwesi’s claws, realizing they were artificial. Kwesi used “performance-boosting equipment,” and poisons to further enhance his reputation. “Kwesi doesn’t use magic or metahuman powers—he’s faking it. It’s all a trick.” Also within were puffer fish and datura-- “zombie poison.” While working with Batman back in the day, Vixen had been quizzed on the poisons of the vodun she had known of from her time growing up in this land. “(T)hey can make a healthy man appear like one of the living dead, and be commanded like a sleepwalker.” Further, Intergang had engineered a strain that could affect even Superman. Vixen found what she believed to be an antidote, then carried Sia as she flew to where he guided her, “To rescue the rescuers.”
At the jet, the three remaining Justice Leaguers were confronted by Aku Kwesi and a woman with whom Batman had a history, Whisper A’Daire. Through lips charred, along with the whole left side of her face, whisper said, “You can call me yes ma’am” Whisper then commanded the revived but enthralled Superman and Black Canary to “kill them all.”
“Return of the Lion Part 4: Risen” was by G. Willow Wilson and Cafu with colors by Santiago Arcas. The revelations and action ramped up with this issue, so it was a nice change from the last several issues of Vixen’s pity party. Let me say that the line about how Vixen’s “powers are apart of me” was not a typo, at least on my part. Since internalizing powers has become such a cliché, I like to pretend Vixen was confirming in some Freudian fashion that she really is still dependent on the Tantu Totem. It’s kind of like how people snicker at Wonder Woman’s lasso and invisible jet, now that she can fly under her own power and is near Superman strength. Why deflect bullets with your bracelets if they can no longer penetrate your skin? Without her own distinct powers, weapons and weaknesses, isn’t Wonder Woman just Superman with boobies, or Vixen just Animal Man with a uterus?