Friday, May 27, 2011

Vixen: Return of the Lion #5 (April, 2009)

  1. Predators
  2. Prey
  3. Sanctuary
  4. Risen

Whisper A’Daire was a minor Batman villain from 2000 originally affiliated with Rā's al Ghūl, but now working with Intergang to set up shop in Zambesi, with Aku Kwesi as their representative. Under her command, the chemically controlled Black Canary and Superman launched attacks on the other members of the Justice League present. Batman managed to gum up Dinah’s pipes and kick her in the gut which Red Arrow and Black Lightning tried to fend off the Man of Steel.

As they flew in to help, Sia questioned the potentially Vodun nature of Vixen’s powers, which she shrugged off as too simplistic an answer. The Lady Fox then kicked Whisper in her ugly face. Batman complained, “You’re late.” Mari replied, “You’re losing.” Sia tangled with Kwesi and Vixen fended off Superman by adopting attributes of the armored beetle. Yeah, I don’t buy it either, especially when this mini-series was spun out of a Justice League of America subplot where Vixen could borrow Superman’s own powers.

Batman kept Whisper busy while Black Lightning destroyed her doomsday device. Red Arrow tried to rouse Dinah. Sai stabbed Kwesi in the thigh, then tossed a vial of antidote to Mari. Vixen poured it into her mouth, then sprang like a butterfly at Superman, offering a very wet kiss. The antidote immediately took effect, so the battle wrapped off panel on the next page. Sia had managed to convince Kwesi’s armored troops that he was a fraud and puppet for foreigners. Vixen challenged Kwesi to single combat to prove his mettle he next day “in the village where you killed my mother, if front of all the people you’ve frightened into silence.”

Question: Anyone know when Superman had his first interracial kiss?

Both the Vixen and Black Lightning finally got to wear their costumes for the big showdown, but only one would participate. In short order, the “She-Spirit” had removed Aku Kwesi’s power vest, but tossed aside her own Tantu Totem when goaded to show she still had power without it. After picking Kwesi up over her head and throwing him, there should have been little doubt left. The beaten Kwesi was turned over to the villagers for justice.

Sai conceded “You are a strange and unpredictable woman, She-Spirit… Life here is not easy. But if the strongest and best of us leave, it will never get easier. We are your people, Mari. This is your place. Come back to us.” Mari promised someday that she would, but made up some hooey about her commitment to her friends and such. In a one page coda, Brother Tabo pointed out to his companion lion Zaki that “She is learning.” Zaki agreed, briefly shedding its disguise to reveal the West African spider god Anansi, who is supposedly responsible for Vixen and Animal Man’s powers.

“Return of the Lion Finale: Idols” was by G. Willow Wilson and Cafu with colors by Santiago Arcas. Somehow, sorry editing continued the cover declaration of this being “5 of 6,” but it was finally over. The cover by Josh Middleton was easily the weakest of the lot, amounting to a head sketch glossed over with digital effects. Caption boxes held purple prose, and threats were contained before the issue was halfway done, leading to an extended anticlimax. Creator Gerry Conway intended the Vixen to be an urban avenger with a colorful back story, so all this African adventure stuff feels wrong for the character, and a retread of old Storm solo tales. Mari’s rationale for leaving her country again was lame, and I just wish she’d come out and said she didn’t want to be stuck as the token African super-heroine. What a dull, pretentious, pointless series this turned out to be!

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