Despite debuting back in October, due to the insanity of reviewing three CW/DC shows a week, I had slept on season two of Vixen, the CW Seed’s animated expansion of the Arrow-verse. With recent talk that the series will be referenced this year on Legends of Tomorrow, and with the fall TV season rapidly approaching, I felt this was a good time to catch up on the show.
1. Integration of Arrow-verse
It may be a little weird to hear Grant Gustin’s voice coming from an animated Flash but, overall, the integration of Mari into the Arrow-verse feels very well done here. Since season one of Vixen, both Mari and her grandmother, Amaya, have appeared on CW TV, so the show instantly feels a little more in line with what we see on TV each week. But this season brought characters like the Atom and Firestorm to the show and, with just a few scenes, really established the connectivity between all the series.
2. Family Matters
This season, even more than the first, really focused on Mari and Kuasa’s relationship, and that relationship, strained as it is, was the highlight of the entire series for me. It allowed the show to put some skin on the line in a way that we knew could never really happen with Mari. Kuasa is not a great person, but she’s a great character, and her anger and jealousy over Mari’s connection with the totem is compelling stuff. With Kuasa appearing on Legends this season, I look forward to that character becoming even more tied in with the universe.
3. A mythology of its own
By focusing on Mari’s family, the show has allowed the character to grow and have adventures that won’t impact the live action shows in the slightest – unless they want it to. The show builds up Mari, her family, and her nation in ways that feel like they could either be mined for content on the show, or left by itself.
The idea of introducing more totems into the world is a fun one, even if it borders on Lantern rings a little too heavily. The totems give the show a chance to keep expanding its cast, with more and more powerful creatures emerging as a result of the totems. We’ve seen only three of (I believe) the five mentioned on the show, so look for season 3 (if there is one) to expand on that idea.
4. Janitor from Scrubs!
This is nothing more than a reminder that Neil Flynn, aka the Janitor from Scrubs, provides the voice of Mari’s adopted father, and that he’s great.
5. Be more creative, Mari!
Often times, villains on these shows are so powerful that it takes heroes far longer than it should to stop them. Benatu Eshu’s fire totem seems really powerfully, obviously, but Mari is Vixen! She can channel any animal – even insects, it seems – to fight him, but she tends to always fall back to a few simple ones – bird, rhino, etc. Channel a tiny animal and undo the clasp of the totem. Channel the largest animal on Earth – a killer whale – and really fuck some shit up.
And, because of the series being animated, they can do whatever they want! This is no-limit poker, and they’re not letting it be that way. If this show continues, I truly hope they go all in on her powers, and let things get weird.
And that’s my biggest problem with season 2 – this still feels restrained in a way that it need not be. Let Mari really go wild; let the show be as comic influenced as possible. While the live action shows have gotten even more Silver Age influenced, this show still feels a little New 52. Let loose, and let the show impress us.