As a number of comics-related TV shows go on hiatus in early March, it’s a good time to look at some of the Easter eggs turned over easy for our viewing pleasure.
The disturbance in the Force you heard Wednesday, Feb. 24, was millions of fan voices crying out in glee as Vixen made her live-action debut on “Arrow.”
Vixen, who wears a magical totem allowing her to mimic any ability in the animal kingdom, has always been a woman before her time. Originally created in 1978, model Mari McCabe of the fictional country of Zambesi was destined for her own series when an unforeseen contraction at DC Comics put her on the shelf. Had the original plan succeeded, Vixen might well have been the first woman of color to headline a U.S. comic book series.
Eventually Vixen was inserted into the DC Universe in an issue of “Action Comics,” and a few years later joined the Justice League. She continued to appear with various teams, including the Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and Checkmate. She had one solo miniseries in 2008, which evidently didn’t sell well enough to earn an ongoing title.
Mari has also been pretty active on television, but only the animated variety. She had numerous appearances on “Justice League Unlimited” as well as a team-up with B’wana Beast and the Caped Crusader on “Batman: Brave and Bold.”
It seems now that Vixen’s time has finally come. It probably helps that women of color are starring in a lot of TV shows these days, from “Scandal” to “How to Get Away with Murder” to “Empire.”
In August 2015 Vixen was awarded a six-episode animated series on CW Seed, The CW’s online streaming platform. Not only did the series guest-star the TV versions of Green Arrow and Flash, but “Vixen” was set in the same universe as their shows, and the previously established characters were voiced by actors Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin, respectively. “Arrow” returned the favor by guesting Vixen — Arrow knew of her, he said, because they had “an animated adventure” together — where she was played by the same actress who voiced the character on CW Seed, Megalyn Echikunwoke. And you’ll see her again: “Vixen” has been greenlighted for a second season.
“Arrow” returns Wednesday, March 23.
Meanwhile, one of “Arrow’s” subplots involved an illegitimate son of Oliver Queen named William. Green Arrow does have at least one illegitimate son in the comics, the son of a woman named Sandra Moonday Hawke, who was of Korean and African descent. Her son, Connor Hawke, grew up idolizing his father and took on the mantle of Green Arrow for a while, beginning with his introduction in 1994.
Does that name sound familiar? If so, it’s because “Connor Hawke” is the name used by John Diggle Jr. a.k.a. Green Arrow when the “Legends” team is stranded in 2046 Star City for a while. That was a wink to Green Arrow fans, who doubtless explained it to whoever would listen, as I am doing now.
Connor and the Legends team battle Deathstroke II in 2046, who is Grant Wilson under the hood, the loving son of the original Deathstroke. That one, at least, is true to the comics (sorta). Grant Wilson was introduced in 1980 as the son of Slade Wilson, but went by the name Ravager. He was killed, resurrected and apparently died again as he became an undead Black Lantern. After the 2011 reboot of the DC Universe, Grant is once again alive, only now he hates his father and hires supervillains to kill Slade. Oh, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth …
Speaking of names sprinkled into “Legends,” the team also battled a Soviet scientist in 1986 named Valentina Vostok. In DC lore, Vostok is a cosmonaut who inherits the mantle of Doom Patrol member Negative Man, and becomes, of course, Negative Woman. On TV, she instead has the origin (sorta) and the appearance of another DC character, Firehawk. But Firehawk is an American woman named Lorraine O’Reilly, a Firestorm ally and a white hat, so the resemblance is only superficial.
“Legends of Tomorrow” will take a two-week hiatus after Thursday, March 10.
Since Flash is dealing with Earth 2 these days, a concept about the nature of the DC multiverse going back to 1961, the entire show is one enormous Easter omelet. I will mention that it’s fun to see such characters as Killer Frost, Deathstorm and King Shark appearing murderously on my TV screen, even if they’re not quiiiiiite the same characters as the ones on the printed page.
Oh, and the “promethium” cage they planned for King Shark? Promethium is the DC equivalent of Marvel’s adamantium, the fictional metal that makes up Wolverine’s skeleton. So it’s, you know, pretty tough.
“Flash” returns on Tuesday, March 22.