Let’s Talk Flash -&- Arrowverse Classic: Vixen the Animated Series

Arrowverse Review Index

A new episode of The Flash to talk about, and a chance for me to cover the Arrowverse’s first foray into animation: the Vixen web series!

On The Flash front, we had Season 9, Episode 3 – “Rogues of War”.

This episode should have been a lot more fun than it was.

I mean, it has the new Rogues planning to steal the tech needed for a time machine, so Barry teams up with their old Rogues to pull the heist first. This should have been a blast! And instead … it was actually kind of dull.

Biggest failing is probably the need to have Barry learn a lesson about trusting their new teammates – even though said teammates showed themselves ready to assault each other at a moment’s notice, so, y’know, distrust has been earned. Not only is it an obnoxious attempt at forced pathos for Barry (God, I have not missed that), but it takes up time – time that could have been used to make an actually cool heist. Instead, Barry and the Rogues just walk in with some fake IDs, and I’m like, “That’s it!?

Between Rogues old and new, there are so many big personalities in this episode, but so little of it gives them anything fun to do. It’s just a bummer.

Like, I want to be excited that Barry’ll be fighting evil speedster Batwoman, but if that ends up being as lackluster as this …

Vixen: The … Movie? … Series? review

Vixen was a noble experiment. One that was probably never going to pan out – trying to expand a shared universe into different mediums, with different logistics, production schedules, and fanbases: that’s always gonna be fraught with complications.

Still, I applaud the ambition behind it. The same year they were expanding the Arrowverse by launching Legends of Tomorrow, doing a Flash/Supergirl crossover, and even connecting themselves to the recently canned Constantine series, they also sought to expand into an animated web series.

But that abundance of ambition is what holds Vixen back. It was initially billed as a series, but each “episode” is only about five minutes long, and when the two “seasons” of the show are put together, their total runtime is the same as one episode of any of the other series (though when packaged together like this, Warner Bros. decided to rebrand it as a “movie”).

Point is, they had very limited space to tell their story – far too little space for everything they were trying to do. They wanted to introduce Mari, have them discover their powers, learn their secret family history, fight their evil sister in a dramatic climax … then team up with that evil sister, who’s now showing signs of redemption, learn about a bunch of new sources of mystic powers, and travel to Africa to fight an even bigger villain in an even bigger dramatic climax. All that in about an hour – and a fair bit of that hour was taken up by cameos from Flash and Arrow characters.

Vixen very much feels like an abridged story, one that can’t flesh out its plot or its characters in the way it clearly wants to.

Still, despite that, I can’t say it’s not an enjoyable watch. That abridged feeling does make for quite a fast paced ride, the characters and story are engaging, and the animation and art style really are quite good (At least for the characters introduced in this series. Attempts to replicate people from the live action shows in animation were … not great.)

It’s a shame more couldn’t be done with Vixen, or the idea of animated web series beyond this and Freedom Fighters: The Ray. But it was fun enough while it lasted.

Stray Observations:

  • Plans for Mari McCabe to appear in the live action shows never got past one guest spot on Arrow – and that was in Arrow Season 4, which is not the most auspicious of company.
  • It’s bizarre but also kinda cool how the third season of Legends of Tomorrow turned out to also be the third season of Vixen, bringing back virtually every plot point and character from the webseries … except for Mari themself. Even used time travel to retcon them all a happy ending. Though I wonder how confusing Legends Season 3 was for anyone who hadn’t at least read up on Vixen.

Question of the Week: Which characters left these shows far too soon?