G. Willow Wilson has traveled throughout and studied Africa for years in her work as an author and essayist. Her articles about Egypt, modern religion and the Middle East have appeared in publications including the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine and the National Post. So when DC Comics was looking to tap into new talent to tell the story of Vixen -- a hero who taps into the mythical Tantu totem -- the hugely acclaimed "Cairo" writer became an obvious choice.
In October, DC releases "Vixen: Return of the Lion" #1, and Wilson told CBR News the Cafu-illustrated miniseries is not an origin tale nor a reimagining, and is indeed set in current DCU continuity. "It doesn't directly relate to what is happening in 'Justice League of America' right now. It's a side-adventure," shared Wilson. "It's a new story, though it deals with some already-established elements of Vixen's past."
And her present and future, explained Wilson. "In the wake of the whole Anansi blowup, she's discovering more about where her powers really come from," teased Wilson.
Anansi, discussed unnamed in "Justice League of America" #23 and revealed by name in #24, is a large, otherworldly spider with supernatural powers. While his origin has yet to be told, Anansi has been manipulating the powers of Vixen and Animal Man for months in DC's flagship team title.
Wilson was given a springboard for the tale by DC editorial --Vixen returns to Africa -- and then was allowed to, in her words, "run wild." "I had a lot of room to flesh out the world Vixen comes from and create a great story," said Wilson, who loves the depth of the heroine also known as Mari Jiwe McCabe on a number of levels. "She has so many interesting elements. Yes, she's got these hardcore physical powers, but she's not a cavewoman -- she's opinionated, she gets scared, she gets angry, she has doubts. For a superhero, she felt very approachable to me as a writer. She's not a goddess. She's a person."
Wilson admitted she was only a little familiar with Mari prior to landing the assignment. "I didn't know much about her origins. The more I learned, the more excited I got about the project. Which is nice, because it could have gone the other way," the writer laughed.
Vixen was originally slated as the first black female DC superhero to star in her own series, but the title was canceled before the release of issue #1 in 1978. Though the story was later featured in "Cancelled Comic Cavalcade," Vixen's first official appearance was in "Action Comics" #521 in 1981. In her origin tale, Mari -- raised in an African village in the fictional nation of M'Changa -- inherits the Tantu totem from her parents after both are killed.
Wilson teased Vixen's story will feature a second League member, but she wasn't naming names just yet. "There's another member of JLA who really knows the meaning of the phrase, 'You can't go home again.' That's a big part of this mini -- the idea of returning to the place you were born as an outsider," revealed Wilson.
The writer called the work of the book's artist, Cafu, amazing. "His pencils are so amazing that they don't even ink them," said Wilson. "What more can you say about an artist? He's seriously talented."
Wilson said while writing a 'Vixen" ongoing series would be an interesting prospect, she would rather sink her teeth into a fish of another water. "I would love to write Aquaman. It seems like everyone's got a crazy pet idea for an Aquaman story, and I'm no exception," said Wilson. "I know, lame Vixen reference."
Wilson is also writing "Air," a new ongoing series for Vertigo. She is also finishing a nonfiction book called "The Butterfly Mosque" for Grove Press, due out next year.