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SYFY WIRE Superman

Using your privilege for good: When Superman met Vixen

By Stephanie Williams

There are always two sides to a story, and things aren’t always as they appear. This requires a strong level of discernment in those who have the power to affect what happens in response, and a responsibility for those in positions of power to take a deeper look as they can impact how others see the situation. Drawing conclusions with surface-level interpretations can be dangerous.

For someone like Superman — a being of incredible strength, yes, but more importantly, a being with a tremendous amount of authoritative power — it is paramount for him to make sure he thinks before he acts. The story of Superman’s first time encountering Mari "Vixen" McCabe is a great example of his judgment in situations that reside in a gray area.

Vixen is all about protecting wildlife by all means necessary, legally or illegally. In Action Comics #521, she steals some fur coats, driving them — and the van they’re in — into a river. She leaves the scene of the crime looking rather suspect, so when Superman happens upon it before tracking her down, it appears to be a robbery.

Missing media item.Despite damning evidence, Superman doesn’t rush to conclusions. When he finally catches up to Vixen, she attacks him to ensure the van and its contents make it to their final destination. Superman is unable to save the coats and subsequently is unable to pursue Vixen. He could have easily tracked her down after retrieving the van out of the water, but he doesn’t — and that's good. Because he soon finds out that there is \ more to this very odd crime.

Superman is told that the furs' original owner takes part in the poaching of endangered species, and he refrains from telling the officer who was responsible.

Vixen wasn’t stealing furs and destroying them just for the hell of it. She had a bigger plan, and thankfully it works in her favor because her assumptions about Superman were right.

The next day, Clark Kent and Lana Lang are called in for a briefing on an assignment to India to cover the fur-poaching in the country, after a friend of Vixen’s convinced the editor how important of a story this was to cover. Vixen felt it was extremely important for American reporters to cover this story, knowing it would shine a light on such a heinous crime. Lana Lang at one point comments on how un-newsworthy this kind of story is, which gives insight as to why Vixen may have gone about things the way she did.

If a professional journalist can’t even see the importance of what fur-poaching does to the local ecology, then how concerned would an everyday person be about it? Vixen understood this and put her trust in Superman to put all the pieces together.

When Clark and Lana arrive in India, they aren’t the only people from Metropolis there. The owner of those stolen furs is there too, something Vixen was banking on. Vixen destroyed the furs to get him desperate enough to oversee the collection of furs from the endangered animals he was targeting. Superman puts all of this together once he encounters Vixen for the second time.

When he confronts Vixen before she can make her move, he takes the time to get an explanation instead of hauling her off for stealing the furs in the first place. He understands why she went about things the way she did and holds no judgment because at the end of the day the true villain in all of this is the store owner. He leaves Vixen to deal with him accordingly.

Superman had every reason to view Vixen as a criminal but doesn’t. Instead, he acknowledges the good Samaritan qualities in her, a hero in her own right.

This story is just the beginning of a great friendship between Superman and Vixen, an allyship built on a strong foundation of trust between the two characters. Vixen’s plan couldn’t be successful if Superman had assumed the worst when the worst could have been easily assumed. 
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