REVIEW: Livewire #1

LIVEWIRE #1 / Writer: Vita Ayala / Artists: Raul Allen and Patricia Martin / Letterer: Saida Temofonte / Publisher: Valiant / Release date: December 19, 2018

The modern-day superhero test seems to be: what can you do about a crashing plane? In Superman Returns and the Supergirl show, the answer is to take on the burden and physically stop the crash. In Batman Rebirth and Spider-Man: Homecoming, the solution is to steer the plane from the outside. In Iron Man 3, Air Force One explodes, but falling victims are saved before they hit the earth.

Livewire’s approach is a little different. When two planes collide, she not only flies onto the scene to scoop up victims, but is able to telekinetically (“teletechnopathically”) re-assemble the broken parts of both planes so that they make safe emergency landings. Double the danger, double the solutions! And that’s just the opening act. For her next stunt, Amanda McKee will… flail at mending broken bridges.

Though this is the first issue of her own miniseries, a lot of Amanda’s motivations directly result from the fallout of Harbinger Wars 2, and Secret Weapons before that. There’s a first-page paragraph to bring readers up to speed, and dialog among the Secret Weapons themselves (hello again, Avi, Nikki, and Owen) says a lot about their history with Livewire. They weigh in on some difficult choices she made, and justifying violence is far more difficult for her than saying, “but we needed an event comic for the year!” Vita Ayala’s ability to balance Livewire debating her friends with an inner monologue of how she actually processes the conversation packs plenty of character development into a first issue.

Raul Allen and Patricia Martin convey Livewire’s different roles with a variety of styles. The daytime plane rescue looks fairly conventional by superhero standards, while her digital exploration bathes the page in pinkish light and white detail. Their portrayal of perspective does an excellent job of walking the reader into or out of a scene. For examples, look at Nikki and Owen entering the the California Science Center, with their walkway broken up by panels as they move from one to the other, dialog following along.

Also check out how they watch a mammoth exhibit, only for the camera to zoom out to reveal Livewire watching them. I hope to see more of this layered approach as the series continues. An additional action scene that will go unspoiled acts as a good setpiece for showing off Livewire’s combat capabilities and the artists’ use of light and color to emphasize strikes and movement. There are two unique moments in this issue that use a solid black panel, and neither of them feel like cheats.

Livewire has been begging for a solo series for a while at Valiant, and I’m glad to see a promising beginning here. This issue bridges recent Valiant events with the present while setting up several new developments that feel like natural progressions. She does cool stuff and has interesting friends. Now let’s see what her enemies bring to the table.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5.

Thomas is a teen services librarian who reads way too many comics. He can be found gobbling pancakes at the nearest diner with Jessica Cruz, Forsythe Jones III, Jane Foster, and Hellboy. He reviews media for the public here and graphic novels for librarians at No Flying, No Tights.

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