REVIEW: Livewire #2

LIVEWIRE #2 / Writer: Vita Ayala / Artists: Raul Allen and Patricia Martin / Letterer: Saida Temofonte / Publisher: Valiant / January 23, 2019

Consequences

Amanda “Livewire” McKee did a bad thing for a good reason, and now the world wants a piece of her. Her power over all electrical and mechanical systems led her to shutting down America’s power grid in order to protect a group of psiots under her care. While she won the battle, vengeful parties declared war on her.

Building from the previous issue’s setup, men with legitimate grievances against Amanda hold her captive in a dangerous place. Situations like this are a strength of the Valiant universe, where even the moral high road may come in shades of gray.

Vita Ayala hits all the right notes for a compelling standoff. She makes the protagonist’s agony as satisfying as their comeback. Amanda’s captors are disgusted with her for being a psiot. However, they also have a point about the fallout from shutting down hospitals and prisons during Harbinger Wars 2. Does she deserve to be physically beaten for it, though? Is she not justified in fighting back?

Powerhouse Art Team

Raul Allen and Patricia Martin work together as a powerhouse art team. The line work is as clean and distinguishable as the premise. Readers who enjoyed the hidden birds in Secret Weapons will appreciate a new visual cue hiding in plain sight in this issue. Their artistic use of fire and shadow during a super-powered fight set in Paris lends the scene menace and scale. As the same time, the clinically sterile stylings of Amanda’s cell contrasts against the brutal violence that takes place within it. Panels of bright light and pink cell panes break up the cool, dim spaces. Red takes over the background as scenes turn violent, while dark blue indicates flashbacks—past conflicts appear calmer for existing in hindsight while the present fight excites. Saida Temofonte delivers clear and unobtrusive lettering, and her sound effects crackle and burst to accentuate special effects.

So Many Questions

Questions creep out of the implications of this story in a natural and compelling fashion. Why does this mercenary group operate an anti-psiot bunker? Who bankrolls and manages such a thing? What did Amanda expect would happen as a result of temporarily shutting off a nation’s power. Does her perspective allow for a genuine apology? Who called in the hit on Amanda? What kind of Harbinger/Unity-era reputation precedes her that someone would look forward to attacking her? The distant perspectives of Amanda’s jailers, including an excellent surgical sequence that includes detailed panels of doctors’ tools and schematics, indicate more intentions than answers, but their powerful immersive effect makes the journey worthwhile.

Put through the grinder, both physically and ideologically, Amanda comes out stronger for her trouble, and while the covers for this issue depict her crackling with electricity and charisma, the contents of this comic show Amanda fighting for her life. The bridges she burned in the first issue lead to isolation and antagonism in the second, suggesting greater confrontations to come in the third.

Valiant story arcs tend to sit within tidy four-issue formats, and Ayala times the story perfectly so far. Despite carrying on from the events of Secret Weapons and Harbinger Wars 2, the Livewire series provides a great jumping-on point for meeting one of the most interesting super-beings in Valiant’s collection.

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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