LIVEWIRE #5 / Writer: Vita Ayala / Artist: Kano / Letterer: Saida Temofonte / Publisher: Valiant / Published: April 10, 2019
Amanda McKee, code name Livewire, has her own solo series. We can never have enough inclusion in the comic book universe, especially when it comes African-American female leads. Scribed by Vita Ayala (Age of X-Man: Prisoner X, Supergirl) Livewire is a nice addition.
Who is Livewire?
Livewire, a psiot (metahuman), is gifted with teletechnopathy, which allows her to control machines with force of will alone. She can also mentally link and extract data from them. She has been a hero, but now she finds herself on the run from the government. It seems that the government turned on her and other psiots by launching a plan to wipe them all out. In order to protect herself and others of her kind, Livewire used her formidable powers and plunged the United States into a blackout, causing untold devastation. She has been labeled a terrorist, but she continues with her mission to protect others like her. Her actions have done nothing to quell humanity’s fears.
The Plot Thickens
In this issue we meet Phoebe, a young psiot who is part of the Psiot Safety & Education Program (PSEP). The program’s purported purpose is to teach young psiots how to control their powers. At the same time, Livewire is investigating the disappearance of Phoebe after picking up her parent’s frantic search for her through the internet. Livewire’s investigation leads her into a trap where she is confronted by psiots that appear to have less than benign plans for her.
Vita Ayala has built up a fascinating character in Livewire. For Livewire, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. Is she still a hero or is she a villain? Will she find redemption? Does she need to? Questions like these are what make Livewire a fascinating character. Her decision to devastate the United States to protect her kind is a departure from what a character like Marvel’s Storm would do. Storm is an Omega-level mutant with her ability to control weather, but no matter how much mutants are threatened by humanity she would never, for instance, wipe out the East Coast with a hurricane. She would not cross a line where protecting mutants means hurting innocents. Livewire has no such qualms.
Vita Ayala creates an interesting contrast with Livewire by introducing the character of Phoebe. This young African-American girl learns to control her powers under the tutelage of the PSEP. She fears becoming the terrorist that Livewire has been labeled, but at the same time Livewire seeks to save her from what she sees as an organization that means to do harm.
Vita Ayala creates relatable, three-dimensional characters. You can understand both sides of the conflict between humans and psiots. Her writing is smooth and doesn’t jump around. It is definitely thought provoking. This is not your run-of-the-mill hero vs. villain book. It is much deeper than that.
The artist Kano (Quantum and Woody, The Immortal Iron Fist) does some nice work. I especially like the scenes where Livewire interacts with the machine world. He puts together good action scenes. I also like his style where everything is not in a panel. It makes it look like the characters could walk outside of the comic.
Overall, Livewire #5 is a solid issue in a very well-done series. It leaves readers eager to follow Livewire on her journey.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Martin Reese is a writer and creator of innovative, dynamic sci-fi and fantasy projects for transmedia platforms. He is the author of the blog Martin’s Theory of Relativity where he discusses topics relevant to People of Color in sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comics. He is also the author of the story book Mulogo and His Quintuple of Trouble.