Livewire #4: The Character Arc We’ve Been Waiting For

Livewire #4 Cover B by Kalman Andrasofszky. Written by Vita Ayala, drawn by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín. Published by Valiant Comics. March 13, 2019

Livewire #4

Raúl Allén (artist), Vita Ayala (writer), Patricia Martín (artist), Saida Temofonte (letters)
Valiant Comics
13 March, 2019

Amanda McKee, aka Livewire, is depowered and completely in Pan De Santos’ thrall. Her erstwhile ‘sibling’ and rival has become much stronger than when they were under the tutelage of Toyo Harada. But Pan is cocky, pushing Livewire to her limits with their psychic abilities, which only ends up short-circuiting the psychic dampener in Livewire’s head.

Livewire #4 Cover A by Adam Pollina. Written by Vita Ayala, drawn by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín. Published by Valiant Comics. March 13, 2019 - A woman with long dark hair and glowing white eyes looks at the viewer over her shoulder, overlaid with a computer-glitch-y effect

The return of Livewire’s powers gives her the strength to defeat Pan, but it doesn’t change the fact that Pan is right. Livewire hurt people—unintentionally, yes, but not without blame. Livewire has been hiding from the truth this whole time. Is she finally ready to face the consequences of her actions?

After three issues of Livewire deflecting from the horrors she caused, it is great to see her own up to her actions. It would have been quite unbelievable for Livewire to continue professing innocence for her crimes. She turned off the power to all of the United States, and there were always going to be consequences to that. Even her friend, Avi, lost a loved one because of the accidents caused by her blackout. Livewire has seen the light. It gives her character so much more dimension.

Livewire is a compelling character, but I do crave the interaction between her and her fellow psiots from the first issue. In Livewire #4, we get to see Livewire make her first steps toward making amends with her friends. Nikki, Avi, and Owen felt abandoned by Livewire, and betrayed by her actions. Up until now, Livewire has only been able to reconnect with Nikki, but she is now bringing the others into the fold, which can only be to the series’ benefit.

I am intrigued by writer Vita Ayala’s choice to not have Livewire surrender herself to authorities. It would have been the easiest choice for a character who has caused as much damage as Livewire has, but her decision not to do so makes complete sense within the story. Her actions were the direct result of fellow psiots being in danger—what is the point of going to the authorities when they don’t care about her and her people? It is going to be very interesting to see how this particular plot point will be resolved in the series.

I do like that Livewire is an anti-hero—that she unabashedly operates in a grey area—but that it all comes from a genuine place of love for her people. Comic books are full of fascinating anti-heroes and, following this issue, I believe Livewire will be joining their ranks.

The Valiant team must be commended for including a non-binary character in this series. Pan was created by non-binary writer Vita Ayala, and has appeared in the last two issues. In Livewire #4, they are definitely identified as non-binary, which is an exciting development. It is testament to how the face of comics can change if more creators from marginalised communities are given opportunities behind the scenes.

Though Pan is Livewire’s adversary, their conviction in their beliefs gives them far more dimension than an ordinary foe. I am definitely interested in seeing what Ayala has in store for Pan and Livewire in upcoming issues.

Pan uses his powers on Livewire in Livewire #4 Page 1. Written by Vita Ayala, drawn by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín. Published by Valiant Comics. March 13, 2019 - A page showing Livewire lying down while someone above her, also with glowing white eyes, presses hands to her temples; she gasps while thinking "This is what I deserve"

The art by Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín has been outstanding this series, but somehow they’ve surpassed themselves in Livewire #4. Almost all of this issue takes place at night and the artists manage to evoke darkness while still including a ton of detail in each panel. The way they’ve managed to draw rain without obscuring the details on the page is amazing and realistic. I am truly blown away.

As an opening arc for the Livewire series, these first four issues have given readers a fairly good glimpse into the mind of Livewire, as well as a solid look at the people and world around her. Issue #5 of Livewire begins the new ‘Guardian’ arc and I look forward to seeing where Ayala and their team take our electrifying hero.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir