Valiant Entertainment's Livewire went from savior to martyr when she caused a blackout across North America in Harbinger Wars 2. She did it to save fellow psiots like herself, but that choice put fear, mistrust, hatred, and a target on her that she's running from - straight into her first solo ongoing series.
On December 19, writer Vita Ayala and artists Raúl Allén and Patrcia Martín take Valiant's electric hero on a fugitive's journey across the Valiant U with the ongoing Livewire title. Along the way, they'll be introducing a new character whom Ayala describes as "the conceptual opposite of Livewire." And yeah, they're fighting.
Newsarama talked with Ayala about the new ongoing, the new antagonist, and how Livewire is dealing with being the most wanted woman in the world. Along with this, we have the first look at two pages from January's Livewire #2.
Newsarama: Livewire caused a blackout that affected the entire U.S. - and people know it. How is she living with that in this, her new solo series?
Vita Ayala: At the beginning of the series, she is a fugitive – Public Enemy #1. She is on the run, both literally and figuratively. From her perspective, she is in the right, and is trying to figure out a way to regroup. She is stressed!
She hasn’t really had the time to fully comprehend the vast implications of her actions in Harbinger Wars 2 – causing a blackout of the entire U.S. Not because she doesn’t understand, but because she has been going, going, and going, either on the run from the government or fighting her former team members, and hasn’t had the time to process.
Nrama: So now she's on the run - who is she running from specifically, and what is she running toward?
Ayala: She is considered to be a terrorist by America (and the international groups she used to work with), so she’s on the run from pretty much everyone at this point – former allies and old enemies, the entirety of the U.S. government, etc.
She is conceptually running to a better place for her and her family (the Secret Weapons kids) – a better place for psiots. She hasn’t really figured out how, where, or even what that looks like, but that is the goal. She hasn’t really figured out how to reach a state of equilibrium yet.
Nrama: Jumping ahead, I'm told that you created a new Valiant villain who will debut in January's Livewire #2. What can you tell us about them?
Ayala: That they are solidly bad ass!
Nrama: And their name is Pan De Santos.
Story-wise, Pan seems like the Yin to Amanda's Yang, especially when you factor in how they see Toyo Harada. How does that work?
Ayala: Livewire at her core is an empathetic person.
In a way, Pan De Santos is the conceptual opposite of Livewire. They are a truther/true believer of Toyo Harada. They see non-psiots as weak and pathetic, just there to be used. They also don’t necessarily care about other psiots as much as they care about power and furthering Harada’s ideals. They don’t care about peace, they are more interested in domination. They are named Pan after the god of panic. They are the mirror-verse Livewire.
Physically their design is very different – from style of dress to color scheme. I am so excited for the world to see them!
Nrama: Did Raúl Allén and Patrcia Martín do the design work on this?
Ayala: Khary Randolph took a pass at the character, and then Raúl and Patricia did their own take. They came up with about a half-dozen possibilities and then we talked about them, and they ended up mixing and matching some elements from a few.
I love how Pan turned out, and I love working with Raúl and Patricia so much.
Nrama: How deep of a research dive did you go into Livewire's published past to prepare you for her future her in this ongoing?
Ayala: I love homework. [Laughs]
I read everything with her in it since Valiant’s relaunch, including scripts to Harbinger Wars 2 as they came in. I think I did the bulk of that reading in a week-long period, and then I went back a lot to reference things.
I tried to track down some of the pre-relaunch stuff, but couldn’t do it before I started writing. But I am still poking around in things from the first incarnation of Valiant, just to have that floating in my head as we go forward.
Nrama: What should readers know about her in order to fully enjoy your new series?
Ayala: I think if people are willing to do a little reading to get prepped, they should absolutely get a copy of Secret Weapons. Pretty much everything you need to comprehend who Livewire is as a person and a fighter is in there.
But, it is absolutely possible just to jump into this series without any prior knowledge. Bare bones, what you need to know is that Livewire is a psiot. Psiots are people with mental abilities that allow them to do extraordinary things, like flight, superspeed, etc. Livewire herself is a technokinetic – someone that can communicate with and control technology with her mind. She is basically Alexa or Siri.
Psiots are persecuted – they were being hunted by the government – and Livewire fought back by shutting down all the power to the United States (and things like satellites flying in U.S. airspace) to keep her people, in general, and her family of adopted young psiots specifically, safe. Unfortunately, what she did had huge repercussions, many of which she did not intend, and because of that, she is now on the terrorist watch list and the number-one enemy of the government.
We worked very hard to make sure that new readers would be able to understand the severity of her position right off the bat, even if they didn’t know every single detail, and that longtime readers had a story that would be meaningful to their context.
Nrama: Do you have any signings or special events planned for Livewire #1's release on December 19?
Ayala: I have quite a few!
12/19 I’ll be signing at Forbidden Planet NYC (Manhattan) @ 1pm, and Bulletproof Comics (Brooklyn) @ 5pm.
12/20 I’ll be signing at Anyone Comics (Brooklyn) @ 7pm, and 12/21 I’ll be signing at October Country (New Paltz, NY) @ 5pm.
Nrama: Valiant has framed this ongoing as beginning a "new age of champions." What does that mean for you?
Ayala: For me it means a movement to explore some of the really compelling secondary or guest characters, to elevate characters that have been important, but maybe haven’t been at the forefront for a little bit, and a real push to tell compelling stories from all corners of their universe.
I am really excited for what comes next!