Livewire from Valiant Entertainment has superstar writer Vita Ayala attached for a take on crossover event fallout. This former henchwoman built up a reputation as one of Valiant’s best superheroes only to get caught in a cash-in event that puts Livewire and her handlers in a bad situation. One with an ending that, while not bad, is bittersweet in how it clashes with political developments. The conclusion implies that the only way out of a rock and a hard place situation is to blame it on external factors and never actually take responsibility. Yet in a world where people of celebrity or power are called out on abusive actions barring their money and or influence, almost every other week. Using excuses just doesn’t work anymore even if Ayala’s story has more authenticity than the similar situation in Marvel’s Civil War II and Captain Marvel.
Livewire Background Conflict
Before we get into details, we should go over who Livewire is. At first, Amanda McKee was a henchwoman to extremist supervillain Toyo Harada of Harbinger. Later she defects upon seeing how heinous Harada’s plans are and leads two teams of superheroes. The latter of the groups, Secret Weapons, were under threat by a government fearful of people with psychic powers. Partly because of Amanda’s old boss Harada who demonstrates his ability to cripple countries.
This Harbinger Wars II pushes Amanda over the edge. In a desperate attempt to get people to stop looking at sycophants’ projections of psiots, Livewire emits a countrywide EMP. Unfortunately, this causes thousands of deaths of patients on life support. Branded a fugitive, Livewire does all that she can to survive while keeping Psiots safe.
Back in the real world, Harbinger Wars II was mainly a means of advertising the forwarding of movies based on the original Harbinger Wars. All of which would begin with the Vin Diesel movie, Bloodshot. Unlike the original series, however, which was emphasized by character development from the Harbinger Renegades and Bloodshot, this series was more or less made on the whim of Valiant’s owners DMG Entertainment. Unfortunately, this parallels with the similarly named Civil War II by Marvel Comics, which was an advertisement for the film, Captain America: Civil War. Both comic events end with its lead characters worse off than before. All because of corporate greed, which imply messages that don’t sit well with audiences today.
Warning: Political Livewire
By the third trade, Vita Ayala needs to wrap up Livewire‘s conflicts relatively quickly so that the story doesn’t drag on. But how do you redeem someone guilty of mass slaughter? Apparently, by helping a councilman in an election against a straw conservative Senator. In essence, it’s a battle of choosing the lesser of two or more evils. Both Livewire and the councilman are trying to protect people they care about, like the Secret Weapons and the councilman’s daughter. Still, to do so, they have to scapegoat the Senator who is pushing an anti-psiot program.
A lawsuit against the federal government that the councilman proposes for his campaign is viable. With previous storylines of Livewire showing cruel and unusual punishments like a lobotomy, this violates the Eighth Amendment. However, it comes back to the original question from earlier; despite the good intentions and consequences, does it justify the crimes that got them there in the first place? Or is it easier to just blame others for your flaws and find ways to exploit the others to avoid punishment?
As it turns out, the councilman is the one who covertly drove Harbinger Wars II to fruition through a list of psiots. To protect his daughter and get Livewire’s help with his campaign, he plays both sides of the psiot conflict. With Amanda’s support, the councilman’s campaign manager exposes the former Senator’s embezzlements. Winning the election and federal lawsuit, the councilman’s position now allows him to avoid taking any responsibility for his initial involvement in the psiot hunt. Thus a bittersweet ending.
In today’s climate, many celebrities and law enforcers are getting called out for various acts of authoritative abuse. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, for example, uses social media to spread her influence in divisive topics involving transexuals. Given her money and influence over what she produces, some Harry Potter fans can’t enjoy pieces of their childhood without supporting Rowling’s actions. In a more extreme case, recall how 9/11 kickstarts George W. Bush’s presidential reelection campaign. With the vow to bring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to justice… with a bullet. To say nothing of the “command responsibility” war crimes to get to that point.
As for comics, several Marvel fans still have it out for Captain Marvel over Civil War II. Unlike Livewire, who remains in character for Harbinger Wars II and Ayala’s run; Marvel plays off Carol’s extreme behavior like it was business as usual. While she feels guilty over her actions after the event, her resolution with it practically says, “it happened, get over it.” Yet later comics reveal Captain Marvel actually killed Iron Man. This presents a problem with Captain Marvel, Livewire, and their real-time corporate sponsors. They might recognize their faults, but they’re not exactly looking for forgiveness. Just because the people in question tries to be better this doesn’t necessarily mean they were justified.
Calling Out The Unheroic
In today’s popular media like Rick and Morty as well as Bojack Horseman, the antiheroic acts of the title characters have to face up to the consequences of their actions. While the latter series does emphasize the importance of taking personal responsibility and rectifying guilt; what makes these series stand out is how they shame bad behavior rather than reset the status quo. These come in reaction to the above climate where celebrities who seem above the law are getting revealed for their misdeeds. But where does this leave characters who believe they’re justified in what they do and are given sympathy for their flaws rather than despite it?
The Present Livewire
Even though the former Senator’s arrest and Amanda’s crimes are pardoned, this doesn’t feel like a victory. While the public welcomes her, Livewire is just a means of getting likes and followers to them. The police meanwhile are still on the fence about psiots and Livewire.
What the series evokes is how lesser or necessary evils become less like reasons to do harm and more like excuses. Just because characters are relatable in how they deal with the fallout, it doesn’t necessarily make what they did okay. If anything, guilt becomes an excuse not to take responsibility. Some comics like Blackhand Ironhead comment on this to display how dangerous a way of thinking this is.
What do you all think? Could Livewire have been handled better? Or was this a topic too big to tackle without division? Leave your thoughts in the comments.