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REVIEW: Livewire #1 Is an Exciting Debut, With a Great Protagonist

The adage that you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs bleeds through the pages of Valiant Entertainment's Livewire #1, not just in how bluntly writer Vita Ayala hammers that point through protagonist Amanda McKee, but in the sheer number of panels used to convey the notion. Pages burst at the seams with Amanda explaining her actions to other characters, hoping to justify them even if it means innocent bystanders are hurt, either directly or indirectly, because of them. In the hands of a lesser writer, those interactions could come off as trite and preachy. Thankfully, Ayala is more than capable of conveying the complexities of superhero collateral damage, even when it's shoved in her hero's face.

Early on in Livewire #1, we get a quick recap of Amanda's backstory. She narrates the events leading up to the moment she became public enemy number one, as well as a brief summary of her history working for the U.S. government under the alias Livewire. She even provides insight into what it means to be a psiot, and all the power that comes with it. The picture McKee paints is a tragic one, filled with the best intentions. The bulk of this issue, however, is dedicated to setting up the next stage in Livewire's spotty career. There are consequences to her actions that reach beyond a falling out with her friends and colleagues. The focus on where she is now, and where she might be heading, shifts with sharply rendered action and a display of the hero's power and, naturally, shortcomings.

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Ayala has been slowly cutting her teeth in the superhero genre with DC titles like Supergirl and Wonder Woman, but she's proved herself a writer with sharp wit and the ability to tackle complex social issue in creator-owned books like Black Mask's The WildsLivewire #1 is a fantastic display of how she is able to bridge the gap between those worlds. Her dialogue is natural, albeit occasionally a little verbose, but she conveys her intent clearly, and with conviction.

The art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin is solid as well. The line work in Livewire is clean, and their page layout flows well. While it isn't anything that is going to set the world on fire, it serves its function, and moves the story along without trying to seem too flashy or ostentatious. Being unremarkable is by no means a point of contention when it comes to a story like this. When an action set piece is called for by the script, Allen and Martin handle it well. The same can be said for pages with panel after panel of exposition. No matter what's happening on the page, it's executed with care instead of flare.

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The only negative of this debut issue is how much information is crammed into it. The creative team disseminates it well enough, but it might be a bit too much for some readers. Thankfully, once the initial hurdle of establishing the key players is cleared, the stage is set for some really interesting plot lines.

Livewire #1 isn't a perfect comic, but it's a strong first issue in what could potentially be the next runaway hit for Valiant. With characters hailing from different time periods, backgrounds and planets, the publisher strives for an eclectic pantheon of heroes. Livewire is no different, and we're curious to see where things go from here. Ayala is a talent to keep an eye on, and a book like Livewire is a great showcase for the writer.

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