Amanda McKee whether she likes it or not is a student of Toyo Harada, the most notorious monster in the Valiant universe. The choices she makes and the enemies she has can be seen through the lens of her life and relationship with Harada. One moral that Harada taught Amanda (Livewire) is something readers should keep in mind – either completely destroy your enemies or make them your closest friends. It seems that it’s a lesson that Livewire only half learned. Meanwhile, issue two of ‘Livewire’ shows just how much she’s hated, while issue three explains why.
In order for Livewire to live with the crimes she’s committed there needs to be a sense of compartmentalization. For a woman who is able to access, manipulate and control data Livewire became Harada’s best pupil as she believes what she has done has always been for the greater good. And of course everyone is the hero in their own story, but for Livewire it made sense. The government was killing, or weaponing psiots for their own ends, beings with special abilities. Most of the ones who were being murdered were children. In part the best way Amanda chose to take care of this problem was to put the lights out – all over the world. It caused many deaths, but the hunt stopped focusing on children and put it all on her. The thing is that Amanda lost everything, the children she was trying to help, her freedom, and by the third issue of this comic-book series her sense of self.
Pan, a man who had been tracking Amanda was discarded early by Harada. His psiot powers were deemed useless. Harada seemed to lack imagination or rather empathy. His castoffs are now the bane of Amanda’s existence. Pan shows Amanda her true self, the part of her that justifies her actions. While Harada never excused what he did, Amanda seems to be screaming at the top of her lungs that she’s protecting people. However Amanda can’t continue to straddle the fence between doing what’s right and what’s necessary. Pan reveals to her that Amanda needs to decide who she is. Still, he goes about it the wrong way, since there is more jealousy and self-hatred involved in Pan’s decision making. This leaves Amanda vulnerable and a query of who hired him. More importantly, what is going to happen next?
Writer Vita Ayala alongside artist Raul Allen et al are using Amanda’s seemingly limited history in Valiant comics to help explain her decisions, thus evolving a side character into a complex protagonist. It makes for good reading.