Valiant Femmes: “Don’t Touch Me I’m a Real Livewire”

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Imperium 13 cover art by Robert Gill.

One of the Valiant Femmes’ best known female heroes is Livewire. Debuting in Harbinger, presiding over Unity, and set to appear in Imperium, Livewire is a femme to watch. She’s tough, honorable, and refreshingly vulnerable.

She’s generally shown as part of a team, and as such, the significance of her contributions sometimes get overshadowed by the larger story. Without Livewire, the Valiant universe as we know it would not exist. This is the woman who commandeered the X-O armor away from Aric. She brought Bloodshot back into the fold. Without her direct intervention, Faith would have died inside the Harbinger Foundation. Pete Stanchek would have been murdered by Harada. GIN-GR never would have been freed from the control of the Armor Hunters.

Some quick facts:

Real Name: Amanda McKee
Codename: Livewire
Classification: Psiot. Some natural abilities manifested in childhood but it is unknown whether she was endured the Harbinger Foundation activation protocols. The foreword to Unity #17 refers to her as born with psiot abilities.
Ability: Mental communication with computational technology. She can interface with and manipulate tech.
First Appearance: Harbinger #3
Previous Affiliations: Unity, Harbinger Foundation
Family: Unknown. Amanda spent most of her childhood in an orphanage.

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Pencils by Matthew Clark.

Amanda McKee, aka Livewire, is a psiot with the ability to communicate with and manipulate technology. Her abilities could be devastating to the world should she choose to use them immorally. Fortunately, Livewire is not power-hungry and has a strong moral compass. She falls firmly on the side of “hero” despite her earlier affiliation with the Harbinger Foundation. Although she frequently sees battle in the field, by her own admission, she prefers to be in a lab.

Livewire’s early years were spent in a group home. It was here that she discovered her affinity with electronics, but she also suffered physical abuse. Toyo Harada changed all that. Upon discovering Livewire, he took her in to the Harbinger Foundation where she grew up learning to hone her psiot talents and the martial arts. Due to this kindness, Livewire was dedicated to Harada and his vision for the Foundation. Her loyalty and skills earned her a spot as his right-hand.

Despite feeling beholden, Livewire ultimately betrayed Harada during his battle with Peter Stanchek. Worried by Harada’s increasingly aggressive and dominate behavior, Livewire believed that Harada needed someone to balance out his immense power. She aided Peter in his escape though she regretted having to disobey her Master. It’s also noteworthy that the beloved Renegade Faith would not be alive if it were not for Livewire, who freed Faith from her holding cell in the collapsing Foundation building.

Banished by Harada and left in isolation as punishment, Livewire later rejoined him at his behest as a member of the newly formed Unity. That reunion would be short-lived. Livewire was a key component in the plan to take the X-O armor away from Aric. Using her power to control machines, Livewire was eventually able to remove the armor from Aric, thus exposing her to advanced alien technology. This was a first for Livewire. Her experience with the armor fully activated her psiot abilities, giving her far greater power. She was able to communicate with the X-O armor and discovered its parasitic tendencies. More importantly, she discovered how to disable its self-replication.

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Harada with Livewire. Pencils by Matthew Clark. Inks by Sean Parsons.

Her greater power also laid bare the secrets of the Harbinger Foundation. Now fully aware of the extent of Harada’s machinations and his methods, Livewire turned her back on her former mentor. She rallied the rest of the Unity team against Harada, who had planned on using the X-O armor for himself. This final betrayal created an irreparable breach between the two, and they now consider each other the enemy.

Livewire continued to serve as a member of Unity. She eventually became the spokesperson and public face of the team. In the wake of the events of Book of Death, team Unity has gone on hiatus, but Livewire will return to face her old master once again in Imperium #13. It’s not going to be a happy reunion.

Your essential Livewire reading list should include the first arc of Harbinger and Unity Volume 1: To Kill A King.

Unity #17 is a must-read for fans wanting to learn more about the personal side of Livewire. This book offers a rare view into her private life and how she tries to adapt to civilian down time. Readers are also treated to an explanation of her new battle suit which combines technical abilities of both the X-O armor and nanites. It flies, it self-repairs, it morphs into streetwear. Though this can be glossed over as merely interesting, the suit is notable because it exemplifies Livewire’s capability to absorb diverse technological knowledge and invent new uses.

Livewire’s next do-not-miss appearance is in Imperium #13, where she and former H.A.R.D. Corps leader Charlie Palmer will take on the Harada and his team of monsters. Expect an epic showdown between the former master and student.

Livewire. Hero. Technopsiot. Badass. Valiant Femme.

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