Reading Marvel and DC for years, you get a feel for common superhero tropes. It’s always interesting to see some other publisher putting their own spin on a superhero-themed shared universe. My introduction to Valiant Comics was reading only a handful of their titles, most notably Secret Weapons by Eric Heisserer and Raúl Allén & Patricia Martín. Amongst the eponymous gang from that comic, its leader is Amanda McKee, also known as the technopath codenamed Livewire, who now has her own limited series.
Following what happened in the Valiant event Harbinger Wars II where Livewire declared war on the American government, causing deaths of both Psiots and humans, the technopath is now on the run as a fugitive with no one to turn to. Making a few enemies along the way, Amanda finds herself imprisoned and powerless while she tries to justify her past actions that had life-threatening consequences.
When it comes to superhero comics, continuity can be loose to say the least, and if there’s a superhero you like such as Batman or Spider-Man, there are plenty of volumes to start with. With Valiant, there is an intricate timeline where you have to know certain things to understand where the characters are at a point in their lives. Even when I was reading Secret Weapons, it does feel one piece of the big puzzle, with Livewire being a key character for the publisher since 1993. If you have not read any recent comic featuring Livewire, jumping into her solo title may not be the most ideal start.
However, writer Vita Ayala is able to tell a solid standalone narrative about the very powerful Psiots, who may have ambitions as a hero who is fighting for her own kind, slowly realizing the error of her ways. Although the threats she faces throughout the four issues aren’t the most memorable, because of her incredible powers, Ayala finds a way to make the hero vulnerable and how that challenges her physically and emotionally. Given Livewire’s complicated backstory, Ayala cleverly uses flashbacks in contrast with the present action, where she is confronted by a former ally.
Although this is somewhat of a continuation to Secret Weapons, most of the likable protagonists only get bit parts. While it is pleasant to see them, it’s not quite as humorous. That said, the return of the artistic duo of Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín is truly welcoming. Resembling a combination of David Aja and Frank Quitely, the hyper-detailed art provides incredible layouts, mixing small and large panels onto the page, creating such inventive action sequences that show how visually impressive Livewire’s technopathic abilities are.
It’s not as witty as Secret Weapons, but as a standalone limited series, Vita Ayala tells a compelling character arc of its eponymous hero, greatly visualized by the artistic collaboration of Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín.