Livewire (DC Comics)
Cover art of Action Comics #835
Art by Kalman Andrasofszky
|First appearance||Superman Adventures #5 (March 1997)|
|Created by||Evan Dorkin|
|Alter ego||Leslie Willis|
|Team affiliations||Superman Revenge Squad |
Supermen of America
Secret Society of Super Villains
Livewire (Leslie Willis) is a fictional supervillainess appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Originally created for Superman: The Animated Series, the character appeared in March 1997 in Superman Adventures #5 (based on the animated series). Her first mainstream comic book appearance was in Action Comics #835 (March 2006).
In television, the character was voiced by Lori Petty in Superman: The Animated Series and Maria Canals in Justice League. In live-action Superman-based television series, she has been portrayed by Anna Mae Routledge in Smallville and Brit Morgan in Supergirl.
Fictional character biography
DC Animated Universe
Leslie Willis was once a popular and controversial Metropolis radio shock jock. No one was immune to her venomous words, not even Superman. She took cynical joy in attacking him during her broadcasts. Among her audience, Lex Luthor enjoyed listening to her.
One evening during a severe thunderstorm Willis was hosting a rock concert in honor of her third anniversary working at the radio station in Centennial Park in downtown Metropolis. Ignoring her producer's warnings about the storms, the public safety concerns of Metropolis authorities, and the changeable skies, Willis demanded the show go on.
It was at about that time Superman showed up to help the police break up the event. Willis' fans showed support for her by throwing stuff at the Man of Steel, when suddenly, lightning struck the stage, setting it on fire. Superman pushed Willis to safety as a second bolt of lightning electrified the metal tower on the stage; the electricity ran through Superman's body and into a wire on stage which Willis then stepped on, shocking Willis and changing her appearance.
When Willis woke up, she saw that her skin had turned ghostly white and her hair turned blue and stood on end. She watched Superman talking to reporters on live TV about the accident: one reporter insinuated that Superman, fed up with Willis's hateful comments, may have pushed her into harm's way to punish her, which he denies of course. Willis angrily blames Superman for the transformation caused by the accident and was about to throw a clock-radio at the TV when the radio suddenly turned on in her hands without being plugged in. She discovered she has the power to control electricity.
Willis then escaped from the hospital by turning herself into an electric current. Confronting Superman, she had rearranged the electrons of the hospital gown she was wearing into a black leotard with a lightning bolt down the front and black boots. She then declared herself to be Livewire now, and took over telephones, televisions, radios, effectively controlling all of the local media. However, she had to drain electricity to continue her takeover and Superman chased her to a hydroelectric plant and stopped her when he doused her with water. Again hospitalized, Luthor generously pays Willis' hospital bills due to their shared contempt for Superman.
Lori Petty voiced Livewire in Superman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. An uncredited Maria Canals voiced Livewire in Justice League. Her powers and appearance have striking similarities to the controversial Superman Blue, although predating the arc by three years.
In an episode of the Justice League animated series, Livewire teamed up with the Superman Revenge Squad to get revenge on Superman. When some of its members were defeated and Toyman's machine sent Superman into the future with them thinking that Superman is dead, Kalibak and Livewire later attacked the scene of the incident with Copperhead, Volcana, Star Sapphire, and Deadshot. When it came to Season 3 of Justice League Unlimited, Livewire later returned as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society.
In the Superman Adventures comics, based on the DCAU animated series, Livewire makes an appearance in issue #5, "Balance of Power", the two-part "War Games" (#22–23) and in the two-part finale (#65–66), "Power Play", the latter also featuring Lex Luthor and Darkseid. She is portrayed more sympathetically in the comics, teaming up with Professor Hamilton and putting all of her energy into stopping Brainiac in "War Games", which puts her into a coma until she awakens in "Power Play", where she officially reforms.
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Much like the DCAU version of Livewire, before she gained her abilities, she was also a shock jock. Going by the DJ name Leslie, her show was dedicated to bashing upon Superman every night, claiming that Superman was only saving people in the name of grandstanding and showing off. She also shows a disdain for fellow broadcaster Billy Batson, aka Captain Marvel. Her career as a shock jock was cut short when the owner of the station, Miguel, decided to turn the station into a country station (a reference to popular real-world shock jock, Howard Stern, who lost his first DJ job in a similar fashion). Miguel was also quite pleased that she was fired because his wife was saved by Superman.
Unlike the DCAU version of Livewire, she was born with the gift of controlling electricity. Enraged at the loss of her job, she went to the top of the station where she was struck by lightning. Absorbing a large amount of energy from the lightning bolt, her appearance changed to a chalk-white skin with blue hair. With that change, she decided that she would now take her revenge out on Superman.
Superman was weakened by his battle with the Queen of Fables in the previous issue and was unable to withstand Livewire's attacks. Now too weak to fight her directly he defeated her by cunning, shorting out her powers.
Helping to save the world
Livewire gets kidnapped along with most of the other Metahumans on Earth by a being dubbed the 'Auctioneer'. This being scours the universe looking for unique items to acquire (often by theft) before selling them to the highest bidder. Livewire's unique powers allow her, Superman and several other captives to escape their containment fields. She teams up with Nightwing, Superman, the Veteran, Blue Jay and other heroes in fleeing their situation and gaining intelligence.
A dampening field provides a psychological barrier against utilizing their powers. With the help of Mister Terrific, who communicates through Livewire's natural electricity, the field is soon neutralized.
During the escape attempt, Livewire accidentally creates a link between the makeshift team and every single television on Earth. This proves hard to shut off. Soon the team confronts the Auctioneer. With great difficulty, Livewire gains control over the being's communication systems. Under Superman's suggestions, they threaten to broadcast the Auctioneer's entire database to every alien system possible unless he agrees to release the heroes and leave the Earth alone. He reluctantly does so and returns everyone to Earth. The entire adventure was seen on every Earth TV and due to the Auctioneer selling the dramatic story rights, on many alien planets as well.
During this story arc she also shows that she is physically attracted to Nightwing.
In the Superman: Grounded storyline, Livewire attacks Jimmy Olsen and takes hostages in Las Vegas to get the attention of Superman. Superman then puts a modified version of the suit he had to wear when he was briefly converted into an energy being on Livewire (who promptly changes the S-shield on it to an L-shield), which returns her power levels to normal. She is arrested, but does not receive a hard sentence as she only damaged property, no one was wounded, and Superman spoke on her behalf. Iron Munro also chooses to use his influence in the justice department to help. When asked by Jimmy why he would help Livewire, Superman says that, in America, everyone deserves a second chance. With the help of Iron Munro and Serling Roquette, an employee of S.T.A.R. Labs, Livewire is declared reformed. She and Munro are given signal watches as part of an ad hoc 'Supermen of America' group that Superman recruits because he comes to understand he cannot be everywhere at once.
The New 52
In the new continuity, Livewire appears as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains after the events of Forever Evil. She has previously faced against Superman, who found himself unable to defeat her, since she is made of pure energy, and teamed up with Batman in order to do so. Her origin is later given in an issue of Batgirl, where it is revealed that Leslie Willis was once a popular vlogger known for her pranks and makeup tutorials. During a stunt where she tried to reroute all the power in the city in order to spell out a dirty message that would be visible from space, she was accidentally electrocuted, granting her superhuman abilities.
Powers and abilities
Livewire is a being of pure electricity, able to absorb vast quantities of electricity from external sources and transform her entire body into living electricity (her skintight costume is made up of ionized air). She can manipulate electricity (along with electric and magnetic fields) and generate lightning blasts of various intensities. Her lightning blasts are powerful enough to weaken or stun Superman. She can transform her body into an electric arc in order to travel through anything that will conduct an electric current, possess/control electronic devices such as computers and telecommunications networks, and even control the entire electrical grid. In the comics (as stated by Superman in Action Comics #843) Livewire has the ability to broadcast the energy she has stored in the form of a coherent signal (radio wave, etc.), without directing the energy at a target.
Livewire's main weakness is water. Even a small amount of water will cause her stored energy to go haywire. However, if she has enough power, she can survive being splashed without completely losing her powers and suffering only a minor drain. Livewire has to be drenched in water to be fully drained of her energy. She also has another weakness, silicon dust. When she is coated in a large quantity of the dust, its electrical resistance properties render her powerless.
When drained of her electricity, she reverts to her solid form and cannot use most of her abilities or transform into living electricity until absorbing at least a minimal amount of electric power from some source. However, even when depowered, she can direct the flow of free electricity from an exposed energy source to re-power herself.
In the episode "Livewire" of Superman: The Animated Series, when she wanted to recharge her powers at a hydroelectric plant, Livewire displayed extraordinary strength by lifting one of the power units that stored electricity that she could drain.
DC Universe Online
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Livewire appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us's prequel comic series.
In other media
- Livewire appears in Superman: The Animated Series and in The New Batman Adventures voiced by Lori Petty. Later appears in Justice League, voiced by Maria Canals.
- In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Black Friday", Livewire appears in Jump City's electronics board.
- Livewire appears in Young Justice: Outsiders voiced by Britt Baron. In this series, she is portrayed as a teenager. First appearing in episode "Triptych", Livewire was revealed to be under the control of Simon Stagg through use of Mad Hatter's nanotech before being freed from external control. She is currently residing at the Metahuman Youth Center in Taos, New Mexico in the hopes she could be redeemed.
- Livewire appears in DC Super Hero Girls, voiced by Mallory Low. Here she is depicted being a teenage internet troll who posts videos and pictures of victims of the pranks she causes with her powers. Leslie's first appearance was the episode "#ShockItToMe", where she earns Wonder Woman's distaste with her videos, despite Livewire's site having over 6 million followers. However they quickly unsubscribe seeing how lethal Leslie's sense of humor was when she tried to kill Wonder Woman with a high powered electrical blast.
- Livewire makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in the Harley Quinn episode "The Runaway Bridesmaid", attending Poison Ivy and Kite Man's wedding, and later fighting GCPD officers when the wedding is busted by Commissioner Gordon.
- On Smallville, in the season 8 episode "Injustice", Leslie Willis, aka Livewire, appeared with Parasite, Neutron, Eva Greer, and Plastique, who form into a team of meteor freak rogues and search for Davis Bloome. Parasite makes her lose her powers, and Neutron is quickly killed by Doomsday. She is then killed by an explosive device implanted into her head. Clark Kent tells Plastique that Tess Mercer, the sister of Lex Luthor, who assembled the team killed Eva and Livewire. The revelation that Mercer killed them caused Plastique and Parasite to turn on and almost kill Tess before they were defeated by Clark and Green Arrow. Tess claims Lex implanted the chips and they malfunctioned, but Clark doesn't believe her. Livewire was portrayed, although uncredited, by actress Anna Mae Routledge.
- Livewire appears in Supergirl portrayed by Brit Morgan. In this version, Leslie is a confident, abrasive and funny shock jock who works for CatCo and becomes as dangerous and shocking as her words following an accident in which Supergirl rescues her from a potential helicopter crash during a lightning storm. The rescue backfires when Supergirl gets struck by lightning while pulling Leslie out of the helicopter—giving both an electric shock and Leslie electrical powers. Supergirl finally defeats her by dousing her with water from an underground water pipe, shorting her out. She is then imprisoned at the DEO—the first transhuman (later coined as metahuman) to be incarcerated there, since this world does not yet have the means to counter them. She made a second appearance in The Flash/Supergirl crossover as one of the main villains alongside another former CatCo employee, Silver Banshee (Siobhan Smythe). In it, Silver Banshee breaks Livewire out of the DEO so they can go after Cat Grant, Supergirl and Kara Danvers (not realizing Kara and Supergirl are one and the same person). The Flash and Supergirl defeat the two with the help of the public when firemen hose down Leslie. Instead of returning to the DEO, both Livewire and the Silver Banshee are imprisoned by the National City's new specialized prison cells for metahuman criminals after The Flash helps providing means to combat them. She returned in season 2 episode "We Can Be Heroes". In the episode, Livewire is kidnapped from prison by scientist Dr. Hampton, who wants to steal her power to create a line of electricity-based metahuman super soldiers, of which three were created, with her abduction being framed in a manner that resembled a break-out. At the end of the episode, Livewire escapes with Supergirl's help, and they declare a temporary truce. In season 3 episode "Fort Rozz", Livewire agrees to help Supergirl along with Psi on a mission to Fort Rozz to get intelligence on Reign. Livewire and Reign fight but she dies, saving Supergirl.
An alternate universe version of Livewire appears in Justice League: Gods and Monsters, voiced by Kari Wahlgren. This version is a non-metahuman terrorist armed with an Electric Beam Gun which could surprisingly hold Superman down, but only for a short time before the Kryptonian countered with a blast of heat vision.
- Livewire appears as a boss in the Superman: Shadow of Apokolips video game voiced again by Lori Petty, which was released in 2002 for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 home consoles.
- Livewire also appears as a boss battle in the Superman: Countdown to Apokolips video game, released in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance console.
- Livewire also makes an appearance in the MMORPG DC Universe Online.
- Livewire appears in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, where she is summoned in Metropolis by Doppelgänger to fight Maxwell, but is defeated. She does not speak and her name is never mentioned, so this could have been random. She can, however, be spawned by the player and is playable in the Wii U version.
- Livewire is a playable character in the mobile game DC Legends.
- Livewire appears as a main character in Lego DC Super-Villains, voiced by Cree Summer.
- Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
- Greenberger, Robert; Pasko, Martin (2010). The Essential Superman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-345-50108-0.
- Action Comics #842 (October 2006)
- Action Comics #843 (November 2006)
- Batgirl vol. 2 (Jan 2010) #4
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #41
- Superman #711
- "Superman" #714 (October 2011)
- Justice League #30
- Batgirl #41
- Batgirl (vol. 4) #42
- Batman: The Animated Series episode "Girls' Night Out"
- DC Universe Online: Legends #9 (August 2001)
- Al Septien, Turi Meyer (writers) & Tom Welling (director) (2009-05-07). "Injustice". Smallville. Season 8. Episode 21. The CW.
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