Livewire (DC Comics)
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Cover art of Action Comics #835
Art by Kalman Andrasofszky
|First appearance||Superman: The Animated Series (September 1997)
|First comic appearance||Superman Adventures #5 (March 1997)|
|Created by||Bruce Timm|
|Voiced by||Lori Petty (Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Superman: Shadow of Apokolips)
María Canals Barrera (Justice League)
Kari Wahlgren (Justice League: Gods and Monsters)
|Alter ego||Leslie Willis|
|Team affiliations||Superman Revenge Squad
Supermen of America
Secret Society of Super Villains
|Abilities||Electricity and magnetism powers|
Livewire (Leslie Willis) is a fictional supervillain in the DC Comics Universe. She first appeared in September 1997 in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Livewire". Her first appearance in the mainstream comic books was in the publication of Action Comics #835 (March 2006).
Fictional character biography
DC Animated Universe
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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, bigoted comments, may have pushed her into harm's way to punish her for her arrogance. Willis angrily blamed 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. It was not plugged into the wall, and there were no batteries in it. She discovered she could manipulate 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, and took over telephones, televisions, and billboards-effectively taking over 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.
Lori Petty voiced Livewire in Superman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. María Canals Barrera 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.
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
In Action Comics #842, 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. In Action Comics 843, 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 suit on Livewire, 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.
In other media
- 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—electrocuting them both and giving 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 metahuman to be incarcerated there. She made a second appearance in The Flash/Supergirl crossover as one of the main villains alongside another former CatCo employee, Silver Banshee. In it, Silver Banshee breaks Livewire out of the DEO so they can go after Cat Grant, Supergirl and Kara Danvers. The Flash and Supergirl defeat the two with the help of the public when firemen hose down Leslie.
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 counters 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 Nintendo 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 Nintendo 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.
- 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.
- Prudom, Laura (August 12, 2015). "'Supergirl' Casts 'True Blood' Alum as DC Comics Villain Livewire (Exclusive)". Variety.
- Supergirl Worlds Finest