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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #308

Today’s entry is written by Ian Astheimer.

It’s time to reward Marvel for trying something different. (Archive.)

11/4/07

308. Livewires

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In 2005, as part of the Marvel Next line, Quesada loosed Adam Warren and Rick Mays on the House of Ideas. The result was Livewires, a six issue tour de force stampede through the technological backwaters of the MU.

And, it was crazy good, like Nextwave but with less emotional detachment and more robots…er…”semi-autonomous artificially intelligent limited-nanofuntion, humanform mecha constructs.”

The cast of constructs (top, from left) featured Cornfed, the oversized southern gentleman who cannibalized felled robots, regurgitated nano-skin, and handled most of the team’s hacking; Social Butterfly, the ever-effervescent party girl who used pheromones, flirtation, and a little bit of brain manipulation to gather info and intel; Gothic Lolita, the “J-Pop fashion package” who enjoyed smashing and bashing; Stem Cell, the newly activated tech specialist whose default programming made her all too human; and Hollowpoint Ninja, master of stealth, weapons, ambushes, and brevity.

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Together, the operatives of Project Livewire targeted other top-secret, quasi-governmental projects — like Thermogentech, which used cells from Jim Hammond to create the brightly burning pyronanos:

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The series was, surprisingly, steeped in Marvel lore. The Livewires were, in fact, the next step in the evolution of everyone’s favorite fake-out, the Life Model Decoy. Mannites cameoed. A sentinel went berserk. Agents of AIM appeared. The Real AIM, a splinter-cell of Advanced Idea Mechanics, was impersonated. The villain, revealed at the end of issue #4, had a very familiar face. And, the grand finale went down inside the hull of a decommissioned SHIELD helicarrier.

The climax was positively explosive. Equally explosive? Funeral by bomb:

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For all the relentless action, though, the story was truly about Stem Cell’s quest to become less human, to embrace her artificial abilities and ultimately save the day. She was the reverse Pinocchio, a “real” girl who had to divorce herself of fears and emotions.

The scene in which she took a screwdriver to her left eye to enact that modification was harrowing and heartbreaking.

Here’s the cover to that ish:

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Although final issue ended on a hopeful note, with plenty of potential for further adventures, Warren — on his deviantART page — announced that his follow-up pitches never went anywhere, due to the series’ low sales.

Letting such a fantastic cast go to waste would be a shame, so pick up a copy of the highly portable (and impossible to scan) digest edition or check the mini out at Marvel’s Digital Comics.

The book is definitely worth a look.

9 Comments

[…] 308. Livewires (guest-written by Ian Astheimer) […]

I read the first digest of this series and found it to be really lack-luster overall. Better than a lot of Marvel’s output at the time, but that’s not saying a whole lot. Despite the flashy art and the decent sci-fi trappings of the series, it felt fairly generic, like a poor man’s Runaways.

A waste of a slot…I feel it should’ve gone to Warren himself, for bringing a manga flair to comics, starting with Titans: Scissors Paper Stone, and continuing through titles Gen 13, Iron Man: Hypervelocity, Empowered (got the second volume today!), and yes, Livewires. Why doesn’t one of the Big Two give the guy more work, even if it’s just writing? How about an ongoing Metal Men where Warren and Duncan Rouleau share writing duties and alternate art chores for each arc?

I loved Livewires. I keep hoping for some sort of follow-up with Stem Cell and the remnants of the gang, because Warren had some fun ideas. I mean, since the ultracrabby Machine Man from Nextwave is now seen in Ms. Marvel, it’s not that dumb to dream of closure, right? I also got sketches from other artists of the female members: Social Butterfly (Danielle Corsetto), Gothic Lolita (Greg Horn), and Stem Cell (Amanda Conner).

I disagree, I think this is a great choice and I love it. Personally, I liked this series much better than Runaways. Especially once Runaways went the cliche route and killed the black character. Bad enough the black guy didn’t even get powers or special skills, but on top of that he turns out to be a traitor and dies. That really kind of turned me off.

Oh, and the banter, the conversation, the pop culture references, the humor, the cool codenames…this book succeeds at the humor and tone that Blue Beetle consistently fails to achieve.

Sorry, haven’t read Livewires, but…

I disagree, I think this is a great choice and I love it. Personally, I liked this series much better than Runaways. Especially once Runaways went the cliche route and killed the black character. Bad enough the black guy didn’t even get powers or special skills, but on top of that he turns out to be a traitor and dies. That really kind of turned me off.

Being way, way smarter than anyone else counts as a skill in my book.

And I was fine with his… well, y’know. SPOILER.

But I wish he wasn’t killed at the end. It bothers me a little that Marvel doesn’t seem to have any top-tier black villains, and I wish they’d kept him around to fill that role.

A waste of a slot…I feel it should’ve gone to Warren himself, for bringing a manga flair to comics, starting with Titans: Scissors Paper Stone, and continuing through titles Gen 13, Iron Man: Hypervelocity, Empowered (got the second volume today!), and yes, Livewires.

Jason, if I was more familiar with Warren’s work, I would’ve definitely written an entry for him alone. Because I’ve only read Livewires, a couple issues of his underrated Gen13 run, and the first volume of Empowered, I didn’t think I could do him proper justice.

I’ll definitely be checking out more of his work, though, starting with Empowered vol. 2.

Well, that’s as good a reason as any. I’d write one on Warren, but I never read any of his Dirty Pair books. I do recommend finding all his work on Gen 13, though I’ll understand if you can’t find “Grunge: The Movie” and “Magical Drama Queen Roxy.” “A Savage Breast” (his two-issue stint before Lobdell’s run) was a little hard for me to get at first since he wasn’t drawing, but it did introdue me to the concept of memes. Also, Caitlin tries to mess up Mr. Majestic, and that was funny. Also: ferretlegging at the end of “Superhuman Like You.”

John Dunkelburg

June 14, 2008 at 10:34 pm

I’ve been a fan of Adam Warren’s works since “Dirty Pair: Biohazards”, and the evolution of his works. He showed his skills with established characters with his take on the Dirty Pair well before his Teen Titans Elseworlds story “Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone” or his “Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal”. I haven’t read much of his works after “Scissors, Paper Stone”, so maybe is the time to try and find the TPBs. I just read the TPB of “Livewires”, and all of Adam Warren’s favorite memes and themes are summed up in this. I just hope that Stem Cell doesn’t wind up like Slapstick as a background punchline; she just became one of my favorite all-time underused comicbook superheroines.

BTW, reading the Wikipedia entries on the Initiative, it seems like some of the nanotech ideas Adam Warren used in the background of “Livewires” have shown up in the main MU. Hopefully, so will Stem Cell and a reconstituted Livewires team.

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