Vita Ayala Talks About Livewire
Livewire #5 kicks off a brand new story arc “Guardian.” Investigating the disappearance of a young psiot girl, Livewire stumbles upon Omen’s answer to the psiot “problem,” a facility where young psiots are taken and taught to control their powers. Is this facility the safe haven Livewire’s dreamed of or is there something more sinister to this sanctuary?
Featuring art by Kano and covers by Kenneth Rocafort, Will Conrad, and Grey Williamson, the comic is written by Vita Ayala and edited by Heather Antos.
We got a chance to ask Vita a few questions about the series, creating comics, and what it’s like to work on one of Valiant’s biggest names.
Livewire #5 is out in stores April 10, 2019.
Graphic Policy: The first arc felt very personal, and dealt heavily with Amanda’s image as a villain in the post Harbinger Wars II landscape, but this one gives me the impression of her trying to be a hero regardless of what people think of her. Is there a general theme you’re exploring with each arc (that you can share)?
Vita Ayala:: The core of this story arc is about self-control.
For Livewire, having had to take responsibility of the consequences of shutting down the country and moving forward, the question of self-control is especially important. It’s at the forefront of her mind as she navigates a world that views her as a terrorist and the ultimate threat while trying to be a hero.
There’s also a juxtaposition that will go on between Amanda and the other women in the book. We were interested in touching on some of the “path that could have been” sort of ideas, between Amanda and Serena especially.
GP: Despite being very accessible for new readers, the series also plays heavily with what’s gone before. Is it difficult to keep the balance as well as you have so far?
VA: It can be tricky to navigate, yes! Especially in the first and fifth issues, because they both begin story arcs and have the heavier burden of hooking new readers.
I think it helps to approach the stories as if they are sort of the start to a television show. When you begin a series, you want the characters you introduce to have weight—to feel real and rounded and like they existed before we jumped into their lives—even though we have never seen them before.
Hopefully, we succeeded!
GP: With Livewire being one of the bigger names in Valiant’s warehouse, does that add any pressure when you write?
VA: You know, it doesn’t. That SHOULD be a factor, but I think when I pitched the character, I purposefully didn’t think about it or incorporate that weight into how I approached Livewire, if that makes sense.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous, though! Having it be the first time she has her own solo title—THAT was daunting. Collaborating with [arc 1 artists] Patricia [Martín] and Raúl [Allén] following their run on Secret Weapons with Eric Heisserer? Terrifying! Writing my first ongoing book? I can’t think about that without getting anxious.
But I think when it comes down to it, I want to write the best possible story no matter WHO the character is. That it is Amanda, who I fell in love with in
Secret Weapons, actually makes me more determined to succeed than scared to fail.
GP: One of my favorite things about this series is how you’re looking at the actions of “heroes” in less than positive ways. In a book with so many grey areas, who do you find yourself rooting for?
VA: At the end of the day, I root for Amanda. She is striving to help people and keep the more malicious powers that be from succeeding.
But, rooting for Amanda doesn’t mean always agreeing with her methods, or thinking she is perfect. Sometimes, rooting for someone means you want someone to knock some sense into them (metaphorically), because they are not able to see the bigger picture in a way that is ultimately harmful to them and their goals.
So, I root for Amanda, as a character, and also, I root for her continuing to learn better and do better.
GP: With Livewire #5 opening the door to another group training and developing psiots other than those we’ve seen in previous series, what are the chances this one is more benevolent than the others?
VA: You’ll have to read to find out, haha!
GP: Last time we got a chance to chat, you mentioned you tweaking the comic three or four times. How do you know when a comic is “done”?
VA: It’s done when my editors are happy, haha.
No, but seriously, I think it is done when the editors and I agree that the comic is serving the story we want to tell, in the way that we want it to. This process is a long one—even after art is locked in, there are tweaks to be made in lettering that can change the entire meaning of an issue.
GP: You’ve been able to make it out to some conventions recently; how has the reception been for the book from the fans?
VA: People have been incredibly supportive and wonderful! I was a little nervous, because I know Valiant has a very tight-knit and dedicated fan base, and I was a newcomer on a high-profile title, but everyone was super welcoming! They really are some of the absolute best fans in comics.
GP: Finally, perhaps the most important question of all: Which is better, pirates, zombies or ninjas?
VA: Oof, hard-hitting question! Well, I am happy not to live in a world with the living dead, so I’ll leave the zombies to others.
And, while I am low-key obsessed with pirates (I am a total mark for swagger, cool coats, and swashbuckling rogues wielding cutlasses), I enjoy not having scurvy, so, I’m gonna go with ninjas.
Full disclosure, my first tattoo ever was the symbol from Flame of Recca, a manga about ninjas with elemental powers, so I am a LITTLE biased…