Livewire (Leslie Willis) is a fictional character in appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in September 1997 in the Superman: The Animated Series episode “Livewire”. Her first mainstream comic book appearance was in Action Comics #835 (March 2006).
In television, the character was voiced by Lori Petty and later Maria Canals in various tie-ins to the DC animated universe. In live-action Superman-based television series, she has been portrayed by Anna Mae Routledge in Smallville and Brit Morgan in Supergirl.
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. Again hospitalized, Luthor generously pays Willis’ hospital bills due to he shares her contempt with Superman.
She had a short-lived alliance with Parasite and later had an alliance with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
Lori Petty voiced Livewire in Superman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. 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.
In Action Comics #835, Gail Simone and John Byrne brought Livewire into the mainstream DC Universe, in the same tradition as Harley Quinn.
Much like the DCAU version of Livewire, before she gained her abilities waterproof cover for smartphone, 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.
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 Teen Titans #51, Livewire is shown to be under the control of Starro.
She recently caused a blackout of Gotham City. However, she is easily defeated by Batgirl VI, who was wearing an insulated Batsuit.
During Brightest Day, Livewire is shown battling Wildcat after being possessed by the Starheart.
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.
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.
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 water bottle for running handheld. 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.
Livewire appears working for Brainiac in DC Universe Online: Legends.
Livewire appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us’s prequel comic series.