Long story short, it is the story of your average Top Secret, Quasi Governmental R&D Project
creating semi-autonomous artificially intelligent limited-nanofunction humanform mecha constructs
for covert ops missions to destroy OTHER Top-Secret, Quasi Governmental R&D Projects
within the Marvel Universe
More specifically, it's the story of "Stem Cell", an Ordinary Teenage Girl
who wakes up one day with no idea why she's taking part in a raid on a Top-Secret, Quasi-Governmental R&D Project — or why she's so unnaturally calm about everything — until she vomits up a component for a BFG
and learns that she's a
mecha, and the newest agent of Project:Livewire. And it's the story of how she comes to terms with these facts.
is a 2005 Marvel Comics
six issue limited series, written by Adam ("Empowered
") Warren and illustrated by Rick Mays.
Livewires contains such tropes as:
- Affably Evil: They are products of A.I.M., after all (Cornfed even wears the uniform).
- Alien Blood: They bleed a phosphorescent green.
- Ambiguously Brown: Hollowpoint Ninja
- Anyone Can Die
- Anti-Hero: The entire team.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Smartware.
- Autocannibalism: Stem Cell is forced to chew off most of her own artificial skin to digest and recycle into giant, flaming, self-replicating robots.
- Bad Ass: Every character gets a moment to shine in this capacity but it is what Hollowpoint Ninja was built specifically for.
- Big Beautiful Man: Cornfed.
- Bittersweet Ending: After destroying the largest and most elusive target on their list, three members are severely damaged to the point where it maybe impossible to repair and Stem Cell just finds out the base for Project Livewire was wiped off the map long before she came online.
- Body Horror: In order to hack and modify her own neural configurations to alter things such as her personality and emotions, Stem Cell had to pop out one of her own eyes with a screwdriver. After changing her personality to an optimal state, she eats off most of her smartware skin in order to vomit it up as fire generating hyper-replicating nanomachines, which she calls her babies.
- Breast Expansion: Apparently one of Social Butterfly's many features.
- Captain Ethnic: Cornfed, who imagines his name comes from his "Cornhuskers offensive lineman extreme Caucasianness."
- Charm Person: Social Butterfly, via micromanaging reading facial expressions and body language, along with projecting subliminal infrasonic vocal cues, artificial pheromones and field induced direct manipulation of the brain.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gothic Lolita. The scene where she's handling an antimatter grenade as if it were a toy certainly supports this. She then immediately afterwards starts playing with a "fetching little starfish" she found on the sea floor and asks if Stem Cell would like it. She also makes mention of dreams she used to have where a pink bulldozer proposed to her.
- Covert Group: The Livewires is a group of Badasses.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The ENTIRE team clearly fits this after you have read the entire story.
- Continuity Nod: Livewires absolutely loves this trope. Weapons, targets, and enemies all draw heavily from Marvel comics continuity. In an interview, the author mentions that ruminating about Marvel continuity is what sparked the series.
- The Mannites and Life Model Decoys are both referred to as technological ancestors to the current Livewires.
- One of the projects the group secretly sabotages is a new Sentinel.
- Technology from the original pyrokinetic android Human Torch is used by both friend and foe.
- A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) splinter groups are frequent targets.
- Cute Bruiser: Gothic Lolita
- Death by Origin Story: Homebrew, David Jenkins
- Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: The joke in the second issue where it turns out that Stem Cell's thought balloons were actually an instant messaging channel — that the others had been eavesdropping on to evaluate their newest teammate.
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: Gothic Lolita. It should be noted she wasn't explicitly designed as such, but she grew to like the style after dressing up as it for a mission.
- Evil Knockoff: The Big Bad at the end of the series is a hive mind group of rogue Nick Fury Life Model Decoys.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Social is cut to pieces, leaving only the top half of her head to her upper mouth, and Cornfed has most of his body and a portion of his head blown off from below by an BFG.
- Farm Boy: This is what Cornfed was designed to look like.
- Five-Man Band: Notable in the fact that the closest thing to a traditional Hero is Stem Cell.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Quite a few by the end.
- The Medic: Cornfed's role on the team besides being Mission Control on certain missions.
- Mind-Control Eyes: Social Butterfly.
- Meganekko: Stem Cell
- Nanomachines: The basis for Smartware
- N-Word Privileges: Something of a Double Subversion, the Livewires team themselves use the word 'mecha' as slang for other AIs but take offense to anyone fellow 'mecha' or not referring to one of them as 'robot'.
- Orphan's Plot Trinket: Something of a subversion Stem Cell's glasses, being that the are a bunch of self made orphans.
- Secret Project Refugee Family
- Plucky Girl: Social Butterfly.
- Posthumous Character: "Homebrew," Stem Cell's predecessor as the manufacturer for electronic parts.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- Restraining Bolt: The Livewires are programmed to be suicidally loyal to the mission of Project Livewire. However, while their loyalty to the project is ironclad, what that project is defined as is not, as their designer notes during a flashback in the final issue.
- Ridiculously Human Robots
- Robot Girl
- The Stoic: Arguably Hollowpoint Ninja. Gothic Lolita and Cornfed might also qualify if not for the fact that Cornfed, while quite calm, is amicable and polite, and Gothic Lolita's tendency to be both aloof and quirky.
- Stout Strength: Averted. Despite being the biggest in terms of height and weight, Cornfed's the weakest of the group. He's the first of the five to be killed. The petite Gothic Lolita, on the other hand, is the team's muscle.
- Techno Path: Cornfed
- Title Drop: Or, at least, subtitle drop. When asked if they plan on blowing things up in the next mission, Social Butterfly tells Stem Cell that "We're not just clockwork thugs, yo."
- Took a Level in Badass: Stem Cell in Issue 6
- Turned Against Their Masters: Zig-zagged. All Livewires are programmed to be totally, forever 100% loyal to "Project Livewire" in extra-big exclamation points. One of their creators, David Jenkins was able to alter the parameters of what Project Livewire's goals were, however. He programs the Livewires units to destroy as many black-ops programs as possible, without safe guarding them from starting with their own.
- Vague Age: Stem Cell looks like she could be a preteen, especially in the beginning, but her vocabulary and frequent lusting after Hollowpoint Ninja indicate that her personality is more mature. Of course, she's technically a newborn...