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Comic Book / Livewires

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Livewires is a 2005 Marvel Comics six issue limited series, written by Adam Warren (Empowered) and illustrated by Rick Mays. 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 an android, and the newest agent of Project:Livewire. And it's the story of how she comes to terms with these facts.

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: The thing about Project Livewire is that it has a high mortality rate, with Social Butterfly telling Stem Cell most of their teammates died after they escaped the compound. By the end of the initial miniseries, only Stem Cell and Hollowpoint Ninja are still alive though Cornfed, Social Butterfly, and Gothic Lolita can be repaired.
  • Autocannibalism: Stem Cell is forced to chew off most of her own artificial skin to digest and recycle into giant, flaming, self-replicating robots.
  • Back from the Dead: Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda #5 reveals Social Butterfly, Cornfed, and Gothic Lolita have been repaired alongside Hollowpoint Ninja.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Cornfed isn't as muscular as Hollowpoint Ninja and has a visible gut, but is both beefy and handsome. It helps that he's rather polite, is not treated as the Fat Comic Relief character, and that artist Rick Mays clearly knows how to draw attractive heavyset guys.
  • Bittersweet Ending: After destroying the largest and most elusive target on their list, three members are severely damaged to the point where it may be impossible to repair, and Stem Cell just finds out the base for Project Livewire was wiped off the map long before she came online.
    • Word of God is that a later story in a 2016 Deadpool annual that guest-stars Gothic Lolita is set after Livewires, and features blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos from Social and Hollowpoint Ninja. It took more than a decade in real-time to find out about it, but Stem Cell's apparently managed to fix her surviving teammates.
    • The Livewires also are in Black Panther and the Agents of Wakanda, which confirms their survival. It also picks up some of their plot elements and hints at their continuation, operating behind the scenes.
  • 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.
  • 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, the daintiest of the group, is its resident demolisher.
  • Death by Origin Story: Homebrew is a burnt corpse by the time Stem Cell awakes and the story begins. It later turns out David Jenkins has been dead since before the story began, as the flashbacks about how the Livewires were created ends with him allowing them to kill him.
  • 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.
  • Girly Bruiser: Gothic Lolita is the physically most powerful member of the team.
  • 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's powers allow her to hypnotize people with her eyes.
  • 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 A.I.s 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 they are a bunch of self made orphans.
  • Posthumous Character: "Homebrew," Stem Cell's predecessor as the manufacturer for electronic parts.
  • 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: The entire team is this.
  • The Stoic: Hollowpoint Ninja rarely shows any emotion. 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's powers allow him to control machines.
  • 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 the sixth issue, after removing the restraining bolt that kept her thinking she was a human and allowing her to finally take advantage of her robotic abilities.
  • 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...