Writer: Vita Ayala
Cover Artists: Kenneth Rocafort, Francis Portela, Becca Farrow
Rogues Portal has an EXCLUSIVE first look at the upcoming issue Livewire #7 from Valiant Entertainment. Josh Rose had the opportunity to speak to writer Vita Ayala about the series.
Rogues Portal: What is it that attracts you to a character like Livewire?
VITA AYALA: There are quite a few things about Amanda that appeal to me, but I think the most important ones are her empathy and intelligence. At her core, she is a caring person who wants to keep people safe and make the world a better place. And the fact that the most intelligent character in the Valiant Universe is a black woman is really important to me.
RP: What do you think is the importance of Valiant’s Psiots? What makes them different compared to Marvel’s mutants?
AYALA: The existence of psiots in the Valiant Universe is very important because a lot of the larger machinations have involved or centered around them. Toyo Harada especially has driven a lot of the overall story plots, but Amanda and Peter Stanchek have as well.
I think the biggest difference between psiots and mutants is that psiots were not designed as a metaphor for marginalized groups movements. This means they are doing different work, in terms of their roles in stories.
RP: I noticed that Pan’s pronouns were they/them. How does it feel to have a non-binary character in comics?
AYALA: Pan is the second non-binary character I have been lucky enough to be a part of creating for a comic. The first was Lee Serrano in Supergirl. There have been others in comics as well. I just want to give shout-outs to all the people that did it before, and the ones that are to come.
That being said, I smile every time I see my evil Harada-truther child haha.
More seriously, it feels incredible to be able to see and write non-binary characters — especially black/brown enby characters. Inclusion and visibility in media are incredibly important to me, as a person and as a creator, and it is a blessing to be able to add characters like myself to the canon in rich, large universes.
RP: How important is it to you to have comic characters that are queer people of colour?
AYALA: Incredibly. I know what it feels like to be starving for even a crumb of representation. I know what it feels like to not see myself at all in the things that I love, and how that makes someone feel like there is NO PLACE for them.
I want my generation to be the LAST to know what that is like. I want the subtext to become MAINtext, and I want there to be enough queer characters (in general, but especially of color) where no ONE has to be the representative for all.
RP: Livewire has been a hero throughout her Valiant history and is being put through the wringer being labeled as a terrorist. What do you think makes the difference between a terrorist and freedom fighter? What is a hero to you?
AYALA: The dictionary definition of a terrorist is someone who uses terrorism, which in turn is defined as the use of violence and threats of such to intimidate and/or coerce, especially for political purposes. They are people who use fear and violence to control people.
Conversely, a freedom fighter is defined as one who fights/battles for freedom, especially against tyranny and dictatorship.
The use of violence can be/is present in both, but I think what’s key to the definitions are the goals—controlling people versus liberating them.
And to me, what is further important, is that there is a connection between the actions and the state of things externally. Someone whose goal is to liberate (help people, ostensibly), if they discover they are doing more harm than good to the people, they will change tactics.
Also of note, violence is central to the terrorist, but not necessarily to the freedom fighter. You can fight for freedoms in many ways, often not violently. The freedom fighter will want to exhaust those options first but will use violence in service to the greater good.
A hero, to me, is a person who dedicates themselves to helping others. Not necessarily with fists, and not necessarily all the time, but when given the chance to help, they take it. They will also go out of their way to help people.
RP: In your commentary on the creation of Livewire’s new nemesis, Pan de Santos, you mentioned that one of your influences was classical Greek mythology. I was wondering, what are some of your other literary inspirations?
AYALA: I am constantly inspired by things I have read, seen, or heard. It is hard to pinpoint all the ones working in my subconscious, but in terms of what was going on consciously, I drew a lot from Octavia Butler (specifically the Parables series), and some from Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, especially).
RP: Are there any long-time Valiant characters that readers can hope to see coming in future issues of Livewire?
AYALA: I can neither confirm nor deny that. No spoilers!
RP: What are some of your dream stories that you hope to write in the future?
AYALA: Too many to name! I try and keep myself concentrating on what is happening in the now because I want my current work to be the best it can possibly be!
RP: What is your favourite kind of sandwich?
AYALA: Chopped cheeseburger—turkey meat instead of beef—on a hero, with lettuce and tomatoes, mayo, ketchup, and black pepper. I dream about spending $5 for that and a bag of chips at the bodega.
Livewire #7 comes out in stores on June 19, 2019.
The masterminds behind the Psiot Security and Education Program uncovered! Can Livewire save Phoebe and avoid being captured? Phoebe’s backstory is revealed!