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"Livewire" is the fifth episode of the second season of Superman: The Animated Series, and the 18th of the overall series. It depicts the creation of the electricity-based villainess Livewire. After being struck by lightning channeled through Superman's body, obnoxious shock jock Leslie Willis gains the ability to generate, control and even become electricity. As her career was based on slamming Superman she has a personal hatred for him and vows not only to take over Metropolis but kill Superman as well.
Morning falls onto Metropolis and station WLXL's shock jock, Leslie Willis, comes on the air with her show "Live Wire". Instantly she starts her rants on Superman. Everyone listens to the rants and a crane operator readily agrees with Leslie's words, but Bibbo hears the report and calls in his complaints. Leslie, however, doesn't at all care and slams him as well.
In a WLXL waiting room or lobby, Lois and Clark wait to interview the shock jock. Lois is annoyed that Clark doesn't seem to care about what Leslie is saying about Superman, but Clark reveals he isn't bothered as Leslie is only trying to get reactions and attention. However, Lois is confident that she can bring Leslie down, soon they are interrupted when Leslie's manager arrives and reveals that the interview will be ahead of schedule as Leslie now wishes to speak with them live on her show. During the interview, Leslie confronts Lois on her relationship with Superman and while Clark is uncomfortable, Lois for the first time finds herself nearly speechless.
Elsewhere, the crane operator that previously agreed to Leslie's words continues to enjoy the show, not noticing that something is wrong with his crane. The cable falls and he accidentally drops a load of I beams and the crane begins to fall. Clark hears the trouble and leaves the station. While Clark is gone, Leslie explains what she has against Superman: He's never around when he's needed, everything's easy for him, and he only cares about himself. Of course, as she says this, Superman busily works to save the crane operator and the people below from being killed by the falling machine and disproves every one of Leslie's complaints. After putting up her complaints, Leslie announces a live show she's having later that night. However, a storm picks up thereby making the show a dangerous prospect.
In spite of the storm, the show is still held and the people are far too disorganized. The police arrive and order the show to be canceled but Leslie refuses and riles up the crowd into attacking the police. Trying to restore order, Superman shows up but he too is attacked by Leslie and the crowd. However, just after Leslie slams Superman again, lightning strikes the metal scaffolding and starts arcing, scattering the crowd. As Leslie is mesmerized by the sight, Superman moves her away from the danger. The electricity strikes him, causing Leslie to finally realize the danger and try to flee to safety, but the lightning channels through his body and arcs into Leslie. She screams in pain and ends up with discolored skin and hair.
After Superman takes Leslie to the hospital he finds that she'll recover. The doctor he speaks with states that she should be released within a few days; they can't explain why she's pale white with electric blue hair, or even how she was relatively unscathed. Outside the hospital, Superman is confronted by the press for his failure to save Leslie, some even believing that he allowed this to happen as payback for the things she said about him. Offended, Superman says that he did everything he could to save her and leaves. Inside the hospital, Leslie watches the interview and also believes that Superman didn't save her on purpose. However, she soon finds her ability to generate and control electricity. She quickly takes a liking to her new powers. She escapes from the hospital through the building's wiring and starts wreaking havoc on the city. Superman confronts her but she creates a costume from ionized air and renames herself Livewire. After striking Superman she takes away all power from the city.
Shortly later, Livewire restores some power to the city so that she can broadcast a message to Metropolis. With all the power under her complete control, she wants to be paid to release the electricity that the city needs. Without power, disasters start to happen which Superman has to circumvent. However, Livewire's broadcast soon ends and power is restored to the city. Superman realizes that Livewire is out of power and must recharge.Livewire goes to the hydroelectric power plant within the nearest dam and tries to take energy from a generator after tearing it open. Superman once again confronts her but is ineffective in the fight. Livewire begins to take electricity from the plant but Superman uses the distraction to tackle her. Unfortunately, being recharged, Livewire gets the upper hand in battle until she accidentally cracks the dam while trying to kill Superman, dousing her in water and shorting her out. Superman fixes the dam and takes Livewire away.
Later, people call in to a radio show and claim that Leslie was a bad person to begin with, while others state that her show will be missed for mixing things up, and suspicion on Superman has been averted. Lex Luthor has provided the funds for her care, and she is placed in a specialized machine preventing her from using her powers.
Home video releases
- There are multiple issues with Superman and his gloves that feature in the final act. When he first appears at the hydroelectric plant (standing in the background behind Livewire), he already has his gloves on. However, in the proceeding close up shot of him, he is in the process of putting the gloves on. Then throughout the fight between Superman and Livewire, there are multiple times when Superman's gloves appear on and off in different shots.
- Livewire is one of the only two characters to be adapted from Superman: The Animated Series. The other character is Mercy Graves.
|Tim Daly||Superman/Clark Kent|
|Dana Delany||Lois Lane|
|David Kaufman||Jimmy Olsen|
|George Dzundza||Perry White|
|Lori Petty||Leslie Willis/Livewire|
|Cam Clarke||Sid Melkin|
|Haunani Minn||ER Doctor|
Leslie Willis: What's the deal with you and Superman, huh?
Perry: Boy, this sure brings back the old days. When I was your age we didn't have computers or fax machines or...
Livewire: (Threatens the city to hold all the electricity hostage) ...then you're gonna have to deal with me!
Livewire: (After being tackled by Superman through a wall.) At least now we know you hit girls!