Superman Adventures #5
DC Comics (March, 1997)“Balance Of Power” WRITER: Scott McCloud PENCILER: Bret Blevins INKER: Terry Austin COLORIST: Marie Severin LETTERER: Lois Buhalis EDITOR: Mike McAvennie
Moved to a hospital, the semi-comatose Livewire hears a radio talk host going on a sexist tirade and gets mad. When lighting just happens to go into her room and charges her up, she decides to take over the Metropolis airwaves and block out all showings of men, including the news. Superman is forced to seek help from Lex to capture her, which Lex naturally overdoes. While Livewire survives conked out again.
What they got right: It’s kind of neat seeing Superman and Lex forced to work together, and the discussions about accepting Livewire’s approach between Angela and Lois.
What they got wrong: Everything else except the artwork. (The art’s still good. and matches the look of the show.) First off, I hate when super-powered villain escapes are the result of some dum-dum doing dum-dum things. Why would the doctor purposely leave a radio near a woman who drains electricity? It’s like putting Parasite in a room with someone tied to a chair and expecting him to do nothing. I don’t care if she’s comatose, this never ends well. But then it has to be some anti-women tirade, which the doctor laughs off as giving her “some entertainment”, which makes he think he’s a sexist jackass just like the EMTs at the end of the story, but I’ll get back to that. Then there’s the coincidence factor thrown in as a lightning bolt blasts into her hospital room out of nowhere. She’s not even on the top floor. The magic lighting used by the Marvel Family is less precise than this and it’s the magic lighting’s “job” to seek out the approved speaker of “SHAZAM”! But it all leads to a commentary on sexism that comes off as heavy-handed as the sexists in the story. Even Lex has a sexist moment that gives Mercy pause, talking about a “gift from the old boys network” when he decides to blast Livewire instead of just contain her as Superman planned. And again, I think the doctor just wanted to taunt “the woman” just like the EMTs do at the end of the story. I’ve seen this done better and McCloud is better than this.
Recommendation: An anti-sexism message with the force of a blunt object that only works because Livewire is fun to watch and her fight with Superman until Lex interferes was getting good. Mildly recommended for the full set or for Livewire fans.