When Garth Ranzz and his twin sister Ayla went with their elder brother Mekt on a trip in their parents' new space cruiser, they became stranded on the barren planet Korbal after the cruiser's power cells became drained. Ayla suggested that they use the "Lightning Beasts" (the only living things on the planet) in an attempt to recharge their cruiser. The only result of this, however, was that all three were found in comas the following day as a result of massive electrocution.
Months later, Garth and Ayla awoke simultaneously to find that Mekt had awoken around a week earlier, displayed electrical powers like the Beasts, threatened the staff with and had vanished soon after. After hearing this, they kept the fact that they had developed similar powers from their parents before Garth, thinking that the lightning had corrupted Mekt somehow and would soon corrupt them and refusing to believe that Mekt had developed into a sociopath just because he had been a "solo" on a world of twins, ran away from home to find Mekt (telling his parents he was going to visit his Aunt Ryth), despite Ayla's attempts to dissuade him.
Hearing that Mekt might be on Earth, he got on a shuttle bound for Earth via Titan, and met Rokk Krinn there. The two hit it off immediately, but although he developed a crush on her at first sight, Imra Ardeen gave him a frosty reception. Nonetheless, when she shouted that four "maintenance men" were actually assassins after Brande, the three worked together to stop them. This gave Brande an idea...
Shortly after, a bar-room brawl caused Garth to be arrested, but just as his cellmates were about to beat him up, Triad-Orange came and posted his bail - Brande wanted a word. There, he found the other two Luornus had fetched Imra and Rokk. Brande, a follower of the 21st Century "Heroic Age", proceeded to talk the three of them into founding "a Legion of Heroes. Super-Heroes," with Garth taking the codename Live Wire.
Despite early tension between him and Saturn Girl, Garth's initial period with the Legion passed with little trouble... until his sister showed up. At this point, they were only permitted to have one Legionnaire per world and Garth, classed as a runaway, was not who Winath wanted to represent them. Ayla, codenamed Spark was apologetic, but neither of them had much choice in the matter and after he nearly levelled Legion Plaza in his fight with Ultra Boy (after UB had threatened Ayla), he quit rather than embarrass Rokk or Imra any more by letting them plead to let him stay.
After this, he joined Leland McCauley's Workforce to try and get the money to follow Mekt again, but only stayed with them a short time before McCauley's complete lack of morals became too much and he quit. Shortly afterwards, he went to ask Brande if he could borrow a ship to find his brother. Since several stargates (the standard means of travelling faster than light, which Brande manufactured) had recently been destroyed and Brande didn't want to take any chances, he turned him down, but told him to go and visit Saturn Girl, who was in hospital, having been mentally regressed to childhood by the strain from shutting down the Composite Man's mind. Upon seeing her have a toddler-style temper tantrum, though, he couldn't bring himself to go in.
Shortly after, several White Triangle Daxamites attacked Earth, and when Garth visited Legion HQ to see if he could help, he was given a flight ring by Rokk and ordered to go and see Imra (who he'd seen pleading for Garth earlier). When she saw him, she threw her arms around him, and, by telling her that the Legion needed her - and that HE needed her - he talked her back to sanity.
At the end, the three founders stood on Legion HQ as Saturn Girl called the Daxamites there, just in time for Element Lad and Brainiac 5 to send them to a planet where they would be powerless, ending the threat.
In the aftermath, however, he was once more forced off the team - and stung by Ayla's charge that he talked a good game on finding Mekt, but never actually did anything about it, he went on his travels again to try and do it. 27060 credits later, he found himself on the planet Bisbe, having been robbed of his last 512 credits. And, when trying to get it back, he was arrested for murder - under Mekt's name. Rather than protesting that he wasn't Mekt, he stayed silent, and just as the truth was discovered, Mekt broke through the wall and killed the police officer who was trying to dissuade Garth from taking Mekt's fall. when Garth saw just how insane Mekt had become, he tried to blast him, but was knocked out by Mekt. Meanwhile, Ayla was told of Garth's arrest and the cop's electrocution, and rushed straight to Bisbe.
Garth awoke just as they were entering Korbal's orbit, where Mekt started killing more beasts to increase his own power, and so that he would be the only one with lightning powers. A plan that did not involve Garth or Ayla. As Garth realised this, several Science Police cruisers flew overhead - announcing that he was under arrest for the murder of a policeman. Mekt immediately began to down the cruisers, while Garth pleaded with Mekt to stop it. Finally, when Ayla showed up and Mekt fried her, while ranting on, Garth was finally forced to face the truth about Mekt, but Mekt - by this point more powerful than both of the twins together, retaliated by vapourising Garth's right arm. Ayla grabbed Mekt's laser pistol and shot him in the leg, delaying him while she saw that Garth's wound had cauterised itself. Finally, as Mekt prepared to finish them off, Garth prompted Ayla to hold his (remaining) hand and let their powers run together freely. The resulting blast was enough not only knock Mekt off his feet, but completely discharge him (not to mention turning his hair white). Mekt was then finally arrested by the S.P., and (after a short stay in hospital) Garth was cleared of all charges.
While he was recovering from the ordeal, and getting used to his artificial arm, he was contacted by Cosmic Boy, who knew that President Chu was up to something, but he didn't know what and thus had to play along with her wishes (which included keeping Live Wire off the team). He thus had Live Wire put together a secret "Rescue Squad". Recruiting Ultra Boy, Element Lad, Andromeda, Valor and XS, they saved the Legion from the Fatal Five. Both teams then divided into three, and all the heroes combined to have Chu impeached and arrested, and to prevent her (with the Fatal Five's help) from reviving the Braal-Titan War.
R.J. Brande was then (very reluctantly) drafted as the new U.P. president, and his first act was to abolish the U.P.-installed membership restrictions on the team, allowing Garth to rejoin.
Garth settled back into the team quickly, helping to write the new Legion Constitution, and then insisted on accompanying Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy on a tour of their homeworlds, until recently at war, designed to show a "spirit of co-operation"; mostly to try and halt a budding Imra-Rokk romance.
Shortly after they returned, his arm miraculously reappeared as part of Shrinking Violet's Emerald Eye "dearest wish" spell. Not part of the group who tackled Doctor Regulus in the fight which led to Leviathan's death and Violet thus giving herself fully to the Eye, he voiced dissent when confined with the rest of the team to their meeting-room chairs and had his arm summarily removed again as punishment. Thereafter, he was transformed, arm back in place again, as part of the Emerald Legion hivemind until the barely-manifest Apparition inadvertently freed Saturn Girl, leading to a domino effect which eventually caused Violet to panic and order the Eye to "take [them] back...", leading to an explosion...
When he woke up, he was back in his normal costume, arm was gone once more, as was Violet and half the team including Imra and Ayla, and the orbit of the "Eye" satellite he and the other remaining Legionnaires were in was decaying, meaning they were in imminent danger of falling to Earth. He guided Kinetix, M'Onel and XS in saving the team as they reentered the atmosphere. They were picked up by a ship commanded by President Brande shortly after splashdown.
The Legionnaires learned that Shrinking Violet and the Emerald Eye had rocketed into space, but not before sending the other half of the Legion back in time. During his medical examination, Dr. Gym'll posited that they could regrow Garth's lost arm if he gave up his powers. Garth immediately turned the offer down, as the team was shorthanded.
Sadly, Leviathan was still dead, and the Legion buried him on Shanghalla. On their way back to Earth, the cruiser Live Wire was in was transported by the sorceress Mysa to Zarrox. Mysa wanted to punish Kinetix for failing to find the Emerald Eye. With help from Invisible Kid, Triad, XS, and Kinetix's mother and brother, they were able to stop Mysa and convince her to restore Kinetix to her original form and powers. Live Wire confronted Mysa to arrest her, but she sent them all back to Earth. After this, Live Wire was offered the position of Legion leader for his bravery and strength on Zarrox; he accepted, but only on a temporary basis until the team could organize an election.
Under his temporary leadership, the Legion conducted tryouts and added three new members: Umbra, Sensor and Magno. Garth would develop a fairly close friendship with Magno after the latter saved his life during a battle with Mordru on Sklar. Magno also helped cheer Garth up after the destruction of Sklar. Garth would return the favor during their final battle with Mordru on JS-1967; he saved Magno from a major energy blast from Mordru, but was not able to pull him out in time to save his powers.
Garth was finally reunited with Imra and Ayla when Cosmic Boy traveled through a time warp to enlist the Legionnaires in the future against COMPUTO.
After the team was reunited, Ayla tried to convince Garth to talk to Imra about his feelings for her. When they were in the 20th century, Imra called off a wedding with Cosmic Boy because she realized she loved Garth. Garth and Imra apparently talked offline, as they became a couple soon after. However, Garth was surprised and frustrated when Imra stationed him on the Legion's new Outpost, while she remained on Earth. He would take out his frustrations on his teammates.
After Imra's team was caught in a battle on JS-1967, Garth disobeyed a direct order to visit her there. Imra told him she still loved him, but that she did not want to play favorites and so stationed him on the Outpost. She kept Apparition and Ultra Boy together on Earth because they were married.
Garth would keep trying to get close to Imra again, and used a case as an opportunity. Someone had been impersonating him, Imra and Rokk to tyrannize the populace of Wellur. A citizen managed to get offworld to ask for help, but killed himself when he encountered Spark, as he believed she was part of the evil Legion. Garth suggested that only he, Imra and Rokk investigate; Rokk agreed, and told Imra to go along with it so they could resolve their issues. The three Legionnaires discovered that the evil Legion was a ruse by the deposed King Kradok of Wellur. After exposing the King, Garth apologized to Imra and Rokk. He also said he would stop sulking because he realized their Legion work was more important. Imra kissed Garth and explained that she stationed them separately so they would not let their relationship interfere with their work; then she invited Garth on a vacation with her.
When the Outpost made a brief stopover on Earth, Garth was looking forward to spending time with Imra again. Unfortunately, a distress call from a ship stranded in Affiliated Planets space came in. Rokk took on the mission so Garth and Imra could spend the day together.
As Rokk's team left, Garth and Imra commented on Apparition and Ultra Boy's marriage. Garth made a joke about following their example, causing Imra to ask how much of their example they should follow. Garth then proposed, which Imra accepted with a kiss.
When the Blight attacked Earth, however, Saturn Girl was captured early; while Garth helped to lead the resistance under Brande for some time, until his luck finally ran out and he was choke-weeded, taken to the base of the Blight's Stem to be eaten alive rather than simply "Blighted". He escaped only after the Blight were destroyed by the Doda sentient plants were freed by the escaped Saturn Girl, combined with M'Onel's power.
The experience left him with a recurring nightmare of being dragged down, but, even so, he helped lead the Legion into battle; while Saturn Girl reconfirmed that she would marry him after she could finally step down as leader. This meant that he, along with Imra, were on the bridge of the Outpost when that half thereof was drawn into the Rift before it was sealed...
Live Wire, Saturn Girl, and the other Lost Legionnaires were found by Kwai guide Shikari. After viewing memory crystals left behind by Element Lad, they learned that the Rift had thrown them outside of space/time. Element Lad kept them all in stasis as only he could survive; he managed to reenter space/time but was separated from time.
They also learned from Shikari that the Kwai were nomadic guides with a pathfinding sense, so the Legion decided to see if the Kwai could help them find a way home.
The Legion also encountered the Progeny, bug-like servants to the mysterious Progenitor. The Progenitor ruled this area of space and "deleted", or exterminated, all beings it declared to be deviant from its purpose - including the Kwai and the Legionnaires. The Legion saved the Kwai. In return, Shikari stayed with the Legion to help them find a way home. The other Lost Legionnaires were Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Kid Quantum II, Monstress, Ultra Boy, Umbra and Wildfire.
After encountering some psychic feedback, Saturn Girl was put in a mental fugue while Umbra's mind was left completely fearless and arrogant. With several Legionnaires down and Apparition missing, Ultra Boy and Monstress went after Umbra. Suddenly, their ship was boarded... by Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Spark and Violet! Their teammates had come to take them home. After retrieving Umbra, Brainiac 5 healed her and Saturn Girl... only for the rescuing Legionnaires and Apparition to disappear. They had been mental creations of Imra all this time.
Although the team could understand Imra's creation of the rescuing Legionnaires, as she was doing it subconsciously, many felt betrayed by her creation of Apparition. Even after she explained she had done it to help calm Ultra Boy down, Garth could not understand why she didn't tell him or the others. He also felt betrayed because he had confided in Apparition about his concerns for his engagement with Imra. Imra stepped down as leader in favor of Garth, and they decided to park discussion of their engagement.
As the team was still reeling from the revelations, they were attacked by the Progeny. They were captured and brought to the Rosette, the Progeny headquarters. They were shocked to see the Progenitor was really Element Lad. Element Lad explained that when they reentered space/time, he was separated and flung into the far past. Somehow, his physiology had changed to make him immortal; this allowed him to refine his powers to the point that he was godlike in its applications. He restored Garth's missing arm while allowing Garth to retain his powers. The Legion had only been lost in space, but had emerged at the point in time from which they had left. Element Lad - the Progenitor- had finally remembered who they were and brought them to him.
Element Lad had also captured the Omniphagos, a creature capable of consuming any matter. He mentally dominated the Omniphagos into becoming dormant. He also began exploring the ark which the Omniphagos had been captured in; it contained a warp-like portal which could lead them anywhere.
After discussions, the Legion decided to use the ark to return home; but before doing so, they wanted to determine if the Progenitor had become dangerous. They would stop him and the Progeny, if so. After speaking with Monstress, ELement Lad declared her to be variant - and killed her with a touch.
Saturn Girl and Chameleon tried to stop the Progenitor. They distracted him enough that his mental hold over the Omniphagos. The Omniphagos attacked the Progenitor, and somehow they merged into a terrifying hybrid creature.
Realising that the Progenitor/Omniphagos hybrid was too dangerous to live, he zapped Ultra Boy and Chameleon to paralyse them, then resigned from the team - not wishing to "break the rules" just after the team started working together, and flew out, and blasted it with all the power he could muster, apparently shattering it and vapourising himself, his belt left hanging in space. Sadly, Saturn Girl was unconscious at this time; he asked Cham and Jo to give his love to her.
A short time afterward, a team including Saturn Girl and Spark would use a prototype Threshold to travel to the scene of the event on their way to enlist the Kwai, and detected pulsed lightning, which turned out to be from some tromium crystals. Spark apparently took these with her.
Some time later, Ayla would take these crystals, and place them on Kid Quantum's memorial to Element Lad on Trom, based around some memory crystals Jan had created before attempting to take the Outpost's remains back into the material universe. This created a reaction between the electrified Tromium and the memory crystals, and when Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl visited the site, they found a crystalline version of Element Lad claiming to be "Garth".
The resurrected Live Wire, displaying a limited version of Element Lad's transmutation power in addition to his electrical abilities, would be isolated - partially by his own choice; partially because of unease in the team, knowing what Element Lad had become; and partially due to paranoia on his part - and did not officially rejoin the team. His aid in defeating Darkseid and saving the universe began to heal the wounds, however, and after a "bone-headed" attempt to sacrifice himself to save teammates from the Credo, he fully reconciled with them, and resumed his relationship with Saturn Girl.
Powers and abilities
Originally, Live Wire possessed the ability to generate and channel large amounts of electricity, and direct bolts of it accurately. He could also absorb electricity.
Since being revived in a crystalline version of Element Lad's body, in addition to his original electrical abilities, he possesses the ability to transmute objects from one form to another, including changing the elements they are composed of. He does not have sufficient control of this ability to alter the objects' shape. He also no longer requires sleep.