Living Lightning is a licensed Super Hero and an attentive student who believes that innocents should be protected. He joins the Avengers after being a reluctant criminal and puts his electrical powers to good use by protecting the planet from world-ending threats.
Carlos Santos and his wife Maria believe in the American Dream, and immigrate to Los Angeles from Mexico to ensure their children would be born American citizens. A staunch patriot for his adopted country, he soon realizes that like all nations it was divided by internal hatreds, so Carlos joins the radical Legion of Living Lightning, accepting the group’s rhetoric that it would abolish war and bigotry once it seized control of the USA. He regales his son Miguel with tales of the Legion’s lofty goals, even confiding in the boy about the Legion’s namesake and ultimate weapon, the Living Lightning, a machine which generates devastating electrical bolts; Miguel dreams of joining the Legion too, but his parents insist he finish his schooling.
While Miguel was still in his teens, a battle between the Legion and Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk, ends with the Living Lightning machine’s generator exploding, destroying the Legion’s Santa Ana Mountains’ base and killing many of their members, including Carlos. Despite his mother blaming the Legion for Carlos’ demise, Miguel continues to view them as heroes, vowing to personally continue their mission. He studies coded maps left behind by his father, eventually locating the ruined base, which he gains entry to using his father’s fingerprint glove. Hoping to salvage the Living Lightning machine, he reconnects severed cables, and suffers a massive electrical shock, which somehow transforms him into living electricity. Destroying the machine to ensure no one else could be similarly empowered, Miguel christens himself el Relampago Vivo, the Living Lightning, before setting off to test his new abilities.
Reports of a burning man flying over the city of Fullerton and starting fires drew the attention of the android Jim Hammond, AKA Human Torch, the West Coast Avengers, and criminal geneticist Dr. Demonicus, who had a hidden base nearby. While Demonicus covertly monitors proceedings, Miguel attacks the Torch and Avengers, until he is tricked into explosively grounding himself. Though his combaters believe him slain, the intrigued Demonicus secretly siphons Miguel’s dissipated energies into his base for study, reconstituting him into human form.
Demonicus constructs a costume with three stabilizing units that prevent Miguel from spontaneously decomposing into random electrical impulses; with the threat of dissolution if he displeased the scientist, and figuring that he would be a wanted man for his Fullerton rampage, the initially reluctant Miguel agrees to join Demonicus’ Pacific Overlords, shortly before Demonicus raised the island Demonica from the ocean depths. However when Demonicus ordered the execution of unwilling Overlord Pele and the captive Scarlet Witch, Miguel rebelled, insisting he had not signed up to murder helpless women. The Avengers arrived moments later and attacked the Overlords; initially unsure which side to assist, Miguel decides he could not allow innocents to be endangered when Demonicus tries to use the Witch as a hostage, and turns on the Overlords, destroying Demonicus’ remote control for the stabilizing units before it could be used to deactivate them. The Avengers back down when the United Nations officially recognizes Demonica; Miguel departs the new nation with them, accepting an offer of Avengers membership from the Wasp while they were en route back to the United States.
ELECTRICAL PLAMA FORCE
Miguel can transform his body into electrical plasma; in this form he can fly at sub-light speeds, generate a protective electrical aura strong enough to repel bullets, emit light flashes to blind or illuminate, and produce electrical blasts of up to 15 million volts. There appears to be no limit to how long he can safely remain in his electrical form, and while in this state he does not need to breathe and is immune to the rigors of outer space. He is insubstantial enough in this form to slip normal restraints or have objects pass through him, but he can be shorted out by exposure to water.
His costume’s stabilizing units prevent him from becoming stuck in this form and dissipating; they also regulate his top power level, but can be individually switched off to allow him access to greater limits, and if detached, the units carry sufficient residual charge to give a non-lethal shock; however he cannot switch off all the units without risking losing physical cohesion. In human form his more limited command of his body’s electrical energy is still sufficient to hurl lightning bolts or control electrical devices. He can also absorb electricity, though he risks overload if he absorbs too much without discharging the excess.
Miguel has some experience with basic street-fighting techniques, as well as some combat training from his fellow Avengers. Furthermore, he is bilingual in Spanish and English.
While Doctor Demonicus creates a stabilizing costume for Miguel to control his powers, he ultimately ends up being a villain in Miguel’s eyes when he threatens to kill Scarlet Witch.
In joining the Rangers and later the Avengers, Miguel faces off with many foes including the Black Order, Hydra, Kaine Parker, AKA Scarlet Spider, Morgan le Fay, and Kang to name a few. He goes head to head with Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk, when he is being used by one of the Elders of the Universe, the Challenger.
Miguel is at first enemies with the Avengers but allies himself with them after being disillusioned with Doctor Demonicus. He proves to be a reliable ally but sometimes leaves the team to focus on his studies. However, he always comes back when called into the fold. He works closely with Avengers members Wendell Vaughn, AKA Quasar, and Monica Rambeau (formerly Photon now Spectrum), and later becomes a member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance.
LIVING LIGHTNING'S ADVENTURES
With several weeks having passed since he ventured to the Legion’s base, Miguel returned home to inform his mother of recent events, but was saddened to learn that during his absence his brother José had joined the local Jaguars gang and that his sister Lisa had subsequently been killed in a drive-by shooting by the rival Snakes gang; additionally, Miguel’s girlfriend Chung Thị Asuka had become involved with the Snakes leader, Đặng Quang Song, while he had been away. Blaming himself for being absent in his family’s time of need, Miguel intervened in a confrontation between the gangs, hoping to prevent further violence and bring his sister’s killer to justice, but Jaguar leader Carlos Rios shot Song dead moments after the latter boasted he had slain Lisa. However Miguel achieved a partial victory, as his example convinced José to quit the Jaguars, and he warned both gangs that the neighborhood was now under his protection.
Returning to the Avengers, Miguel helped defend Subterranea from the Deviant Brutus’ army; when Subterranean defender Grotesk turned traitor and tried to destroy the world using Brutus’ Oscillatron, Miguel risked his life to absorb its energies into himself. Miguel continued to prove an asset to his new team, aiding them when they were dragged into the extradimensional war between Arkon and Thundra, then helping them battle Jason Roland, AKA Hangman’s Night Shift, personally preventing their master Satannish from taking the millions of viewers’ souls during a televised fight by disrupting the live transmission.
Shortly after Hank Pym refined Miguel’s stabilizing units and costume, Earth became a battlefront in the Kree-Shi’ar War, and the Living Lightning joined the Avengers assigned by Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, as diplomatic envoys to the Shi’ar Imperium, where he unmasked a Skrull agent provocateur posing as Shi’ar Lord Chamberlain Araki, revealing the Skrulls’ part in inciting the conflict. Back on Earth, Miguel assisted in the capture of Deathweb after Ferrell Thompson, AKA Manipulator, sent them to assassinate Liberal Party Presidential candidate Michael Galvan.
While attending LA’s public celebration of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo as a headline guest, Miguel was approached by Dr. Lou Denham, a surviving member of the Legion of Living Lightning, who had known Carlos Santos and had deduced the source of Miguel’s powers. He tried to recruit Miguel to help rebuild the Legion, intending to duplicate Miguel’s powers among the Legion’s new members, but Miguel refused, insisting he wanted to work within the system to improve America. Denham briefly took Maria Santos hostage to force Miguel’s cooperation, but Miguel swiftly freed her and overpowered Denham and his men; however a young bystander was winged by a gunshot that had ricocheted off Miguel’s electrical field, and a remorseful Miguel vowed to use his abilities more intelligently in future.
Shortly afterwards Miguel joined many of Earth’s heroes battling the Magus’ evil doppelgängers, then assisted the Avengers in defending Stark Enterprises from Professor Power’s armored minions. Reassessing his priorities, Miguel took a leave of absence from the Avengers to pursue college courses at USC, though he returned to attend Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man’s funeral and help the Avengers confront their increasingly irrational member Wonder Man; these events and guilt over his absence when his teammates had been attacked by Ultron-14 made him briefly consider quitting college to return to full-time Avengers status, but the Scarlet Witch convinced him to persist with his education.
When the Goddess launched her crusade to purify the universe by destroying it, Miguel was one of those who temporarily fell under her mental domination. Later, during a break from college, Miguel was amongst several Avengers briefly controlled and demonically transformed by Lore to attack the Scarlet Witch.
After the Avengers West Coast branch’s dissolution, Miguel transferred to UCLA and concentrated full time on his college studies, until he returned to action alongside virtually all past Avengers to battle Morgan le Fay; when she magically restructured reality to make herself Earth’s ruler, Miguel became Sir Fulminator of Queen’s Vengeance, Morgan’s soldiers in the new Reality-398, but was returned to normal when she was defeated.
Later, when the Avengers set up a deep space monitoring station in the asteroid belt to forewarn them of threats approaching Earth, Miguel, able to easily travel between the station and Earth, agreed to man it alongside Quasar and Monica Rambeau hoping to use the solitude to concentrate on his studies. He subsequently assisted the Avengers against the Triple Evil and Kang’s invasion of Earth, joined an assemblage of Earth’s heroes battling the Order and Akhenaten, and when his old friend the Scarlet Witch went insane and turned her reality-warping powers against the Avengers, Miguel joined most former Avengers in returning to assist the team, shortly before the team was disbanded. Though the Avengers were gone, Miguel continued his monitoring duties aboard the space station.
At some point having come to accept he was gay, Miguel decided to join the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, leading to a brief misunderstanding when the hero Flatman offered him membership in the Great Lakes Avengers (GLA). After the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA) was passed, Miguel joined Captain America’s Secret Avengers in opposing it, but after Captain America’s surrender Miguel registered and was assigned to the Texas Initiative team, the Rangers, alongside whom he subsequently battled the criminal agency Hydra, the Skrulls and Scarlet Spider.
Though he later left the Rangers to go solo, and changed his name to Lightning to avoid confusion with Living Laser. He then rejoined the Avengers’ ranks when a contest formed between Elders of the Universe, the Grandmaster and the Challenger, caused a global crisis where many humans on Earth were frozen in stasis. Miguel, one of the only superhumans who was not frozen, alongside some other Avengers investigated one of the Elders’ teams, the Black Order, and subsequently Lightning tried to stop other Avengers elsewhere from interacting with a deadly artifact, the Pyramoid, but did not make it in time and Johnny Storm, AKA Human Torch, seemingly perished.
Miguel worked with the Avengers to stop the Black Order from claiming one of the other Pyramoids. He then sought transportation for the rest of the Avengers’ team but his ally Voyager who had been working for the Grandmaster in secret as she was his daughter, locked herself in the base’s vault with one of the Pryamoids. At this time, Miguel had to face off the Hulk who was working on behalf of the Challenger. The contest ended when the Challenger ostensibly won and sabotaged the World-Engine that had been keeping the Earth stable. Voyager rebelled against her father and teleported heroes including Miguel to the World-Engine where he used his abilities to sustain it with energy. Though the Grandmaster recovered and intent on destroying Earth, Miguel convinced him to a game of poker. Miguel played successfully and rose the stakes so high that Grandmaster folded which allowed the Earth to survive.