TITLE: Hardware vol. 1, Issue 1
YEAR: April 1993
COMPANY: Milestone Media
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Denys Cowan
Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colorist: Noelle Giddings
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Back in 1993, the comics world would see a major milestone taking place in the industry, a comic book imprint founded by African-American artists and writers under a major comic book company, DC Comics. Created for the fact that minorities were underrepresented, Milestone Comics had the potential to be something huge.
While the comic books would be published by DC Comics, they were not under DC Comics Editorial Control but only that DC retained the right to not publish any material they objected to.
And that year, Milestone Media would release several titles which would include “Hardware”, “ICON”, “Blood Syndicate” and “Static”. The setting for many of these heroes/villains were in the fictional Midwestern city of Dakota.
And if there was one comic book series that I owned the most issues of, it would be “Hardware”. Created by Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan, this was an awesome collaboration featuring the writing of McDuffie but for those who read Dennis O’Neil’s “The Question”, would be familiar with Cowan’s work.
I wrote in my first Milestone Media post for “Static” in regards to the talented Dwayne McDuffie but as for Denys Cowan, he also worked on the ’90s “Deathlok” series. While Cowan would work on “Hardware” through issue #18, many people would also be familiar with his work on DC Comics “Steel”, Cowan would move on to become senior vice president of animation for Black Entertainment Television (BET).
The issue also features the inking by Jimmy Palmiotti. As Jimmy worked on Marvel Comics titles in the early ’90s and also Dark Horse Comics “X”, he also worked on “Hardware” and eventually joining forces with Joe Quesada in 1994 to form the publishing company, Event Comics and co-creating the character, Ash. And his work would be well-known for his stories and storyboard for “Hooptown” for Nike featuring LeBron James and Vince Carter. But for Jimmy, Event Comics would be contracted by Marvel Comics (during the time Marvel Comics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy) to work on the imprint, Marvel Knights which focused on “Black Panther”, “Punisher”, “Daredevil” and “The Inhumans”.
The first issue of “Hardware” features Curtis “Curt” Metcalf . In the first page, he talks about his parakeet who would try to fly out and kept hitting the window in order to be free and see the outdoors and would eventually die living in its cage, not knowing how it is to be free.
We then see Hardware being attacked by helicopters firing on him. We then are told his story about how he is a brilliant scientist and since winning a science fair at 12-years-old, he met Edwin Alva, the most famous inventor alive.
By winning a science fair contest, Alva would provide Curtis the opportunity to go to a prestigious school, despite he and his family not having much. They may have had wealth but Curtis was intelligent and as Alva footed the bill for his degrees (graduating high school at 14, college degree at 15 and six more degrees after), he would work for Edwin Alva at his research and development company, Alva Technologies.
Curtis would create and build inventions that would lead to more wealth for Alva and Alva Technologies. But when Curtis met with Alva in hopes to get a share of the profits, he was dismissed as nothing but an employee, a cog in the machine.
Unfortunately, Curtis is unaware that the contract he signed, literally signed his life away and the inability to work for any competitor. And now, Curtis knows how his parakeet had felt.
As Curtis looked into Alva Technologies and learned that there was a lot of corruption in the company and ties to organized crime, Curtis would strike back, using Alva’s own equipment and resources to create a high tech suit, Hardware. To go against Alva Technologies.
But by doing that, it not only made Curtis/Hardware a targeted man, but many deadly assassins with supernatural abilities who have been hired to kill him.
Overall, a fascinating story that gets better and better with each issue.