This week saw the release of Hardware: Season One #1, the final debut title in the first wave of DC's Milestone Returns initiative. The issue takes some explosive and satisfying lengths to bring the story of Curtis Metcalf/Hardware into the modern age, all while recontextualizing his complicated dynamic with Edwin Alva. During a recent virtual press conference attended by ComicBook.com, Hardware: Season One writer Brandon Thomas and artist Denys Cowan spoke about the challenge of bringing Curtis' story into a new era, without "revamping" him along the way.
"I feel like we didn't need to revamp Curtis Metcalf. What has happened is the world around him has changed," Thomas explained. "It has changed but it's also stayed the same in some fundamental ways. I think his perspective fits in even more in the world of 2021 than it did in the early '90s. Especially as we slowly and painfully try to understand and reconcile our country's horrible history with racism and oppression. To me it makes a lot of sense for a character like this who is in a relationship with Alva and how that evolves to have this reaction to it."
As Thomas, Cowan, and the rest of the Hardware: Season One team bring that quintessential approach to Curtis' character, Thomas also teased that there will be a mix of new and familiar elements in the issues that follow.
"There will be new things. There'll be new characters and new threats, and some very familiar characters and threats to look out for in this first story arc," Thomas said. "And I'll just say, this first story is chiefly about Curtis and Alva, but it will also try to answer the question of: Hypothetically, let's just say the Curtis and Alva thing is settled. Why does Curtis stay in the suit? So that will be a big part of what this story is about."
While the core of Hardware's story might remain the same, the world around him has changed — particularly in the superhero landscape. For Thomas and Cowan, who wanted to make a book both for diehard fans and those "who might be reading Hardware for the first time," that evolution posed an interesting dichotomy, especially when compared to more recently-popular characters like Marvel's Iron man.
"Hardware is Hardware," Cowan explained. "There's a black man in that suit. He has a different, much more powerful mindset. He's no Iron Man. Tony Stark was the son of a rich inventor who was basically handed all that he has. Tony's smart, but he's not self-made. He has no history of pulling himself up by his bootstraps. Curtis Metcalf is a whole different dude who should just be seen for who he is. He was a child prodigy, brought up in a corporate environment. He's a super-smart, young, black radical who was lied to his entire life about his true potential. He'll never work for the government. He's just not that kind of character. He's very much the opposite of anything Iron Man is. The only thing they have in common is that they both have armor... And I would argue that Hardware's armor is superior. It would be great to see these guys go toe to toe one day."
Hardware: Season One #1 is now available wherever comics are sold.