DC Comics continues to bring back Milestone characters with Icon and Rocket, Static, and now Hardware in Hardware Season One #1. Brandon Thomas and Denys Cowan aim to introduce Curtis Metcalf to new readers and of course older readers who loved Curtis’ adventures in the original Milestone comics. Originally introduced in 1993, the first issue mimics the original right down to Cowan penciling the issue, but this time the story is slightly different, Bill Sienkiewicz inks, and there’s modern color art by Chris Sotomayor.
Hardware Season One #1 opens on Curtis when he was a three-year-old boy happy and hopeful. We soon learn he was taken from his parents, put through school, and now works for his adopted father’s corporation paying his genius forward by helping him innovate. He’s been falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and instead of asking him questions he’s attacked with full force. The enemy assumes he’ll fight back and with the technology, Curtis has at his fingertips why wouldn’t he?
The narrative focuses heavily on his escape and the amazing technology he has to thwart machine gun-toting soldiers, helicopters outfitted with rockets, and some high-tech gizmos too. Thomas does a good job weaving in the backstory on Curtis’s relationship with his adopted father, Curtis’s genius, and how his father loves his corporation more than Curtis even though he does care about him. It’s a situation where greed and racism outweigh the truth.
As first issues go, you get just enough about Curtis and his adopted father, but there isn’t a lot here beyond an opening action sequence. The flashbacks are great, don’t get me wrong, but the story ends on a note that feels like half a comics plot rather than a full one. This issue doesn’t get into the sci-fi imagery and concepts just yet, which limits the coolness of the character’s introduction. That said, we do get to see Hardware use a cool high-tech feature near the end of the book.
It’s fascinating to read this side by side with the original Hardware #1 and see how Cowan’s art has evolved, changed, or homages the past. Cowan makes you feel for Hardware’s predicament and makes you believe he has to go hard in order to escape. That includes putting people in danger with some rather full-frontal attacks.
Originally written by Dwayne McDuffie, this new start for Hardware feels like an adaptation of the original, with a grittier look and feel thanks to Sienkiewicz’s inks. The rain pouring down on Hardware as he flips and tumbles in the air gives the issue a noir feel that pairs well with the plot. Sotomayor’s colors seem to enhance Cowan’s old school lines with some cool flame and lighting effects.
Hardware Season One is a good start that feels like an homage if you’ve read the original but introduces new readers to the character in a meaningful way. Like any adaptation, this book does things a little differently, which should satisfy purists who want something a bit new, but loved the original.
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