Hardware: The Man in the Machine

hardware the man in the machine cover trade paperback tpb
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10

Interesting attempt for diversity in comic books

Feels very '90s both in character design and storytelling

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Hardware

Publisher:  DC Comics

Writer:  Dwayne McDuffie

Artist:  Denys Cowan

# of Issues:  8

Release Date:  2010


Hardware #6

Reprints Hardware #1-8 (April 1993-October 1993).  Curtis Metcalf is angry.  The man he put his faith in used him and treated him like a dog for his inventions and the Metcalf is forced to keep working for him.  Metcalf however has created a solution in Hardware.  Hardware is a power suit Metcalf has built to destroy Edwin Alva’s empire from within.  Striking at Alva’s illegal infrastructure, Hardware has become a problem to Alva…and he intends to stop him.

Written by Dwayne McDuffie and illustrated by Denys Cowan, Hardware:  The Man in the Machine was part of Milestone Comics line-up.  Milestone was an imprint distributed by DC Comics and focused on primarily minority characters in the “Dakotaverse”.  Hardware and other character were later merged with the DC Universe.

The Dakotaverse was an interesting experiment.  It’s goal was to provide some diversity to the comic book market and also to the creators and artists.  Hardware shows an attempt to appeal to readers by having an “angry black man” (that’s actually the title of the first issue).  The comic does a good job making him attainable to all readers.

The good part of Hardware is that Metcalf isn’t necessary right in his quest.  He starts out a killer and lashing out at the system and his white boss who treats him with a less than human coldness.  This could have easily isolated some readers, but the comic switched directions by having Metcalf partially soften by his friend Barraki Young who felt his actions weren’t heroic.  It is a quick turn but necessary to appeal to a wide array of readers.


Hardware #8

The second half of the trade paperback involves Hardware trying to prove a friend innocent of murder.  The character faces off against a man similar to Marvel’s Punisher (and not entirely unlike Hardware in the first half of the book).  It helps emphasize how Hardware must change from his “angry black man” and become a man who works within the law to create change…falling somewhere between radical activism and passive resistance.

Hardware himself is very much a product of the ’90s.  This also hurts the character.  He looks like every Image hero complete with a weird wrestler head guard and chains hanging from his costume (the hanging chains always seemed like more of a risk of snagging than a cape).

A race based comic isn’t a bad thing, but it runs the risk of being nothing but a race based comic.  It needs to make sure it develops characters, has good plots, and strong art.  With a current attempt to diversify heroes, it is interesting to return to the earlier attempt to change the diversity of the comic book world.  Check out Hardware and see how far comics have come in the portrayal of race from the early Luke Cage comics to Hardware and to today with characters like Ms. Marvel.  I’d be interested in seeing a second volume of Hardware to see where the character goes and an ongoing series for an updated version of the character to see how he handles the current race issues in the United States.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response