Curtis Metcalf, alias Hardware is a superhero vigilante operating out of Dakota City. He is a genius inventor who has designed an advanced armored exo-skeleton with an immense arsenal of technological weaponry. He wages a one-man crusade against crime by night, fighting against his former mentor, Edwin Alva, and the international syndicate S.Y.S.T.E.M..
Curtis Metcalf was a child prodigy from a working class neighborhood, born to Mitchell and Denise Metcalf. At age twelve, famous inventor Edwin Alva took notice of his gifts and developed a personal interest in him. Alva paid his way through the top schools in the country, Curt graduated from high school at age fourteen, and got his first college degree at fifteen. After completing his education on scholarship, the only requirement was that he would come to work at Alva Technologies, where he was given an enormous salary, his own staff, and the freedom to work on anything he wanted. This paid off, and his inventions made millions of dollars for the company. Throughout his life, he considered Alva to be the closest thing he had to a friend, and more of a father than his own dad had ever been. Believing he should receive a higher share of the profits he generated, Curtis asked Alva for a pay raise and found out what the old man really thought of him. Alva had absolutely no respect for Curtis as anything other than a useful servant, and regarded their relationship as dog and master.
Enraged, Curtis tried to quit his position but was contractually obliged to never work for a competing company. Instead, he turned to blackmail. Searching for a blight on Alva's record, he instead discovered that his boss was a complete monster who was also a major figure in the covert international crime network S.Y.S.T.E.M.. After submitting the evidence he had found to the proper authorities, Curtis was completely ignored. The level of power and corruption Alva had achieved permeated the legal system, and made it impossible for him to be taken down by conventional means. Instead, Curtis decided to bring him down himself. Making use of the vast technological resources at his disposal, he created an advanced suit of armor that allowed him to fight against the criminal enterprises of his enemy by night, using the alter-ego Hardware. Alva struggled every night against the high-tech dreadnaught, unaware that he is funding his own arch-nemesis, who operates out of his basement.
From the beginning of his career, Hardware battled with all types of villains, most of whom were hired by Alva to kill him. From the body doubling assassin Reprise to the tech-inspired Technique, none of them could best the armored avenger. Within months, Hardware relentlessly picked Alva's organization to pieces, costing him millions of dollars. However, one day Edwin Alva discovered Hardware's true identity and appeared in his hideout! Alva's original rage turned into something else. Impressed by Curtis' tactical abilities and courage to stand up to him, Alva made him a stunning offer. In return for Hardware's protection and occasional help, Curtis would be made his second-in-command and allow him to dismantle Alva's criminal organization. Curtis accepted the deal, believing he could shut down the bad parts of Alva Industries and S.Y.S.T.E.M. easier this way. But first, he would need new armor...
New Armor, New Beginnings
In the months that followed, Alva seem to be living up to his end of the bargain, divesting from his criminal operations and training Curtis in the intricacies of running a multinational corporation. Deciding to go out with a bang, Alva decided to announce his retirement at the grand opening of Utopia Park. But when riots break out, Alva decided to take the safety of Utopia Park into his own hands. Donning a new prototype armor, Alva sacrificed his life to save a group of people from being crushed.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
- Genius Level Intellect: Curtis Metcalf is one of the most brilliant scientific minds on the planet. He has created breakthroughs in metallurgy, computer science, nanotechnology, and plasma weapons. Curtis is also Earth's foremost expert on Cooperative technology having studied and reverse engineered devices aboard Icon's lifepod.
- Martial Arts: Curtis Metcalf is a good hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained by his father in the martial arts.
All of Curtis Metcalf's superhuman abilities derive from a sophisticated suit of armor called Hardware Version 2.0. Perhaps his greatest invention, the suit successfully integrates cutting edge human technology with that of the incredibly advanced alien civilization, the Cooperative.
The Hardware Version 2.0 suit consists of two layers, the basic armor and the external armor, which are described below.
The basic armor is a plasticized metal alloy of Curtis' own design. Using a device called the Shell Forge, Hardware coats his body from head to toe with this material. Once polarized, the shell serves as a skintight, impact-resistant foundation upon which his external armor rests.
Though not bulletproof, the shell is highly bullet resistant and can easily shrug off small caliber gunfire. It also has ablative capabilities that offer protection against low-level energy attacks like electricity and laser beams.
Perhaps the shell’s most formidable feature is the programmable polymers integrated into its structure.  These polymers enable the shell to stretch and contract like human muscle, but with considerably greater force. Hence, the shell increases Hardware's natural strength to superhuman levels. Initially, the shell amplified Curtis’s strength so that he could lift (press) about 5 tons . However, Hardware's battle with the SYSTEMatic Mark III indicates that Curtis has significantly increased the shell's strength augmentation abilities.
The polymers in the shell can also "remember" movements that Curtis programs into them that he can trigger at a later time.For instance, Curtis has programmed complex martial art katas into the polymers that when activated enable him to unleash a high-speed combination of blows. It is due to this feature that Curtis refers to his basic armor as his "smart suit." The drawback to the basic armor is that while wearing it Hardware cannot eat or drink.
The external systems of Hardware’s armor are stored within the nano-robot housing pods in his helmet and shoulder pads. These systems are constructed by nano-robots, microscopic machines that are released via main control systems in the helmet.  The external armor is powered by high efficiency batteries called power packs installed in the shoulder pads.
In addition, the helmet includes a Multi-Optics Display Unit (MODU) with wide-range spectral scanning capabilities. This unit enables Hardware to see in wavelengths beyond the visible spectrum including infrared, ultraviolet, and magnetic resonance imaging. The MODU is fully integrated into the tracking and target sub-system that beams a sighting crosshairs onto Hardware’s right eye. The target sub-system determines target acquisition by following Hardware’s eye movements and then fires on verbal command.
Hardware also uses the tracking system to send hands-free visual commands to his onboard computer, DOBIE. He can spell out these commands by focusing his right eye on letters and short commands from a special menu bar on his tracking monitor. Hardware refers to this system as his visual input mode (also known as “Sutter-Meagher” mode). DOBIE accepts verbal commands as well.
Besides the input systems, his helmet contains a wide-band radio receiver capable of scanning radio traffic, a chronometer,  radar (early warning and ground penetrating), a chemical residue analyzer,  a digital video player/recorder, and audio, motion, heat, and other sensor instruments.
Housed in the chin guard of Hardware’s helmet is his speech synthesizer which gives him his unique and chilling voice. The synthesizer also enables him to reproduce other voices, which is useful for undercover missions. The synthesizer can also translate foreign languages thanks to a built-in Omni-Linguistic Communicator (OmLinC). Reverse engineered by Hardware from the communicator on Icon's crashpod, the OmLinC can analyze and translate any unfamiliar language, human or alien, in seconds. This marks a vast improvement over the original speech synthesizer that could only translate languages stored in DOBIE's databanks.
The aforementioned nano-robots replicate themselves into pre-programmed forms. When released from their pods, the robots begin rapidly constructing Hardware’s external armor from the shoulder pads down.  Hence, he can don his armor in seconds instead of minutes as was the case with the Version 1.0 suit. Once empty, the nano-robot pods can be used by Hardware for other storage.
Hardware's external armor is highly resistant to damage. If the armor is breached, the nano-robots composing it are programmed to replicate themselves to repair the damage.
Hardware can also command the nano-robots to assume new configurations, which are stored as templates in DOBIE’s databanks. As a result, Hardware’s armor can adapt to a wide variety of missions. The "Camouflage Program" template changes the armor’s color so Hardware can blend in with his surroundings. Other templates enable Hardware to safely operate in hostile environments ranging from the ocean floor ("Deep Sea Armor" mode) to the depths of outer space ("Space Environment Armor" mode).
Besides the external armor itself, the nano-robots construct the suit’s life support systems including temperature regulators and an internal air supply that activates when the armor is sealed for underwater or deep space travel. The armor is equipped with defense mechanisms to repel anyone who tries to remove it; Hardware has said these defenses can harm even beings as powerful as Blue Beetle. Among these defenses is a high voltage electric charge generated by the armor’s surface.
Hardware’s latest addition to his armor is jet boots that enable him to fly. Each boot is equipped with miniature jet turbines that gather the surrounding air and then expel it as continuous thrust. Despite the turbines’ small size, they actually have greater range and fuel efficiency than the bulky jet pack Hardware originally used for flight.
- DOBIE (Digital On-Board Integrated Electronics) - DOBIE is the CPU that controls many of the on-board functions of the Hardware Version 2.0 armor.  DOBIE can accept both visual and verbal input.
- Curtis used a new Artificial Intelligence Architecture to design DOBIE’s Operating System. Thus, DOBIE can swiftly process huge amounts of data stored in its databanks or from external sources. By using its Expert System Architecture, DOBIE can also learn as it goes and automatically upgrade its operating system as necessary.
- Originally, Hardware wore DOBIE on the left side of his belt. However, to better protect DOBIE from physical damage, Curtis now hides it in a compartment in his right gauntlet.  In the event of an electromagnetic pulse attack, DOBIE can reboot in minutes.
- Inertia Winder - The inertia winder is a device of Cooperative origin that can absorb and store kinetic energy. Two of these devices are known to exist on Earth; the other is built into Rocket’s belt buckle. Originally, Curtis installed the winder in the bottom of the elevator shaft that Curtis used to a access the underground lab he used as Hardware. This use of the winder became unnecessary when Hardware struck his alliance with Alva.
- However, Curtis did discover a new use for the inertia winder. While developing the Version 2 armor, he realized that is its weight would be unwieldy. So, Curtis installed the winder into his own belt buckle. There it offsets the armor's weight as well as much of his own weight. Hence, Hardware can move with unusual dexterity and agility as well move quietly in the bulky suit.
Curtis has designed various pieces of equipment to enhance the capabilities of his Hardware armor. Many of them are hand-held and can be easily carried on his belt. Larger pieces of equipment are mounted on Hardware's helmet, gauntlets and shoulder pads.
- Quick Pick - The Quick Pick is a unique lock picking tool of Curt's design. After its nozzle is inserted into a keyhole, the Pick pours Hardware shell alloy in liquid form into the lock. The Pick then polarizes the alloy into a perfect key in seconds. As a result, no standard lock is safe from this device.
- Sonic Drill – This shoulder mounted device creates a focused beam of powerful sonic pulses that enables Hardware to bore through solid rock. By increasing the width of the drill’s sonic beam, he can use it as a non-lethal weapon to harmlessly stun living opponents.
Other equipment Hardware has used include a forearm-mounted welding tool, tracking devices,  a flashlight helmet attachment, a handheld depolarizing device (used to remove his basic armor during emergencies), a handheld scanning device, a wrist-mounted energy analyzer, a special gun that launches miniature eavesdropping devices, a laser cutting tool, a flare gun, wrist-mounted high-intensity flashlights (that double as blinding weapons),  and a portable electromagnet capable of lifting weights equal to three SYSTEMatics.
- Skylark: Hardware's primary means of transport is a "flying car" called the Skylark, which is a refinement of the Moller Skycar. This two-man aircraft can fly at speeds in excess of 400 mph thanks to a trio of rear-mounted 2500 horsepower Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines. Stability for the Skylark is provided by a pair of side-mounted 1200 horsepower Pratt & Whitney engines, which also granted it VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capabilities. Hence, the Skylark can hover in the air or take off straight up like a helicopter.
- The Skylark's cockpit boasts state-of-the-art computer systems for surveillance. The craft can receive and monitor police-band, shortwave, AM, FM, TV, and CB signals. The Skylark is linked to Hardware's armor, enabling him to remotely control its systems. He often uses this link to activate the Skylark's autopilot when he needs quick extraction from dangerous situations. 
- The Skylark's chassis is manufactured from a special epoxy resin composite, making it light enough to be lifted by a normal man. Despite its low weight, this composite is highly bullet-resistant; the Skylark’s windows are similarly bulletproof. The craft's armor is augmented by its self-repair systems that uses nano-robots to fix any damage suffered during battle. If the Skylark is too heavily damaged, Hardware can bail out using the ejector seat.
- Another benefit of the Skylark's mostly non-metallic construction is its virtual invisibility to conventional radar. Furthermore, the Skylark has an active counter-radar matrix that absorbs and broadcast false signals, causing more sophisticated radar systems to mistake the craft for anything from a bird to a civilian or military jet. These features along with its special noise suppression technology enable the Skylark to remain in place unseen and unheard for hours. Curtis later equipped the Skylark with cloaking technology that makes the craft as invisible to the naked eye as to electronic detection.
- Though designed to avoid enemies, the Skylark is well prepared for battle. The craft has a pair of spindles under its fuselage on which Hardware can mount multiple weapons packages. For defense, the Skylark has chaff and flare dispensers to counter radar-seeking and heat-seeking missiles, respectively.
- Hardware sometimes uses a larger version of the Skylark called the Skytank. As implied by its name, the Skytank possessed heavier armor to withstand more punishment. Because of its greater weight, the Skytank has six side-mounted 1200 horsepower Pratt & Whitney engines to provide stability and VTOL capabilities.  If the Skytank is severely damaged in battle, the craft has an ejector seat that converts into a metal hang glider (a "soft landing module"). Despite these differences, the Skytank shares many of the features of the standard Skylark.
- Curtis' Personal Car: Curtis has sometimes used his personal car as Hardware when his other vehicles like the Skylark would be too conspicuous. To this end, he made extensive modifications to the car including turbine engines for much greater speed and a windshield that can interface with the on-board systems of Hardware's armor. The car's special headlights could emit ultraviolet and infrared light to increase visibility in low-light/foul weather and no-light conditions, respectively.
- Curtis installed an on-board holographic imager in the car to mask his appearance when he used the vehicle as Hardware. The imager would follow Hardware's movements and then display a 3-D laser light image on the car's tinted windows. The imager had over 100 different people on file that Hardware could select from as a holographic disguise. The car also had quick flip license plates and liquid crystal paint that changed color when exposed to certain electrical impulses. All these features enabled Hardware to alter the appearance of the car and its passengers at will.
- Curtis' car also had a minicomputer and a Skylark command center. These systems allowed him to do everything from monitor communications to drive the car hands-free via a voice-activated autopilot. For defense, the car's modified chassis had hardpoints on which Hardware could mount the Skylark's smaller weapons pods. Hardware designed the car so the pods could be hidden on its underside or behind special panels built into its fore panels.
- Curtis has owned two models of car. The first was a 1992 Lotus Esprit, which was destroyed by the costumed assassin Volt in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Metcalf. The second was a 1996 Dodge Viper GTS that first saw action when Hardware aided his father Mitch Metcalf in capturing the crime boss Top Dog. The car was destroyed by a missile fired by one of Top Dog's henchmen.
- Jet-Pack (formerly)
Curtis has designed and employed an extensive arsenal of weapons as Hardware. These weapons range from hand-held armaments to much larger systems that are mounted on his armor's gauntlets and shoulder pads.
Hardware's arsenal has yet to be fully cataloged since he continues to develop weapons to counter new threats. The following is a list of his more notable armaments.
- Plasma Whip: Hardware's whip is perhaps his most versatile weapon, which he can employ offensively, as a grapple for climbing, and as an extended arm for grabbing. The whip is composed of magnetically conducted metal segments shielded with a non-magnetic housing. When a reverse magnetic charge is applied to the collapsed segments, magnetic repulsion instantly extends the whip and keeps it rigid. The whip is 15 feet in length when fully extended. By reversing the polarity of the magnetic charge, the segments collapse to a mere 10 inches due to magnetic attraction. Including the power supply and housing, the retracted whip is slightly less than 18 inches long.
- Under normal circumstances, the power pack in the whip's handle has enough power to extend or retract the weapon for hours. The whip is equipped with a specially-constructed step transformer that when activated by Hardware amplifies the power pack. This causes a small burst of high-energy plasma to be released from the power pack and race to the tip of the whip. Hence, the destructive plasma charge can be delivered to a specific target.
- The whip delivers an amount of plasma equal to the mass of matter converted on contact. Put simply, Hardware can employ the whip to disintegrate virtually anything it touches via a matter-to-energy conversion triggered by its plasma charge.
- Hardware's whip can maintain its charge for a maximum of 10 minutes and no more than four minutes at any given time. Any longer than that will completely exhaust the power pack and burn out the mechanism. An energy-ablative coating of Curt's design protects the whip from being consume by the plasma is generates.
- When not in use, the whip is carried in a holster on the right side of Hardware's belt.
- Retractable Sword: The retractable sword consists of four magnetized blade segments of varying length. When a reverse magnetic charge is applied to the segments, magnetic repulsion pushes the segments from their housing. The sword's full length is 30 inches when extended. By altering the the charge's polarity, the segments are retracted into their housing. The sword has double edges that are kept razor sharp by an automatic sharpening mechanism that edges the blades every time they retract.
- The sword is reinforced with a special sleeve composed of a variation of Hardware's shell alloy. As a result, the blade is highly flexible while retaining an extremely hard edge. Such qualities are necessary since the retractable sword would likely break due to the strain placed on it by Hardware's superhuman strength.
- Fluid Gun: This weapon shoots streams of various liquids under high pressure to impair the movement of opponents. Originally a handheld weapon, Hardware has redesigned the fluid gun so it can be comfortably worn on his wrist.
- Typically, the gun is loaded with Hardware shell alloy in a fluid state. When polarized and applied to the ground, the liquid metal will adhere to and immobilize anyone who steps in it. The shell fluid can only be removed if it is depolarized with the proper electrical charge.
- Hardware has also loaded the fluid gun with a lubricant composed of tetrafluroethylene microspheres which are virtually frictionless. Hence, it is virtually impossible to get traction on a surface coated with this lubricant; even powerful speedsters like the Flash are vulnerable to this substance.
- Flow Gun: One of Hardware's more unique weapons, this handgun is constructed by specially programmed nano-assemblers stored in the pods in his armor's shoulder pads. When activated, the nano-assemblers leave their pods, travel down Hardware's arm, and assemble the flow gun in his hand. This process occurs so quickly that the nano-assemblers look like silvery liquid flowing down his arm, hence the name of the weapon. Hardware loads the flow gun with non-lethal ammunition like stun pellets.
- Holographic Projection System: This device projects convincing holographic copies of Hardware that he can use to distract or confuse opponents. He can also reconfigure the holographic system to project DOBIE's computer displays.
Other weapons Hardware uses less frequently include tasers, timed explosives, shoulder-mounted tranquilizer dart launchers, a liquid oxygen-fueled flamethrower, a micro-rocket (a small rocket that attaches to an opponent's back and then launches him helplessly into the air), a remote-controlled thruster unit (a miniature jet thruster that latches onto a fleeing vehicle and causes it to spin wildly out of control), a rocket pistol (that shoots explosive mini-missiles), a kusarigama,  a high-powered laser pen (that temporarily blinds opponents), a neural net cannon (that produce effects like the Omnicannon’s neural net shells), a machine gun that fires explosive bullets, a "nova burst" (an extremely powerful energy beam weapon), a heavily armed Hardware robot (that Curtis could control from miles away via a telepresence rig), a power source shield (that protects his armor from energy-draining weaponry), and a field of ultracool atoms that can trap and immobilize energy beings like Doctor Light.
In his civilian identity, Curtis usually has carried a traditional handgun for self-defense. However, he increasingly found himself facing superhuman foes that could not be defeated with a mere gun. So, Curt began developing high-tech, easily concealable weapons to fulfill this need. Most notable of these is his watch, whose face flips up to reveal a hidden compartment containing a miniature version of his Omnicannon shell. In weapon mode, the watch uses pressurized gas to propel the shell toward a target with enough explosive force to destroy a car. Due to its small size, the watch only has enough ammo for one shot and lacks computer targeting systems, requiring Curt to manually aim it. A pressure field of Curt's design prevents the mini-shell from being accidentally detonated if he bangs the watch against a wall or similar hard surface.
- It has been hinted that Curt has a crush on Vixen. He once stated that he wanted to invite her to dinner, , and he once also called her "the Future Mrs. Hardware"..
- Curt's Hardware armor increases his strength to superhuman levels. Initially, the suit magnified his strength fifty fold, meaning that he could lift (press) 5 tons under optimal conditions. However, Hardware's recent battle with the SYSTEMatic Mark III indicates that Curtis has significantly increased the armor's strength augmentation abilities beyond the 5 ton limit.
- 76 Appearances of Curtis Metcalf (Dakotaverse)
- 63 Images featuring Curtis Metcalf (Dakotaverse)
- 13 Quotations by or about Curtis Metcalf (Dakotaverse)
- Character Gallery: Curtis Metcalf (Dakotaverse)
- Hardware (comics) at Wikipedia.org
- Hardware at International Hero
- Hardware at TV Tropes
- Hardware at Arkhampedia
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Hardware #8
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 Hardware #1
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Hardware #4
- ↑ Hardware #9
- ↑ Hardware #14
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Hardware #15
- ↑ 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22 7.23 7.24 7.25 7.26 7.27 7.28 7.29 7.30 7.31 7.32 7.33 7.34 7.35 7.36 7.37 7.38 7.39 7.40 7.41 7.42 7.43 7.44 7.45 7.46 7.47 7.48 7.49 7.50 7.51 7.52 7.53 7.54 7.55 7.56 7.57 7.58 7.59 7.60 7.61 7.62 7.63 7.64 7.65 7.66 7.67 7.68 7.69 Hardware #16
- ↑ Hardware #19
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 Brave and the Bold (Volume 3) #25
- ↑ Static #14
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Hardware #45
- ↑ Hardware #46
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Hardware #47
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 Hardware #34
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 Hardware #44
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Hardware #18
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 Hardware #37
- ↑ Hardware #35
- ↑ Hardware #21
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 Justice League of America (Volume 2) #28
- ↑ Icon #1
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Hardware #3
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Hardware #42
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 Hardware #10
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 Hardware #6
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 Hardware #5
- ↑ 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 Hardware #2
- ↑ Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool #3
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 29.2 Justice League of America (Volume 2) #33
- ↑ 30.0 30.1 30.2 Hardware #40
- ↑ Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool #3
- ↑ Justice League of America (Volume 2) #30
- ↑ Hardware #43
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 Hardware #25
- ↑ Hardware #41
- ↑ 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 Hardware #29
- ↑ Hardware #17
- ↑ Shadow Cabinet #0
- ↑ Hardware #20
- ↑ Milestone Forever #2
- ↑ Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool #2
- ↑ Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool #4
- ↑ Justice League of America (Volume 2) #27
- ↑ 44.0 44.1 44.2 Hardware #25
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