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After the Hardware Mark II armor was destroyed in his first encounter with Tyrant, Curtis Metcalf decided to retire. When he was attacked by Autopsy and Post-Mortem in his own apartment, he realized he was not going to be allowed to retire. To confront Tyrant, he designed a new, larger version of his armor. He constructed the new battlesuit in the seclusion of his father's garage to protect his friends and colleagues at Hard Company.
Just as the armor was completed, Tyrant and his army invaded Dakota City. Using the Mark III, Metcalf intercepted and routed Tyrant's forces. While the armor survived the conflict, it has not been used since.
The Hardware Mark III armor was designed by Metcalf to defeat immensely powerful foes like Tyrant. To that end, he significantly augmented the standard attributes of previous armors: firepower, durability, and especially strength enhancement. This last attribute accounts for why the Mark III is so large compared to previous armors. Other notable differences include a fly-by-wire control system and weapons built-into the suit rather than being mounted.
The Mark III suit consists of two layers, the basic armor and the power armor, which are described below.
The basic armor is a plasticized metal alloy of Metcalf's own design. Using a device called the Shell Forge, he coated his body from head to toe with this material. Once polarized, the shell served as a skintight foundation upon which his external armor rests. It also provided the following functions:
- Enhanced Damage Resistance: The shell was highly resistant to impact and possessed ablative capabilities. This provided a high degree of protection from physical assaults and projectiles.
- Limited Energy Resistance: The same characteristics provided protection from low-level energy attacks such as electricity, lasers, and the like.
- Superhuman Strength: Perhaps the most formidable feature of the shell was the programmable polymers integrated into its structure. These polymers enabled the shell to stretch and contract like human muscle, but with considerably greater force. Hence, the shell increased the natural strength of the wearer to superhuman levels.
- Enhanced Reflexes: The polymers could also "remember" movements that had been programed into them and that could be triggered at a later time. For instance, Metcalf had programmed complex martial art katas into the polymers that when activated enabled him to unleash a high-speed combination of blows.
The drawback to the shell was that while wearing it Hardware could not eat or drink.
The external systems of the power armor were stored in nano-robot housing pods in his helmet and shoulder pads of the basic armor. When released, the nano-robots would created the power armor from a hyper-dense, gold colored alloy. The molecular structure of the alloy conformed no known substance native to Earth, leading to speculation of an extraterrestrial origin. When deployed, the power armor provided the following functions:
- Enhanced Superhuman Strength: Despite its defensive capabilities, the power armor primarily functioned as a powered exoskeleton that followed and magnified the movements of the wearer. This capability boosted the strength enhancement qualities of the basic armor, providing the wearer enormous physical strength.
- Heads-Up-Display: The helmet of the armor was equipped with a high resolution multi-phasic scanner that granted the ability to see wavelengths of light beyond the visual spectrum, ranging from infrared to ultraviolet. The scanner was fully integrated into the tracking and target sub-system that overlaid a sighting cross-hair onto right eye of the wearer. This sub-system would determine target acquisition by following the eye movements of the wearer and then fire on verbal command.
In addition the armor also contained a multi-channel sensor array.
- Cybernetic Interface: The helmet also housed a highly experimental cybernetic interface to convert the bio-electric signals from the brain of the wearer into commands sent to the suit's CPU. This was necessary due to the fly-by-wire control system of armor even though it would accept some voice commands.
- In addition, the helmet contains miscellaneous systems such as a satellite radio communications array, a chronometer, and a speech synthesizer that alters his voice to conceal his secret identity.
- Sealed Air Supply: The armor is equipped with an internal air supply, allowing the wearer survive in low-oxygen, underwater, or other harsh environments.
- Central Processing Unit (CPU): Many of the on-board functions of the Mark III armor were controlled by a CPU via the fly-by-wire system. The CPU could accept both mental input via the cybernetic interface as well as verbal commands.
Metcalf's virtual adviser EDWIN, a semi-sentient artificial intelligence, was installed as the operating system for the CPU. EDWIN could swiftly process huge amounts of data allowing it to follow commands relayed by the cybernetic interface, access data stored on-board or from external sources, and make independent offensive decisions and adjustments at the same time.
- Inertia Winder: Salvaged from the Mark II armor, the inertia winder off set the weight of the armor and the wearer. This provided:
The Mark III had a wide arsenal of weapons that have yet to be fully cataloged. Among these were:
- Pulsar Cannons: The Mark III's primary weapons were pulsar cannons, forearm-mounted energy weapons which replaced the Omnicannons of the previous armor.
- Energy Cannon: A third energy cannon installed on the left side of the armor's chest plate.
- Lasers: Six high-powered lasers, three mounted on each shoulder pad, that concealed by hidden panels when not in use. The wearer could deploy any number of lasers from an individual beam to all six at once.
- Microwave Beam Transmitters: The Mark III suit could generate microwave beams for various purposes. At low power, they could be used as a non-lethal "heat ray" to repel attackers without causing permanent damage. At maximum power, they were a potent energy weapons that could rapidly heat up and destroy targets.
- Retractable Sword: For melee combat, the Mark III's right gauntlet was equipped with a retractable sword common to the previous versions of the armor. It had a triangular blade and was scaled up in proportion to the Mark III's great size. Electromagnetic repulsion pushed the sword from its housing while altering its polarity caused the blade to retract. The double-edged sword was kept razor sharp by an automatic sharpening mechanism that edged the blade every time it retracted.
The sword was reinforced with a special sleeve composed of a variation of the shell alloy. As a result, the blade had an extremely hard edge while being flexible enough to withstand the strain placed on it by the superhuman strength the armor generated.
- Jet-Pack: The Mark III armor was capable of flight due to its jet-pack. The turbine thrusters generated thrust by gathering the surrounding air and then expelling it in a continuous stream. The rig had a pair of small wings to give the armor greater flight stability. These wings retracted when the armor is on the ground in order not to impede the movements of the wearer. The jet-pack also had an impeller system that would quickly propel the suit through the water when submerged.
- The appearances of this version of Hardware's armor only appeared in issues published by DC for Milestone Media, making it part of the Dakotaverse.
- Based on editorial statements from Dan DiDio and Dwayne McDuffie in 2008, these stories were to be brought into the New Earth cannon.
- Shortly before his death, Curt Metcalf's mentor and former nemesis, Edwin Alva, constructed his own battlesuit that he dubbed Hardware Version 3.0. This suit has no connection to Curt's Mark III armor.
- Appearances of Hardware Armor MK III
- Item Gallery: Hardware Armor MK III
- Images featuring Hardware Armor MK III
Links and References