Milestone’s Hardware Just Proved He’s More Like Kang the Conqueror Than Iron Man

Hardware has commonly been compared to Iron Man, but his recent behavior makes him more like the MCU’s newest villain, Kang the Conqueror.

Hardware is one of the many Milestone heroes who’ve been brought back following the publisher’s return in the past few years. A technological genius who fights crime in a suit of armor, he’s known for occupying the status of an Iron Man stand-in within the Milestone Universe. While this normally might be true, his newest adventure sees him taking on aspects of another, more villainous Marvel character.

Kang the Conqueror, who’s now debuting on the big screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is known for traveling back and forth through time. Icon vs. Hardware #1 (by Reginald Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Christopher Sotomayor, and Andworld Design) sees Curtis Metcalf not only start a rivalry with Dakota’s greatest hero but also create a disturbing chronal dissonance. Here’s how Hardware wears a new metaphorical armor that’s similar to the villain of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Milestone’s Hardware is Traveling Through Time

The series’ first issue begins with Hardware researching Icon, who he’s incredibly mistrustful of, despite his supposed heroism. Looking into him through the dark web, he uncovers information on “Augustus Freeman’s” past life as a freed slave and veritable Renaissance man. This leads Curtis Metcalf to uncover other lost information on his target, including a supposed time machine of his that had been locked away by the U.S. government. Though he questioned the device’s validity, he began tinkering with it, eventually using it to send a rabbit back in time.

Finally content with using the device himself, Hardware travels back in time to see if he can convince his father to not walk out on his family. This doesn’t have much of an effect on the future, however, with Metcalf pledging to think bigger. The hero’s next target is his former boss, Edwin Alva, to prevent him from using an experimental gas of Curtis’ creation to inadvertently cause the rise of Dakota’s Bang Babies. The result is Alva’s early death, with Curtis Metcalf taking over his company. Even then, however, superhumans still rise, only to be used as soldiers and living weapons. Somehow cognizant of his tampering with the time stream, Icon approaches Hardware, clearly upset by his actions.

Hardware Has Now Become Milestone’s Kang the Conqueror

Using time travel, namely through alien means, is somewhat outside Hardware’s usual wheelhouse. The actions remain steeped in his usual premise of getting back at Edwin Alva, but it’s also quite a step-up for someone with typically more grounded means. It makes him very much like Kang the Conqueror, who’s far more villainous than Hardware’s usual heroic counterpart Iron Man. Obviously, Kang is known for time-traveling, something which he uses against foes such as the Avengers and especially the Fantastic Four. Likewise, Hardware cares absolutely little about any ramifications of what he’s doing, even stating that he’s not concerned about a butterfly effect. If anything, he sees his time travel as justified, with the result potentially making the world a better place.

Of course, this would mainly benefit Curtis himself by way of saving his family and preventing his being associated with Alva’s biggest mistake. Such self-centered “heroism” falls in line with the ambitions of Kang, who also has no regard for what happens to others. On the other hand, Iron Man/Tony Stark’s biggest point of characterization is that he recognizes what his actions and technology do to others, inspiring him to use them in more tactful ways. Thus, the armored suits might be the only things he and Hardware have in common at the end of the day. Hardware’s suit even resembles Kang’s mask and costume more than it does Iron Man’s. Given this lack of regard for responsible stewardship of the timestream, it’s no wonder Icon is in conflict with Hardware.