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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Nu-Perspective: HARDWARE

It's been a while. How is everyone holding up? Ok, full transparency moment: try as hard as I might I just can't seem to get back to Nu-Perspective on a regular schedule. However, there WAS one redesign I was sitting on, and now with the rebirth of Milestone I figured why not drop it. The title gave it away but yes, I'm talking about HARDWARE!

Hardware issue #1

For those of you who may not know, NuPerspective is the column where me and my writing collaborator Fabian Wood revamp and update various underdeveloped, underutilized, cheesy and/or all-but-forgotten Nubian (black) comic book and pop culture characters. We stay within continuity for the characters as best we can and then take the stories and art to places we think will showcase them in cool, fresh, contemporary and exciting ways both visually and story-wise. Now, Milestone beat us to the punch, but we still wanted to drop what we did. Please note,made to the character in the new series. our story does not incorporate any revisions Milestone to the character in the new series.


Real Name: Curtis “Curt” Metcalf
Current Alias: Hardware

Identity: Secret (presumed deceased)

Occupation: Inventor, Engineer, Founder of Hard Company

Place of Birth: Dakota City

Base of Operations: Dakota City

Affiliations: Hard Company, Alva Technologies (formerly)

First Appearance: Hardware #1 (1993)

Original Creators: Dwayne McDuffie; Denys Cowan

Story: A diamond in the rough, Curtis Metcalf was born in the impoverished projects of Dakota City, but was an intellectual prodigy. Seeing great potential in the young boy, corporate savant Edwin Alva took Curtis under his wing, and became like a surrogate father to Curtis. Exploiting Curtis’ genius over the years, Alva Technologies became a powerful tech conglomerate. Meanwhile, Curtis lived in an idyllic state, even believing himself entitled to the company fortune as Alva’s “adopted son”. Curtis’ delusions were soundly thrashed when Edwin admitted he only used Curtis as a valuable resource for his company and was nothing more than a tool, a “cog in the machine”. Devastated by this revelation and sense of betrayal Curtis was consumed by revenge.

Discovering his former mentor’s ties to virtually every facet of organized crime in Dakota, Curtis secretly blew the whistle on him. But Edwin’s influence and corruptions ran deep. If Curtis was going to see justice, it would have to be by his own hands. Curtis constructed a bleeding-edge exo-suit and fought organized crime as the high-tech vigilante Hardware for many years, chipping away at Alvan’s empire, codenamed S.Y.S.T.E.M, until it was no more.

Afterwards, Curtis founded Hard Company to replace the corrupt Alva Technologies. But despite all of his successes and victories, Curtis’ conscious continued to prick him. His ambitions and motivations were always petty and selfish, and he never quite grasped the nobler aspects of being a true hero. Eventually bequeathing Hard Company to his former rival and protégé Tiffany Evans (aka Technique), Curtis went on a sabbatical to find his next calling.

It was during this reprieve that Curtis was murdered, presumably by an old, vengeful nemesis also thought dead. But that would not truly be the end of Metcalf. In his later years, Curtis had been experimenting with digitizing human consciousness, a fringe science that he was able to crack. Downloaded into a fully autonomous Hardware suit, the resurrected Curtis spent months in an isolated bunker acclimating to his new body and rediscovering who he really was before his "death". With his memories fully restored and his resolve ablaze once more, Curtis is once again on the hunt for a reconstituted S.Y.S.T.E.M. which has recently been terrorizing Dakota City.

Powers/Abilities: Curtis Metcalf has super-genius-level intelligence and is in fact one of the top five smartest people on the planet. He has an extensive encyclopedic and practical knowledge with physics, machinery, technology, engineering, computer programming and metallurgy. Whereas before his armor had an on-board A.I., named D.O.B.I.E. (Digital On-Board Integrated Electronics), Curtis is now the suit’s OS. As such, he no longer requires food or oxygen to survive and is self-sustaining. For psychological reasons, he must still periodically "sleep". Curtis’ new fully cybernetic body possesses incredible strength of over 100 tons, and can move at hyper-sonic speeds. He is also capable of self-propelled flight using reverse engineered alien anti-gravity technology. His body is nigh-invulnerable, and even if damaged, is capable of self-repair. Metcalf’s senses have also been enhanced far beyond human limitations. He can hear ultra/infra sounds and pick up transmissions, and can see the entire electromagnetic spectrum. He also possesses powerful techno-pathy and tactile techno-kinesis. His mind is now capable of accessing, processing and retaining vast amounts of information and data. A staple weapon of Hardware that remains is his Omni-Cannon, which can now form hard-light weapons that can shoot virtually any conceivable energy, ballistic, artillery, gas or projectile from his forearms, along with a retractable plasma blade, an ionic whip. His last resort is a chest-mounted “Plaser” discharger. His body is thoroughly outfitted with other offensive and defensive weapons and gadgets, like magnetized mines, laser turrets, miscellaneous grenades, cloaking device and mini flying drones called Skylarks. His body is constantly adapting and evolving after every altercation, so it will continue to add and upgrade attributes perpetually.  

And there you have it. Let us know if you like what we did with this revamp and be sure to purchase the new Hardware comic from Milestone to see what the official revamp of this tech hero is about. Oh, and here is a link to our Nu-Perspective revamp of Technique who was mentioned earlier.
This is the part where I would normally say see ya sooner than later for another Nu-Perspective, but it might be later rather than sooner. Before you go, check out this Q&A below with Fabian and yours truly as we dive deeper into our process.
What do you like most about the character? – Fabian: Metcalf’s story is just about modern-day slavery and exploitation, in a corporate setting. There is a plethora of things to explore and comment with that concept that were definitely touched upon in the original run. It deserves a resurgence.
Shawn- For me it was seeing this Nubian character shown as a super intelligent, hard-working, articulate, powerful character who wasn't afraid to take matters into his own hands. 

What made you choose this character? – Fabian: Like most of the forgotten gems of Milestone that we’ve been highlighting, Curtis Metcalf was a no-brainer. We were just waiting for the right time.
Shawn: As much as I love the character from an internal story point, his costume was atrocious. I KNEW I had to get my hands on him for a redesign.

In regards to the story aspect of the update, what was your main inspiration for the direction? – Fabian: How do you top the “Iron Man” armored-architype superhero? By blurring the line between man and machine. From classics like Ghost in the Shell, nuggets like Robocop, to more contemporary Replicas, “man in machine” fringe sci-fi with a superhero flavor was the direction that made our Metcalf most unique. He’s not Steel, or Cyborg or War Machine, he’s at the farthest end of that spectrum.

Is there something in particular you want to point out? – Fabian: Curtis was light-years ahead of John Irons, who debuted the same year. I’d even wager that his suit was superior to Iron Man around the very same time. Of course Tony’s caught up over the last few decades, but Curtis was definitely like the Dreamcast of his generation.
Shawn: Yes, I want to highlight that what Hardware represented and represents is still something that needs to be discussed today. Which is rather sad. These characters are necessary.

Fine print: All characters are copyrights and trademarks of the respective publishers and creators. This column is used solely for artistic enjoyment. We aim to showcase Nubian characters in fresh, contemporary and exciting ways both visually and story-wise.



Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Aizan Files: BLACK AIZAN

It has been exactly 14 months since the great “Street War”.

The event was triggered when a Meta-breed despot by the name of Warlord Oguun took the city of Bridgeport hostage.

His initial attacks ravaged the city.

That, plus the resulting destruction caused from the “Street War”, the battle that occurred when the police and a band of vigilantes rose to take Oguun down, nearly completely destroyed the land.

The people of Bridgeport stand resilient however, and are on the road to rebuilding their lives as best they can. AntiMeta-breed sentiment is at an all time high, but never more-so than with Hela St. August, a rebellious street kid and graffiti writer, who wants to make it her goal to expose the truth about all things. This includes incompetent government, conspiracy theories, and most important to her, the Metas; who she considers metaphorical living timebombs with a short fuse and corruptible sociopaths. Her quest for answers no matter the cost will bring her into conflict with Roman K. Gideon, local mogul and huge supporter of a Pro-Meta Bill. This path becomes more jagged and treacherous in a chain reaction of events, as a dark secret is awakened inside of her. And when Hela encounters the resident protector of Bridgeport, Black Aizan, there is no escaping what must be done.  

Tag: Black Aizan
Real Name:  Adigun Akinsanya
(legally changed from Calvin Chase)
Identity: Secret
Occupation: Martial Arts Instructor and head of the Asad Heru Institute(a school that teaches a full curriculum leaning towards Nubian studies); Shadow CEO of numerous dummy corporations.
Main Base of Operations: A loft in the IronWorks borough of Bridgeport City
Nationality: English/ Legal Citizen of America among other nations   
Education: Primary school in England; Cambridge: Studied under the tutelage of Dr. Edu Batte.
Intelligence Level: 135 I.Q (Very knowledgeable in electrical engineering and is a calculative individual)  [for humans 110-119 being high average; 120-144 being exceptional; 145 and above being genius]  
Known Relatives: Leroy Chase(father; deceased), Carrington Chase(mother; deceased), Conroy Chase(brother), Promise Chase(sister)
Group Affiliation: The Clan of Aizan; loose association with other vigilantes; former member of The Vigil; Street Team
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 240lbs
Age: 57
Race: Nubian
Eyes: Grey     
Hair: Black with grey temples

 Journal: Adigun Akinsanya, aka Black Aizan, was born Calvin Chase to a poor family in Manchester, England. His father and mother worked on the estate of an aloof wealthy socialite by the name of Major Buckley, where they also lived in the servant quarters. Calvin was an exceptionally smart child, but very sickly. Together with the fact that he felt like an outsider watching the rich family he stayed at enjoy the finer things of life while his own family scraped by, he always kept to himself. It was at age 10 when Calvin fell gravely ill with a condition unsolvable by all of the physicians they saw. It was the Major who provided a chance for Calvin to live in the form of a doctor by the name of Dr. Edu Batte. And indeed, Dr Batte somehow miraculously saved Calvin’s life. From then on, the once cold Major took to Calvin and welcomed him and his family into the Buckley household as kin. He even went so far as to pay for all of Calvin’s tuition, a fact that didn’t sit well with the Major’s son. At the tender age of 15, Calvin was accepted into the prestigious University of Cambridge, where he went on to excel and study law and engineering. In just 3 years, he graduated with full honors. It was soon after that he disappeared off the face of the earth with his only presence being a few cryptic letters to his parents. He resurfaced 10 years later sometime in the 60’s in America, changed his name and established roots in the city of Bridgeport. Two years after that the first incarnation of the hero known as Black Aizan appeared. It is believed that somewhere in those 10 years he joined The Clan of Aizan, a clandestine fellowship of self-titled “world protectors”. The clan performs a ceremony called The Transference that passes abilities and knowledge from one successor to the next, with that person adopting the name of Aizan. 

Virtues: Black Aizan is a low level psychic possessing telepathic spatial antibodies. These telepathic antibodies allow him to alter people’s mental perceptions to his choosing when he feels threatened. He can cloud people’s minds, mislead them, or create illusions. Black Aizan manifests these abilities through a psychic astral form, with his body and clothing turning to mist. When in “battle mode” this telepathic mist registers to the eye as smoke.

Biometrics: Black Aizan was born with his special abilities so is considered an Angelbreed.

Physical abilities:
Through years of training and natural biological augmentation, Black Aizan is able to push his body to limits of an almost superhuman level, including increased stamina, strength, flexibility and more. With this natural ability plus his telepathic powers, his mind and body are highly resistant to torture.

Psyche/Extra: Black Aizan is a gruff, driven, purposeful individual who doesn’t believe in wasting time. He is an older superhero that’s felt the wear and tear of the life, both physically and mentally. He’s quiet and methodical and some people would think he’s rude. He is quite passionate about his Nubian heritage, and it was said that he added the name “Black” to his title of Aizan during the Civil Rights movement when he reappeared to reflect this pride. While not a murderer, he will kill for the greater good if necessary. He only possesses his full telepathic powers when in mist form. Also, despite being in somewhat decent physical health, years of combat and the effects of his age have begun to take their toll.

Martial Discipline: Although knowledgeable of various martial arts, as a member of the Clan of Aizan, Black Aizan specializes in their primary style of martial arts: Anansea Vita Saana. This form combines elements of Kwa Asilia Avita Sanaa(an internal style), Musangwa(a tenacious hand and knee style), Kamau Njia( a ninja like style) and Moringue( a stick fighting style).

Black Aizan utilizes two 9mm style handguns that primarily fires non-lethal concussion rounds. He is able to switch artillery however to varied "trick" projectiles including knockout gas capsules, rubber rounds, explosive tips and more. His costume is an advanced light-weight but highly protective suit that protects him from most minor firearms and damage. Black Aizan has access to various hi-tech gadgets depending on the situation thanks to
the privately funded, secret underground Innovations ThinkTank of the Clan Aizan. He often lends his intelligence to the Think Tank.

Aizan is an original character created by Shawn Alleyne. The story combines all the elements and themes that Shawn loves into one book-- Hip-hop; Martial Arts; Par-kour; Graffiti; and Super-heroes.  This is a story with something for everyone: a new take on vigilantes, urban ninjas, Kung-fu fighting angels, and more, all interwoven into a super-hero story with social commentary.
This is an urban sci-fi martial arts hip-hop superhero epic.

Aizan tells the story of a young woman by the name of Hela St.August, a passionate Barbadian artist and graffiti activist, who lives in the city of Bridgeport. As a result of a super-powered war, her city is left devastated. There’s a new emerging superhuman and vigilante community, and she feels disgusted by people with powers and views parahumans as parasites. Angry, bitter and rebellious to start with, Hela's life slips into further disarray when she not only discovers that SHE has powers but that she is also heir to the legacy of the supernatural essence of Aizan.