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|First appearance||Hardcase #1 (June, 1993)|
|Created by||James Hudnall|
|Alter ego||Tom Hawke|
|Abilities||Nanite Augmented Physiology|
Hardcase is a comic book series written by James Hudnall for Malibu Comicsâ Ultraverse imprint, which lasted 26 issues. The series was about Tom Hawke, who became one of the first publicly known Ultras (the blanket term for superhumans in the Ultraverse).
A struggling actor, Tom Hawke's luck drastically changed after being struck by the "Jumpstart Effect", a burst of energy from the Entity, the ancient alien spaceship responsible for most of the world's super-beings. Gaining superhuman strength and durability, Tom realized that he wanted more than short term success. He met with Linda Warren, Jamal Blass and Carlos Jimenez, who had also gained abilities, and proposed that they become an Ultrahero team, helping people while bolstering their careers. The other agreed and formed the Squad, each taking code names; Starburst, D.J. Blast, Forsa and Hardcase.
Prior to issue #1
For six months the Squad achieved great success, fighting crime, aiding the police and performing acts of charity. They became celebrities and media darlings. Their good fortune was not to last though. Attacked by the creature NM-E, the heroes were overcome. In a last-ditch effort, D.J. Blast focussed all his power on NM-E, causing a massive explosion. Only Hardcase and Starburst escaped, but not without cost; Starburst was comatose. Grief-stricken by the tragedy, Hardcase retired from heroics. He would later learn that Rex Mundi was responsible for the attack.
Return to activity
During his retirement, Hardcase became an action movie star, portraying himself on the screen. He came out of retirement to battle Headknocker, an Ultrahuman with incredible strength, who outmatched the police. Defeating the villain, Hardcase announces his return.
Soon afterwards, he was visited by the ultraheroine Choice, who asks for his help as she is being pursued by various super-powered forces. Hardcase agrees and allowed her to stay with him. The two soon began a relationship, though Hardcase was reluctant at first. The two have several adventures together, including rescuing tsunami victims. Once, teamed with The Strangers, they invaded Aladdin's Groom Lake facility, where Hardcase discovers that the government agency was using the Squad's genetic material. Later, the heroes go to work for a person known only as the Alternate. They travel to the moon to discover the source of the "Jumpstart Effect" which has been granting people powers all across Earth. Alongside other ultraheroes, they protect the Entity, a crashed starship that was causing the Jumpstart Effect, from attack. It is soon allowed to return home.
As payment, the Alternate tells Choice and Hardcase that Choice's origins lay back at Groom Lake. The Aladdin Assault Squad stop their plans to invade. The pair hire Tech of the Solution to obtain the information they sought. The information reveals that Choice was given her abilities by using the genetic material from the brains of Forsa and Starburst, which greatly distresses Hardcase. Moments later, Choice is teleported away to the Godwheel.
Hardcase and several heroes formed Ultraforce soon after to stop the subterranean warlord Atalon's plans for world conquest. Successful, they stayed together to police other ultras.
Hardcase faced his greatest challenge when NM-E returned. Outmatched by the creature, he would have died if not for Primeâs intervention. Though unable to stop the creature himself, Primeâs attack allowed Hardcase to recover, with help from the Alternate. Renewing his assault, Hardcase savagely attacked NM-E, who was drained from its fight with Prime. Fueled by vengeance, Hardcase reduced the creature to debris.
Godwheel is a 1995 Ultraverse crossover event. The god Argus then teleports Hardcase and other ultras to another dimension to recover the keys to the Crucible of Life for him. Rebelling, the ultras fight Argus. The kidnapped Ultras split into two factions, those willing to serve Argus and those wishing to oppose him. The escapees travel to the Godwheel on the 'Godyacht' itself to take control of the keys. Hardcase gains a new uniform and teams up with the heroine Flygirl to search for the key called the Roc's Egg. They lose the key to Lord Pumpkin and Flygirl is blasted off the edge of a cliff and falls to her death. This deeply traumatizes Hardcase.
After further adventures, the surviving Ultras banish Argus. Hardcase discovers that Choice was on the Godwheel and is briefly reunited with her. During this short time, he learns she was pregnant.
Returned to Earth, Hardcase sought out the man responsible for his misfortune, Rex Mundi. He meets with ultras formerly employed by Mundi to extract Mundiâs location. To hinder Hardcase, Mundi frames him for murder.
Time Gem and Loki
Inadvertently, Hardcase discovered the Time Gem, one of the Infinity Gems, and using it tried to prevent the Squadâs death. He failed, but his actions created an alternate timeline. The trickster god Loki then stole the gem from him.
On information from Death Dance and Meathook, Hardcase confronted Mundi in his underground lair. Capturing Hardcase, Mundi revealed that he was, like himself, composed of nanotech. His true nature somewhat explained to him, Hardcase willed himself back in time to undo the damage he had done. He reappeared and witnessed a confrontation between Mundi and the Alternate. Dismissed by the combatants, Hardcase returned to Hollywood where he was reunited with Choice.
When the Black September Event struck the Ultraverse and rewrote reality, Hardcase was shunted into a limbo dimension, erased from reality. He reappeared only one more time to battle the Demonseed, a being he had created as a companion. In the end, with Primeâs help, he banished himself and Demonseed back to limbo to battle for all eternity.
Incredibly strong, Hardcase is able to throw a car over 50 yards with little effort. His leg muscles allow him to leap nearly a mile. Nearly invulnerable to damage and changes in temperature, only extreme temperatures affect him. When he is hurt, Hardcase can heal quickly, though the process is sped up if he drinks seawater. His senses are enhanced, allowing him to hear and see over long distances.
Hardcase later learned that the Jumpstart effect that changed him, had effectively converted him into a nanotech being, composed of organic nanotech. As such, Hardcase learned he had many untapped abilities, such as not needing to sleep or breathe. In his later escapades, Hawke would stumble upon just what this would mean. Being able to effect climate and temperature, have diverse technological interfacing abilities and even travel back & forth through time.
In other media
Hardcase also appeared in the short lived Ultraforce cartoon show as the team's leader. Other members include Contrary, Prime and Ghoul. The team faces various threats such as Rune and Lord Pumpkin. Hardcase is voiced by Rod Wilson.
Hardcase was one of the action figures produced for Galoob's Ultraforce line.
- Hardcase #3 (1993)
- The Solution #3 (October 1993)
- Flood Relief (Jan. 1994)
- "Godwheel" #2 (1994)
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