Back Issue Alphabet: H is for H.A.R.D. Corps #15 (1993) (David Micheline, Yvel Guichet)
Oh my gosh. This is exactly the kind of mess I was looking forward to reviewing when I started the Back Issue Alphabet. I legitimately love this cover. Some guy with a mullet, one glove, and a thriller jacket is trying to melt the helmet off of a guy in tech-armour, who is choking him. It’s a neat use of perspective.
H.A.R.D. Corps certainly has that “For 13-year-olds, by 13-year-olds” vibe that 90s comics were saturated with. First off, the ridiculous acronym name: H.A.R.D Corps. It’s an acronym and a pun, (sort of). Any time a book starts with an acronym and works its way down, I get nervous. In the book we learn that it stands for “Harbinger Active Resistance Division” but we never find out what Harbinger is. They’re the bad guys, and it’s up to the H.A.R.D Corps to take them down. The H.A.R.D Corps consists of Gunslinger, Shakespeare, Virgil (maybe? It’s hard to tell) Hotshot, Flatline, and... (sigh)... Softcore. Yeah, these books may be written by twenty-somethings, but they’re pulling ideas out of the notebook they’ve been holding on to since the 10th grade. Seriously? Softcore?
The H.A.R.D Corps is a team of commandos that get their superpowers activated remotely. For example, they call in to the base when they need strength or flight. While Gunslinger, Shakespeare, Hotshot, and Flatline are out in the field, they radio back to... (sigh)... Softcore to send powers to them over “microbeam transmission.” That’s a fun enough concept. I like the costume design for the team. Other than the colour (pink?), it appears to be a practical jumpsuit with some body armour built in. Considering this was the era of giant shoulder pads, spikes and infinity pockets, their team uniform is downright subdued.
The books is not forgiving to new readers. I was barely able to figure out who was who, because the Corps members call each other by their nutty GI Joe-esque code names, but (sigh) Softcore refers to them by their name and rank. I don’t know what Harbinger does or why H.A.R.D Corps is tasked with taking it down. There’s an interesting twist involving their power delivery system at the end of the issue, but nothing that piqued my interest. The art is good, and the story is serviceable, but besides the interchangeable superpower thing, there’s nothing that puts it above a hundred other comics on the racks.
I wonder how many search engine hits I’ll get with this many references to “softcore”...