I’ll say right off the bat that when I first heard of this series I thought it sounded like a bad idea. It was like the Milestone creators were making the same mistake Zack Snyder did when he followed up Man of Steel with Batman vs Superman. You’re starting this new universe and immediately pitting two of your biggest superheroes against each other? It’s too soon, they don’t know each other, so there’s no emotional impact for them to fight.

Well, thankfully, writers Reginald Hudlin and Leon Chills are not doing the typical story that I was suspecting. Hardware is investigating Icon, but it’s not because he sees him as some kind of potential global threat that he needs to take down, on the contrary, as he’s reading about Icon and Rocket’s exploits, he’s impressed. He comes across secret government files indicating that Icon is an alien, and his thought is that he wants to get his hands on some alien technology for his own use, as he’s still hiding from the authorities. He breaks into a secret facility where he believes the U.S. government has stashed away the spaceship that brought Icon to Earth, which they recovered from the plantation it landed on after the Civil War. But that’s not what he finds.

In a little plot twist that I really like, Hardware finds himself a time machine built by Benjamin Banneker, and after a few experiments to make sure it works, Hardware takes it upon himself to travel back in time to stop the Big Bang from happening in the first place. After first going back to his childhood to try to correct a major issue between his parents, he travels back 3 months pre-Big Bang, and warns his past self about what’s going to happen and they proceed to attempt to destroy the Q-juice gas that would be used against the protestors. With some complications, they succeed, and when Hardware returns to the present, he finds his life has drastically changed, and so has the world, but not necessarily for the better. And that’s when he’s confronted by Icon in a dramatic cliffhanger.

Let me just say I love time travel stories, but they can be tricky. And to some degree, the story glosses over the potential consequences, which you’d think someone as smart as Hardware is supposed to be would take into deeper consideration. But, nope, he’s just like “a time machine? Cool! I’m gonna use it!” I mean his first test with the machine involves a rabbit and causes a major time paradox which doesn’t even cause him to pause.

And I like the idea of them using Benjamin Banneker as the inventor of the time machine, rather than going with the more cliche idea of someone like Nikola Tesla or Leonardo Da Vinci. This story plays into the real-life event that a mysterious fire just so happened to burn Bannker’s lab and destroy all of his journals on the day of his funeral, and paints that as a conspiracy to cover up his invention. Still, I would have probably written it as they found his theoretical notes for how to build a time machine, which no one could crack until Hardware completed it. Because if the government really had this machine all these decades and it was working, I’m sure they would have used it in some way. Still, it’s an intriguing concept, and I’m really curious to see where this story goes next.

But this isn’t just a Hardware book, we get a subplot where Raquel is attending an elite private girl’s school in Switzerland that Icon enrolled her in to prepare her to get the kind of education she’ll need to become a world leader someday. But there’s a squad of Mean Girls in the school who don’t appreciate Raquel’s presence. We also see Icon has been continuing his romance with Xiomara, although he’s still learning more about her background and the so-called “Love Corps.”

Denys Cowan and Yasmin Florez Montanez split the art duties and do a fine job.

Superpowers, government conspiracies, and time travel. This miniseries is off to a great start. Chacebook rating: FOUR STARS


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