Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human

Occupation: Assassin, enforcer

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Elio Angelopoulos III, Cruz Bushmaster, Coldfire (James Lucas Jr.), Power Men (Hector, Mac, Simms, Steele, others), Untouchables (Kickback/Richard Yurocko, Nitro/Robert Hunter, Tombstone/Lonnie Lincoln);
formerly Micky Hamilton

Enemies: Joshua "Richie" Anders, Emma Burstein, Dr. Noah Burstein, Luke Cage, Micky Hamilton, Iron Fist (Danny Rand), James Lucas Sr., Dakota North

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Cruz Bushmaster's island fortress off the coast of St. Croix, Virgin Islands;
   formerly research complex in Black Hole, Colorado;
   formerly a mansion outside Chicago, Illinois;
   formerly Hawaii (presumably his place of birth and childhood home)

First Appearance: Cage I#1 (April, 1992)

Powers/Abilities: Hardcore wore a "kinetic Kevlar vest" that afforded him protection from even superhumanly strong punches by Luke Cage. He was an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, highly trained in Japanese martial arts. He hardened and sharpened his hands, enabling them to penetrate steel. The nails of his left hand were long and sharp and could be used like blades. He employed a wide variety of traditional Japanese weapons including manrikisas, chain-like weapons, many of which he equipped with internal tasers, explosives or incendiaries. He also used shurikens and bullet-like sanjira, which he gave diamond tips. In addition he was an explosives expert. He loved to use quotes from famous people and spoke in Hawaiian slang.

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

(Cage I#12 (fb) ) - In Cruz Bushmaster's name Hardcore approached journalist Micky Hamilton and offered him a cure for his cancer, which Bushmaster planned to research in connection with Luke Cage. In return Hardcore asked Hamilton to participate in manipulating Luke Cage.

(Cage I#1 (fb) - BTS) - Cruz Bushmaster made a deal with Elio Angelopoulos III, who had gotten into trouble with the Maggia, to help him fake his death in return for all of Elio's holdings. He sent Hardcore to finish the deal and secretly told him to kill Elio as soon as all his accounts were transferred.

(Cage I#1) - Hardcore served as driver to strike breakers sent to Chicago by business owner Elio Angelopoulos. When Cage, who was hired to protect the strikers, dealt with the strike breakers Hardcore hurled an electrified manrikisa to trap his arms, but Cage easily ripped it apart. Hardcore then nearly ran over Cage to give the strike breakers a chance to get in the van, but Cage was not done with them yet. He ripped open the van and kept attacking the strike breakers. Hardcore told one of them to take the wheel and then hurled an explosive manrikisa around Cage's waist. The strike breakers fled from the van while Hardcore used hard kicks and punches to get Cage off the van. The explosive manrikisa detonated and Hardcore took off in the van while the strike breakers were caught by Cage.

   Hardcore met with Elio at his estate in Oakdale and blew it up to fake Elio's death. Hardcore reminded Elio of his deal with Bushmaster and then took him to an airplane to flee the country. When Hardcore saw a helicopter in the sky he hurled an explosive manrikisa at its rotor to cause it to crash. Cage and reporter Hamilton, who were on board jumped off in the last second. Elio and Hardcore tried to escape from Cage in a jeep, but Cage tipped it over. Hardcore used an electrified manrikisa and caught Cage by the neck, then revealed his hardened hand and fingernails that could cut through steel and attacked him. Cage withstood the attacks and easily ripped apart the manrikisa, but Hardcore kept going and used bullet-like sanjira to penetrate even Cage's skin. Cage blocked an explosive manrikisa Hardcore tried to throw at the jeep, which was filled with explosives, with a piece from the ground and it exploded right in front of Hardcore. He still managed to make it to the airplane and while standing on the wing used more sanjira to make Cage trip while telling him Cage was lucky that his boss wanted him alive. Cage stopped the plane by shooting the airway with one of Elio's rocket launchers and then ripping it open. Hardcore tried to keep Cage away with a manrikisa and sanjiras, but Cage blocked the throwing weapons with a piece of the plane. Elio's jeep then drove into the heavily damaged plane and all the explosives on the jeep exploded, seemingly killing Hardcore.

   Surviving the explosion Hardcore returned to his boss Cruz Bushmaster on St. Croix. Cruz was mad at Hardcore for failing his mission and involving Cage as early as he was not their target yet. One of Cruz's henchmen attacked Hardcore from behind, but he easily dealt with him while defending his actions to Cruz. Hardcore assured Cruz that no harm was done to their future plans and that he would make sure that in the end Cage would be broken.

(Cage I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Hardcore put together a team of mercenaries. He chose two Vault escapees, the explosive Nitro and the stone-skinned mobster Tombstone, in addition to time-jumping Kickback as his Untouchables.

(Cage I#2 (fb) ) - Hardcore broke into the Chicago Spectator at night and stole their file on Luke Cage. He was interrupted by Dakota North, who had been there to check holes in the newspaper's security system. Hardcore nearly hit her with a shuriken before jumping out the window into a waiting helicopter. North was unaware that Hardcore had bugged the newspaper's offices and overheard her talking about keeping one bit of information out of the file on Luke Cage that had just been stolen. Hardcore was sure he would eventually get this info as well.

(Cage I#2 - BTS) - Hardcore sent the Untouchables to the Chicago Spectator to meet with Dakota North. The situation quickly went south. Tombstone shot a guard and Nitro blew up the foyer.

(Cage I#3) - Hardcore phoned Bushmaster to inform him that the file on Cage from the Chicago Spectator was a good supplement to all the information they already had. He was sure he would soon learn the last bit Dakota North was holding back. Cruz Bushmaster wanted that info badly.

   Later Hardcore trained with the Untouchables. Tombstone was tired of waiting and just wanted to kill Dakota North so he could end his business relationship with the other "losers". Nitro got angry and attacked him, but when he was about to explode Hardcore ordered Kickback to jump one minute into the future, where Hardcore ended the fight between Nitro and Tombstone. Afterward Hardcore sent the Untouchables out to kidnap Dakota North.

(Cage I#4) - Leaving Nitro behind to fight Cage Tombstone and Kickback took off in their van and delivered North to Hardcore, who claimed to have another mission for them. Tombstone rather quit, but Hardcore only needed one of them anyway. North tried to run away, but was knocked unconscious by an electrified manrikisa while Kickback begged Hardcore not to hurt her. Hardcore assured Kickback that he had long term plans for North. Kickback picked up North and turned on his employer, kicking Hardcore in the face, before jumping three minutes back in time and escape with North over while Tombstone and Hardcore had their earlier conversation. On the way over the gate Kickback was shot by Hardcore's maintenance device with tranquilizers, rendering him paralyzed. Hardcore told him that he had anticipated Kickback turning on him because of North, then offered Kickback to keep North for himself after she gave the information Hardcore needed. Kickback blinked once to agree to Hardcore's terms. Hardcore took North upstairs and told Kickback to keep their arriving enemies Luke Cage and Punisher occupied for twenty minutes. Hardcore tossed North into a room, but when Kickback heard a gunshot from upstairs he jumped back in time to get her before the gunshot only to arrive with Cage and a gun, which was picked up by North, who shot at Kickback to cause the gunshot he had heard earlier. Still bugged North revealed to Luke Cage that his father was still alive. Hardcore and Cruz, who was on the phone with Hardcore, overheard the whole conversation. They could now set their plan in motion to destroy Luke Cage.

(Cage I#6 (fb) - BTS) - Cruz had Noah Burstein's wife Emma kidnapped to force him to work for him. Luke Cage eventually fought his way through the guards. During the fight some walls were destroyed and the powered guards, knowing they would die soon anyway, fled to wreak havoc.

(Cage I#6) - When Luke Cage tried to free Micky Hamilton and Anders, who were the next test subjects of Burstein Hardcore used an electrified manrikisa to trip him. Cage was surprised that Hardcore was still alive while Hardcore promised to use something more powerful because Cage had built up a resistance to Hardcore's weapons. Hardcore picked up a cut off powerline to knock Cage out.

(Cage I#7) - Hardcore watched Luke Cage regain consciousness while Cage was trapped in Burstein's machine. Hardcore explained that the examination of Cage gave them the key to convert Burstein's process down to a virus-like form, which was highly infectious. An electrical charge could activate the virus so it could transform the organic matter and make it bulletproof. Hardcore demonstrated it with Cage's leather jacket, which he dunked into a vet to give it the last electrical charge needed, then tossed it in Hamilton's face. He promised Hamilton that the virus had been cleansed off the jacket, then shot him in the face, but the jacket, now bulletproof, protected Hamilton. Unfortunately they had still trouble using the process on living subjects, who kept becoming steely hard and brittle until they died, which was the reason why the captured Cage after Burstein couldn't make the process work again. Hardcore himself didn't plan to gain Cage's power, but he wouldn't reveal the actual plan. He was mad at Cage for allowing some of the guards to escape because it would draw attention to the Black Hole. He now planned to use Hamilton or Anders as the next test subject and end the tests successfully before someone came to the Black Hole to deal with them.

   Hardcore was present when Cage woke up again after tranquilizers were administered to him he told Burstein to redouble the dosage. Cruz Bushmaster told Hardcore to hurry with the experiment because the West Coast Avengers were on their way. Hardcore readied Anders for the process and put one of the virus vials in the vet below him to change him instantaneously into a bulletproof being like Luke Cage while Cage was unconscious again. Hardcore was surprised when Cage regained consciousness again and broke free of his shackles. Cage freed Anders and Hamilton, but got into a fight with the guard Steele. Hardcore reminded Burstein that nothing has changed for him because they still had Noah's wife. Noah told him that the process was a success on Anders, which made Cage expandable, so Hardcore electrocuted Cage with a manrikisa, then swung a second one only for Anders to bring down the wall behind him. Hardcore dropped the virus vials and Steele stole three of them, planning to drop them into a water reservoir to get the virus into the water supply. Hardcore used his martial arts skills to toss Anders into Cage, then pulled his gun with Burstein's special armor-piercing bullets and tried to shoot Cage, but Anders got in the way to save Cage, dying in his stead. In need of him again Cruz ordered Hardcore not to kill Cage. Hardcore obliged, activated a shield in front of him, which was strong enough to stop Cage. Though he had only three vials left he still had Burstein to make more. Hardcore revealed that Steele was on the way to drop the other three vials into the Colorado River in an attempt to force the world to find a cure for him because millions would soon be infected like him. Cage now had to decide to either stop Steele or Hardcore. Hardcore mocked Cage and believing he would fail either way he considered letting Burstein start work on a vaccine immediately because it would be quite marketable soon. Hardcore got on a waiting helicopter while Cage tried to get to Steele, but on the way out of the Black Hole he got into a fight with the West Coast Avengers' Wonder Man.

(Cage I#8) - Aboard the helicopter Hardcore informed Cruz that despite losing three of their six vials of the virus they could still make more. He also told him that Steele has loosed one of the vials into the water supply and it was dissolve within the hour and Cage could do nothing about it. Cruz reminded Hardcore that he needed Cage broken to be compliant in making the Power Man process work on Cruz. Hardcore promised Cage would be a willing participant the next time they met and if not, he would still make sure Cage was emotionally destroyed.

(Cage I#8 - BTS) - Steele tossed another vial into a water reservoir. Cage prevented him from releasing the third and then worked together with Iron Man to retrieve the other two before they virus was released.

(Cage I#8) - Hardcore followed Dakota North, who was searching for Luke Cage's brother James, to Phoenix.

(Cage I#10) - Dakota North confronted James Lucas Jr. in Phoenix, Arizona before he could get into a taxi. She tried to talk to him about his brother and father, but Hardcore was the taxi driver, rolled down the window and threatened North with a gun, telling her that James had a busy schedule and needed to go. North released Cage's brother, who got into the taxi. North ran to her car, but before she could get in it Hardcore threw one of his exploding manrikisas at it. North barely got out of the way of the car's explosion. Hardcore considered it his way of thanking her for getting him to James then told James that they had much to discuss.

(Cage I#12 (fb) - BTS) - Hamilton finally revealed that he had been manipulating Cage for Hardcore and his employer all along. Though he felt sorry he used the weapon Hardcore had given to him against Luke Cage. It caught Cage off guard, destroyed the wall behind him and pulled him through. Cage fell into a waiting truck below and drove off while a robot helicopter attacked the hospital room Hamilton was in. Hamilton finally realized that he would never get a cure from Hardcore and his employer and had become expendable to them after they got Cage again.

   Hardcore sent an assassin after Hamilton, but he was stopped by Dakota North, who posed as Hardcore to trick Hamilton into telling her that he had been working for Hardcore all along. He did, but then aided her in finding out where Luke Cage was kept.

(Cage I#12 (fb) ) - James Lucas Sr. thanked Hardcore for his hospitality. Hardcore then showed them how easily he could cut a cigar by whirling a manrikisa.

(Cage I#12) - Knowing Luke Cage would soon break free of his bonds Hardcore quickly explained to him what was going to happen. He revealed that his employer had Cage framed to the murder of Iron Fist, the Black Hole incident and to get him where he is now just to get Luke Cage to voluntarily participate in transferring his powers to Hardcore's employer. Because nothing else had worked Hardcore held four people close to Luke Cage hostage somewhere close in the complex they were in. If Cage was able to free them he was free to leave, but on his way to free them Hardcore would try to convince Cage to volunteer. Hardcore wouldn't tell Cage who the hostages were and left only seconds before Luke Cage broke free. They were watched via monitors by Cruz Bushmaster.

   After Cage had found Emma and Noah Burstein Hardcore came in with five armed men to show Cage that even an invulnerable man couldn't always protect the people closest to him. They shot the men fighting Cage, but not the Bursteins because Hardcore was willing to give Cage this win. Hardcore fell back while his men held Cage and the Bursteins at gunpoint. He reiterated that none of them would leave the island without his consent and that Cage had already lost.

   Hardcore dressed up as Iron Fist to attack Luke Cage again and to show him a video he had made with Cage's father and brother earlier. Hardcore obviously threatened them and Cage wanted to know what Hardcore did to them. Hardcore revealed that they were off the island and still in good health, but Cage's decision was instrumental in keeping it that way. Cage finally submitted.

   Hardcore oversaw the power transfer, which had Cruz Bushmaster and Luke Cage placed in tanks as Cruz's late father as central interface between them. After the transfer was completed Burstein's readings confirmed to Hardcore that Cage was dead and that Cruz was now bulletproof. Hardcore ordered Burstein to stabilize Cruz's module while he disposed of the corpses. When Hamilton, Dakota North and Iron Fist were caught outside the complex when Hamilton turned on them. Hardcore had a good laugh because even the assassination of Hamilton had failed he delivered Cage's friends to his doorstep. Hardcore revealed to Cage's captured friends that Cage was dead while Hamilton held them at gunpoint, but Hamilton suddenly turned on Hardcore and tried to shoot him. Hardcore ducked behind a column while his men were shot. Cruz finally emerged from his module, but was pulled back by his revived father, who leeched all the power out of his son. With his boss dead Hardcore fled the scene and didn't even see Cage emerging from the third module because some of the power Bushmaster, now calling himself Power Master, was transferred to him to bring him back to life.

   After Power Master blew up Cage decided to go after Hardcore because he was still a threat to his family. Cage saw Hardcore waving to him from the other island and planned to kill him, but Iron Fist tried to stop him. Cage knocked Iron Fist out then got to the other island and crashed into Hardcore's car and punched him in the face while he was still driving. Hardcore tried to use an explosive manrikisa against Cage to get rid of him, but Cage blocked the throw and the manrikisa got stuck on Hardcore's arm. It was already activated and Hardcore frantically tried to get it off. Cage tried to help him, but before he could he had to jump off the car when Hardcore drove it off a cliff. The car blew up with Hardcore still inside, apparently killing him.

Comments: Created by Marc McLaurin (writer), Dwayne Turner (pencils) & Chris Ivy (inks).

Hardcore is on the cover of Cage I#11 (February, 1993), but not inside the issue.

Hardcore has a profile in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition#36 (1993).

Profile by Markus Raymond.

Hardcore should not be confused with:

images (without ads)
Cage I#7, p3, bottom right panel (main)
Cage I#10, p12, pan5 (head shot)
Cage I#1, p15, pan4 (hardened hand and finger nails)
Cage I#2, p7, pan6 (masked, first version)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition#36, Hardcore profile
Cage I#12, p36, pan5 (with manrikisa)

Cage I#1-4 (April-July, 1992) - Marc McLaurin (writer), Dwayne Turner (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Kelly Corvese (editor)
Cage I#6-8 (September-November, 1992) - Marc McLaurin (writer), Dwayne Turner (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Kelly Corvese (editor)
Cage I#10 (January, 1993) - Marc McLaurin (writer), Dwayne Turner (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Kelly Corvese (editor)
Cage I#12 (March, 1993) - Marc McLaurin (writer), Dwayne Turner (pencils), Chris Ivy (inks), Kelly Corvese (editor)

First Posted: 06/07/2020
Last updated: 06/07/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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