The H.A.R.D. Corps are humans with brain implants that enable them to download various Harbinger powers one at a time. Members were usually recruited with the promise of their families being taken care of in the event of their demise and normally consisted of people who were desperately in need of help or money, or just had nothing left to loose. Originally developed during the Vietnam War using technology stolen from Toyo Harada's Harbinger Foundation, the initial H.A.R.D. Corps modifications required the users to carry large amounts of external equipment. In addition, the implant's unnatural activation of psiot abilities in normal humans caused fatal long-term side effects. By the 1990's the technology had been miniaturised enough to fit into the human brain and allowed the user to change powers on the fly via cellular networks.
A major disadvantage of the H.A.R.D. Corps program is that only a small percentage of the population are compatible subjects and a smaller number survive the surgical process. This made it extremely difficult to locate suitable and effective test subjects to the point where the H.A.R.D. Corps were overtaken by Project Rising Spirit's Bloodshot program and shut down by the mid-1990's.
The original H.A.R.D. Corp team were created by writer/editor Jim Shooter and artists Bob Layton and David Lapham. The new incarnation of the team after the 2012 Valiant Entertainment relaunch were created by writers Joshua Dysart and Christos Gage.
Major Story Arcs
Years after being disbanded, the only surviving members of H.A.R.D. Corps - Gunslinger, Maniac, Hammerhead and Shakespeare - were reactivated when a group of captive young P.R.S. psiots escaped during an attack on The Nursery facility by Bloodshot. During the encounter with the escaped kids, known as Generation Zero, both Shakespeare and Hammerhead lost their lives.
The H.A.R.D. Way
Despite the loss of half the team in their first mission back, P.R.S. kept the team operational and appointed Gunslingers as their leader. New members were recruited and Carol Jardine was made Director of the Lifeline department that is responsible for transmitting the team members their powers. The first crop of new members were Superstar, Granite and Disciple - two of whom where complete rookies to combat. The new teams first mission was to infiltrate Harada Global Conglomerates and recapture the rogue P.R.S. asset Bloodshot who was captured during the Harbinger Wars.
The mission was successful but Maniac and Superstar, the only new recruit with combat experience, were killed in action. This left Gunslinger as the only original member of H.A.R.D. Corps still alive. Faced with more vacancies in the team, PRS CEO Morris Kozol offered Bloodshot the position of team leader in exchange for the one thing he desired most - the truths about his identity and past. Bloodshot took up the offer and Gunslinger was relegated to second in command.
While on a business trip to Nigeria, Morris Kozol was kidnapped by ex-P.R.S. Director Simon Oreck and his personal team of super powered psiots The Specialists. Oreck and his team were attempting to ransom Kozol back to P.R.S. and capture a working H.A.R.D. Corps implant in the process. However they were defeated by Bloodshot's team... but not before Oreck managed to escape.
After the team were reunited with Kozol, their next mission was to capture the leader of The Sect, Obadiah Archer and his immortal bodyguard Armstrong. The team managed to capture Archer but holding him was a different matter entirely. Archer proceeded to take out the members of H.A.R.D. Corps single handedly while Armstrong launched a rescue mission. On arriving at P.R.S.'s Nevada base Armstrong was met by Bloodshot who proposed a team-up. Armstrong swiftly punched Bloodshot in the mouth and after a lengthy and vicious brawl, the two agreed terms. Bloodshot negotiated Archer's release and covertly provided him information to take down P.R.S. These actions did not go unnoticed by Gunslinger and Carol Jardine. Meanwhile in the aftermath of the mission, H.A.R.D. Corp member Granite admitted her love for Kozol!