Real Name: Baron Hans Von Hammer
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A highly skilled athlete and hand-to-hand combatant, Hans von Hammer was also expert with pistol and sword, although his greatest skill was in piloting the German fighter planes. His special favorite was his crimson Fokker DR-1, a tri-plane with a 110 horsepower oberusel motor and twin spandau machine guns. The three wings gave it unequalled maneuverability in air-fighting, and with his skilled handling, the machine was highly deadly to opposing planes. This was also the plane favored by another top German ace, Manfred von Richthofen, the so-called Red Baron. Von Hammer was perhaps the finest pilot of his time, with uncanny reflexes and instincts, and an almost inhuman ability to anticipate the actions of his adversaries in the air. His second cousin, Anton Arcane, found this absurd.
Hans von Hammer was born in 1896, the son of Baron Otto von Hammer and his wife, who died while Hans was still young. Scion of an aristocratic Germany family, Von Hammer came from a long line of distinguished forebears, whose ancestral home was a medieval castle located near the Black Forest. At an early age, his father set about to instill in him a sense of his heritage as a gentleman of honor. He was taught the tradition of personal combat, and became both a highly-skilled marksman and an excellent swordsman. He is known to have fought many fencing bouts with the best swordsman of Germany, and acquitted himself notably. Because of his upbringing as a gentleman, Hans von Hammer was ingrained with a strong code of personal honor, which was impressed upon him by his father as more important than the sum total of all his lessons in arms and defense. His father often told him, "Before land, before fortune, before victory, comes honor." This sense of honor was perhaps the single most important aspect of the German Ace's personality. He was known to salute his victims after he defeated them, and to honor those whom he felt were worthy opponents.
Hans von Hammer was one of the first to enlist in his country's service during the early days of the First World War. While a cadet at flight training school, von Hammer was provoked into a duel of honor by fellow cadet Heinrich Muller, and received a permanent scar across his left cheek. Graduating from flight school with honors, von Hammer quickly became Rittmeister of his own Jagdstaffel (or hunting squadron) 17, in the German Flying Corps.
An exceptional flyer, with an unparalleled 70+ kills to his record during the course of his career, gaining him the sobriquet of The Hammer of Hell, von Hammer was also a man with a rigid code of morals and honor learned from his father, and he would frequently refuse to shoot an unarmed or wounded foe, feeling that would be murder, not combat. Outwardly, von Hammer projected a cold, uncaring attitude. Indeed, his men termed him "a human killing machine". Though he did possess the killer instinct, or he would not have been such a successful fighter-pilot, he did not enjoy killing, and indeed disliked it. Believing that "the sky is the killer of us all," Hans von Hammer fought with courage and ingenuity.
Several top ace fighters flew against him with no success. The Canadian Ace, The Hunter was one of the first to go down before the German Ace. Though some held high hopes for his victory over von Hammer, the German proved even more skilled at combat flying than the Canadian. The famous French Ace, Count Andre de Sevigne, known as The Hangman because of the hood he wore to cover his scarred face, had the best record against von Hammer. The two sparred several times with no decisive victor, until both planes were forced to land, and de Sevigne took von Hammer a prisoner. Unfortunately, the German Ace managed to escape, and later killed de Sevigne in an aerial duel. Von Hammer also battled the famous English flier known as St. George, who chose his colorful name because of his intention to rid England of its enemies. This battle was finished with swords after both planes landed near an old castle. The German proved the superior swordsman, as his training record would indicate. Amongst the other foes von Hammer met in aerial battle were the famous American pilot, Steve Savage, Jr, known as The Balloon Buster, who he met on at least on two separate occasions, both times the situation left unresolved, as well a French pilot called Monsieur Guillotine, who strafed the family castle, killing Baron Otto von Hammer, Hans von Hammer's father.
Von Hammer spent much of his free time wandering the nearby Black Forest, often in the company of a silent, wild, black wolf that von Hammer considered a kindred spirit and his only true friend. As well, at one time von Hammer carried a small puppy named Schatzi with him on flights, until the dog was jarred from the plane in a battle, and fell to its death. Withdrawn and close in his personal life, it is known that the German had very few close human friends, and was very much of a loner by nature. Though revered in his native Germany, he was also held in awe and feared as "the Angel of Death" by many who had met him.
In 1919, upon the end of the First World War, Hans von Hammer went to China to help evacuate the German base at Kiao-chow, and ended up staying in China to get away from the ghosts of the men he killed, or so some said of him.
While living in Shanghai in the spring of 1927, Hans von Hammer was briefly employed as a pilot by famed American outlaw Bartholomew Lash. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, was convinced that dragons and the two mystical swords of Fan existed on the mysterious Dragon Island, and along with General Joseph W. Stilwell, the U.S. Army's number one man in China, hired Bat Lash, Hans von Hammer, Biff Bradley (older brother of famed private investigator Slam Bradley), and a Chinese man nicknamed "Chop-Chop" (father of "Chop-Chop" of the Blackhawks) to bring back the swords and a dragon to him. According to legend, if the swords and dragons were returned, China would once again be strong.
The group made it to Dragon Island (later known as Dinosaur Island), a hidden island populated with dinosaurs, only to have their crew murdered by Savage's warriors, and then found themselves in a stand-off with the legendary Miss Fear, who led forces loyal to the oppressed people of China, and half-human, half beast Japanese ninjas, all under the employ of Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung and the immortal villain known as Vandal Savage. They were also attacked by dinosaurs, and in the chaos that ensued, the adventurers retrieved the swords after battling Savage himself, and Bradley was slain. Returning to Shanghai one month later with the swords and a komodo dragon in place of an actual dinosaur, they kept Dragon Island's existence a secret.
Thereafter, von Hammer returned to Germany, but when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 after the Reichstag Fire, he left Germany for good. He had known that sooner or later he and his fanatics would start a war, and he was finished with war. He left for France, where he lived in secret until 1943, when he met famed World War II pilot Blackhawk, a meeting which convinced him that he could no longer ignore the war. Although he refused to fight against his own countrymen, von Hammer thereafter became involved in the Underground, smuggling Jews and other targeted peoples out of Axis-controlled countries, and continued to do so until he was shot down over Dresden and seriously injured in April of 1945. In 1947 he was married to a nurse he had met while recuperating. They were divorced within the year.
By 1969, the 73-year-old von Hammer was living in a sanitarium on the isle of Förh off the coast of West Germany. At that time he was approached by Edward Mannock, an investigative reporter and Vietnam veteran who he soon learned was seeking much more than answers to historical questions, and came to von Hammer searching for a way to deal with the terrors that haunted his own life. Both men relived their experiences in two totally different wars, discovering how different and yet extraordinarily alike they were in their responses to the horrors they witnessed. Hans von Hammer died in November 1969.
A film about Hans von Hammer's World War I career, tentatively titled The Hammer of Hell, was begun in 1970 by three-time Academy Award winning director Anson. Anson was killed shortly after production began by Heinrich Franz, a man claiming to be Hans von Hammer's grandson and who bore a striking resemblance to the World War I German flying ace. He saw the American-made film as an insult to the memory of Germany's finest hero and sabotaged it for that reason, but died in a mysterious accident not long afterwards, which some say was caused by the ghost of Hans von Hammer. The film was later completed under another director, now with the title Enemy Ace, the screenplay written by Edward Mannock.
"Enemy Ace" is not the character's code name, just the title of his series--it's never used in the stories other than in the explanation of the title.
First Appearance: Our Army at War (1952) #151
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View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
#2 America at War: The Best of DC War Comics (1979)
- 'Looking Back At Tomorrow'
Armageddon: Inferno (1992)
#1 Batman (1977)
- 'Seeds of Doom'#2
- 'Sea of Troubles'#3
- 'The Last Hope'#4
- 'The Gathering of Heroes'
Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams (2003)
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight (1989)
Batman: Vow from the Grave (1989)
TPB Booster Gold (2007)
- 'Vow from the Grave'
#16 Captain Atom (1987)
- 'Reality Lost, Part Two'
Christmas With the Super-Heroes (1988)
Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985)
#5 Crisis on Multiple Earths (2002)
- 'Worlds In Limbo'#7
- 'Beyond The Silent Night'#11
DC Challenge (1985)
#8 DC Holiday Special '09 (2010)
- 'If This is Love, Why Do My Teeth Hurt?'#9
- 'All This and World War, Too'#10
- 'Jules Verne Was Right!'
DCU: Legacies (2010)
Der Rote Baron (1992)
Detective Comics (1937)
#404 Enemy Ace Special (1990)
- 'Ghost of the Killer Skies!'
Enemy Ace: War Idyll (1990)
Enemy Ace: War In Heaven (2001)
G.I. Combat (1952)
Guns of the Dragon (1998)
#1 History of the DC Universe (1986)
- 'Guns of the Dragon: Chapter 1 - Dragon Island'#2
- 'Guns of the Dragon : Chapter 2'#3
- 'Guns of the Dragon : Chapter 3'#4
- 'Guns of the Dragon : Chapter 4'
Justice League of America (1960)
#159 Justice League of America: Another Nail (2004)
- 'Crisis From Yesterday!'#160
- 'Crisis From Tomorrow!'
Le Baron Rouge (1991)
Men of War (1977)
#1 New Gods (1989)
- 'Code Name: Gravedigger'#2
- 'The Five-Walled War!'#3#8
- 'Gravedigger: R.I.P.'#10#12
- 'Where Is Gravedigger?'#13
- 'Project Gravedigger, Plus One'#14
- 'The Swirling Sands of Death'#19
- 'An Angel Named Marie'#20
- 'Cry: Jericho!'
Our Army at War (1952)
Resurrection Man (1997)
#16 Sgt. Rock (1991)
- 'Avenging Angels, Part 1: Deathwatch'
#57 Star Spangled War Stories (1952)
- 'presents ENEMY ACE'#58
- 'presents ENEMY ACE'#100
- 'There Shall Come a Gathering'
#138 Swamp Thing (1985)
- 'The Slayers And The Slain!'#139
- 'Death Whispers -- Death Screams!'#140
- 'The Face Of The Hangman!'#141
- 'Enemy Ace Meets The Bull!'#142
- 'Vengeance Is A Harpy!'#143
- 'The Devil's General!'#144
- 'Death Takes No Holiday!'#145
- 'Return of the Hangman!'#146
- 'Brother Enemy'#147
- 'A Grave in the Sky!'#148
- 'Luck Is A Puppy Named Schatzi!'#149
- 'Reach For The Heavens!'#150
- '3 Grave To Home!'#151#158#160
- 'Blood Is The Code'#181#182#183
- '8,000 To One'#200
#46 The DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004)
- 'Brothers in Arms, Part One'#86
- 'Heroes of the Revolution'#88
- 'Survival of the Fittest'
HC The Enemy Ace Archives (2002)
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia'HC
- 'The DC Comics Encyclopedia: Updated And Expanded'
The Legion (2001)
#29 The New Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories: From Crumb to Clowes (2004)
- 'Foundations, Part Five'
HC The Saga of Swamp Thing (1982)
- 'The New Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Stories: From Crumb to Clowes'
The War That Time Forgot (2008)
#1 Time Masters: Vanishing Point (2010)
- 'New Recruit'#8
- 'Rank and File'#9
- 'Final Conflict'
#6 Unknown Soldier (1977)
- 'Passageway Part Six'
Unlimited Access (1997)
#2 Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe (1985)
- 'Let's Do The Time Warp Again!'
- 'Doctor Psycho to Fastback'
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