Born in 1896 in Germany, Hans Von Hammer was the son of a wealthy baron. His mother died when Von Hammer was young, and he was principally raised by his father, who sought to instil in his son a sense of honour and gentlemanly conduct. He also trained him in the art of personal combat, at which he excelled. When war broke out between Germany and the Allies, Von Hammer was amongst the first to sign up, joining the nascent flight training school. He acquitted himself admirably at the school, displaying great talent in the air. Upon his graduation from the school he rose swiftly through the ranks, becoming the leader of his own squadron.
Hans Von Hammer was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. He is based on the real-life fighter pilot Manfred Von Richthofen.
Major Story Arcs
Flying as a fighter pilot during the war, Von Hammer rapidly amasses an impressive record, accounting for upwards of 70 kills over the course of the war. His flights bring him up against a number of other aces, including a Canadian ace known as the Hunter, the French pilot known as the Hangman, and the English St George. Maintaining his strict code of honour, Von Hammer struggles with the need to kill others, and refuses to kill other pilots who were injured or unable to fight back.
After the war, on Hammer travels to China. There, he lives for some time, acting as a commercial pilot. He is hired by Chiang Kai-Shek and General Joseph W Stillwell to attempt to recover mystical items that, if found, are rumored to be able to restore China to its former glory. He travels with a small group of other adventurers to Dragon Island, also known as Dinosaur Island, where they are set upon by Miss Fear, Vandal Savage and an army of half-human ninjas. They are able to recover the swords after battling the villains, and return them and a Komodo Dragon to their employer.
War in Heaven
Returning to Germany, Von Hammer is unable to resist being drawn into the Second World War by Luftwaffe comrades, despite his personal opposition to the Nazis. He flies over Russia and again accumulates an impressive victory count. He crashes in Russia and is taken prisoner but manages to escape. Sometime later he is shot down over Dachau concentration camp. Upon learning the full extent of Germany's involvement in the extermination camps that litter Central Europe, Von Hammer defects in disgust. Urging his men to join him, he destroys the German jets under his control and surrenders himself to Sgt Rock and Easy Company.
The War That Time Forgot
Inexplicably pulled out of time, the World War I-era Von Hammer finds himself on Dinosaur Island alongside numerous famous warriors from every age. The warriors are forced to fight the hostile inhabitants of the island, while struggling to survive together. They eventually learn that they were all time-displaced by aliens running an experiment. When the experiment concludes, he is returned to his rightful time period.
Faces of Evil
During the First World War, Von Hammer encounters Booster Gold, who has fallen backwards through time. Booster Gold saves Cyrus Lord from being shot down by Von Hammer, but in the process gets himself and Lord captured by Von Hammer. Seeing that the pair are not spies, and aware that they will be tortured if he turns them over to his commanders, Von Hammer helps them escape.
In 1969, having retired to a sanitarium off the west coast of Germany, the elderly Von Hammer is approached by Edward Mannock, a Vietnam veteran turned journalist. The two share their experiences in the wars, exorcising their demons through their shared experiences. He shares his memoirs with Mannock, and counsels the younger man on how to deal with the demons that haunt him. Having passed on his story, Von Hammer dies peacefully at the age of 73.
Powers and Abilities
Von Hammer is an exceptional pilot, and a skilled aerial fighter, with a victory count placing him among the top 5 pilots of WWI. He is also a gifted armed and unarmed fighter, and has extremely well-developed reflexes. He possesses a gift for tactics and strategy, particularly when it comes to aerial combat. Sometimes, it seems he can sense an enemy's stealthy approach. He is also a skilled hunter and sportsman, known for his ability in mountaineering and skiing.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Von Hammer appears in the episode "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!". When Batman travels back in time to World War I, he and von Hammer clash in the skies, and then team up to destroy alien technology that has found its way into the trenches. He is voiced by John DiMaggio.
Von Hammer appears alongside a number of other German aces, including von Richthofen, in The Bloody Red Baron, one of the books in the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman.