The Enemy Ace, Hans von Hammer, was a German aristocrat who was a fighter pilot in both World Wars. Raised with a strong sense of honor, he created more enemies on his own side than with the other.
Hans von Hammer was the scion of an aristocratic German family and an ace of the German Air Force during World War I, serving through most of the war. As a child, Von Hammer was tutored by his father and his lessons were supplemented by sessions with the famous arms masters of Europe, even as far as winning against the best swordsman in Germany. Most importantly, he was taught by his father to fight with honor. An exceptional flyer, Von Hammer soon became the Rittmeister of his own Jagdstaffel hunting squadron, and feared among Allied forces as the Enemy Ace.
During the course of the air war, he survived numerous encounters with Allied aces, such as the Balloon Buster and the Hangman, and was responsible for accumulating over 70 kills to his record; however, he took no joys in performing this duty. Due to his upbringing, Von Hammer had a high sense of honor and respect for the enemy, and he would refuse to shoot an unarmed or wounded foe, feeling that would be murder, not combat. He was prone to loneliness and hated being called a killer and a killing machine. He would often after flying hunt in the Black Forest where he met "his only friend" a black wolf who would hunt with him. Von Hammer also had an orderly named Schmidt who gloated over Hans' victories. Von Hammer settled into his castle in Bavaria after the Armistice in 1918.
By the time of World War II, Von Hammer had an extreme dislike for the Nazi regime, a fact which his old squadmates tried to hush up. However he was asked to serve by one of his old squadmates Peter Stalschmidt in May, 1942. Von Hammer served on the Russian Front near Leningrad from July 1942 to March, 1943. He quickly regained his flying edge and helped the rest of his new unit. He was shot down over the city in January 1943, where he saw the full horrors of war on the Eastern Front before escaping back into German lines.
Two years later in March and April, 1945, Von Hammer's unit was providing air defense of Munich against American bombers. Now equipped with the new jet-powered Me 262, Von Hammer scored impressive victories against the Allies. However the war was lost with the jet fighters' combat performance severely hampered by Germany's limited supply of fuel and maintenance parts while the Allies's air forces are overwhelming in their strength thanks to their countries' vastly superior industrial production capacity. In the face of those military realities, Von Hammer was shot down and baled out over the Dachau Concentration Camp. After witnessing the atrocities at the concentration camp and outraged by the Nazis' perpetuation of the Holocaust, Von Hammer realized he was fighting for a criminal regime and he convinced his unit to prepared to surrender to the Americans. In a final act of defiance he had the jet fighters destroyed before surrendering to Sergeant Frank Rock and Easy Company.
By the 1960's, Von Hammer was broke, divorced, and confined to a German care facility. The former air ace spent his last days confiding his experience to reporter and Vietnam War veteran Edward Mannock, thereby bringing himself a measure of peace before he died. Von Hammer was survived by his descendants on the Arcane bloodline which include the current Swamp Thing, and many more characters today.
Powers and Abilities
- Aviation: Hans von Hammer is considered one of the single best fighter pilots to come out of World War I.
- Aerial Combat: During his career as a fighter pilot, Enemy Ace acquired seventy-plus kills, more than any other World War I era pilot.
- Tactical Analysis: Enemy Ace possessed a keen analytical mind, which in combination with his natural instincts, enabled him to calculate battle plans, strategize against enemy assailants and dominate the "Killer Skies".
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Though most of Von Hammer's combat took place in the air, he was equally skilled with his fists. He was also trained in fencing and is an expert shot with a pistol.
- Hunting: Von Hammer was an expert hunter, often hunting for relaxation between his flying missions with his pet black wolf.
- Hans von Hammer piloted several different fighter planes throughout his career including:
- Fokker Dr.I
- Messerschmitt Bf 109
- Messerschmitt Me 262
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- The character of Enemy Ace was largely inspired by real world German pilot Manfred von Richthofen, more popularly known as the "Red Baron".
- All of Von Hammer's planes were painted red. In World War II he did not allow a Nazi Swastika painted on his aircraft.
- DC Direct released an Enemy Ace deluxe action figure which included Black Wolf and a smaller scale version of his Fokker DR.I.
- 125 Appearances of Hans von Hammer (New Earth)
- 13 Images featuring Hans von Hammer (New Earth)
- 11 Quotations by or about Hans von Hammer (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Hans von Hammer (New Earth)