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"Sledge Hammer!"

by: Protoclown

When I was a kid, my favorite TV show was Sledge Hammer!, a hilarious show about a psychotic cop who was always screwing things up and loved his gun more than anything in the world (so much so that he even showered with it). I almost never missed an episode, so it amazes me that somehow the Marvel Sledge Hammer! comic flew under my radar, but perhaps the fact that it only ran for two issues before being canceled has something to do with that.

Thanks to the joys of the Interweb, I was finally able to learn of the existence of this comic and get my hands on copies of both issues. They are even cheesier than I ever could have hoped, and I will now summarize them for your amusement. These comics aren't good by any means, but I did find them highly enjoyable to read, and I was surprised by how well they actually captured the general attitudes of the characters and the overall feel of the show.

These "collector's items" can be all yours if you have the
patience to sort through your comic shop's bargain bin.

The first issue, "Creephouse", opens with a lesser known Marvel character (or at least an actress portraying her) I'm not really familiar with named Satana. She's apparently the daughter of a demon, but at the moment she's pulling Elvira knockoff duty, hosting horror movie marathons for a TV station. She tries to get a room at the Sunshine Motel, but as she walks into the door, the sign behind her falls off, revealing that it is in fact the Baits Motel!

For some unknown reason, all of the local flashers
seemed to gravitate towards the Master Bates Motel.

She goes into her room and starts to take a shower, only to be assaulted by a crazy guy with a knife. She's no pushover, so she beats his ass and drives him away (for the time being), and my favorite part of all this is that the would-be murderer uses Hollywood and theatre language, no doubt because his victim is an actress. As he slips away from the angry actress, he says "Exit – Stage Left!"

A beautiful, naked woman in a shower: every killer's worst nightmare.

We then switch over to our hero, Inspector Sledge Hammer, and his partner Dori Doreau back at the police station. Sledge is shouting out his trademark "Trust me—I know what I'm doing!" line while firing his gun off panel at an extremely bizarre angle.

Apparently Sledge doesn't know what he's doing, because I don't
think you could hit the broad side of a barn holding your gun like that.

We turn the page to discover that Sledge was merely using his hand cannon to carve his pumpkin for Halloween. Anyone who's watched the TV show knows that firing his gun to accomplish simple things like getting an uncooperative vending machine to give him the soda he just paid for is commonplace for Sledge.

Dori Doreau tries to convince Sledge to destroy his radioactive
pumpkin before it becomes a danger to everyone in the building.

Captain Trunk then yells for Hammer and Doreau to get into his office, where he introduces them to Satana and explains that a psycho has killed the two previous Satana actresses by recreating classic horror movie deaths, and he's targeted this new Satana actress as well. Sledge makes plenty of his typical sexist remarks that they'd never get away with on today's TV, while Trunk informs Hammer and Doreau that they're assigned to protect Satana in case the killer should strike again.

Officer Doreau hits Sledge for being drawn in an "excessively ugly manner" in this panel.

No sooner do they walk out the door of Captain Trunk's office than Trunk angrily yells out Hammer's name, whereupon we learn that Hammer left his freshly shot pumpkin sitting in Trunk's chair, which Trunk inadvertently sat on, causing the pumpkin stem to apparently go right up his ass. They just don't make children's comics like they used to.

Sadly, these days Japan is about the only place you
can get comics featuring people being violated by fruit.

Hammer, Doreau, and Satana head to the parking garage where they are attacked by the seemingly evil possessed car, Pristine, from an old horror movie of the same name.

Sledge tries to wow the ladies with his well-honed cab hailing skills.

Unimpressed, Sledge shoots out the car's tire and slows it to a halt.

Doesn't it kind of look like someone stuck a hamburger
to the end of Sledge's gun? And it's shooting ketchup?

The car manages to reinflate its own tire, so Sledge pulls out a grenade (standard issue, of course) and blows the car to bits.

The new Fords had a rather insidious manufacturer's defect:
if you threw a grenade at them, they blew up!

After the smoke clears however, they notice that the car is once again repairing itself (and oddly, after the killer is revealed, this supernatural repair job remains unexplained).

Sledge watches in horror as the vehicle transforms before his eyes into a horrible, misshapen mass... kind of like all the Transformers in the live-action movie.

They finally manage to escape the evil car (but not before Captain Trunk's car is utterly destroyed in the process, naturally), and go to visit the manager of the station Satana works at, who has the classically cheesy name of Jason Balgoblin. As per usual, Sledge threatens the guy and calls him a dirtbag before Doreau reminds him that hey can't do anything to him without evidence.

When Sledge says he doesn't want to "take a few minutes
to talk about Jesus", he really kinda means it.

Satana then announces that she needs to go to the gym to keep up that actress figure of hers, and Hammer and Doreau get dragged along as they need to follow her wherever she goes in case the killer strikes again—which he naturally does, in the middle of the workout. He attacks Satana in the guise of Crazy Teddy (his nightmares are insane!), another horror movie character, who seems to be loosely based on Freddy Krueger, but that doesn't really come across so well in the comic, probably because of the green skin and Lee press-on nails.

The Incredible Hulk visits a local health spa, eager to show off his stylish new makeover.

Crazy Teddy creates illusionary copies of himself, which Hammer instantly shoots into glass shards, revealing them to be mirrors. Teddy then slashes at Hammer, ruining his favorite jacket, which of course extremely pisses him off.

Sledge shouts in disbelief as the Wicked Witch of
the West lands a harsh blow on his favorite jacket.

Eventually they fight him off and the killer manages to escape in a puff of green smoke. Satana then has a scheduled appearance before the girl scouts at Camp Takahyke.

"Hey kids, if God loves you, one day you'll have cleavage almost as nice as mine!"

While she's performing for the girls, we see monstrous clawed hands belonging to some large creature watching them from the woods. Could this be the killer getting ready to strike again?

Ooooh! A monster without thumbs! Real scary!

But we have to hold that thought, because just then the killer shows up and grabs Detective Doreau, wearing Sledge's jack-o-lantern on his head (on top of the hockey mask he was already wearing). Satana exclaims that it's Jay-Sin, from the "Frightday – The Hurt Teens" movies (of course!).

The killer couldn't decide between Pumpkinhead and Jason, so he just
went with both, which didn't exactly yield the most intimidating results.

In the ensuing scuffle, Doreau throws the killer into the campfire and his pumpkinhead catches on fire. Satana uses some of her "special effects" and tosses out a smokescreen, foolishly allowing the killer ("exit—stage right!") to escape. Satana pursues him only to get knocked out and kidnapped.

If you ever tell anyone you saw this, Sledge will fucking kill you.

Eventually Sledge faces off with the killer in a burning cabin where he is holding Satana hostage.

Even at gunpoint, Jason cannot be deterred from his
dastardly goal of forcing people to try his pink lemonade.

After a few moments of standoff, the killer reveals himself to be none other than Vincent Price—I mean, Vincent Van Gore, the original host of the Creepshow program who got jealous that he was replaced by goth girls in sexy outfits. So his foolproof plan was to apparently kill all the Satanas so that he could prove that he was the true horror master, 'cause he had the stones to actually kill people, and the station would just have to take him back then!

Not only was Vincent Price in like every old horror movie
ever made, but he started spilling over into comics too.

The blazing cabin then collapses, and Satana gets out unscathed, but Sledge and Vincent Price are still trapped inside! Satana and Doreau see a shadowy figure carrying a body out of the flaming wreckage, assuming that Sledge is carrying out the body of Vincent Price.

They never forgot the day that bastard Starman came down from the heavens and
saved their horribly burned friend from the mercifully sweet release of death.

The shadowy figure returns to the flames and they are surprised to discover that Sledge is the unconscious person lying on the ground. Sledge awakens and points out that all he recalls is that some big guy saved him, but he doesn't remember what he looked like. But then he sees his hat lying on the ground.

"And see here, kids, this is what you should never, ever put
in a comic, right here, cuz that would be really lame."

Yes, that's right. Smokey the Bear just saved Sledge Hammer's life. I have no fucking clue what that added to the story, but hey, why the hell not, right? We never even find out what the hell happened to Vincent, whether he lived or died or went to prison or what, but in the final scene of the issue, Sledge is hauling a scumbag into the station for passing out ex-lax on Halloween and telling kids it was candy. He then smashes down the fourth wall and talks to you, the reader, suggesting that Marvel mini-comics are a fun alternative to passing out candy this Halloween! And that pretty much sums up the first issue.

You can't tell me the artist didn't totally trace Clint Eastwood's face for this panel.

The second issue, "Illegal Weapons", starts with Spider-Man breaking into some woman's apartment and starting a wrestling fight!

"Damn you, woman! You've eaten all the ice cream! Why, you're practically wearing it!"

There's even a wrestling match on the TV in the background that just so happens to be commenting on moves that match up exactly with what is happening in the apartment!

It really does look like someone just dumped out a soft serve cone right on her head.

The fight gets out of control and the woman lunges for Spider-Man only to go flying off her balcony to fall to her death below. What I love about this is that the people in other apartments are cracking jokes as they see this woman falling to splatter on the pavement beneath them.

"If I land on my head, perhaps the ice cream will cushion my fall..."

She happens to land right on Sledge Hammer's car as he's passing through the neighborhood, and he's none too happy about it. Inspector Hammer goes inside the apartment building and asks the doorman if he knows the girl who fell. His "description" involves contorting his body into the broken shape that she has taken on top of his car.

Sledge practices his fancy dance moves in preparation for the upcoming sock hop competition.

Sledge then notices Spider-Man walking by and tells him to freeze, asking him what he's doing in the red-and-blue costume. "Spidey" explains that he was going to a costume party, but apparently Sledge actually thought it was the real Spider-Man and simply wanted to know why he wasn't wearing his new black duds that he picked up during the Secret War.

"Hey Spidey, do you want to touch my gun?"

Back at the station the police commissioner (whose name is Schmissioner, I shit you not) is starting up a new anti-corruption campaign within the department, and Doreau informs Sledge and Captain Trunk that Lucy Warden, daughter of prison warden Walter Warden, was the girl who fell to her death the night before. Oliver Naught, a representative of the commissioner's anti-corruption campaign, informs Captain Trunk that he will be in charge of the station for a full week while he evaluates them, and that Trunk will be reassigned in the field during that time with Hammer as his partner. Then they take Hammer's gun away (a feat which requires no less than half a dozen guys piling on top of him) and replace it with a much smaller standard issue revolver.

This is it! The scene that was too sexy for television!

As Trunk and Hammer drive to the prison to visit Warden Warden, Sledge is in a catatonic state, repeating "They took my gun" over and over again. He snaps out of it when they pass by a suicidal ledge jumper who Sledge "deals with" by jumping off the building with, after becoming upset that they gook his one true love (gun) away.

Much to Captain Trunk's dismay, Hammer jumps into
his freshly raked leaf pile and scatters them everywhere.

Upon arriving at the prison, Sledge and Trunk are greeted by a man who slipped out of the mental ward dressed up as the Emerald City Doorman from The Wizard of Oz. That sure is some secure prison they've got there.

Hammer and Trunk find the entrance to the prison blocked by a DC Comics villain!

Hammer and Trunk speak with Warden Warden, and they learn that Commissioner Schmmissioner is running an illegal firearms trade operation and that he's the one responsible for the death of Warden's daughter. Just then, Spider-Man (you know, I'm beginning to think that's not really him) crashes through the window brandishing an uzi and wearing a backpack filled with explosives. Sledge punches him in the face, telling him he's a disgrace to his uniform, and that the real Spider-Man doesn't need an uzi, getting by instead with just his wits and his webs!

You'd think the real Spider-Man would've thought of doing this by now.

Spider-Man tosses a bomb into the room before jumping out the window, but our heroes manage to escape by sliding down the laundry chute. Oliver Naught learns that Sledge, Trunk, and Warden survived the attack, and so he captures Officer Doreau, hoping to trade her for the warden, whom they want to "eliminate" for knowing about their operation. The warden freaks out upon hearing this and runs away from the people who can protect him, so Captain Trunk decides on a plan to dress Sledge up as Warden Warden and offer him up at the trade tomorrow instead. On the way home that night, Sledge encounters some guys who look just like the Three Stooges harassing a Christmas tree salesman, and he kicks their asses in return for a free Christmas tree.

Even armed with a gun, the Three Stooges still fail to be threatening to anyone but themselves.

Later that night in Sledge's apartment, we see him reflecting sadly over his missing gun.

That's pretty much exactly how I imagined Sledge's Christmas tree would look.

The next day, Captain Trunk and the disguised Sledge Hammer arrive for the trade-off, but it turns out that Lucy Warden isn't dead after all (which they never explain, and for some reason is dressed as a jailbird) and that she is actually part of the illegal guns operation. She easily sees through Sledge's disguise and recognizes that he is not her father and manages to subdue and capture Trunk and Hammer with her superior wrestling moves.

Oh sure, it looks like a hat on her head, but this broad's so tough, it's actually a brick.

They torture Doreau by making her watch an entire week of The New Hollywood Squares in one sitting and interrogate Sledge using "tickle torture" in an effort to discover the real warden's location, but Sledge manages to beat Oliver Naught and escape captivity.

Sledge Hammer is forced to face the savage music of
The Tickler after being sent to Guantanamo Bay.

A fight ensues but everyone is quickly dealt with, and Sledge even manages to easily incapacitate the wrestling Lucy Warden with a well-placed punch to the jaw.

As you can see, the Sledge Hammer! comic book
teaches kids good ol' traditional American values.

The criminal dressed as Spider-Man makes a getaway, but Sledge chases him out of the building and a sexy mud wrestling scene follows before he manages to knock "Spidey" unconscious. Sledge also comments on how upset he is that this man dragged the name of his favorite hero (next to the Punisher) through the mud even as he rolls in the mud with the guy himself.

I can pretty much guarantee that there are
porn pay sites out there that feature exactly this.

The issue ends with a typical kind of gag you'd see on the show, where, "days later", Sledge and Doreau are talking, Doreau about how glad she is that they solved the case, and Sledge commenting on how happy he is to have his gun back, when it's revealed that Captain Trunk is still tied up from his time as a prisoner and apparently has been stuck that way for days. Hammer is of course oblivious to this and walks out of Trunk's office leaving him in that predicament for a while longer.

To make matters worse, Captain Trunk realizes after
sitting down that the pumpkin from issue one is still there!!!

So there you have the Sledge Hammer comic. It's not too hard to see why it wasn't very successful (TV-to-comic adaptations rarely last very long anyway), but all in all it was pretty true to the characters from the show I loved so much when I was a kid. If you've never seen the show, do yourself a favor and check out Season One on DVD. I was afraid that this show wouldn't live up to my childhood memories if I rewatched it as an adult, but fortunately I was very wrong, and the show holds up very well. In fact, I think in many ways I enjoy Sledge Hammer! more now, because I have a better perspective on all of the hard-boiled tough guy characters whom Sledge was meant to parody. Sledge Hammer! is a cherished part of my memories of life in the 80s, and these comics are a wonderfully cheesy and fun reminder of that decade when it was so awesome to be a kid.

Found any weird, bizarre, stupid or funny comics that
should appear in a future "Tales From the Longbox" column?

Email Protoclown and let him know!



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