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