Hellman of Hammer Force – Series 2

17th July 1976 – 11th September 1976
Writer: Gerry Finley-Day
Artists: Alex Henderson, Unknown

Kastner’s petty revenge sees Hellman relocated to the Russian Front. On board his train is the new Panther tank that will form Hellman’s command, and a group of Waffen-SS officers, also bound for the lines. It is not long before Hellman engages his new enemies, and once again it is not just the enemies of Germany, but the enemy within. The SS Elefant tanks are heavier than Hellman’s Panthers, but are an easy target for Soviet tank-killers as they commence battle. In an effort to save one of his crews caught in the firefight, Hellman uses the SS  battle standard to stifle a flamethrower. The Nazis react badly to Hellman’s display of flag-burning, declaring him their enemy. Caught between the Russians’ tricks and the SS commander’s desire to see homour satisfied, Hellman and his men have a tough conflict ahead of them.

Gerry Finley-Day ramped Hellman up a notch for the first Russian tales, building towards what should have been the best era for the strip. The Russians’ battlefield fury and their dedication to fight to the last man made them a formidable adversary for Hellman, who has to deal with Soviet suidice bombers mid-way through the run. Adding a symbolic flag-burning and a mighty yet glory-hunting SS regiment increased the tension. The initial episodes struggled with the continued cartoonish art of Alex Henderson, but this was soon replaced by the work of an unknown and as yet unidentified artist, who contributed a gritty yet simplistic style well suited to the script. The sequence finished with the demise of yet another iteration of Hammer Force, with the promise of some Sven Hassel inspired stories at the end of the closing episode, as Hellman discovered his replacement tank crews to be convicted criminals.

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