Monday, July 1, 2013

If You Blinked You Missed: Caleb Hammer

What's happening, Groove-ophiles! Today we're gonna strap on our six-guns and hit the trail with Caleb Hammer. Hammer was Marvel's first new Western hero in nearly half a decade and man, did he ever have potential! Created by Peter B. Gillis and Gene Day for Marvel Premiere #54 (March 1980), "The Devil's Starry Anvil" was our hero's one-and-only Groovy Age appearance. I suppose superheroes had such a hold on comicdom that too few fans cared about reading any westerns, other than the adventures of Jonah Hex over at DC, no matter how well done they were. Those not in the know regarded Caleb Hammer as Marvel's attempt to mimic Jonah Hex, but aside from the inks of Tony DeZuniga (semi-regular artist and co-creator of Hex) and the fact Hammer was a western, that's all the similarities. If anything, in fact, Gillis and Day set out to create the anti-Hex. Hammer was a violence hating, deeply religious man until his life is turned upside down. Even then the former seminary student shunned the seedy life of a bounty hunter to become a Pinkerton agent. No, if Hex was tails, Hammer was heads. It's just a shame he didn't get the chance to shine!


  1. Worth it just for the art alone; this is why I love(d) Marvel Premiere, and wish Marvel would just put out an omnibus of everything from issue 26 to the end (i.e., all of the post-Iron Fist material).

  2. Hey Groovster
    I vaguely remember seeing this issue. I wasn't really big on westerns. But did love Marvel's original gunslingers. As well as John Wayne & Clint. I somehow missed picking this up. The art is beautiful & being the huge Tony Dezuniga fan. I must had missed out getting a copy. Due to $$ was ultra tight getting ready to graduate high school in June. Maybe it sold out in milwaukee. Or their weren't many copies to begin with on my local drug stores shelves. Thanks for posting this long forgotten gem. I bought almost every issue of MP back then too.

  3. I got this 2nd-hand some years after it first appeared. Good story. I agree that Marvel missed the boat with Caleb, but maybe there's still a chance that a modern writer (Joe Lansdale, maybe?) can revive him and teach the present-day Marbleheads how to do it right.

  4. I remember buying this issue directly from the good old wire rack ('Hey Kids! Comics!'). I always have been a fan of westerns. I bought every Marvel western reprints I could find back then (MIGHTY MARVEL WESTERN and WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS anthologies among others). I had been a big RAWHIDE KID fan since I was a young boy discovering comic books.

    I must say I was surprised as anyone to see a new Marvel western character.

    And I agree with you, I don't think CALEB HAMMER had anything to do with Jonah Hex, aside that he sure was a grittier cowby than his Atlas/Marvel predecessors. Then again, that second panel on the next to last page sure looks lie Jonah Hex a lot!

    The first splash page is obviously a big homage to Clint Eastwood's Man-with-no-name. And that is where Caleb Hammer gets it's main inspiration in my humble opinion: spaghetti westerns.

    Caleb Hammer did come back many years later in John Ostrander's fabulous BLAZE OF GLORY mini-séries.

  5. I love the Marvel westerns... I have two long boxes bursting and taped up so they dont fall apart. This comic was a recent three for a dollar bin purchase. Great art,great story...well worth the treat of discovering it many years later.

  6. I bought this when it came out. Being in the UK I bought anything with Marvel on it as it was so rare that I found any American comics at all. As I only got into town every few weeks I was left with all the leftovers. I am a proud owner of a near complete set of Shogun Warriors.



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