18 days until Hellboy Day - Sledghammer/Vril Energy Suit
Sledgehammer (official designation Project Epimetheus), was the second generation model of the Vril Energy Suit (V.E.S.) developed by Professor Kyriakos Gallaragas. Since 1937, there have been four occupants of the V.E.S., both living and dead when they acted as pilots.
The original prototype Vril Energy Suit, was designated Project Prometheus. The heavy body armor, and it’s ability to channel and wield Vril energy (the fire of creation) turned it’s wearer into a human weapon of mass destruction. It was designed around the object known as “Anum’s Fork,” named after the watcher angel that first stole Vril energy, and created the Ogdru Jahad.
The first test pilot of the V.E.S. was a man named Jim Sacks. In 1937, He came into conflict with Memnan Saa and his henchmen. The madman wanted to use the technology invented by Professor Gallaragas to harness Vril and create his own army of monsters, to overthrow human civilization. If not for the Intervention of The Lobster, Memnan Saa would have had his way.
Unfortunately, Gallaragas and Sacks were both killed in the fight, but this did not stop them. The professor’s spirit showed Jim what awaited him beyond death, the infinite cosmos, opened up to him because the Vril energy changed his spirit into more than just a man’s. Before Jim could leave our plane, he felt that he had one last job to perform. Miraculously, he piloted the suit with no flesh and no muscle; nothing but his spirit and will. He destroyed the warehouse, the monsters, and the followers of Memnan Saa, as well as the Prometheus suit, before he passed on into the infinite.
In 1944, the allies commissioned Helen Gallaragas to use her knowledge of her father’s designs, to build Project Epimetheus, later nicknamed the Sledgehammer by a soldier. This second suit was first piloted by Captain Ledro Fields, whose first mission was to accompany a group of soldiers into Nazi Occupied France, and disable an experimental new German war machine. The mission was successful, but not before Captain Fields was mortally wounded, along with one of his unit, Private Patrick Redding.
Both Redding and Fields died, while the rest of their unit remained hid from the Nazis in a barn. Fields’ spirit tried to convince Redding to join him in the infinite beyond, and that the mortal world was no longer his concern. Redding could not accept this ending, as he had left behind so many that he loved, including his friends and his country. Redding’s spirit then entered the suit, and unbeknownst to his unit, became the newest pilot of the Sledgehammer.
He was very uncooperative upon his return to the secret military base, refusing to discuss what he had experience. He also, at this time, conferred with an unnamed spirit that resided in the infinite space of the Vril energy. Helen Gallaragas appealed to his patriotism and human empathy to convince him to engage in a recovery mission of an American Pilot. He was unaware of the true motivation behind the mission, to protect allied secrets, but Redding once again turned his back on the beyond, unable to let go of his humanity.
En route to the rescue mission, he came into direct conflict with Raimund Diestel, the latest incarnation of the Black Flame. The Sledgehammer and the Black Flame engaged in a protracted battle, neither giving the other an inch. Both of them commanded elemental power beyond comprehension, earning this battle the nickname of Lightning War. Redding saved the American pilot, destroyed the prototype aircraft to keep it out of Nazi hands, and saved the day. Enraged at his failure, the Black Flame doubled down on his attack, eventually piercing the armored shell of the V.E.S. This act unleashed the full Vril power of the suit, and killing Raimund Diestel as well. The B.P.R.D. recovered the Sledgehammer armor, and brought it back to their headquarters for further study.
Decades later, Johann Kraus took interest in the suit, which had been collecting dust in storage in a B.P.R.D. sub-basement. His latest plan was to inhabit the suit, and as he picked up pieces to study, he had an experience that transcended time. He was able to experience everything that Patrick Redding experienced during his last days inhabiting the armor. Johann witnessed the former soldier attempting to stay connected to his humanity, failing, and giving up. Johann had the opposite problem, in that his inability to die, coupled with the fragility of his containment suits, caused him to stay out of full conflicts, and disconnected him from his humanity. He would now use the V.E.S. to fully engage the enemy and save more lives.
Johann was now the Sledgehammer, and his level of power was beyond measurement. He was able to kill hordes of monsters where it would sometimes take an entire unit to kill one. Between the combined Vril power of Johann and Liz Sherman, Ogdru Hem could not stand in their way. With new found confidence in their abilities, they returned to Manhattan, to face the Black Flame.
Once again, the Black Flame and the Sledgehammer would engage in a modern Lightning War. Johann feared failure, and feared his final death, but inside the suit with him , was the gateway to the infinite. And along with him was the previous inhabitant of the suit, Patrick Redding. Redding consistently tried to convince Kraus of the same path he chose, leave this life behind and become one with everything. Johann refused to give up, and this time, he succeeded against the Black Flame with the help of that bottomless fountain of Vril energy, Liz Sherman.
Despite Redding’s constant preaching, Johann continued to fight for humanity. It is these philosophical disputes that gave Kraus the means to defeat the Ogdru Jahad that came to Earth. Johann Kraus, the latest Sledgehammer, single handily faced the Dragon on Earth, channeling the power of the infinite, and did what not even the Watcher Angels could do at the beginning of time. The Sledgehammer, destroyed, not imprisoned, not temporarily defeated, but annihilated one of the Ogdru Jahad. He not only gave humanity a stay of execution, but a glimmer of hope against Hell on Earth.
You can read all about the Vril Energy Suits in...
Metamorphosis (Hell on Earth)
Modern Prometheus (Hell on Earth)
End of Days (Hell on Earth)
Cometh the Hour (Hell on Earth)
Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus