Herman von Klempt
|Herman von Klempt|
Herman von Klempt by Mike Mignola.
|Publisher||Dark Horse Comics|
|First appearance||Comics Buyer's Guide|
|Created by||Mike Mignola|
A German scientist, von Klempt was a close colleague of Karl Ruprecht Kroenen at university. Although the two men apparently shared similar ideas, Von Klempt was not, like Kroenen, recruited by Rasputin as a disciple. Von Klempt was assigned to other Nazi projects.
During the Second World War, and especially during the final years, when Germany faced defeat, Adolf Hitler launched a series of what the Allies called "Doomsday Projects," attempts to combine science with black magic. Among these was Project Vampir Sturm (1944, proposed by Heinrich Himmler); Project Ragna Rok (The Fatal Destiny), which resulted in the appearance of Hellboy in a church in East Bromwich, England (December 23, 1944); and, lastly, the Nazi Space Program.
The Nazi Space Program was initiated in or around 1939, when German scientists managed to make contact with non-corporeal beings in outer space (which Hellboy, half-facetiously, nicknamed "space ghosts"). These beings promised that, if a human shell was sent into space to provide a host for them, it would return to Earth powerful enough to destroy the Nazis' enemies.
The Nazis prepared to launch into space the remains of Dr. Ernst Oeming, a German physicist often referred to as the "Nazi Einstein," who had been assassinated by a car bomb earlier that year. The launch platform was Hunte Castle in Austria.
On the night of March 20, 1939, the date Oeming's body was to be launched, the American hero Lobster Johnson led a group of American troops in an attack on Hunte Castle. In a state of panic, the Nazis launched Oeming's ship before the roof's doors could open. Although the rocket cleared the castle and made it into space, the explosion resulted in the immediate incineration of everyone inside the castle except one man: Herman von Klempt.
Although most of his body was destroyed, his head was kept alive in a jar, which was attached to a robotic body. Von Klempt also created what he called a Kriegsaffe (German, "war ape"), a sort of Frankenstein's monster-like ape, to be his henchman. At some point he had a swastika tattooed to his forehead.
B.P.R.D : 1946
in 1946 Von Klempt was working for the Vampir Sturm project. He was confronted by Prof. Bruttenholm, who was young at the time, and set two of his Kriegaffen upon him. Von Klempt's head was attached to a set of mechanical spider legs that allowed him to move about on his own. Bruttenholm defeated the large Apes as they battled in a rocket that had launched from the ground and managed to push Von Klempt out, who then fell to the ground.
Comic buyer's guide
Von Klempt escaped Europe after the war and retreated to a base in the jungle near Macapá, Brazil, where he began working on other projects. It was there in 1959 that he was confronted by Hellboy, who was investigating the disappearance of peasant girls in the area (von Klempt had been drawing fluid from their spinal columns in order to prolong his life). In the fight that ensued, Hellboy defeated von Klempt and his Kriegsaffe, "Brutus". Von Klempt's inert head would not be seen for decades.
Wake the Devil
Von Klempt's old friend and colleague, Kroenen, had placed himself in suspended animation with Ilsa Haupstein and Leopold Kurtz, two other members of the Ragna Rok Project. Asleep in a Norwegian castle, they were awoken in 1994 by Roderick Zinco, with the intent of carrying out the deceased Rasputin's agenda. Secretly, Kroenen sent Zinco to Brazil to retrieve von Klempt's head.
After being revived, von Klempt tried to convince Kroenen to abandon Rasputin's plan to awaken the Ogdru Jahad, and instead use Zinco's resources to retrieve von Klempt's projects in South America, which he promised could let them rule the world. Overhearing, Kurtz began attacking von Klempt's head, and Kroenen killed Kurtz in a panic. Furious at von Klempt and Kroenen, Rasputin's ghost blinded Zinco, who accidentally set off an explosion that destroyed the castle.
Somehow surviving the castle's detonation, von Klempt's head retreated to a secret laboratory under a graveyard in Germany. There he began work on his Kriegaffe #10, but was suddenly stricken with despair over the seemingly endless failures of his life and the loss of his purpose: Hitler's Third Reich had collapsed, as had all his plans for world domination. In this moment of weakness, he was contacted by Rasputin's ghost, whom von Klempt mistakenly believed to be the Angel of Death. Rasputin reminded von Klempt of the Nazi Space Project, and showed him the destruction that would be unleashed if Dr. Oeming's capsule could be returned to Earth, and the thing that now inhabited his body was released. Von Klempt, finally given purpose - to watch the destruction of the world - returned after sixty years to Hunte Castle.
Secretly, Rasputin's aim was still the same: once the world had been overtaken, the Ogdru Hem would be released from their prisons, and they would, in turn, release the Ogdru Jahad, who would reduce the world to ashes.
Von Klempt contacted his granddaughter, Inger. Believing that they were unlocking a power that would help them rule the world, Inger helped her grandfather to restore the equipment at Hunte Castle and recall Dr. Oeming's capsule to Earth.
A gigantic creature called "The Conqueror Worm" surged forth from the capsule. Spewing a noxious gas, the worm turned von Klempt's human agents into frog-men, then devoured them immediately to feed its insatiable hunger. Only quick intervention by Hellboy and Roger the Homunculus, aided by the ghost of Lobster Johnson, managed to halt the worm's march. Von Klempt was pulled off of a cliff by Roger; the madman's jar was smashed and his life came to an end.
In other media
- Herman von Klempt and several of his Kriegaffen are the main antagonists of the video game Hellboy: The Science of Evil voiced by renowned German actor Jürgen Prochnow. In this game, he has a body, and is not just a disembodied head.
• Herman von Klempt's head is an accessory to the Kriegaffe #10 action figure released in 2005 by Mezco Toyz. A variant of von Klempt's head (with the Nazi swastika on his forehead) was released with a limited-edition Hellboy figure.
• A head in a jar that may or may not have been Von Klempt was seen amongst the collection of Nazi Supervillain memorabilia in Mr. Pope's office in the B.P.R.D. storyline The Black Flame. This is later confirmed in a later story "The Reign of the Black Flame", the head was last seen being carried out of Manhattan and in the possession of his Nazi associate Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. His destination and intentions with the head are currently unknown.