No. 158 – The Angel Gang

Elder, Sylvus and Jimmy Hammond (right panel, top, left to right), and Henry Hammond with pet crow (right panel, bottom), images ©Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Angel Gang [– A Family Portrait futuregraph] from prog 196 (1981), created by John Wagner, pencilled by Mike McMahon and inked by Dave Gibbons v the Hammond brothers from Sam Peckinpah’s (1925–1984) Ride the High Country (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1962)

The villainous Hammond brothers correspond roughly to the following Angel Gang family members:

  • Elder Hammond (“the head of the clan”, played by John Anderson (1922 –1992)) to Pa Angel
  • Sylvus Hammond (L.Q. Jones) to Link Angel
  • Jimmy Hammond (“the baby of the family”, played by John Davis Chandler (1935–2010)) to Junior Angel
  • Henry Hammond (Warren Oates (1928–1982)) – who never bathes if he can help it, and has a pet crow that perches on his shoulder – to Fink Angel (and Ratty)

… and the main antagonist Billy Hammond (played by James Drury [not pictured]) to – well, there’s only Mean Machine Angel left, but you can’t win ’em all.

Keeping it in the family: Sylvus and Henry Hammond fixin’ on a weddin’ night rapin’ of their brother Billy’s new bride

Having detailed all that, Peckinpah’s works contain any number of similar bands of outlaws and miscreants, including the Shelton brothers (The Rifleman episode The Marshal (ABC, 1958)), the Gorch brothers, T.C. and Coffer (The Wild Bunch (Warner Bros./Seven Arts, 1969)), Taggart and Bowen (The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Warner Bros., 1970)), Hedden, Venner and Scutt (Straw Dogs (Cinerama Releasing Corporation/20th Century Fox, 1971)) – all prowling Peckinpah’s magnificent landscapes in search of victims, and any one or more of the villains could have been the inspiration for the Angel Gang and members thereof, but at any rate the proverbial cap has clearly been tipped in Peckinpah’s direction, and the Hammond brothers are a very comfortable fit.

Preacher Quint

It should be mentioned that while there is some overlap between Pa Angel and the character of Preacher Quint (played by Donald Pleasence (1919–1995)) and his cut-throat family in Will Penny (Paramount Pictures, 1967), which was co-authored [uncredited] by Peckinpah, Pa Angel displays none of Quint’s religious zealotry, although he does indeed share Quint’s predilection for torture, particularly skinning his victims.


Special thanks to Paul McCollum on this one, and a zarjaz New Year to all!

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