TALES TO ASTONISH #90-91:
Emil Blonsky has led a tragic and convoluted live every since the spy mission he undertook in the Spring of 1967 to steal secrets from General Ross's missile base to sell behind the "Bamboo Curtain." First he tried three separate attempts at sabotage, then he tried to abduct the General's daughter, Betty. In disguise of one of Ross's soldiers, under the pretense of searching for the saboteur, he ducks into a lab in order to take pictures of Bruce Banner's gamma ray machine. Unexpectedly, Banner himself enters the lab, and turns the machine on. He steps in front of it and is just about to fire it when the real soldiers enter and take him into custody.
After they have gone, Blonsky steps out from his place of concealment, positions himself where Banner had been and, noticing the foot control on the floor, activates the apparatus... "and then, the incredible occurs once more!" He changes into a green, scaly monster but, unlike Banner, retains his own intelligence. Because he was subjected to a more intense dosage of gamma rays than Banner had received, under controlled circumstances, he emerged from the machine stronger than the Hulk.
As soon as Betty Ross sees him she dubs him an "abomination" and the name sticks. He gets into a violent altercation with the Hulk and beats him to death... or nearly to death in any case. Not knowing whether or not he can survive a missile attack, the newly-dubbed Abomination flees the scene, taking Betty Ross with him. The base medical doctor is unable to help, but Rick Jones suggests that attaching gamma electrodes to the Hulks chest may revive him. It does, but the Hulk has no interest in helping General Ross, until he finds out that Betty is in danger. At that point, due to the sincerity of Rick Jones' plea, the Hulk changes back to Bruce Banner.
Banner whips up a device which will not only draw the Abomination back to them, but will also drain him of his gamma radiation. The plan works, up until the point Banner loses control, becomes the Hulk and smashes the equipment. At this point, the Abomination and the Hulk are equally strong, but the Hulk is much more savage, more brutal, and handily beats the Abomination in their second match. Then an alien called the Stranger arrives and take the Abomination away with him.
"He who is called the Abomination is truly evil," the Stranger declares. "That, coupled with his Hulkish power, should make him the hireling I seek. Thus, I shall bring him to me--for he will not be missed upon the Earth! Mankind--farewell! The Stranger has other interests-- in other worlds! As the Abomination hurtles to my side, I leave you--as I found you--free to seek your own destiny!"
When last we saw the Abomination, he was in an exploding rocket in low Earth orbit. The force of the explosion sent him hurtling into space where he was eventually found by the Galaxy Master, who pressed him into service as the Ravager of Worlds and restored his full strength (i.e., twice the Hulk's).
Skip ahead a couple of years to when a loose affiliation of aliens dubbed the "Hulk Hunters" come to Earth in search of the Green Goliath. The Hulk Hunters are Amphibion of Antares (Tales to Astonish #74), Torgo, the Robot ruler of Mekka (Fantastic Four #92) and the Dark-Crawler (formerly Night-Crawler), the sole survivor of the Dark Dimension (Hulk #126). They are Hulk hunters in the sense that they are Hulk seekers, who wish to enlist the Hulk's aid against the Galaxy Master, whom Hulk has defeated before (Hulk #112). Rebranding themselves the "Horror Hunters," their plan is to take on the Galaxy Master themselves while pitting the Hulk against the Ravager, who has defeated each of them separately. The Hulk is only too happy to take on the Ravager when he learns that he is actually the Abomination.
A ferocious battle ensures, but the Hulk points something out to the Abomination: "You may be stronger now--but the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets! And Hulk is madder than Hulk has ever been before!" It is at this point that the Abomination shows the first sign of fear, leaping away to fight the Horror Hunters instead. He quickly defeats Amphibion, and they all switch opponents. The Hulk's attack against the Galaxy Master is so vicsious that the G.M. is forced to withdraw the extra power he granted the Abomination. Then he decides that the path to victory lies in bombarding the Hulk with a greater concentration of gamma rays than he has ever experienced before. This tactic does have a profound effect on the Hulk (as we shall see), but it doesn't help the Galaxy Master win the fight. When the Galaxy Master is defeated and dissipates into space, so closely is the Abomination's power linked with his that he takes the Abomination with him.
As I indicated last time, the intense concentration of gamma rays to which the Galaxy Master exposed the Hulk affected him in a profound way: it allowed him to retain Bruce Banner's intellect while in the body of the Hulk. After returning to Earth, Bruce Banner/Hulk was granted amnesty followed by a full Presidential pardon. Now he runs the Northwind Observatory research facility in upstate New York. Betty Talbot, unable to accept a merged Banner/Hulk entity, has rejected him. His research assistant (and soon-to-be-lover) is Kathryn Waynesboro, also an undercover agent of SHIELD.
And the Abomination? The Abomination's body was found by a space shuttle, in Earth orbit, encased in a block of solid ice. Upon being returned to Earth, Project: Earthfall was established to deal with him, and General Ross, as the military man with the most experience dealing with gamma-spawned monsters, was brought in, his first command since the now defunct Gamma Base.
One day, MODOK attacks with the express intention of thawing the Abomination out and sending him against his erstwhile masters at AIM. But his initial mind-probe revealed that General Ross had plans to commit treason and send the Abomination against the Hulk. The two form an alliance but, when the Abomination is thawed, he is now deathly afraid of pain in general and the hulk in specific. "Please don't make me fight the Hulk again!" he begs. "He hurt me so bad! I-I can't go up againt thehulk again! I can't! Please don't put me through all that pain!"
MODOK put the Abomination through a regimen of torture designed to condition him to become stranger as he becomes more fearful. Eventually the day comes to attack AIM and the Hulk. MODOK attacks AIM's secret base directly while the Abomination attacks the hulk at Northwind. He is a bit more confident at this point because MODOK has pointed out that the Hulk has always beaten him in the past by becoming angrier, and therefore stronger. But the old Hulk no longer exists and Bruce Banner is not capable of such rage under normal circumstances. However, at the exact time the Abomination attacks, Bruce/Hulk has just found out that his assistant has been spying on him on behalf of SHIELD, so he has plenty of anger to go around. The Abomination ends up kidnapping Kate Waynesboro so the Hulk will follow him, which he does.
MODOK's plans go downhill from there, the practical upshot being that he blasts the Abomination with a gamma beam, totally disintegrating him! There's an old saying among comic book readers not to believe a villain is dead unless you see the body... and sometimes not even then. But in this case the Abomination's "atoms are scattered to the wind." That's gonna be hard to come back from, wouldn't you think?
That's gonna be hard to come back from, wouldn't you think?
Of course not!
You know, when I first heard about The Abomination, I assumed he'd be Hulk's arch-foe. (After all, he was initially described as stronger.) But I guess The Leader is more of the Hulk's "evil opposite" (Superman/Lex Luthor, Batman/Joker, etc.). Abomination just doesn't show up enough to be an arch-foe.
HULK ANNUAL #15:
By the time we rejoin the story, the status quo has changed... several times, actually. First, the Hulk lost the intellect of Bruce Banner, then he was trapped in a "crossroads" dimension for a time. After his return to Earth, he was physically separated from Bruce Banner, but that didn't work because neither could survive without the other. In order to save Banner's life, the process was reversed. the procedure seems to have been successful, except the reintegrated entity did, briefly, turn into a grey version of the Hulk. Also, Bruce Banner and Betty are now married. as the story opens, Bruce is contemplating rerunning the separation procedure with some changes to make it successful this time.
Meanwhile: "In the vacuum of space, the explosion that occurs thousands of miles of the surface of the Earth can make no sound. Still, it is a conflagration of great intensity, one that will prove to be of great significance to Bruce Banner. From it's heart, an emerald-hued, humanoid figure bursts, rocketing towards Earth. Is it chance of some conscious design that sends it hurtling toward the New Mexico desert? Whatever the reason, it is there that the figure is aimed, and there that it now--CRASHES!"
SHIELD agent Clay Quartermain observes the phenomenon and sends some men out to investigate. To everyuone's surprise, from out of the crater crawls... the Abomination? "My plan succeeded," he says. "I have returned to Earth. Then, let mankind this day beware--it's rightful ruler has returned!" Quarterman wonders, "When did the Abomination start speaking lioke he was the Prince of Wales or something? That's not the way I remember him at all! Well, I can worry about that some other time," he concludes, as he orders his men to "Destroy the Abomination!"
After defeating Quartermain's men, the Abomination takes nine leaps to cover the four miles to the nearest town, Rio Vista, NM, where he catches sight of his reflection in a store window. "No!" he protests! "That reflection--can it truly be... me...? In all my joy at being alive... at having corporeal existence... at having such power... I hadn't realized--this body is... UGLY! All who see me know it--and now I know it as well. Wait... a shooting pain erupts inside my head--as if some... other... is struggling to control my mind... Then--the Abomination's consciousness yet survives. He battles my will. but I cannot--I will not--yield control! Grotesque though it is... this body is still the only body I have to exist within! and now I know there is a way for me to discard this base shape... yet still retain its power. Hear me, Abomination! This body is mine! MINE!"
It's now time to back up a bit an talk about Tyrannus. Tyrannus is one of the hulk's oldest foes, appearing as early as Hulk #5. He has appaeared from time-to-time ever since, but Tyrannus never captured my fancy the way the Abomination did. Perhaps one of these days I'll trace Tyrannus's history, but for today, suffice it to say that, in Hulk #243, he merged his consciousness with the "cobalt-powered Flame of Life," which he saw as the key to power over the entire Earth. But the Hulk destroyed the machinery that housed the cobalt flame, hurling the Tyrannus-flame away from Earth where it dissipated in the vacuum of outer space.
This explanation is going to get increasingly "comic book" at this point, straining even the most willing sense of disbelief.
Now we are asked to believe that the Abomination's atoms (from Hulk #290) somehow drifted into space where they merged with the remnants of Tyrannus's consciousness, which reformed the Abomination's body and directed it back to Earth. Got all that? Now Tyrannus wants to use Banner's nutrient bath (which he learned about from Quartermain's mind) to separate Emil Blonsky's body from the Abomination's. Theoretically, Tyrannus would be able to maintain control of Blonsky's body, leaving the Abomination in his control. He kidnaps Betty Banner and places her in a tube with little oxygen at a hidden location to ensure Banner's cooperation.
The plan proceed apace until Quartermain and his men catch up and interfere with the machine's delicate settings. The Abomination emerges from the nutrient bath carrying the body of Emil Blonsky in his arm. But Tyrannus's mind is still in the Abomination's body. D'oh! The Hulk beats the Tyrannus/Abomination into submission and Blonsky surrenders to SHIELD.
"In the beginning," he soliloquizes, "I enjoyed being the Abomination. The power... the excitement... I thought no one could defeat me. But then it became a nightmare--always being used by somebody or other to do their dirty work... I know I'll have to go on trial for my crimes as a spy--and as the abomination... but it's so wonderful to be an ordinary man again."
One aspect of the Abomination that drew me to the character in the first place is that he spent the time between Hulk #137 and #159 in a coma, then he was in a coma again between #171 and #194, then he spent #270-287 frozen in a block of ice. But now Emil Blonsky has been returned to human form, so everything'll be okay for him from here on out, right?
Up until now I've been pretty much working from memory, but a footnote in Hulk Annual #15 reminded me that I'm a little fuzzy around this era. The footnote pointed out that Mephisto temporarily reintegrated the Abomination in Secret Wars II #7. As I recall, it could have been that Shooter wanted to use the Abomination but forgot that he had been disintegrated in Hulk #290, then tried to justify his writer's fiat in the dialogue stage. In any case, I'm not going going back to reread any part of Secret Wars II (and you can't make me!) nor am I particularly interested in following the Tyrannus/Abomination, yet I couldn't remember exactly how he got his own body back. In the interest of completeness' sake, however, I will mention that the "Abomination" fought Wonder Man in West Coast Avengers #25 (which I did read)...
...and Hawkeye in Solo Avengers #12 (which I did not).
Next up after that is Spider-Man Annual #23 which I did read but had forgotten.
It lures you in with a John Byrne cover but then switches to Rob Liefeld interiors (and yes, a Liefeld-drawn Abomination looks exactly like you think it would). The story takes place during the "Atlantis Attacks" series of annuals, the less said about which the better. For whatever reason, the Lemurians want Tyrannus's help and break the "Abomination" out of federal prison. His price for helping them is his restored humanity, so they also kidnap Emil Blonsky. They hook them up to an apparatus which transforms the "Abomination" back to Tyrannus and Blonsky back to the Abomination. This makes no sense whatsoever because Tyrannus left his human body far behind when he became a creature of sentient flame back in Hulk #240. The process of being changed back into the Abomination was too much for Blonsky's mind, he became a mindless monster and ran afoul of Spider-Man and the She-Hulk, who threw a tanker truck at him. The resultant fire drove him into the river and he disappeared.
This was a very forgettable story, but at least it did serve the function of getting Tyrannus and the Abomination's minds back into their respective bodies.
Walt Simonson doesn't usually draw pictures of the Hulk, but when he does they're keepers. He'll do pin-ups once in a while, covers less frequently, and entire comics almost not at all. In this case, he provided the covers to the four-part "Countdown" storyline in which the Hulk has been poisoned. The interior artist is Jeff Purves. Storywise, the status quo has changed yet again. At this point, the Hulk is grey and the change is triggered by nightfall/sunrise. Bruce Banner is working as janitor named "Bruce Bancroft" at a nuclear facility in Yucca Flats, AZ. The Abomination, in the meantime, has been cured of his insanity by the Leader, then sent to the facility at which "Bancroft" is employed to steal toxic waste.
Almost immediately he spots the janitor and recognizes him as Bruce Banner. what he doesn't know is that Banner has been injected with a poison that acts on the Hulk as well as his human self like an artificially-created AIDS virus. When the Abomination arrives, Banner has just over 16 hours left to live. The Abomination catches up to him, not inthe midst of changing, but in the midst of having a heart attack. Eager for a rematch, the Abomination throws Banner into the gamma tester and transforms him into the Hulk despite the fact it is still daylight. He is surprised to see that the Hulk is grey and disappointed that he seems to be off his game.
They fight for nine pages, until the Hulk throws the Abomination into the vats of toxic waste he came there to steal. The waste very nearly kills the Abomination, in the most painful way you can imagine. His scales dissolve, his skin begins to "melt," and his ears nearly fall off and at least one of his eyeballs falls from its socket. The fight is over, but the exertion has sped up the course of the disease so that Hulk now has only until sunrise; if he turns to Banner again, he will die. The Abomination (it is revealed in #366) is in the process of being transferred to an airstrip where he will be airlifted to Project: Pegasus.
For all intents and purposes, this is the first time we've seen the Abomination as he used to be since #290 (possibly since #196), i.e., no cowardice in the face of the Hulk, no disintegration, no body-swapping. One could easily go from #290 directly into #364 (ignoring all that other stuff) without missing a beat. Of course, now the Abomination has a different problem to overcome.
Walt produced some amazing pin ups for The Rampaging Hulk / Hulk magazines. He depicts "Hulk Smash" as well as any artist.
Walt produced some amazing pin ups for The Rampaging Hulk / Hulk magazines.
Exactly the ones I was thinking of!
He also did the interiors of a memorable run of Indestructible Hulk.
I like to supplement my comics with posts or articles filed right inside the bag. Oftentimes, I forget they are there and am greeted with a nice surprise the next time I go to read certain comics. These "supplements" may be particularly informative posts from Captain Comics or Commander Benson, or they may be articles clipped from CBG written by the likes of Mark Evanier or Bob Ingersol or Craig Shutt. When I pulled Hulk Annual #20 out of the box for a future post, I found inside the bag a page of my own notes. I don't remember putting it there (surprise!), but I've been thinking about an "Abomination" discussion for a long time. I am currently comparing my own mental list against online sources to make sure I don't miss anything, and I have come across an Abomination appearance even Wikipedia missed (which I remembered then but have completely forgotten since... until today).
HULK ANNUAL #19: In "A Town Called Hulk" the mayor of Dustpit, AZ has decided to rename the town "Hulk" as a publicity stunt to draw tourists. What it draws instead is the Abomination, Titania and Gargantua. They completely level the town under the mistaken impression that the Hulk would be there for the festivities. After the devistaion, the citizens run the mayor out of town, and when the Hulk does arrive, he doesn't find anything but a pile of rubble where the town was supposed to be. The Abomination is hideously deformed by the toxic waste at this point, but his speech patterns are those of the old, "dumb" Hulk (which he never had): "Man say Hulk not here. Man say all big joke!"
STATUS: "Mopee" (which is why it's not included in the Wikepedia entry and why I didn't remember it).
The Abomination next appears in New York City (in #382), stalking expatriate Russian dancer Nadia Dornova who is performing in the ballet Metamorphosis based on the book by Franz Kafka. One of Nadia's co-stars, Sergi, is a field operative of the Pantheon, the super-secret organization the Hulk (whose mind has been merged with Bruce Banner's at this point) now leads. Sergi identifies the Abomination (in #383). and the Hulk guards Nadia at the theater. The Abomination has been living in the NYC sewer system and emerges from a manhole just in time to witness people running from the theater and Nadia collapse in front of him. He abducts Nadia and the Hulk follows. After a brief scuffle, the Hulk disappears into some sort of warp or vortex.
When he emerges (in #343), he is only inches tall. (Between issues he fought against Thanos during the "Infinity Gauntlet" affair.) He follows the Abomination and learns that Nadia Dornova is Emil Blonsky's ex-wife, and has reverted to using her maiden name. Hulk perches on the Abomination's shoulder, whispering in his ear and pretending to be "The Lord." The Hulk eventually convinces the Abomination to return Nadia to her hotel room, and the Abomination reveals he knew it was the Hulk all along.
This is Peter David's first attempt to humanize the Abomination, who is still hideously scarred from the toxic waste.
MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #6-8:
According to Wikipedia: "The Abomination is also captured by the robot Sentinels, but is eventually freed by the X-Men." I don't remember whether or not I saw this on the stands or not, but in either case, it would have taken more than an appearance by the Abomination to convince me to buy a comic titled "Marvel Super-Heroes Summer Special: X-Men."
HULK ANNUAL #20:
The Abomination befriends a young woman with a death wish whom he met in Central Park. He takes her into the sewers, where he is accepted among society's rejects who live there, for "story-time" (which is held every full moon). He tells a highly slanted version of his own life, as a fairy tale, and restores her faith. The main thrust of the story is that the Abomination now sees himself as a good guy. It is at this point, I think, I decided to stop collecting non-Hulk Abomination appearances (which is why my notes were in the bag). I might as well proceed to the next story at this point, as I don't have it to read, either.
According to Wikipedia: "The Abomination battles Namor the Sub-Mariner during an attempt to save his kidnapped former wife."
Before I get started with the next installment, I would like to say something about the early-to-mid '90s backbiting and infighting between and among comics creators of different companies, of which Hulk #431 is a prime example. Honestly, when I was younger, I enjoyed that type of thing. (I was young, but old enough to have known better.) Now here it is, 28 years later and a stupid, petty joke is enshrined in a hardcover omnibus edition. The "joke" is completetly out of context, plus it is told at the expense of Betty Banner, making her look like a total moron. Then editor should have stopped this. Then again, perhaps she simply knew her audience (me).
As the story opens, Terri Ivens of the CNNN news show "Real Copy" is down in the NYC subway system with a crew and a swat team searching for encampments of the homeless living in the sewers. The Abomination, seeing himself as the protector of the helpless who lives there, chases them away. In Sunville, FL, home of Bruce and Betty Banner, they see the coverage on TV and Hulk, reluctantly, decides it's up to him to stop the Abomination. He feels as if the two of them had" come to a sort of detente. Blonsky had even seemed to find a measure of peace, down below with the homeless and castaways of society. [Hulk] does not relish the upcoming battle." Sandy, the woman from Hulk Annual #20 is also there, the Abomination's friend.
Meanwhile, NY Police Commissioner Howard Ferris is in the packet of one Mr. Christopher, who wants the underground cleared of witnesses so he can use it for drug importation, gun running, etc. Hulk arrives and offers his help to the police; they accept. SWAT Lt. Chase is aware of Ferris's corruption, but is not in a position to do anything about it. When they go down to clear out the dregs of society, the Abomination creates a diversion with the Hulk so they can get away, but one of the homeless lifts a gun and fires, leading to a bloodbath wiping out nearly the entire population of society's misfits.
Apart from the dig at Image Comics (Erik Larsen specifically), the story is well-written around a good structure. The entire issue is built around a chess motif: the homeless are pawns, the Abomination is a pawn, the Hulk even interrupts a game of chess in the park on his way to the scene. When the Abomination hears the shooting, he quickly returns to the scene , brutally kills one of the SWAT team, and declares: "No more draws! No more stalemates! Once and for all... the ENGAME! YOUR MOVE!"
As the Abomination picks off the cops one by one, Lt. Chase grabs Sandy and uses her for cover. A homeless man called "The Angel" points out which way the Abomination has gone. Lots of philosophy during the fight between the Abomination and the hulk. Sandy pleads for the Abomination to spare Chase's life. "Angel" leads Sandy and Chase to safety. The fight progresses to the lobby of the Daily Planet Building and PAD takes a shot at the "Clone Saga." Chase resigns and punches Ferris in the face. The Abomination leaps to the CNNN helicopter. Hulk follows, and the fight brings it down.
The Abomination proposes, "Tell you what, Hulk! Let the people in this craft die... and I'll go quietly. Sure, a couple of reporters will be crushed... but compared to the future destruction I'll cause, it's nothing!" Hulk saves the reporters but Abomination crashes with the helicopter. Terri Ivens says, "That... that crash... he couldn't have survived it, could h--?" to which the hulk responds, "Good heavens, you are new at this, aren't you?" On the ground, Angel convinces Sandy to rejoin the world above while Chase joins the world below.
I don't remember whether I saw this on the stands or not, but ibn any case, if I had seen it, I wouldn't have bought it. Wikipedia tells me: "The Abomination battles the mutant Nate Grey (who is searching the sewers for his lover and fellow mutant Threnody, who had been one of the homeless followers of the Abomination), who uses his mental abilities to trick the Abomination in thinking that he defeated Grey."
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