Greetings from the Odinson,
The very first Hulk comic I can remember ever reading was The Incredible Hulk: At Bay! It was a Book and Record combo. The action on the page was brought to vibrant life by voice actors and sound FX. I could write all day about those old Book and Record comics that featured the adventures of Spider-Man, Superman, Monsters, Star Trek, and everything else in between but it’s this particular one that is of relevance here.
At Bay! introduced a young Odinson to the monstrous Abomination, a gamma-powered super villain whose might rivaled that of the Incredible Hulk! In my lifetime the Abomination has gone from being a truly scary and formidable foe to a punching bag, and ultimately became an afterthought. So, the Odinson has to ask…
What Happened to the Abomination?
The best place to start is at the beginning.
The world was introduced to this monster in a 2-part story from the pages of Tales to Astonish #90-91. Released in the late 60s, this tale used the real life backdrop of the Cold War as its catalyst. When a Russian spy named Emil Blonsky infiltrated Gamma Base and took an overdose of radiation that was meant for Bruce Banner, he is suddenly transformed into the monstrous creature the world would call Abomination! The Incredible Hulk is the strongest monster in the Marvel Universe so it was absolutely shocking to witness this new monster beat the mighty Hulk unconscious, a feat rarely seen in the annals of Marvel. Their rematch was brought to an end when the enigmatic Stranger, a cosmic titan from beyond the stars, snatches the Abomination up for his own nefarious purposes.
This set the Abomination on a course that should have established him as one the most feared villains in Marvel’s Pantheon. The Abomination magically appears to battle the Silver Surfer. When next we see him, he is still imprisoned by the Stranger. The Mighty Thor shows up and they do battle. So already, just in his first three appearances, not only has the Abomination traded blows with the three strongest heroes the Marvel Universe has to offer, but he has more than proven that he can hold his own against them.
In Incredible Hulk #136, the Green Goliath gets caught up in the mission of an intergalactic bounty hunter and finds himself suddenly whisked away to outer space where he once again comes face-to-face with the Abomination. Locked in mortal combat, the two hated enemies fall back to Earth. When next we catch up with the Abomination in Incredible Hulk #159, he is tricked by General Ross into yet again battling the Hulk. As powerful as the Abomination is, early on it is established that he is easily manipulated and, whether by his own government, cosmic entities, or even the U.S. Army, he is used by others over and over. This is a pattern that will repeat throughout his super villain career.
Over the next few years, the Abomination would begin to suffer defeat after defeat at the hands of his most hated foe. In Incredible Hulk #171, the very issue that was adapted for the Book and Record comic mentioned above, not even the combined strength of the Abomination and Rhino can topple the mighty Hulk. After an encounter with the Fantastic Four, the Hulk suddenly finds himself matching brawn against Blonsky again in the pages of Incredible Hulk #195-196 where the two monsters actually form a short-lived alliance?! These continuous defeats at the Hulk’s hands take a terrible toll on the Abomination’s psyche. This development makes itself know when next we meet our villain.
Incredible Hulk #269, the Jade Giant suddenly finds himself under attack by three alien powerhouses from across the cosmos calling themselves the Hulk Hunters. Two of these meat-heads, the Hulk has faced before – Amphibion in Tales to Astonish #73 and Night-Crawler in Incredible Hulk #126 – and the third is Torgo, the robotic gladiator that once fought the Hulk’s erstwhile sparring partner Ben Grimm in Fantastic Four #93. It turns out these Hulk-Hunters are not here to destroy the Hulk but seek his help. Their mission is to defeat the cosmic terror known as the Galaxy Master, a foe the Hulk has faced before in Incredible Hulk #126. The problem is they can’t even defeat the Galaxy Master’s bodyguard who is, you guessed it, the Abomination! It is here we see the toll his defeats have taken, as Emil begins to display fear about faces the Jade the Giant in combat.
Over the next decade or so, the once mighty Abomination becomes little more than a jobber to the rest of the Marvel Universe. He becomes yet again a pawn to General Ross and MODOK in their schemes to topple the Hulk. He is out muscled by Wonder Man. He is stopped in his tracks by Spider-Man and She-Hulk. He is humbled by the Savage Sub-Mariner. And he fails to overpower the X-Man.
During the Countdown storyline, the Abomination is dealt his most devastating blow yet when he is doused in chemical waste which melts his skin and disfigures him, making him even more of an abomination than he was before. His body and mind shattered, Emil Blonsky retreats to the sewers where he becomes a tragic Phantom of the Opera-like recluse. His situation is compounded by a miniature Hulk (see the events of Infinity Gauntlet to see how the Hulk got this way) who bends his ear and convinces him he is being haunted by his enemy even in seclusion.
Here, beneath the streets of New York City, amongst the refuse and abandoned castoffs of society, Blonsky has found peace. But when that peace is wrecked by those that live above in Incredible Hulk #431-432, only the Hulk can stop him from wreaking vengeance. So, Blonsky decides to take the worse revenge on his hated enemy. When Betty dies of radiation poisoning in Incredible Hulk #466, Bruce Banner feels the full measure of guilt as he thinks it is being by his side all these years that killed her. However, General Ross discovers the truth in Incredible Hulk #472-474 that it was in fact Emil Blonsky that poisoned Betty.
Bruce Banner may be able to forgive but the Hulk will never forget the man that murdered the woman he loved. Rendered in great detail and with expert mastery of his craft by the great John Romita, Jr., Incredible Hulk #24-25 features the most teeth-rattling, bone-crushing, earth-shaking battle between these two Gamma-powered behemoths the world has ever seen. In Abominable, Blonsky and his hated foe face each other for what would be their last meaningful confrontation with ties to their long running rivalry.
Emil Blonsky was murdered by the Red Hulk. The Red Hulk was soon revealed to be none other than General Ross who took revenge on the monster that killed his daughter. I know in the wake of the Chaos War, which brought many dead characters back to life, Blonsky is back from the dead, but he has been almost completely MIA since then.
Emil Blonsky, a Russian spy from the Cold War era was transformed by Gamma Radiation into the Abomination, a creature with the strength to overpower the Hulk and stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Silver Surfer and the Mighty Thor. In the years since, he has been little more than a pawn for the likes of the Stranger, General Ross, and the Galaxy Master. He has been constantly beaten and humiliated, left in a state of almost catatonic fear, severely scarred and shunned, and ultimately murdered off-screen in an almost casual manner.
The Hulk is a force of nature. Even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes tread carefully around him. Should not the mighty Abomination’s name hold as much reverence? Shouldn’t the mere mention of his name cause dread and fear amongst the bravest of heroes and vilest villains alike? The Marvel Universe should fear the day the House of Ideas finally turns the Abomination into the walking, talking tower of power, scary as Hel, Gamma-powered WMD he was always meant to be.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: For past entries of the So Sayeth the Odinson blog, over a decade’s worth of comic book and pop culture articles and reviews, click HERE. Also, be sure to check out my novels The Survivors and Autumn Dawn, which were inspired by 1980s horror – HERE and HERE.