The Abomination In Animation - A Retrospective
Arguably the most popular of all the Hulk villains, The Abomination is one that in all honest, most people have never heard of. The main conflict with The Hulk character is his difficulty with duality – the normal scientist who yearns for the normal life he can never have as long as he transforms in a brute, savage creature whenever his experiences anger, the strongest one there is.
Which is the main problem Stan ‘The Man’ Lee had when creating villains for ol’ jade jaws. With none of his villains being strong enough to stand against The Hulk, he realised that it was going to make for some pretty dull stories – common sense indicated that for a villain to be a real threat to The Hulk, they should be stronger than he is, to actually give them a chance of winning.
Enter The Abomination, a KGB spy who exposes himself to a greater amount of gamma radiation than what caused Banner’s metamorphosis into The Hulk to begin with. I’ll admit to being unfamiliar with the comic book version as I’ve not read much classic Hulk, I’m more into his modern stuff (some of which I admit, is lost on me because I’m not sure what the hell’s happened previously.)
But this is an animation forum, so I can stop spinning crap about the comic book version I know so little about. Due to his original appearance dating back to 1967 and The Hulk’s original show starting in 1966 and those were based upon his early, early issues with Hulk as more of a Frankenstein like creature rather than a troubled scientist with his troubled past revoked thanks to a being bombarded with a ridiculous amount of gamma radiation, no Abomination was to be found. Curiously, he was absent from the 1980’s show, which to be fair, was never really that bothered with villains in it’s unfairly short single season.
Which meant that the 1996 version of the Hulk would finally give The Abomination his animation debut. He premiered in the show’s opening episode as The Leader’s muscle. The episode focuses on Bruce’s original experiment misfiring after the Army’s intervention and his repeated attempt on Gamma Base which The Leader sees fit to interrupt as he can’t have Banner be cured as it would deny him his chance for The Hulk’s strength.
The original two part opener sees Abomination do little more than fight The Hulk. He doesn’t speak in these appearances and is under some kind of mind control from The Leader. The growl was good but the lack of dialogue and his almost complete lack of motivation makes him a rather forgettable foe.
Design wise, I think it works. The dark green works well against The Hulk and the face looks great – I always thought the Hulk’s face in this show was rather childlike instead of frightening as he should be (except in the final moments opening credits – you know Tom T loves his opening credits!) but Abomination’s works – the blank eyes, the snarling teeth. Not sure about the green pants, but they couldn’t really do much else with that, could they?
He does what Stan Lee originally served him to do – he and Hulk had some pretty decent fights considering the time the show aired.
His next appearance would once again have him serve as The Leader’s lackey but he would maintain some form of intelligence and was given a slight re-colouring, presumably as a visual indication that he wasn’t as strong as he once was. He was also given armour, which someone presumably thought would make for a good accessory for an action figure, to help him keep up his strength. The best part of this for Abomination is the fact he’s now allowed to speak. Richard Moll gives a good performance as Abomination – his voice is exactly the same as the one he gives as Two-Face over in Batman: The Animated Series, but again, the shoe fits.
The episode is a cracking one, but The Abomination is one of the least important parts of the episode – Bruce and Betty get a good amount of development to their relationship and the story is a great one – a Gamma virus is spreading throughout Detriot and Betty is recruited by Donald Blake to try and help contain it – naturally she feels Bruce is more adequate for the job but alas, he’s The Hulk and to known public, was actually killed in the Gamma reactor experiment which gave birth to The Hulk. It’s best remember as the episode in which The Mighty Thor guest starred. The God of Thunder's appearance here is fantastic no doubt, but I’ll save that for that Thor retrospective when his DTV comes out (if one doth hath time, perhaps he may treat thou to a full retrospective in Odin son like tounge!).
Abomination is also sick with the virus, hence his reduced strength. He even has his own (simple) motivation for his part in the episode – he simply wants a rematch with Two Hands. He gets his wish when he’s snatches the cure for the gamma virus and injects himself and regains his strength, which naturally pisses Banner off enough to turn him into Hulk so he can beat down his ass, which he and Thor do, naturally.
The episode ends on a rather sombre note as always, but there’s a glimmer of light at the end of it as Gargoyle provides Betty with the cure for the virus. The show usually featured bittersweet conclusions and it’s overall tone was too dark for the network so the show was revamped entirely for season two and there’s not a highlight to be found. The drama from the show was sucked out, the characterisation turned from compelling to crap and any sense of story was gone – our Bruce was no longer searching for a cure from the creature within him, he was too busy hanging out with his wacky cousin. Abomination again appeared as The Leader’s lackey, who decided to rob a fashion exhibition as he’s a bit short on cash at the moment.
I genuinely tried to watch it in preparation for this retrospective and almost made it halfway before I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to look at my review of the show and see what I could salvage from that – but nope, it appears I couldn’t force myself to sit through it then either. Kind of surprising, being that the episode is scripted by John Semper of Spider-Man: The Animated Series fame, but even he wanted nothing to do with this – when I interviewed him a few years back, he confessed that he’d never even seen the completed episode.
And that’s that. Abomination was thankfully spared from any further appearances in the show and to be honest, made so little a contribution when he did. He’ll soon make his debut on the big screen as the foil for Hulk in the upcoming The Incredible Hulk feature film. The trailers look promising but most of the crew involved seemed so focused on Hulk fighting an actual villain worthy of his strength this time around, after his utterly under whelming appearance at the cinema five years ago. While I’m personally hoping for an interesting Banner/Hulk conflict, I suppose there’s always more people out there who just want to see Hulk smash, and Abomination seems to be the perfect man for the job!