A while back I read The She-Hulk Diaries, a sort-of chick-lit book about the Hulk’s green skinned cousin, Jennifer Walters. It’s about time I read another original comic-inspired novel, but instead of a recent release, I read one that I found in a flea market last summer. So here’s Incredible Hulk: Abominations, written by Jason Henderson. The book released in 1997 and I’m not sure how easy it is to find.
As the title suggests, this book pits Bruce Banner against his long-time nemesis, the Abomination. But what could have been a simple plot turned out to be a bit of a thriller involving double agents whose loyalty lines up with … I won’t spoil it. It sounds like a winning combination for a Hulk book, so let’s see how it turned out.
The book takes place in the era of the Hulk’s history where Bruce and Betty are married, and Bruce is permanently stuck in his hulk form but retains much if not all of his intelligence. The character drama with Bruce works very well, as he’s still trying to adjust to his current relationship with his green beast. He mostly stays inside during the day while Betty works a job under a cover identity.
While the plot takes a while to get going, there’s still plenty of action to keep your attention. The Hulk and the Abomination have several big fight scenes throughout the book, the best of which happens about half-way through. There are also flashbacks and scenes of human on human fights to mix the book up and expand on the villains’ motivations, even if it’s not obvious at first. And once the plot does get moving, things get pretty intense. The climax involves a situation that could start a war if it’s not stopped, and the ending, while surprising, fits quite well. Also, Betty Banner gets in on some of the action, and that’s just awesome.
The main running theme in the book is exploring whether the Hulk and the Abomination are still humans, or if they are nothing but monsters. The book makes clever use of biblical verses discussing abominations to both enhance the theme and add to some of the events in the climax, but without feeling preachy or turning this into a Christian book. The language used isn’t overly complicated and the most vulgar word used is “hell”, so it’s not inappropriate for kids so long as somewhat bloody violence and severed hands won’t disturb them.
With all that said, this book isn’t great. The plot is good and the action is usually fun, but the writing itself holds the book back. Some sentences feel a bit redundant, with nouns or names used too much in some fight scenes. This issue doesn’t come up often but it’s districting. Sometimes it’s a bit confusing when one character speaks, yet the actions between the words talk about another character’s actions in the same paragraph. Also, there’s a double agent in the book, and there’s virtually no foreshadowing for the double agent.
But the main problem is there are too many perspective characters for a book that’s less than 300 pages long, and some of them barely have any page time. You have Bruce, Betty, the Abomination, a special team leader working with Bruce, a double agent within the leader’s team, the Abomination’s Ex-Wife and a random person who dies in the opening chapter. The large cast of perspective characters makes the book feel unbalanced.
In that sense, this book reminds me of some of the writing flaws I’ve managed to overcome over the years, and some that I still find when I edit my own work. I’ve started books in the past with way too many perspective characters, and some of the earlier drafts in my current series broke the point of view limitations I placed. But these are the things that shouldn’t make a final release.
Despite its flaws, I’m glad I read this. For $1 this was well worth it. I wouldn’t actively seek this book, but if you’re a Hulk fan and you find it for cheap, it’s worth a look.