Characters Appearing: Abomination, Angel (Simon Halloway), Betty Ross, Hulk, J. Jonah Jameson, Sandy (Sewer Dwellers), Wulf Christopher
Issue(s): Hulk #431, Hulk #432
This story starts with an effort by the New York police commissioner, Howard Ferris, to "help" the homeless population living in the sewer (the desire to help is belied by the fact that it's coming in the form of a heavy armed SWAT team). They encounter the Abomination, assume he's an alligator, and open fire. The response is about what you'd expect...
...and it ends with the Abomination being demonized (it's assumed that he's kidnapped the woman Sandy that we met in a previous Abomination story). A decision is made to mount a larger assault on the sewers, and when the Hulk hears that the Abomination is involved, he decides to go there too. Since he's in hiding, Betty suggests a disguise, which is really Peter David's way of showing that he thinks that Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon character is a ripoff.
And then we come to a scene that clued me in that there's more going on here than it seems. This was during the period where the Hulk was in the Marvel Edge silo with Ghost Rider, and it turns out that this story is, not quite a crossover but at least a tie-in with recent Ghost Rider events.
Abomination even appeared in Ghost Rider #58-61 (along with Daredevil, Punisher, Wolverine, and, notably as it pertains to the next Hulk arc, Nick Fury). The story also seems to have involved a police task force created by New York's police commissioner to hunt down Ghost Rider. I don't have those issues (and this shows the limits of my attempting to continue this project without filling in the gaps in my collection) but it doesn't seem that Howard Ferris or Wulf Christopher appear directly in those issues (Christopher will appear in the next Hulk story, but that's it; these are Ferris' only appearances according to the MCP and Marvel's fan wiki).
Anyway, it doesn't seem to have any direct bearing on this story, but it's interesting to see the intertwining, and (as usual) it blows my mind that there are no footnotes here. Even if you don't want to inform your readers, you'd think you'd at least want to sell your books! I probably would have bought that Ghost Rider arc in realtime if i had realized it was (semi) pertinent to this series and featured the Abomination in his sewer king phase.
The Hulk offers himself to the police team and is accepted with little fanfare.
They find the Abomination, who doesn't bother trying to explain that Sandy isn't being kept against her will. So we get another Big Green Veiny Fight from Liam Sharp.
But while they are fighting, one of the cops opens fire on the sewer dwellers.
Abomination responds by killing him.
I don't know if i'd call the Abomination's actions justified, but they are certainly understandable. Instead of leaving the people in the sewer alone, the cops were sent down to chase them out of their homes (without giving them anywhere else to go) and this cop in particular shot a group of unarmed people. The Abomination's rage in seeing his friends, people under his protection, is only natural. But the Hulk doesn't see it that way, and even the narration feels slanted against the Abomination: "Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, brutally killed one of the cops who was trying to clear out the homeless in the sewers. The line's been crossed.". Another cop says that the guy who massacred everyone was a "jerk" (!) but "he was a cop, and deserved better". It really feels like we're just supposed to think of the Abomination as a villain. Even when the Hulk is said to be avoiding the "truth" of the Abomination's words, it's less about the justice for the homeless people and more about the Hulk's skirting of the line between human and superhuman, hero and villain.
The chooses to rescue civilians rather than chase the Abomination, who gets away. We do see the lead cop, the one who called the murderer a "jerk" abandon the police and join the sewer dwellers, so i guess that's a sign that we're not supposed to just think the Abomination was flat out wrong here.
The art gets increasingly fanciful/cartoony (rushed?) as the story goes on.
This turns out to be Sharp's last issue.
During this story, there are cameos by the (fake) Golden Age Angel (also a sewer dweller)...
...and J. Jonah Jameson.
This series has generally been resistant to the reduction in content-per-issue that has been a trademake of the 90s, but the Sharp issues definitely feel lighter than previous ones. Sharp definitely uses a lot of splash panels, and maybe it's due to that kind of layouting that David's treatment of topics (whether it's the "ripped from the headlines" stuff of the past few issues or the examination of the Abomination's character here) has felt more superficial. Still, we're continuing from the solid foundation that's been built on the Abomination from previous issues, and everything here is still quite enjoyable.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Ghost Rider #58-61.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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