Dr. Bruce Banner, also known as the Hulk, has had many iconic enemies over the years. Wendigo, Tyrannus, Juggernaut, the Red Hulk, and the Leader are just a few of the nemeses who have returned to challenge the angry green giant time and time again. Emil Blonsky, however, stands above them all as one of the Hulk’s biggest baddies. A former spy, he transformed himself into the massive green Abomination with a dose of gamma radiation. He’s frequently depicted as being stronger, larger, and more versatile than the Hulk. Most importantly, he blames Banner for his transformation and hates him with a personal, fiery passion.
Beyond his intense enmity for the Hulk, the Abomination has led a complicated and interesting life. He’s allied with and been opposed by a vast number of characters, experienced disintegration, lost his identity, and more. No matter what, he just keeps coming back, angrier than ever. Famously played by Tim Roth in 2008’s "The Incredible Hulk," returning in 2021’s "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," and most recently appearing in "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," the Abomination is also one of the Hulk’s most dangerous foes on the silver screen. From who he is to where he’s going next, this is everything you need to know about the Abomination.
From communist spy to Abomination
Before he was a pivotal Hulk nemesis, Emil Blonsky was a communist spy who managed to infiltrate the New Mexico Air Force base responsible for Dr. Bruce Banner’s transformative predicament. While there, Blonsky makes a number of attempts to sabotage the base and its weaponry. On one particularly fateful day, Blonsky attempts to photograph Banner’s gamma radiation equipment, and is offered a golden opportunity when Banner himself vacates the room. Blonsky activates the machine Banner was busy with, which exposes him to an absolutely massive wave of gamma radiation. Like Banner’s own Hulk-inducing dose, it triggers a mutation that leaves Blonsky huge, green, and gilled. Unlike the Hulk, however, he retains his human intelligence, and has been permanently physically transformed.
Marveling at his newfound abilities, the Abomination finds the Hulk and nearly kills him. He takes Betty Ross (General Thaddeus Ross’ daughter) hostage, causing General Ross to actually overcome his disdain for the Hulk: He revives the big green behemoth to pursue the Abomination and save Betty. With the cooperation of the military, the Hulk is able to reduce the Abomination’s power, though it still lands a few notches above Hulk’s own strength. The mysterious being known as the Stranger, who’s been observing the conflict, then transports the Abomination elsewhere in the universe for his own murky purposes.
The Abomination, explained
The Abomination shares a considerable number of similarities with the Hulk, though many notable differences separate the two as well. The most immediately obvious differences are physical: The Abomination is big and green, like the Hulk, but he looks a little more inhuman, with visible gills, spiky face frills, and a permanent inability to transform back into his human form. These traits set him apart from Banner’s Hulk as a visibly monstrous entity who has been denied normalcy forever. Ability-wise, his gills and massive lung capacity allow him to breathe underwater, and his base strength sits at a much higher level than the Hulk’s. Their ability to regenerate is roughly similar, however, as is their immense stamina.
In conflict, the Abomination often has a mental advantage to the Hulk, if the Hulk he’s fighting is not one of the "smart Hulks." His strength advantage gives him a major edge in combat over the Hulk in the first rounds of any fight as well. The Hulk’s ultimate power, however, is his hypothetically endless ability to gain more and more strength as he gets more and more angry — and as far as we know, there’s no limit to his anger. Thus, in any conflict with the powerful Abomination, the Hulk merely has to outlast him in order to eventually surpass him. This is a continual thorn in the Abomination’s side.
The Abomination’s adventures in space
The Abomination is kept as a prisoner on the Stranger’s planet. Here begins his long, strange adventure in space, which spans a vast number of issues. After an untold number of days in captivity, the Abomination is summoned back to Earth by a greedy coven of witches to battle the Silver Surfer. The Abomination promptly unleashes a violent rampage upon a nearby city. He is eventually subdued by the Surfer (who laments Earth’s brutish nature while doing so) and is transported back to the Stranger’s planet. Enraged by his return, the Abomination vows to remain free and accidentally summons Thor using the Stranger’s technology. Thor quickly discovers Blonsky’s desire to conquer, and soundly defeats him.
Eventually, the Abomination breaks free from the Stranger’s planet, and is taken onboard the alien starship Andromeda, where he soon becomes first mate. Eventually, the craft reaches Earth, and the Abomination engages in an intense space battle with the Hulk. It ends when the Hulk, grappling with the Abomination in orbit, spikes his gilled enemy into the planet’s surface.
This isn’t the end of the Abomination’s time in space, however. The malicious Galaxy Master, an alien being of pure energy, eventually employs the Abomination as a sort of shock troop against regions he seeks to conquer. A counter-force led by the Sagittarian Empress Daydra recruits the Hulk to combat the Abomination, and ultimately succeeds. The Abomination is left floating in space, as thrashed as he has ever been.
The treachery of General Ross and M.O.D.O.K.
After his many bizarre experiences in space, the Abomination ends up frozen in an enormous block of ice. He falls into the hands of General Ross, who keeps him preserved in his icy prison within a highly-protected facility. One day, however, the fiendish M.O.D.O.K. (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing) breaks in, and strikes a deal with General Ross. Ross wants to use the Abomination to kill the Hulk once and for all, while M.O.D.O.K. wants to use the Abomination against A.I.M. Together, they decide to wake the Abomination to achieve their murderous ends.
The unfortunate wrench in the works of their plan is that by this point, the Abomination has faced Hulk numerous times — and pretty much every time, he’s been firmly beaten. As a consequence, the Abomination has grown fearful of facing the Hulk, to the point that he cries when the prospect of having to face him once more is raised. M.O.D.O.K. brutally forces the Abomination to fight the Hulk regardless, and once again, the green enemies do battle. As ever, the Abomination fails. In an act of brazen cruelty, M.O.D.O.K. disintegrates the Abomination as a horrified Hulk looks on. Though he might have been a terrifying brute at one point, the Abomination is a pitiful, tortured wretch in this arc, and his end is incredibly sad.
By all accounts, it would seem that a disintegrated Abomination is, well, pretty firmly destroyed. Quite the contrary, however: After M.O.D.O.K. scatters his atoms to the wind, said atoms are discovered by the immortal extraterrestrial tyrant known as Tyrannus. Tyrannus, having been merged with the fabled city of El Dorado’s mystical Flame of Life at an earlier point, is also in an incorporeal state when he happens upon the Abomination’s cloud of atoms. Tyrannus merges with the Abomination, regains physical form, and crashes to Earth. The amalgamated creature is essentially Tyrannus’ mind in the Abomination’s body. Tyrannus hopes to separate the Abomination and the human Emil Blonsky’s forms using sophisticated technology. His plan is to live in the newly separated body of Blonsky, while still maintaining mental control over the Abomination.
This experiment is interrupted by S.H.I.E.L.D., resulting in Tyrannus’ mind remaining trapped inside the Abomination’s body, while Emil Blonsky is freed as an independent man. Blonsky’s cure is relatively short-lived, however: Tyrannus’ allies Ghaur the Deviant priest and Llyra the Lemurian restore Tyrannus as a smart and independent being once more, while Blonsky’s consciousness is once again trapped inside the Abomination. Spider-Man and She-Hulk fight the enraged Abomination, with She-Hulk eventually hurling an oil tanker at the Abomination. It explodes, covering the green beast in burning oil. He dives off a bridge into the water below.
Captured by the Sentinels, attacked with toxic waste
The Abomination’s history is full of disappearances — into space, into comas, into blocks of ice, and into apparent disintegration. He disappears once more after escaping Spider-Man and She-Hulk, eventually ending up in Philadelphia. He almost immediately finds himself captured by the mutant-hunting robot Sentinels as part of their long campaign of terror against mutant-kind. They intend to use the Abomination as a catalyst to sterilize humanity, in their hopes of ending the "scourge" of mutation. The Abomination, in a rare heroic moment, helps the X-Men who have been kidnapped and brought to the same facility escape. Then he encounters the Sentinels’ creator, Dr. Cynthia Chalmers. Chalmers proceeds to promise Blonsky that she’ll give him control of the Sentinels if he helps her destroy the mutants and replenish the robots’ numbers. He switches to her side, and unsurprisingly, she soon betrays him. The X-Men manage to defeat both the Sentinels and the Abomination.
The Abomination appears a short time later in yet another conflict with the Hulk. As the Abomination attempts to steal toxic waste, Bruce Banner surprises him by transforming into Grey Hulk. The Hulk is overpowered despite landing the first blow, but he’s able to attack the Abomination with toxic waste. The noxious sludge eats through the Abomination’s tough epidermis and severely damages him.
Homeless in New York
When the Abomination finally recovers from the Hulk’s toxic waste attack, he enters a dark period of his life. Clandestinely, he begins to stalk his wife Nadia, a celebrated ballet dancer who believes him to be dead. Operating from New York City’s sewers, he asks God for advice on what to do, distraught over his long absence and his monstrous appearance. When superheroic mayhem causes a crisis, the Abomination confronts Nadia, who faints at his hideous visage. Believing this to be fate, he brings the unconscious woman to the sewers. The Hulk spots him and tries to convince him to let Nadia go. Though the Abomination resists and a brutal fight ensues, the Hulk is eventually able to persuade him to leave his wife be.
The Abomination continues living underground in New York’s sewers for a time, meeting with various outcasts who gather there — human, mutant, and otherwise. This underground group forms a community that takes the name the Forgotten, and eventually, the Abominations. Blonsky is pivotally important to their survival, becoming a de facto leader and serving as the group’s protector from all forces. At a particular point of conflict, Hulk emerges and joins the police against the Abominations. After a number of the Abomination’s friends are slaughtered, he is plunged into a blind rage. He and the Hulk proceed to fight, but when the Abomination threatens to slaughter a helicopter full of people, the Hulk is forced to let him escape.
Betty Banner’s brutal end
The Abomination has, at this point, endured a lot of failures and had a lot of opportunities to reconsider his obsessive relationship with the Hulk. He does not choose to leave his anger behind, however — instead, he develops a twisted sense of kinship to the Hulk. The Abomination reaches a point where he comes to see himself and his enemy as equals, or at the very least eternally related to each other. They’re both big, green, monstrous entities with traumatic lives. When he learns of Banner’s marriage to Betty Ross, however, he is enraged. When Betty is hospitalized, the Abomination kills her with his gamma-irradiated blood. Initially, the Hulk is believed to be the culprit, but when Betty’s father General Ross investigates, he soon discovers the Hulk is innocent and the Abomination is to blame.
The Hulk soon confronts the Abomination and Ross. The Abomination reveals that he murdered Betty out of rage and jealousy: If Nadia denied him, why should the Hulk be granted true love? Why should the perfect hate that lies between the two adversaries be interrupted by bliss? The Hulk denies the Abomination the violence he craves, however. The Abomination flees, having committed perhaps his most striking cruelty yet.
The Abomination’s ultimate punishment
Months later, we learn that after the Hulk denied the Abomination a vengeful fight, the Abomination landed at, of all places, a library in New Hampshire. He has been secretly teaching creative writing courses there as "Mister Blonsky," his body completely obscured by a cloak. Elsewhere, General Ross reveals to a grieving Banner that his wife Betty has been placed in stasis. This devastates Banner, which General Ross takes advantage of by telling him that it is the Abomination who is responsible for Betty’s present state, and that he has escaped justice long enough — justice Bruce could provide with his fists. While Bruce initially resists his transformative anger, it eventually overwhelms him and he becomes the raging Hulk … which is exactly what Ross wants.
The battle that ensues between the Hulk and the Abomination is catastrophic. The Hulk nearly beats the Abomination to death (a fate the Abomination welcomes) before he is narrowly able to restrain himself. The military swarms in, and quickly places the Abomination in their custody. As part of his punishment, the Abomination is forced to watch footage of himself and his wife when they were happy on an indefinite loop, continually reminding him of his losses. It’s a vicious way to torment the grieving villain, but to General Ross and Bruce Banner, it’s exactly the poetic justice Blonsky deserves.
Much ado about Nadia
2003’s "Incredible Hulk" #50 through 54 find Bruce Banner under attack from a shadowy organization called Home Base. In the process of escape, he meets Blonsky’s ex-wife Nadia by apparent accident. She shelters him, and the two end up spending an amorous night together. Meanwhile, the incarcerated Abomination receives a unique prison visitation from Home Base agents who want him to help them capture the Hulk. They replace the footage of him and Nadia when they were happy with far more recent recordings of Bruce and Nadia in bed. Enraged, the Abomination breaks free of his bonds.
In "Incredible Hulk" #53, Nadia comes clean about her true reasons for entering the U.S and hiding out in the desert. Emil Blonsky was a terrible and abusive husband before his transformation into the Abomination, as it turns out. Nadia has joined with the mysterious Home Base organization to deliver Banner to them — in return, the group has promised to help Nadia get her revenge against the Abomination. When she is finally able to confront her cruel ex-husband, however, her weapon from Home Base fails to go off. Luckily, Bruce arrives and promptly transforms to take down the villain himself.
The death of the Abomination
M.O.D.O.K., the Leader, and Doc Samson, working together as the Intelligencia, find a way to siphon energy from the Hulk using satellites in order to transform General Ross into yet another gamma-powered entity known as the Red Hulk. The Red Hulk shares the Hulk’s strength, stamina, durability, and all his other major attributes, save for a slightly diminished healing factor. He emits gamma radiation and is capable of absorbing energy. Most uniquely, he can transform between forms at will.
Red Hulk takes on missions on behalf of the Intelligencia, eventually being discovered when a satellite detects him crossing into Russia. She-Hulk, Iron Man, and other heroes later discover a massive being has shot and killed the Abomination with an enormous gun. Signs seem to point to Banner’s Hulk being the culprit, before it’s discovered that he has been safely locked up the entire time. What really happened, it turns out, is that the gamma-transformed Red Hulk arrived in Dimitri, Russia and murdered the Abomination as retaliation for his daughter’s death.
The many resurrections of Emil Blonsky
Post-death, the Abomination is briefly brought back to life by the Chaos King in the "Chaos War" event. This doesn’t last long, as Marlo Chandler, possessed by Death, ends him once again. His body is later resurrected by the Order of the Shield as a mindless reanimated shell of his former self. He is finally defeated when he encounters the Avengers, who teleport him — once again — into the dark depths of outer space, somewhere near Jupiter. Apparently, the Abomination just can’t stay away from the stars for long.
Soon enough, however, the big green beast is back on Earth and out to cause trouble. The Abomination is resurrected once more after he possesses the body of General Reginald Fortean. He proceeds to head up the company Green Spring, which aims to weaponize gamma mutation. His violent goals become more possible than ever before — but if history is anything to go by, he’ll be stopped by the Hulk soon enough.
Mephisto and the Legion Accursed
Following his cruel disintegration at the hands of M.O.D.O.K., Abomination briefly becomes the plaything of an even more fiendish monster — the extra-dimensional demon Mephisto. Marvel’s 1985 to 1986 "Secret Wars II" miniseries event brought the omnipotent alien known as the Beyonder to Earth in a quest to understand humanity. The combination of the Beyonder’s childlike innocence and unlimited power made him a threat to life across all dimensions. But the Beyonder was also a threat to Death and earned Mephisto’s hatred when he temporarily killed the demon’s "beloved" personification of destruction in "Secret Wars II" #6.
In "Secret Wars II" #7, Mephisto constructs a mystical machine called the Beyondersbane to siphon off the Beyonder’s cosmic energy and render him vulnerable. The Master of Lies strikes a Faustian bargain with several supervillains to increase their power levels if they fight the Beyonder and kill him, with the Abomination briefly resurrected to join his Legion Accursed.
Mephisto is undone by his demonic dealings as he had also given added strength to the Thing, hoping he would distract the Beyonder, only for the hero to fight off the Legion Accursed. The Beyondersbane was then destroyed, with the Legion Accursed -– and the undead Abomination –- quickly dissipating.
Clash of the Titans
The Abomination has lost countless fights to the Hulk. However, one of his most humiliating defeats came at the hands of another incredible Marvel superhero whose name also begins with "H." The 2005 "Hercules" miniseries by Frank Tieri and Max Texeira reimagined the twelve labors of the Greek god for the 21st century. Down on his luck after years of tabloid scandals have soured his relationship with the Avengers, Hercules takes part in a reality show that will recreate his most legendary feats.
In "Hercules" #3, Herc reimagines his seventh labor with Abomination taking the place of the mythic Cretan Bull. Their "Clash of the Titans" is scheduled to be performed in front of a paying crowd at Madison Square Garden, but when a reporter asks Blonsky what he expects from the fight, Blonsky goes on a long tirade denigrating Hercules. After hearing the Abomination call him a "washed-up drunk Russell Crowe wannabe," Hercules snaps and hits Abomination with a metal street sign, knocking him through several buildings that collapse on top of him. The lesson, according to Hercules? "Less talking and more fighting."
A hitman for the U.S. government
Neither Blonsky’s trail of destruction -– nor his past as a communist spy –- is enough to deter the United States government from using his powers for their own ends in the 2005 miniseries "Hulk: Destruction." This four-part limited series by Peter David, Jim Muniz, and James Raiz retells Blonsky’s origin as Thunderbolt Ross and Doc Samson perform a psychiatric evaluation on the incarcerated supervillain.
The Department of Defense believes that Blonsky can be used as an asset in "hostile terrain," to the disgust of Thunderbolt Ross, whose daughter Betty was one of the Abomination’s many victims. Abigail "Mercy" Wright, Blonsky’s former associate, engineers a confrontation between Abomination and the Hulk, hoping that the Hulk will kill his longtime enemy. Hulk thwarts Mercy by -– ironically –- showing Blonsky mercy. "Hulk: Destruction" #4 ends with the Pentagon assuring Thunderbolt Ross that Blonsky has proven himself too dangerous and unstable to be an American operative. However, this is all a ruse, and a smiling Blonsky is sent on a covert mission to North Korea to wreak unknown havoc.
Rick Jones and Subject B
The Abomination has had many terrifying transformations over the years, with one of the most disturbing alterations happening to Blonsky’s body after his death. Scientists working with the U.S. Hulk Operations take gamma-irradiated tissues from Blonsky and bond them with the corpse of Rick Jones -– a longtime friend of Bruce Banner that was present during his very first transformation in 1962’s "The Incredible Hulk" #1.
The reanimated Abomination/Jones creature, called Subject B, is revealed in the 2019 comic "The Immortal Hulk" #17 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett. Subject B, possessing only a tortured fraction of Rick’s consciousness, is sent to attack the Hulk and dissolves his limbs by emitting a powerful stomach acid. Bruce’s wife Betty Ross –- transformed into the deadly Red Harpy –- arrives and triggers the Hulk’s healing ability. The two successfully fight off Subject B.
In "Immortal Hulk" #20, Hulk tears the Abomination’s shell apart with his bare hands, freeing the emaciated but alive Rick Jones. The remains of the man who was once Emil Blonsky are then bonded to General Fortean in yet another horrific transformation.
Joining the Thunderbolts
The Abomination can hardly be called a team player -– even his tenure in the Legion Accursed only lasted a single issue. So, there is a major shake-up in the Marvel Universe when Emil Blonsky joins the Thunderbolts in "Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire" #3. An extension of the 2022 "Devil’s Reign" comic book event, "Villains for Hire" sees New York City mayor Wilson Fisk — also known as the crime boss the Kingpin –- deputize several supervillains to serve as his personal Thunderbolts team. The lineup initially includes Rhino, Whiplash, Electro, Taskmaster, and the symbiote Agony, all under the leadership of U.S. Agent. When Rhino refuses the Kingpin’s order to hunt down superpowered children, Abomination replaces him as the team’s muscle.
Unfortunately for the Thunderbolts, a team of superpowered children fights back, with Blonsky leading the charge against the young Champions and Jessica Jones in "Devil’s Reign" #5. Jessica points out that Abomination isn’t usually the kind to take the Kingpin’s orders, and Blonsky replies that Fisk has important information he needs. No matter where he shows up next, there is always more to the Abomination than meets the eye.