THE LITERARY HULK PART 2
by Mark Ricard
Cry of the Beast
Before a discussion of the novel let me share something I noticed about the late 70s Marvel Novels. The tv show must have made the Hulk a very popular character for Marvel. After book 2 in the Marvel Novel Series the very next novel was another Hulk adventure.
Including the last marvel novel Mudermoon, where he teams up with Spider-Man,he also appeared in one of the four series in book 9 Marvel Superheroes. That makes 3 1/4 appearances over 11 novels. More than 25 percent of the output. Even Spider-Man,who has always been Marvel’s flagship character only made it to the 3 novels. Hence thanks to Len Wein’s short novella he appeared in novel 9. And no other character had two full novels released in a row.
Cry of the Beast in many ways owes more to the Bill Bixby tv series than it does the comic book being written at the time. One only has to look at the acknowledgment page. The second person on the list Kenneth Johnson who developed and produced the Hulk tv show. Nick Corea is also mentioned. Corea wrote many scripts for the show and and would go on to write and produce the first tv movie, The Incredible Hulk Returns.
What we get is a strange blend of continuity. This is Bruce Banner but many places he is mentioned as a physician not a physicist. Also the Hulk is non verbal,much like his tv counterpart. He does however speak one word. Hulk. if you are able to get these idiosyncrasies you might enjoy the book.
The story itself bears once again revolves around the attempt to find another scientist who might be able cure Dr Banner of the curse that is the Incredible Hulk. However in sync with the television this i a slightly more realistic story. Instead of science fiction/horror of the H.P. Lovecraft what we have is a plot about small African dictation who plans to use the power of gamma radiation to create super army soldiers to take over the world. It is more of a Mission Impossible style story.
We have Banner searching New York City for Dr Max Wittenborn. Of course things are far more complicated than that. Wittenborn is kidnapped and Banner meets the daughter and son of Wittenborn and that becomes the focus of the story. The daughter serves as a possible romantic interest. Much of the story revolves around the attempts of capture and escape. These usually lead to action sequences with Banner transforming into the Hulk.Since nearly half of the book involves trekking through the jungles more should be said. Meyers sometimes makes it work but other times however the actions sequences are lacking a certain smoothness. Fight scenes are hard to work.One of the best scences in the book is the Hulk fighting a herd of Rhinos. We also get a added subplot about Curtis a CIA agent This is a interesting subplot that should have payed off more.
This of course eventually leads to a confrontation with the mad dictator.At this part the plot threads merge. Perhaps it is the end where the decent story starts falling apart. We have yet another climatic scene on a airplane like the last book And then the story just ends. The problem everything is wrapped very quickly with the plot threads left dangling. What happened to the Slaves? Where is Banner going after this? One gets the impression Mr Meyers wanted to go farther with the story but the editors and publishers limited the pages space he could write. A extra 20 pages may have helped make this story better. Still it is a decent enough story until it nears the end.
Richard S. Meyers is the author of a number of books. Most of which are about film and television. He does have a small resume of comic book writing under the name Ric Meyers according to comic book database.