The Incredible Hulk: Cry of the Beast by Richard S Meyers. Released March 1, 1979, the first of the Pocket Book Marvel Novel series with a number: 3.
The author is a writer of fiction and non-fiction (including a story for Detective Comics’ 60th anniversary). He has also written for television programs from the New Twilight zone to Columbo to Murder She Wrote. He has written for Playboy, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. He was inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
The book is 191 pages long, although the story starts on page 11); there is no introduction.
While wandering the streets of New York City, Bruce Banner witnesses a mugging. No, not a mugging, a kidnapping. Foremost radiation specialist Dr. Maxwell Wittenborn was being kidnapped. This was the man Bruce came to New York to see!
Bruce tries to stop the mugging/kidnapping and is assaulted by the thugs. All Hulk breaks loose.
The person in charge of the kidnapping, who we later learn is named the General, gives the Hulk his card. The next morning, Bruce finds the card and goes to the address.
It was a trap! Bruce and Dr. Wittenborn’s two adult children, Tony and Roseanne, are themselves kidnapped and taken to the General’s headquarters in Africa.
After a long sea voyage, Banner and Roseanne escape into the jungle where they fight off pygmy natives, African beasts and the General’s soldiers.
Finally captured by the General, Roseanne is kept prisoner as an … incentive for her father to keep working. Bruce is kept with other prisoners and made a guinea pig for the General’s gamma radiation experiments which, if they work, will help him destroy America!
The Incredible Hulk television show was going great guns by the time this paperback was published. Hence two novels in as many years (as well as a “video novel” – scenes from the TV show with word balloons – and a paperback of older Hulk comics).
This novel leans more to the television show than the comic book (compared to the previous comic-book leaning “Stalker from the Stars”). None of the comic book regulars are present – Betty Ross or her father, Rick Jones, etc. Banner (still called Bruce here, but David on television) was a wanderer and become involved in a crime, albeit a larger one than usually explored in the TV show.
The CBS series never dealt much with world conquerors. But even so this novel deals more with the characters than the action – Bruce’s relationship with Roseanne, the Hulk’s relationship with Roseanne, even the parallel story of the agent assigned to infiltrate the General’s operation.
Probably because of this, we get no origin recap – this is because the way Bruce Banner became the Hulk on the television show is different from the comic book version. The writer did not want to alienate either audience and stuck to vague statements by Banner regarding “bringing out my inner demon”-sort of thing.
When released, this was the kind of novel that would attract readers who were NOT necessarily into comic books. Kind of like the audience of the television show…
A good beginning for a third book in a series!
Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry
Characters mentioned are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to Marvel Comics and Pocket Books for the use of their images. Cover image was taken by the author.
I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated or credited.