Marvel Comics’ Hulk is the strongest there is, which means he can survive almost anything, whether he wants to or not. In the 1992 miniseries “Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect,” legendary Hulk scribe Peter David and artist George Perez took readers to a possible future where the Hulk survived a nuclear holocaust that killed everyone the gamma powered goliath cared about. The grief he suffered and the radiation he absorbed gave birth to a malevolent and even mightier Hulk persona known as the Maestro who ruled over the survivors of a nuclear devastated Marvel U with an iron fist.
While their first encounter saw the modern day Hulk travel to the Maestro’s future to kill his future self, the villain’s evil has returned to plague the Marvel Universe on a number of occasions over the years, most recently in the Peter David-written “Spider-Man 2099.” This June, David returns to the Maestro once again for a reimagining of “Future Imperfect” during “Secret Wars” that teams him with artist Greg Land and casts the monstrous future Hulk as the ruler of his own domain on Battleworld.
CBR News spoke with David about “Future Imperfect,” and though he declined to talk about story specifics the writer was able to chat about the appeal of writing the Maestro, what motivates the character’s behavior and the domains and supporting players that play significant roles in the story.
CBR News: You recently brought the Maestro back into the larger Marvel Universe in “Spider-Man 2099” and will continue the character’s exploits in the “Secret Wars” series “Future Imperfect.” This isn’t the first time you’ve returned to the character since creating him in 1992. What is it about the Maestro that has you returning to him again and again?
Peter David: Well, for starters, he’s the Hulk. I admit to some loyalty to the Hulk which probably stems from my having written him for over a decade. But this is a wonderfully twisted version of the character, with all of his strengths and none of his weaknesses. He’s not only got the strength, but he’s a master tactician because he’s been doing this for over a century, so that puts him ahead of just about everyone except Thor. He certainly has his own perspective on the world.
“Future Imperfect” might be some readers’ first encounter with the Maestro and his sinister perspective, so I wanted to get into his origin and how he views himself. Essentially the Maestro personality resulted from an apocalyptic possible future where the Hulk with Bruce Banner’s intellect absorbed the radiation from a nuclear war and was made physically stronger but driven insane by the experience, correct? How does the Maestro view his own brutal actions?
Yes, that’s fundamentally correct. It occurred to me in creating him that people always envision some sort of nuclear wasteland after a world war involving nukes, and that such a world would be no problem for the Hulk because he just soaks it up. I would say the twisting of his personality was less because of the radiation and more from just living a hundred or so years of surviving in a world where everyone and everything he loved had died. The madness wasn’t from the radiation but the experience. Keep in mind that Bruce’s mind fractured at a young age because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father. The merged personality of the Hulk has deep reflections of his father in him, and his father was a complete bastard. As for how he views his actions, he just sees himself as doing what was necessary to take the best advantage of the world presented to him.
“Future Imperfect” finds the Maestro bringing his schemes to “Secret Wars'” Battleworld. What can you tell us about his activities there? Is he once again the ruler of of his own oppressive realm?
Yes, he is. Dystopia is alive and well and the Maestro is running the show. But he isn’t satisfied with the world as it currently stands, and the series is about his plans to do something about it.
Is the Maestro’s “Dystopia” the same sort of world he presided over in the original “Future Imperfect?”
It is indeed the Dystopia from the original “Future Imperfect,” and several characters from that series will be returning. But I won’t just be focusing on that; he will wind up traveling to another realm with a very specific goal in mind.
Who are some of the characters the Maestro will run afoul of as he tries to execute his agenda for Battleworld?
Janis and Skooter from the original. Ruby Summers from “X-Factor.” And several other “X-Factor” characters as well, plus the Boss, whose identity will be revealed at the end of the first issue.
Finally, Artist Greg Land is bringing to life “Future Imperfect.” Greg is best known for drawing glitzy and glamorous worlds and characters. What does he bring to a darker more gritty world like the one in “Future Imperfect?”
I’ve seen the entire first issue, and I have to say, it looks great. Greg brought his A-game to this series and I couldn’t be happier.
“Future Imperfect” begins in June from Marvel Comics.
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