Maestro #1, written by Peter David, illustrated by Dale Keown and German Peralta, colored by Jason Keith and Jesus Aburtov, and lettered by VC’s Ariana Maher, is published by Marvel Comics. The series acts as a prequel to the “Future Imperfect” storyline from David and George Perez, showcasing how the Hulk became the monstrous tyrant known as the Maestro. Trapped underground in an A.I.M. laboratory, the Hulk awakens to a world ravaged by nuclear war.
David has been writing the Hulk for nearly 30 years in comics and novels; there are very few writers who understand the Hulk as he does. Here he has the chance to delve into Bruce Banner’s psyche, painting the picture of a man who has rarely had peace. David also alludes to several moments from his now-classic Hulk run: the “merging” of personalities that Banner underwent, his ‘Professor Hulk’ look, and the abuse he endured from his father. These moments are presented in a way that new readers can easily pick up on. Old readers will definitely enjoy these nods.
David’s trademark sense of humor is also present throughout Maestro #1. When the other Avengers confront the Hulk, Black Widow says a line that is a direct reference to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Likewise, Hulk makes a crack about acronyms when confronted by an old foe. These moments of levity help lessen the dark mood of the book. Plus, they’re genuinely funny. David also reveals the cause of the apocalypse and it’s not what anyone would expect. Dystopia is fairly common in classic Marvel stories; ranging from Spider-Man 2099 to X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, those stories had heroes who fought against the darkness and brought hope to their worlds. There’s no such respite in this issue. The world is hell and the Hulk is on his own.
The art is divided into two sections: Keown and Keith handle the opening flashback while Peralta and Aburtov handle the present section. It’s the former that is the most striking; Keown’s striking artwork will grab your eyeballs and refuses to let go. He draws the Hulk in a more heroic form; the Green Goliath stands tall and wears a black tank top and jeans. In contrast, Peralta draws the Hulk hunched over, and with a beard and long hair. This is a visual hint at the changes he will undergo. Keith and Aburtov also highlight the differences between past and present with their colors. Keith’s color work is more bright and eye-catching, signifying more pleasant times. Aburtov goes for a muted palette to reflect the horrific apocalypse that Hulk has woken up to. It’s a subtle way to highlight how the environment has changed.
Maestro #1 is the start of a gripping origin story, featuring one of the Marvel Universe’s deadliest villains. I’m happy David gets to return to the world of “Future Imperfect” and show how it came to be. Hopefully, in future issues, we can see more of the post-apocalypse world.
Maestro #1 is available wherever comics are sold.
Maestro #1 is the start of a gripping origin story, featuring one of the Marvel Universe’s deadliest villains. I’m happy David gets to return to the world of “Future Imperfect” and show how it came to be. Hopefully, in future issues, we can see more of the post-apocalypse world
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.