REVIEW: “Maestro: War and Pax,” Issue #2

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Maestro War and Pax #2 - But Why Tho?Maestro: War and Pax #2 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Peter David with art by Javier Pina. The colourist is Jesus Aburtov while the letterer is Travis Lanham. There is a small backup story illustrated by Germán Peralta with the same colour artist and letterer.

Maestro continues to assert his dominance over Dystopia, a possible future where most of the world has been wiped out following a nuclear war. In the last issue, Maestro wiped out an entire settlement of rebels and their children. He declares a new political movement, Post-Apocalyptic Existence, or PAX. All of humanity under a new world order, ruled by Maestro. Any who oppose will be eliminated. Maestro travels to Washington, D.C., where a gathering of humans resides. That cluster was under the protection of Machine Man, battling Banner. The humans and Machine Man escaped. Elsewhere, old allies the Pantheon are visited by a king; Victor Von Doom.

In this issue, the Pantheon and Dr. Doom start to plot a way to dethrone the Maestro. In his current form, no one on Earth can defeat him, but they may have a method of bypassing that. In his palace, Maestro rebuilds from the humiliating defeat in Washington. He is alerted to the fact that the Pantheon is here to break bread. They attempt to persuade the ruler to join them on a mission, but it may be harder than they thought.

The plot is fantastic, starting almost immediately after the last issue. The concept of the issue is set up early, showing the Pantheon and Doctor Doom beginning to scheme together in order to bring down Maestro. With this knowledge, the reader is part of the secret when the team then travels to meet their old friend, for the first time in decades. This instills tension, humming as the group eats until it erupts in an explosive finale. 

The characters are fantastic as David fills them with personality. Doctor Doom is perfectly written. His arrogance is delicious to see, always considering everyone and everything beneath him. He is not from this timeline and it is unclear where exactly he is from. This adds to his mystery. His true intention is hidden from perhaps even himself. 

As for Maestro, this is a different approach to a comic. He is a monster, slaughtering and smashing any who disagrees with him. But Maestro: War and Pax #2 suggests that there is more than just rage within his giant frame. When his minister informs him that the Pantheon are there to see him, he refers to them as friends. This hints that he does long for company. When he enters the room, Ajax reflexively attacks him. Instead of retaliating though, Maestro takes the hits and calms his old friend down. This is a side to this version of the Hulk that hasn’t been seen in a long time. 

As for the Pantheon, their personalities are all very clear and developed. Atalanta, their leader, is strong, determined and brave. She commands respect from her allies. But a personal favourite is Ajax, the large but childlike brute. He is utterly devoted to defending Atalanta, lunging into battle if he even suspects she is in danger. There is a backup story detailing the death of one of the Pantheon members that is brutal, intense, and sad.

The dialogue is brilliant by David, While updated for modern comics, there is still that feel of 80s and 90s stories within the speech. Each character’s personality emanates from their speech patterns and word balloons.

The art is fantastic. Pina captures the power within each character perfectly. Both Maestro and Doctor Doom have such a presence on the page. Every movement Banner makes can almost be felt in the soul, whether he’s clutching someone by the throat or making a superhero landing inside his own thrown room. This sensation of impact happens when Doctor Doom flexes his power as well. Each character’s costume looks great, almost timeless in how they have been maintained. Maestro’s face is incredibly expressive, the size of it making it easy for the artist to etch intricate detail on.

The backup story is only a small chapter of a longer tale, but Peralta’s art is amazing. He portrays the pain the character experiences with horrifying beauty.

The colours continue to be stunning. The bright, primary colours that bore witness to the classic costumes are there, but Aburtov appears to dull them slightly to show the effect time has had on them. There is also a subtle sense of texture on each surface. The gold of Ajax’s armour shines as opposed to the soft red fabric of the minister or Hulk’s green skin.

The lettering has been consistently easy to read. Although they match the dynamic flow of the conversations, it is easy to follow thanks to Lanham’s word balloons.

Maestro: War and Pax #2 matches the tempo and excitement of the first issue. David captures the tone of the series to make it dark and enjoyable, whilst the art remains bright. The relationships feel like they have been built for decades, paying homage to so much of David’s writing. Dr. Doom is still very much on the periphery, but it will surely be a fantastic showdown when he and Maestro finally meet.

Maestro: War and Pax #2 is available where comics are sold.

Maestro: War and Pax #2
5

TL;DR

Maestro: War and Pax #2 matches the tempo and excitement of the first issue. David captures the tone of the series to make it dark and enjoyable, whilst the art remains bright. The relationships feel like they have been built for decades, paying homage to so much of David’s writing. Dr. Doom is still very much on the periphery, but it will surely be a fantastic showdown when he and Maestro finally meet.