REVIEW: ‘Maestro: War and Pax,’ Issue #4

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Maestro War & Pax #4 - But Why Tho?

Maestro: War and Pax #4 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Peter David with art by Jesus Pina. Colours by Jesus Aburtov and the letters are from Travis Lanham. There is a backup story called “The Black Scythe,” with the same creative team apart from Germán Peralta as the artist.

Maestro is the ruler of most of a post-apocalyptic Earth, and has been for decades. He intends to extend his rule through PAX: Post Apocalyptic Existence. Anyone who refuses to bow to him must be extinguished. Two separate entities form an alliance to bring him down: Doctor Doom and his old friends the Pantheon. The Pantheon managed to trick Maestro and knock him out, bringing him back to their base. Maestro attempted to break out, but Ulysses shot him in the head, supposedly killing him.

With Maestro out of the picture, Doctor Doom enters Dystopia as their new ruler. He tries to establish himself but is treated by nothing by ambivalence. In the Pantheon’s headquarters, Maestro has already regenerated from the bullet. He’s still unconscious, so Atalanta buries him in unbreakable metal. Sealed in, Bruce has a therapy session inside his own mind, apart from his green form for the first time in years. But nothing ever keeps the Hulk down for long.

The evolution of the pacing and structure within the series has been interesting. The last two issues have almost been rehearsals for what eventually happens within this comic. In #2, Maestro threatened what would happen when he broke out. In a dream sequence in #3, there was a huge, drawn-out slaughter. The events of Maestro: War and Pax #4 may actually surprise some of the viewers. There are explosions, but it’s almost like one big one instead of a lengthy firefight. This may be an incredibly jarring but impactful experience to those reading. In terms of real-time, it’s a very short comic, as much of it takes place inside Banner’s head.

There is a heavy air of finality to the comic. Some arcs are wrapped up and characters make their exits. But when they do it isn’t brutal or intense, but accepted. The ending feels so complete that you actually forget there is another issue to go in the series. It was expected, but not in this way. Whilst the tone is dark for much of the issue, there is actually a really humorous opening as Doctor Doom introduces himself to his rather blasé adopted subjects. It’s a great scene for lightening the mood before the main body of the story. There is a character reveal towards the conclusion of the comic that was surprising because it was never clear if they actually existed when they were mentioned before.

David has brilliantly explored Maestro within this 5 part story, partly because he has made the character absolute. Within Hulk stories, there was always Bruce Banner, the softer side that other characters always try and access to calm Hulk down. To save themselves. So it was assumed that Maestro had that too. The internal therapy session is a superb insight into this character’s mind, showing that there is still doubt within him. It was a nice touch from the writer to include Doc Samson as the moderator for this part.

There is less action within Maestro: War and Pax #4, but there is still a lot of energy and Pina’s art still conveys this. When there is combat and movement, the power of it radiates from the page. The lines from the artist are very clean, with the backgrounds lacking detail in places. This stops the panels from getting too crowded. One of the best aspects of the art within this comic is it shows how much time has passed in the characters that aren’t immortal. There are figures within this issue that have clearly not withstood the passage of time well, including Bruce. But one of the most fascinating areas is the contrast with those that do not age, such as the Pantheon. Delphi, Ulysses, and the other members haven’t aged a day. It’s a glaring concept within the Marvel Universe that isn’t often explored.

The colours have been consistently beautiful throughout the miniseries. Despite the harshness of the comic, the costumes remain vibrant. The Pantheon members possess a variety of colours, from gold to blue to green. Aburtov presents these costumes and shades while preventing them from clashing.

The lettering is easy to read and dynamic. Lanham is great at establishing how loud someone has spoken. When Maestro is unleashed, the word balloons and text are huge. This shows how much scale there is to every aspect of his being.

Maestro: War and Pax #4 is a brilliant but emotionally taxing issue. David’s dialogue is still superb, as his exploration of the character he has written for over two decades. It is a well-rounded plot and the way that it is paced implies that the last issue will be an epic. But the way some of the characters depart the series was hard to read. That is the purpose of stories in this genre of superhero books and was predicted, but the mostly quiet way their arc ends is perhaps more upsetting than if it had been more violent. The fact that this comic drew such a reaction shows just how brilliant the series has been.

Maestro: War and Pax #4 is available where comics are sold.

Maestro: War and Pax #4
3.5

TL;DR

Maestro: War and Pax #4 is a brilliant but emotionally taxing issue. David’s dialogue is still superb, as his exploration of the character he has written for over two decades. It is a well-rounded plot and the way that it is paced implies that the last issue will be an epic. But the way some of the characters depart the series was hard to read. That is the purpose of stories in this genre of superhero books and was predicted, but the mostly quiet way their arc ends is perhaps more upsetting than if it had been more violent. The fact that this comic drew such a reaction shows just how brilliant the series has been.