REVIEW: ‘Maestro: War and Pax,’ Issue #5

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Maestro War & Pax #5 - But Why Tho?

Maestro: War and Pax #5 is published by Marvel Comics. Written by Peter David. The penciller is Javier Pina, with Germán Peralta providing the art in the second story. Aburtov is the colour artist and the letterer is Travis Lanham 

Maestro’s dominance over Dystopia is absolute, or so he thinks. He develops a new political movement, Post Apocalyptic Movement (PAX for short) and he intends to unite humanity, with all opposition ground to dust. His old friends the Pantheon teamed up with Doctor Doom to remove him from power and kill the green giant. The Pantheon drugged Banner and held him captive whilst Doom asserted himself as Dystopia’s new emperor. But Maestro broke out of captivity, killing Atalanta and destroying his old friends.

With the Pantheon destroyed, Maestro has one more enemy standing in his way. He returns home to his castle, where his people await his return. Doctor Doom is sat on his throne, unsurprised that Banner survived his ordeal. Following this is a showdown that may turn Dystopia into even more of a wasteland.

This is the battle that has had its seeds sown from the end of the first chapter. Maestro: War and Pax has been building to this confrontation and the build-up within this is delicious. There is a massive twist within the first few pages, one that will make the reader’s jaw drop. Like with the other issues, this comic has a slow start that gradually pushes Maestro and his enemy together before it erupts into violence. The fight itself is constantly moving and incredibly captivating. The reader knows that the title character is merciless, so this will be a battle to the death. 

The ending isn’t quite as conclusive as one may expect. Much of this character’s personality and stories are absolute, and yet the climax has an open ending. Additionally, the Post Apocalyptic Existence aspect of this series very much loses its relevance from the first issue, not reemerging even towards the last pages of Maestro: War and Pax #5. This miniseries has had a fantastic plot, so this missing thread doesn’t ruin the story, but it is glaring once the reader notices it is missing.

Before the fight, there is a quiet conversation between Doom and Maestro, and David taps into the fact that these two characters have known each other for a long time. Doom has likely always respected the Hulk’s power and Bruce Banner’s mind, but perhaps understands him even more now. They are like-minded, wanting total dominion over everything possible. Which is why they can never co-exist. When they start fighting, the loud aspects of their personalities are unleashed—the rage and the arrogance, the inability to find a weakness within themselves. 

There may actually be one instance of when PAX is demonstrated well within this issue, and that is when Banner returns to his capital city. The citizens acknowledge his arrival, but they don’t bow down to him in awe. Instead, it is barely more than a shrug. This suggests that his subjects have actually lost any semblance of free thought or dreams, which is a depressing concept.

David’s use of Doctor Doom is brilliant in regards to his regality and characterisation, yet his abilities lack much of his true capabilities. Doom’s power stems from his mind, but also the fusion between magic and science that he has mastery over. We see the technology within his suit in this issue, yet nothing that suggests sorcery. There is even a move that he uses that could have been mystical in nature, yet the writer chooses to base it in science. This is disappointing, as it would have presented even more options for Doom to fight with.

The art has been exquisite throughout the series and that continues in Maestro: War and Pax #5. Power seems to radiate off of both figures, but it is more understated than it may be in present-day stories. Maestro’s stature often makes him look calm or lacksadaisical, only for him to then obliterate something with a touch. Pina’s ability to portray this through line art is extraordinary. The battle itself unleashes this in a chaotic series of panels, but it is very easy to follow. Despite the wasteland, there are still enough brilliant locations for the artist to destroy throughout the conflict.

The colours are gorgeous. Something very noticeable within this issue is Aburtov’s use of different shades. The resounding colour inside this chapter is green, and yet there is such a massive variety of tones. Maestro and Doom could have had the same emerald hue covering them, and yet they have separate greens. This can also be said for the buildings, the ground, the sky, adding depth to the world around the characters. Doom’s powers have a light blue, but there is one page in particular where the brightness of it is almost dazzling. This is intentional as it highlights his power.

The letters are terrific. The font doesn’t change between balloons or caption boxes, the uniformity comforting and easy to read. The impacts of each blow are close to being felt before SFX are added, but with them, the energy is ramped up even more.

Maestro: War and Pax #5 is an awesome final battle. There is a feeling of wrapping up within this issue, as if fighting Doctor Doom is just a formality. And yet the combat is just as exhilarating as the rest. David and Pina have created some of the best clashes in recent comics inside the five chapters, and this is another of them. There may be plot threads and the ending may not feel as final as one may have preferred. But in a way, the emotionally devastating issue #4 felt more like the last issue than this one.

Maestro: War and Pax #5 is available where comics are sold.

Maestro: War and Pax #5
4

TL;DR

Maestro: War and Pax #5 is an awesome final battle. There is a feeling of wrapping up within this issue, as if fighting Doctor Doom is just a formality. And yet the combat is just as exhilarating as the rest. David and Pina have created some of the best clashes in recent comics inside the five chapters, and this is another of them. There may be plot threads and the ending may not feel as final as one may have preferred. But in a way, the emotionally devastating issue #4 felt more like the last issue than this one.