The History of the Maestro
Discover the backstory of the Hulk’s greatest enemy before 'Maestro' #1 arrives in August!
The Incredible Hulk has made no shortage of adversaries in his decades as a Super Hero. The Leader, the Abomination, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, and so many others have tried to bring the Hulk down. But the Hulk’s greatest enemy has always been himself. Nearly three decades ago, Peter David and legendary comic artist George Perez teamed up for HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT (1992). Within that epic tale, “Professor Hulk”—a persona blended from both Bruce Banner and the Hulk—traveled decades into the future to face the Maestro.
To the Hulk’s horror, he discovered that the Maestro was his own future self, And he was more powerful than ever, but without the shred of humanity that kept the Green Goliath from truly becoming a monster. The Maestro was the largely unchallenged ruler of a ruined world, and it took everything the Hulk had to stop him. Regardless, the Maestro haunted the Hulk even after his return to the present.
This August, David will revisit his co-creation in MAESTRO #1, a new series illustrated by Dale Keown and Germán Peralta. For the first time ever, this story will reveal how Earth fell and the Maestro rose to rule over the ashes of the planet.
Within the original FUTURE IMPERFECT story, Rick Jones and his great-granddaughter, Janis Jones, came up with the plan to use Hulk to defeat the Maestro. After recovering Doctor Doom’s time machine, Janis convinced Professor Hulk to accompany her to the future and confront the Maestro. Unfortunately, the Maestro proved to be too cunning and far too ruthless. He broke the Hulk’s neck and forced him to “enjoy” the pleasures of his tyranny.
Perhaps the Maestro was sincere when he offered Hulk the chance to rule alongside him. It can be lonely at the top. But Hulk remained true to himself and led another rebel attack on the Maestro. Once again, the Maestro bested the Hulk in a one-on-one battle. However, the Hulk outsmarted his older self by leading the Maestro back to Doom’s time machine. From there, the Maestro was banished to a key moment in the past: the Gamma Bomb explosion that created the Hulk. His body was reduced to bones, and that was seemingly the end of his story.
EXILES (2001) #79-80 revealed a previously unknown chapter in the Maestro’s life, when the reality-hoping team of heroes entered his timeline. The Exiles were in pursuit of Proteus, a deadly mutant in possession of Hulk 2099’s body. Proteus planned to take the Maestro’s body as his own, and he even broke the Maestro’s neck during their encounter. Fortunately, Proteus’ plan failed, and the Exiles chased him to another Earth.
Captain Marvel, AKA Genis-Vell, and Spider-Man 2099 had their own run-in with the Maestro in CAPTAIN MARVEL (2000) #30. Neither Captain Marvel nor Spider-Man 2099 were a match for the Maestro at the height of his power. But they did escape with their lives.
Even after the Maestro’s death in his own past, his influence continued to play out. The ABOMINATIONS (1996) limited series revealed that one of the Maestro’s children may live on in the present. Betty-6 was a slave in FUTURE IMPERFECT who was intimate with Hulk by order of the Maestro himself. She was also among the slaves who traveled back to the past in ABOMINATIONS hoping to find sanctuary. Betty-6 claimed that her infant son, Bruce Willis Sylvester Chan, was the Maestro’s child. It is also a possibility that young Bruce was the son of the younger Hulk, but that's a dangling thread that hasn't been followed up on.
As for the Maestro, his spirit lingered in the place of his death. INCREDIBLE HULK (1962) #460 revealed that the Maestro had slowly absorbed the excess Gamma radiation from his younger self. The Maestro’s presence was also the reason that Hulk was always drawn back to the place he was created. And finally, after so many years in the dirt, the Maestro lived again as an emaciated shadow of his former glory.
But the Maestro’s brief return to life came to an end in INCREDIBLE HULK (1962) #461. A group of Asgardian trolls placed the Maestro’s consciousness in the Destroyer armor and sent it after Hulk/Banner. Despite the Destroyer’s might, the Hulk once again overcame the Maestro and seemingly buried him alive with the trolls. If the Maestro survived again, he has yet to resurface.
With the Maestro, the past is always present. And he will haunt the Hulk’s life again this August, when MAESTRO #1 arrives in stores! Pre-order your copy today!
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