Inside art for The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 by George Pérez.
|First appearance||The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #401 (January 1993)|
|Created by||Peter David
(based upon the Hulk by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
|Alter ego||Dr. Robert Bruce Banner|
|Place of origin||Earth|
The Maestro is a fictional comic book supervillain in Marvel Comics' The Incredible Hulk publications, combining Bruce Banner's intelligence with the Hulk's more malevolent aspects. The character was created by Peter David.
The Maestro first appeared as a vision in The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #401. He was the main antagonist in The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1-2 (Dec 1992 - Jan 1993).
Maestro's next appearance is in The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #460-461 (Jan-Feb 1998).
Fictional character biography
Approximately a hundred years into the future, a nuclear war has killed almost all of Earth's superhumans and has taken the world to the brink of extinction. A future version of the Hulk, called Maestro, has seized control, driven insane by the nuclear radiation he has absorbed and the bitterness he feels towards the world at his continued treatment. He has the intelligence of Bruce Banner and the absorbed radiation has significantly enhanced his strength.
An elderly Rick Jones encounters the reality-hopping mutant Proteus, who has possessed the body of an alternate reality Hulk from the year 2099. Proteus intends to discard his current body and possess the Maestro. Jones, unaware of his plan, provides a weapon created by the X-Man Forge, which might be able to kill Maestro. However, the plan fails when the Maestro is warned by the Exiles, who are pursuing Proteus. Proteus possesses a new host and flees to another world, breaking the Maestro's neck during his escape.
Years later, the Maestro, fully recovered from his injury, encounters a time-traveling Genis-Vell and Spider-Man. Manipulated by the supervillain Thanatos, the three battle. Genis-Vell and Spider-Man eventually return to their own time, with no consequence for the Maestro, when the elderly Rick uses his ability to wield Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, to defeat Thanatos.
Acquiring Doctor Doom's time machine, the rebels opposing the Maestro bring the Professor Hulk forward from the past, hoping that he can defeat the Maestro. Although Hulk's ability to improvise allows him to score some effective blows against the Maestro, the Maestro's superior strength and experience, combined with his knowledge of the Hulk's strategies, allow him to easily dominate the Hulk and break his neck. Knowing it will soon heal, he shows Hulk around the city, attempting to convince his younger self to side with him, but realizes that the Hulk is pretending to be more injured than he is with the intention of launching an attack. The Maestro is defeated when the Hulk lures him back into the rebel's base—the Maestro throwing Rick Jones into Wolverine's skeleton in the process— subsequently using Doom's time machine to send the Maestro back to the time and place that the Hulk was created: ground zero during the testing of the atomic Gamma Bomb. Appearing next to the bomb itself, Maestro is killed in the same moment that creates the Hulk.
Hulk learns that the "homing sense" that has always allowed him to locate ground zero, his "birth" place, is actually attracted to the Maestro's spirit and remains. The Maestro has been absorbing gamma radiation from the Hulk each time he returns to the site, gradually restoring himself. He emerges, initially in a weakened and emaciated form. The exhausted Maestro attempts to use the Destroyer against the Hulk, but he is driven out when the Hulk manages to transmit his soul into the Destroyer as well- exploiting the fact that the Maestro is still technically him- and forces the Maestro back into his body, which is last seen buried in a small rockslide.
At some unknown point in his future, he teams up with a version of Wolverine, to go back in time in search of the Red Hulk. They are defeated by the present Wolverine and Hulk, and jump back to their time. There, we see that time's version of Red Hulk, declaring that the Red Hulk of the present must be killed in order to save the world.
When the Hulk was 'upgraded' to the persona of Doc Green- a version of the Hulk with access to Banner's intellect- after being treated with Extremis for a serious shot to the head, he began to experience dream-like visions of the Maestro, creating the possibility that Doc Green would eventually become his dark future self, starting with him contemplating growing a beard.
Powers and abilities
The Maestro largely possesses the same powers as the Hulk, but to a greater degree than most incarnations due to the century's worth of radiation he has absorbed as a result of the nuclear wars that decimated his Earth (the present Hulk speculated that his insanity might also contribute to his greater strength). This includes certain mental powers, such as the Hulk's ability to see and interact with astral forms, as shown in The Defenders series.
In other media
- The Maestro appeared as an opponent in the PlayStation game The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga, and as a playable character in the 2008 The Incredible Hulk video game, serving as a new 'skin' that can be unlocked when the player has collected all the Landmark tokens in the game.
- The Maestro was part of the Marvel Legends action figure series. His figure came with the left arm of Apocalypse.
- An alternate timeline version of the Maestro appears in Peter David's novel Hulk: What Savage Beast.
- The Maestro appears as an unlockable costume for the Hulk in the 2012 mobile app game Avengers Initiative.
- The Maestro appears as an alternate costume for the Hulk in Marvel Heroes.
- Maestro is mentioned in Avengers Assemble The Age of Tony Stark.
- Captain Marvel vol. 3 #27-30 (March – May 2002)
- The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #2
- The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #460 (Jan 1998)
- The Incredible Hulk vol. 2 #461 (Feb 1998)
- A+X 001, October 2012
- Hulk vol.3 #9
- Maestro at the Comic Book DB