Inside art for The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 by George Pérez.
|First appearance||The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 (December 1992)|
|Created by||Peter David
|Alter ego||Dr. Robert Bruce Banner|
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Abilities||Unlimited superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability
Genius-level intellect in certain incarnations
Regenerative healing factor
Resistance to mind control
Ability to see astral forms
The Maestro is a fictional comic book supervillain in Marvel Comics and is a version of the Hulk from an alternate future (designated by Marvel Comics as Earth-9200). The Maestro is a combination of Bruce Banner's intelligence and the Hulk's more malevolent aspects.
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 after being 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 2099 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 Hulk 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.
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 following shot in the head), he began to experience dream-like visions of the Maestro while hunting down and 'curing' all over gamma-based mutations, creating the possibility that Doc Green would eventually become his dark future self, starting with him contemplating growing a beard. However, Doc Green eventually recognized the potential dangers of the 'Maestro' aspects of his personality when he realized that part of him enjoyed eliminating his 'rivals', deciding to accept the eventual loss of his intellect as Extremis wore off rather than risk that persona emerging, leaving She-Hulk- the only gamma mutation whose life he felt had been legitimately enhanced by her condition- with the last injection of the cure so that she could use it on him if he went too far.
At some point, the Maestro (or possibly an alternate universe version of him) is sent back in time alongside the Days of Future Past version of Wolverine as part of a secret assignment. The two end up battling their present day Earth-616 counterparts before being forced to flee. They are sent back to an alternate future where the Red Hulk is the president of the United States of America, where it is revealed that that he sent the two to kill the Earth-616 version of Red Hulk in order to save the world.
When Spider-Man 2099 attempts to return to his own time after the events of Spider-Verse, he ends up in a world accidentally devastated by Alchemax and ruled by the Maestro, who mistakes Miguel for the original Spider-Man. The Maestro beats Miguel into submission, and places him in a cell with Strange 2099. The Maestro then travels back to present day by having the demon possessing Strange manipulate Miguel into repairing Doctor Doom's Time Platform. The Maestro timeline is described by Miguel O'Hara as having overwritten the 2099 timeline he originated from. Miguel seemingly manages to slay the Maestro with a weapon from the villain's trophy room, but it is later shown that the Maestro feigned defeat in order to follow Miguel back to the present.
After Doctor Doom incorporates the "Future Imperfect" timeline into his new Battleworld, the Maestro resurfaces as the ruler of one of the planet's domains. He poses as a depowered Odin in order to gain the trust of the resistance movement, and confronts Thunderbolt Ross (this reality's version of The Thing), the resistance's leader. After a brutal fight, the Maestro offers to release Dystopia from his tyrannical rule if Ross can help him kill Doom. To this end, the Maestro sets out to find the Destroyer in another zone of Battleworld, but although he tracks it to a region of Asgardia where it is guarded by Ulik, he is shocked to learn that its final line of defense is the 'Ancient One'... an elderly Rick Jones, the A-Bomb. After merging with the Destroyer, the Maestro kills Doom and conquers Battleworld. However, it is revealed that the entire battle was an illusion that has ensnared Maestro. Believing himself to be victorious, Maestro reverts to his human form, with Rick stating that he'll now remain trapped in the illusion until he eventually withers and dies.
Eight months later, the Maestro is seen working for the Collector as his "Summoner" in the new Contest of Champions. The Collector apparently saved the Maestro from his fate and feels the villain owes him his life as a result, though the Maestro is less than grateful. He is seen scheming to find a way to kill the Collector and escape his servitude.
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. Although he possesses Banner's intellect, and has been implied to have built Dystopia himself, various sources have speculated that the Maestro is less technically inclined later in life than he was in the past due to his attempt to disregard his former selves, with the result that he once resorted to tricking Miguel O'Hara into repairing a time machine rather than do it himself.
In other media
- An alternate timeline version of the Maestro appears in Peter David's novel Hulk: What Savage Beast.
- Maestro is mentioned in the Avengers Assemble episode "The Age of Tony Stark." A group of robots from the future brought to the present by the disruptions of the Time Infinity Gem identify the Hulk as the Maestro before opening fire.
- Maestro appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "The Maestro Enter," voiced by Fred Tatasciore. Maestro first appears where he helps Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. stop a Gamma Meteor (which was previously forewarned by High Evolutionary in "Future Shock") before it can hit the Earth. The other Agents of S.M.A.S.H. first referred to Maestro as "Old Man Hulk." What none of the other Agents of S.M.A.S.H. members know is that Maestro is in the present to make sure that Hulk is infected by the asteroid's gamma radiation, the resulting power surge and insanity leading him on the path to become Maestro. This lasted until A-Bomb met his future self and proved it to the other Agents of S.M.A.S.H. members. With their help keeping Maestro at bay, the future A-Bomb uses the Gamma Neutralizer to get rid of the Gamma Infection in Hulk. With even Maestro freed from the Gamma Infection as a result of his past self being cured, both Maestro and future A-Bomb fade away upon their future being rewritten.
- The Maestro was part of the Marvel Legends action figure series. His figure came with the left arm of Apocalypse.
- The Maestro appeared as an opponent in the PlayStation video 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 appears as an unlockable costume for the Hulk in the 2012 mobile game Avengers Initiative.
- The Maestro appears as an alternate costume for the Hulk in Marvel Heroes.
- Maestro is featured as a villain in Kabam's Marvel Contest of Champions game for iOS and Android.
- The Maestro appears as an alternate costume for the Hulk in Marvel: Future Fight.
- Exiles vol. 1 #80 (July 2006)
- 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)
- Hulk vol.3 #9
- Hulk vol.3 #16
- Peter David (w), William Sliney (p), William Sliney (i). Spider-Man 2099 v2, #9 (25 February 2015), United States: Marvel Comics
- Peter David (w), William Sliney (p), William Sliney (i), Antonio Fabela (col), Joe Caramagna (let), Devin Lewis (ed). "Misery at the Hands of the Maestro!" Spider-Man 2099 v2, #10 (11 March 2015), United States: Marvel Comics
- Spider-Man 2099 (Vol. 2) #10
- Future Imperfect #1
- Future Imperfect #2
- Future Imperfect #4
- Future Imperfect #5
- Secret Wars #6
- Secret Wars #7
- Contest of Champions (vol. 2) #1
- Contest of Champions (vol. 2) #2
- Avengers Initiative Preview
- The Ultimate Pack