The Maestro as he appears in
The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1.
Art 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||Super strength, speed, stamina and durability, immortality, Genius-level intellect, Regenerative healing factor, Radiation absorption, Resistance to mind control, and Ability to see astral forms|
The Maestro is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Peter David and artist George Pérez, the character first appeared in The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 (December 1992). Depicted as a version of the Hulk from an alternate future (designated by Marvel Comics as Earth-9200), the Maestro possesses Bruce Banner's intelligence and the Hulk's more malevolent personality traits.
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.[volume & issue needed]
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 being 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. He leaves the last injection of the cure with She-Hulk, who is the only gamma mutation whose life he felt had been legitimately enhanced by her condition. He instructs her to use it on him if he goes 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 Red Hulk is the president of the United States of America, where it is revealed 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.
A Maestro from an unidentified alternate reality arrived in Old Man Logan's reality where he rounded up the surviving members of the Hulk Gang as he makes plans to help them build a paradise for all Hulks on Earth-616. With help from the Cambria Banner, Logan and Hawkeye of Earth-616 were able to defeat Maestro and the surviving members of the Hulk Gang went their separate ways.
After Doctor Doom incorporates the "Future Imperfect" timeline into his new Battleworld as seen in the Secret Wars, the Maestro resurfaces as the ruler of one of the planet's domains called Dystopia. He poses as a depowered Odin in order to gain the trust of the resistance movement, and confronts the resistance's leader Thunderbolt Ross (this reality's version of Thing). After a brutal fight, the Maestro offers to release Dystopia from his tyrannical rule if Ross can help him kill God Emperor Doom. To this end, the Maestro sets out to find the Destroyer in another zone of Battleworld. 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. After merging with the Destroyer, the Maestro kills God Emperor 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. Maestro was eventually released from the illusion he was trapped on by God Emperor Doom and is seen helping him against the riots in Doomstadt.
Eight months later as part of Marvel's All-New, All-Different Marvel branding, 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. After assuming control of the Power Primordial contained within the Iso-Sphere that the Grandmaster and Collector were competing for, Maestro recreates Battleworld since he had previously vowed that he would become the God-King of Battleworld. The Maestro is ultimately thwarted when Outlaw, one of the heroes who had previously been captured and forced to fight, destroys the Iso-Sphere. An outraged Maestro later awakens to find himself as a captive in the Collector's display room.
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, he has rarely demonstrated Banner's technical expertise, such as once manipulating Miguel O'Hara into repairing a time machine for him rather than doing it himself.
In other media
- Maestro is alluded in the Avengers Assemble animated series. In the episode "The Age of Tony Stark", the Time Stone's disruptions due to being equipped to Iron Man's arc reactor brought a group of future robots to the present which identify the Hulk as Maestro before opening fire. In the episode "Thanos Triumphant", Thanos uses the Time Stone to age Hulk into a much older version of himself, donning a long white hair and a beard which apparently resembles Maestro.
- Maestro makes his animated debut in Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., voiced by Fred Tatasciore. Unlike the comics, this version has a full head of hair. In the episode "Enter the Maestro", he first appears where he helps the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. stop a Gamma Meteor (which was previously forewarned by the 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 which is the resulting power surge and insanity leading him on the path to become Maestro. This lasted until A-Bomb's future self proved this 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.
- Maestro appeared as an opponent in the PlayStation video game The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga.
- Maestro appears 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.
- Maestro appears as an unlockable costume for the Hulk in the 2012 mobile game Avengers Initiative.
- Maestro appears as an alternate costume for the Hulk in Marvel Heroes.
- Maestro is featured as a villain character in Kabam's Marvel Contest of Champions for iOS and Android. This version has his own "Iron Hulk" armor and is additionally equipped with Magik's Soulsword and Ronan the Accuser's Universal Weapon.
- Maestro appears as an alternate costume for the Hulk in Marvel: Future Fight.
- Maestro appears in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. In story mode, Maestro appears as a member of the World Breakers alongside Hulk, Red Hulk and Greenskyn Smashtroll when Captain America, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange and Thor were flushed from Lemuria that dropped them into Red King's arena on Sakaar by Attuma. Maestro can be unlocked by completing a foot race around Sakaar in less than 95 seconds. In addition, Skaar's quest that requires him being unlocked involved the players helping Skaar get a selfie with Maestro.
- Maestro was part of the Marvel Legends action figure series. His figure came with the left arm of Apocalypse.
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