As a general rule, thirty-year Marvel veteran Peter David writing a Hulk story is something that at least deserves a once-over. Every time. Let’s face it, he is at the front of a very short list regarding the character’s definitive writers. Furthermore, the reprisal of his watershed dystopic time-travel story isn’t so much “safe territory” as it is a genuine bankable crowd-pleaser. All of this is to say, that right from the first panel, there is tremendous comfort in recognizably witnessing a master in his wheelhouse. No preamble. No lip service. David’s script is large, in charge and it has brought the gamma-rage thunder!
However, in the double-barreled charge to the finish line, most of the supporting cast developed during this run is sadly brushed to the wayside. Red She-Hulk Ruby Summers and Layla “I know stuff” Miller barely get a line each while classic alt-future David creation, Janis Jones, doesn’t even rate on the “Previously” page. It’s not all bad, though, as surprise special guest Rick “Gramps” Jones rightly steals the show not only as eternal sidekick and his “brother’s keeper” but as an in-saga narrative mouthpiece. His snickery new code name is just gravy.
Additionally, the “cerebral” sense of closure is with the caveat that the plot twist along the way will make you immediately go back to re-read where the tracks jump to reach the desired conclusion- several times, even. It’s not “Inception”-level on the “need time to process what just happened” scale but it’s at least “Brazil” or “Jacob’s Ladder”. Maybe the original “Total Recall”- but by no means is any of this a bad thing.
Artist Greg Land trades on a lot of psuedo-Kirby “go big or go home” gusto with multiple full-page splash images. Possessing more dynamic bombast than his normal fare, the overall effect still cumulatively diminishes through Land’s own penchant for recycling images.The visuals are individually menacing but upon closer examination, the actual mechanics tend to ape his Fear Itself-era “Colossus as Juggernaut”.
Despite the creeping sense of deja vu, the rest of the creative gang rally and push the respective colors and letters of Nolan Woodard and VC’s Joe Sabino to the fore. Yellows increase with intensity to white-hot nova flare as the camera zooms in on some severe force-blast action. Meanwhile, Sabino applies special lower-cased care to the codgery weariness of the geriatric Rick Jones. The two even combine forces to deliver some particularly bold proclamations from the Maestro.
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Thoroughly enjoyable for its “rock’em, sock ’em robots” over-the-topness, the conclusion of Future Imperfect certainly isn’t hindered by its full-circle familiarity. It’s funny that this five-part Secret Wars mini wraps with more definitive punctuation than the strangely open-ended Hulk: The End but considering how prominently the Maestro factors into the post-Battleworld landscape, some manner of “re-do” is no doubt still in the offing. A story perhaps for another day. And should it once again have Mr. David’s name attached, a welcome day it shall be.
Matt Lehn says
Considering Maestro’s penchant for trophies, putting him in the comic based on the phone game makes a ridiculous amount of sense. That said, it’s still my fondest wish to see David work Maestro with some kind of deal similar to Starlin’s recurring Thanos showcase. There could be a lot of good story terrain during the 8 month gap…
I loved all five issues. I think it’s the best thing PAD has written since the peak of his second X-Factor run (when it was being drawn semi-regularly by Emanuela Lupacchino.) Which only makes it even more bothersome that in Marvel’s preview of post-SW ongoings, PAD’s only credit is Spider-Man 2099, while the apparently Maestro-starring Contest of Champions went to a different writer.
Great review. Weirdly I think we rated this issue the exact same score without any deliberation. I was pretty hard on the early issues, but I love the Asgardian treasure hunt finish.
In other news, if the MCU ever features a scene with The Maestro strutting to the Beastie’s, I will spontaneously combast uncountable times.