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.
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.