Today, I'm talking about Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect.
|Maestro by George Perez. All images owned by Marvel.|
The book featured the Pantheon era Hulk, one with the mind of Bruce Banner, the edge of Joe Fixit and the body of the classic jade giant. Because this Hulk was so similar to the current comic Hulk, after Future Imperfect's success it proved little trouble for David to integrate it into the mainstream character's history. But really that's all a lot of background material. The focus here is on those two great over-sized issues.
The entire saga takes place in the distance future, where the Earth has been ravaged by nuclear war and only a few city-states still remain on the planet. The most powerful is ruled by the Maestro and the rebels know only one hero of the past has a chance to stop him. The book starts with the arrival of that hero, none other than Hulk. He quickly learns about the destruction that caused this future and agrees to help the heroes fight the villain, because only he can understand the villain.
For the Maestro is the Hulk himself.
The radiation released into the atmosphere fed the Hulk's strength but also drove him mad. The Maestro rejected his humanity, instead subjugating the people beneath him and declaring himself absolute ruler of all he could see.
What comes next plays with the typical tropes of time travel in comics as the hero confronts his own future and the nature of fate. Ultimately, Hulk realizes the Maestro is a threat he cannot let live. In the end, he uses the time travel to deliver Maestro to the one point in time and space that can end his threat.
|Perez is always at his best when he gets to design, such as he does for Rick Jones' collection of heroic relics.|
Ultimately, the book serves for me as an example of how to do a time lost hero story to its maximum effect. As I continue to craft new tales of the Quadrant Universe, the importance of time will come into more and more clarity in the weeks and months ahead. Time travel will play an essential part in that expansion, though it might be saying too much to tell exactly where and when.
Future Imperfect stands as one of the best Hulk stories ever told. It's been almost perpetually in print since its original collection in the mid-1990s. If you haven't checked this one out, I cannot recommend it highly enough.