As much as my reading world has been devoted to Marvel Comics, I definitely have some blind spots in the House of Ideas canon. Among them is Peter David’s run on the Incredible Hulk, which is hailed by many as one of the best ever. The character of the Maestro and his ‘Future Imperfect’ storyline just passed me by, probably because during the 80s and 90s I was a big X-Men kid.
This put me in an interesting position when it came to reading the new book, Maestro, which is a prequel to ‘Future Imperfect’ and details how the title character went from Bruce Banner’s Hulk to a long-haired, bearded tyrant. Would the book work for a newbie like me, coming into a story with very little background, or would I be confused and therefore not engaged?
I’m happy to say I loved Maestro #1.
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Dale Keown and Germán Peralta
First of all, you don’t need to have a clue about any past storylines. The narrative is clean and clear here – Bruce Banner has been captured and appears to be living in some sort of loop. That’s all I’m giving you when it comes to spoilers, but believe me when I tell you that coming in fresh is by no means a drawback. In fact, it might be a benefit in that, for me, there was no weight of expectation on what Peter David was going to do here. All I wanted was a good story, something I could sink my teeth into, and the writer delivered that and then some.
It’s worth noting that, while David is a legend in the comic book industry and has been in the game a while, his writing never feels dated, or that it comes from another era. The comics I grew up were very, shall we say, verbose, and some of the wonderful writers from that time still try to fit as many words into a panel as possible. Peter David doesn’t do that – he neither under nor overwrites; he simply serves the story. The same goes for the artwork from Dale Keown and Germán Peralta, who split the work but whose styles compliment each other nicely.
For longstanding Hulk fans, Maestro is a tale that’s been a long time coming; I don’t know if it will live up to their expectations or not. But for newcomers looking for a break from everything Empyre, the book is an immensely readable origin story that’s worth picking up.