In a post-apocalyptic future the general populace is ruled by a menacing figure known only as the Maestro. A band of insurgents whom oppose his rule and battle against his armed guards, have found a way to save their world. Using a time machine originally created by Dr. Doom, an elderly old man sends his great, great, granddaughter to the past to bring back help. She returns with the Incredible Hulk. -summary
Time travel and alternate futures is not unfamiliar territory with Marvel. Even by 1993 when this story was written; the concept had already been explored in the pages of The Uncanny X-Men, which delivered one of the most memorable tales in Marvel mythos, Days of Future Past. Marvel had this concept down to a science very early. Written by Peter David (Hulk: Ground Zero, Hulk: Countdown, Hulk: Ghosts of the Past) and penciled by George Perez, The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect is a two part limited series that takes place in the future, in a Dystopian setting where the strong takes what they want, and it just so happens there's only one who can be qualified as strong.... The Maestro, who happens to be The Incredible Hulk himself. The Hulk of the past must face his older, wiser, and more bloodthirsty self for the fate of the world.
David puts together a rather disturbing setting, and he's able to make a little bit of it work without the use of random violence. Merchants are in the street trying their best to make a living, by selling whatever they can and this also goes for women. Villages even give away their beautiful daughters to the Maestro in exchange for food and material to grow cops. The Maestro lives a hedonistic life style with an iron fist. The people are terrified of him and for good reason. His guards don't hesitate to gun down folks with shots to the head in broad daylight. The Maestro himself also kills without remorse.
The story has more than enough going for it to rope in readers. Hulk learns it was a decrepit Rick Jones who had sent for him, and he's amazed to see that not only Jones has lived for so long, but he also possesses the uniforms, weapons, and even urn-filled ashes of the superheroes and supervillains who died as memorabilia. It's quite disturbing to learn no one is left, yet at the same time, David is able to inject subtle comedy making light of the matter. One moment has Hulk taking a look at the urns, and he comes across Jean Grey's with a tag on it stating,"again?", signifying that she has died too many times.
In regards to the action, there's enough mayhem to go around; with people mowed down by lasers and sprayed down with flesh-eating acid. The battle between Hulk and Maestro is very well written, since Maestro is much stronger after being exposed to radiation over the years, as well as having more experience in fighting. This is no doubt Hulk's toughest battle so far. There's also plenty of time for character development and Maestro is well developed.
Perez's artwork is awesome, no doubt about it. He compliments David's storytelling very well. The action panels are really good and pretty gory, with left over remains floating in pools of acid. Jones memorabilia room stands out the most, with damaged helmets suspended from the ceiling, Silver Surfer's damaged board and other things. The artwork does a well enough job letting us know this world isn't a nice place to live in.
Many fans consider this among Peter David's best work on the Hulk; I not only consider it his best, I think it's the best until Greg Pak puts together Planet Hulk. There may appear to be some slower moments when the action is taking place, but I still found it enjoyable and it clears up all plot threads. I highly recommend this story to comic fans in general. It's even newbie friendly, because you don't really require a whole lot of knowledge to enjoy it. There are names thrown out there, but I can't say it's anything that can hamper the narratives flow.
-Very entertaining, action-filled, great artwork
-Slow moment here and there
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