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Quote1.png You don't know what lies ahead for you. I do. LISTEN to me, Bruce...they're going to take it ALL away. You're going to end up with NOTHING and NO ONE. ... Persecution. Betrayal. Hatred. THESE things DON'T change. Quote2.png

Appearing in "Future Imperfect Part 2"

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Synopsis for "Future Imperfect Part 2"

Having been brought some 90 years into the future the Hulk has agreed to join a resistance army against this world's tyrannical ruler: an evil future version of the Hulk who calls himself the Maestro. Having finally met face-to-face with his future self, the Hulk is sent crashing outside of the rebels base with a single punch from his future counterpart. The two then begin trading blows across the Maestro's city of Dystopia. However, the Maestro is much more ruthless than the Hulk, forcing the hero to stand down when he threatens to rend a woman limb from limb. However, the Hulk tries to bluff the Maestro into thinking he doesn't care, but this bluff quickly crumbles when Maestro tries to throw the woman away, prompting the Hulk to save her life. As the battle rages on, Janis Jones and her resistance fighters regroup in the hopes of assisting the Hulk in his battle, while Maestro's minister watches the battle and doesn't like what he sees unfolding, as the long this battle progresses the more the people will be swayed to side with the Hulk. Eventually, there is a pause in the battle where the Maestro mocks the resistance for choosing the Hulk of all others to pluck from the past, pointing out that everything the Hulk has done or will do have already been accomplished by his opponent. As the Hulk resumes his attack, the Maestro dodges his blows, reminding the Hulk that he is his future self and therefore knows every move he will make. The Hulk manages to get the edge when he punches the Maestro in the groin and knocks him into a nearby building. However, when he sees that there were people inside he breaks off from the fight to try and help save who he can. This leaves him open to be attacked by the Maestro who break's the Hulk's neck.

Meanwhile, back at the headquarters of the resistance, Rick Jones hears the news about the Hulk's battle with the Maestro. However, this doesn't concern him overly much, as he has seen the Hulk cheat death so many times in the past and has confidence that he won't let them down. When Janis asks for more information, Rick laps into a state of dementia. Meanwhile, the Hulk wakes up in a bedroom chamber within the Maestro's citadel where he sees a woman who, at first, he mistakes for his wife Betty Banner. However, this is one of the Maestro's many slave girls. She tells him that she is there to look after his every need while he recovers from his broken neck. Paralyzed, the Hulk cannot stop her from forcibly having sex with him, he begs her to stop but she won't listen and he begins to scream due to his helplessness in this situation. Not far away, the minister reports to his master the Maestro. Maestro is happy to hear that his past self is suffering. When asked why the Maestro doesn't just kill the Hulk, the Maestro tells him that he is doing just that, but slowly and with kindness. Outside of the citadel, the body of the resistance fighter known as Pizfiz is dumped in the massive grave that circles the Maestro's citadel. When scavengers try to pick his body for useful technology they are driven off by Skooter and other resistance fighters. He gives Pizfiz the best burial he can give in this set of circumstances and vows to see the Maestro die for what he has done to his friend.

Days later, the Hulk is still healing and is given a hover chair to get around. When he is visited by the Maestro, he is mocked about his helplessness. The Hulk tells his future self that if he could kill himself he would in the hopes that the Maestro gets wiped out of existence. Calling the Hulk's bluff, he hands him a weapon that he can lift with his now mobile arm and blow his own head off. However, he tells the Hulk that perhaps his arrival here has caused an alternate timeline to branch off, therefore killing himself will not affect the Maestro at all. The Hulk counters this by suggesting that perhaps the Maestro already lived through this moment from his own perspective and, knowing what would happen, knows that the Hulk didn't kill himself. Maestro tells the Hulk that if he is so sure of this then to do it. However, the Hulk chokes at the last minute, proving the Maestro's point that they are one-and-the-same and that he intends to get the Hulk to see this before they are done. Some time later, the Maestro takes the Hulk out into the wastelands where a small farming community exists. There, the Hulk is forced to watch as the Maestro is given the teenaged daughter of the leader of this community in exchange food and supplies that will allow this community to thrive until they can grow crops. The girl, named Char, gives herself up willingly. The Hulk is appalled by this, but the Maestro explains because of this sacrifice the farmers might be able to thrive and prosper in this desolate world. This exchange is observed from afar by Janis and the resistance. They contemplate what to do next, especially since their figurehead -- Rick Jones -- seems to be completely senile at this point. When Skooter suggests using the time platform to get more heroes from the past, Janis explains that the device is barely holding itself together as it is and they can't risk it.

Days later the Hulk is now able to walk on crutches and the Maestro taunts him some more with the slave woman who resembles Betty. The tyrant then points out how Betty's love for them was nothing more than a novelty to upset her father. The Maestro then shows the Hulk around the world that he created. He explains that after the bombs went off the radiation made him stronger and more intelligent and he used his skill to build Dystopia. After years of being called a monster, the Maestro now rules an entire kingdom taking what he wants. He then offers the Hulk the chance to rule by his side. The Hulk can't agree to staying because of all the friends and loved ones he has in his own time, but the Maestro points out that they will all die and he will be left with nothing, and that staying here in the future would be best. The Hulk agrees to think about it none-the-less. That evening the minister sneaks into the Hulk's room and attempts to assassinate the time traveler so that the status quo can be maintained. However, before he can pull the trigger, Janis and her followers get the drop on him. The Hulk wakes up and reveals that he had actually fully healed much sooner and had been faking it, buying time for the resistance fighters to infiltrate the castle, all part of the plan.

They then force the minister to bring them to the Maestro's chambers, but before the Hulk can breach the doorway he is blasted by a powerful weapon. Out emerges the Maestro who is armed with a weapon created by the mutant inventor named Forge which was made to destroy the Hulk years ago. It turns out that the Maestro knew this was all going to happen and soon a battle erupts between the resistance and Maestro's guards. In the heat of the battle, the Maestro kills his minister and then follows after the wounded Hulk. The Maestro follows the trail of blood back to the resistance bunker. There he is led into the trophy room of Rick Jones where he is confronted by his elderly friend. Back within his mental facilities, Rick mocks the Maestro and then tries to launch Captain America's shield at him. The Maestro deflects the weapon, sending it slamming into Rick. The elderly man is then thrown into and impaled by Wolverine's Adamantium skeleton.

He is then attacked by the Hulk, who throws Cap's shield with such force it pierces the Maestro's skin. The two fight it out, but the Maestro makes the mistake of trying to lift Thor's hammer and use it as a weapon. However, he is unworthy and so he cannot lift it. The Hulk lays into him again sending him crashing into a display containing the ashes of dead heroes and villains. The container containing the ashes of Betty Banner shatters and gets into the Maestro's eyes, blinding him. However, the Hulk's advantage soon ends and he is easily trounced by the Maestro. Wounded and unable to walk, the Hulk drags himself away with the Maestro following not far behind. The Hulk lures Maestro onto the Time Platform and activates it. The Hulk then goes to Rick who thanks the Hulk for his help before dying in his arms. Janis and her warriors soon arrive and learn what happened. When Janis asks the Hulk where he sent his future self, the Hulk says he sent the Maestro off to "face the music". The Maestro finds himself transported into the distant past right in front of the Gamma Bomb that first created the Hulk. To his horror, the Maestro realizes that this is the exact moment the bomb is about to go off. The Gamma Bomb then goes off atomizing his body while not far away the Bruce Banner of the past is bombarded with the gamma rays that will curse him into being the Hulk for decades to come.

Back in the future, before the Hulk is sent back home, he and Janis prepare a proper burial. With Rick's body cremated the Hulk attaches it to Captain America's shield and hurls it into the wastelands, sending Rick on one last adventure.


Continuity Notes

  • The Maestro mentions how he knows, from personal experience, that a broken neck takes the longest to heal the Hulk. What he mans by this is shown in Exiles #80 when the Maestro's neck is broken during his battle against Proteus alongside the Exiles.

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