The Maestro is the Hulk's dark future self from a timeline where Bruce Banner's intellect and Hulk's super strength coalesced into a diabolically brilliant, super powerful version of himself, destroying the Avengers in the process.
Created by Peter David and George Perez in the story Hulk: Future Imperfect, Maestro is a fan-favorite character who has endured as a villain in the Marvel Universe for almost 30 years. But until now, his origin has never been told.
With David returning alongside his classic Hulk collaborator Dale Keown (whose are is pictured here) and core series artist Germán Peralta (whose pages have not been previewed yet), readers are finally about to learn what actually makes Maestro tick, and how he came to be.
Newsarama spoke with Peralta ahead of Maestro #1's August 19 release to discuss what it's like stepping into the past of an iconic character, teaming up with Peter David, and bringing a whole new spin to Maestro while maintaining the classic sensibilities fans have come to expect.
Newsarama: Germán, Maestro is one of Marvel's most interesting and tragic villains. What's it like diving into a story of this magnitude?
Germán Peralta: First of all, it is an honor for me to work with this character. As you say, he's a very interesting villain. It’s always been difficult to understand Banner and the Hulk, and both personalities combined in a single body generates very complex situations.
If a character with all those qualities decides to turn to the evil side, well, then we have the worst nightmare that humanity has to face.
Nrama: Without being too spoiler-y, what's the latest thing you drew for Maestro?
Peralta: The last thing I had to draw is a crowd listening to the most terrifying and important speech of their lives.
Nrama: Maestro is a villainous version of the Hulk. What are the main things you're keeping in mind in showing Hulk's evolution into Maestro?
Peralta: The main thing for me is to make this evolution be credible. It is a very drastic turn and must be felt in him, in his physical and emotional aspect, and of course in his relationship with everything and everyone around him.
For me, the best villains are those who make us question what our attitude would be if we were in their shoes at the time they break. That make us doubt, at least for a moment, whether we all have a Maestro inside us.
Nrama: How much are you drawing on the look and feel of the original Future Imperfect, drawn by George Perez, for this prequel?
Peralta: I always have Future Imperfect by my side as a reference, how could I not? George Perez's art is incredible, everything, the designs, that construction of a future world created from his mind.
The details are impressive, you never tire of seeing those pages and finding new messages hidden among the backgrounds.
However I also want this comic to leave its own mark, a story that can be read as a whole and as something separate from the original as well, that the readers recognize things from the main story but at the same time feel there are many new things to know in that world they already knew.
Nrama: We've seen some weird stuff in preview pages – including Old Man M.O.D.O.K... What's the craziest thing you've drawn for this series so far?
Peralta: Old Man M.O.D.O.K. is, without any doubt, one of the craziest and most entertaining things I've ever had to draw. I love M.O.D.O.K., I always liked that character. I love villains and I really enjoy drawing them. I can’t reveal any further details but there are several surprises like that and I'm sure the readers will enjoy it.
Nrama: What's it like teaming up with a classic Hulk writer like Peter David to tell the origin of Maestro, one of his most iconic creations?
Peralta: It is a huge honor. I still can't believe it.
In these difficult times that something so wonderful is happening in my career is something for which I will always be grateful.
Future Imperfect is an amazing work, being part of the prequel is something I still can’t believe. Peter David is a spectacular writer who makes the readers and the artist enjoy his stories the same way.
The script is concise, everything is there, in his words, and that makes it much easier to imagine and materialize that fantastic world. It is incredibly fun and engaging.
Nrama: What are the key goals you have when crafting a page for a story like Maestro?
Peralta: In addition to what I said previously, about transmitting the emotions of the character and everything surrounding him, my main goal is to enjoy every page I draw, hoping that readers will notice that.
I want to give those who have not read Future Imperfect the desire to do so and for those who have, to give them that story they've awaited for so long.
I think that the most important duty that a comic artist has is to commit to the story and to believe it, that way this feeling will be transmitted to the reader.
Nrama: Bottom line, what do you want readers to know about Maestro?
Peralta: I want them to know that Maestro is not just the result of the Hulk breaking bad. Maestro is the birth of a very important character in the Marvel Universe. Future Imperfect introduced him, and it is in this story that we will meet the reason for his birth.