Jason finishes up his posts, with the second part of the Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect. You can read the the first one here.
Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #2
At the end of the last issue, the protagonist and the antagonist of the series finally met face-to-face. And yes, they were both the Hulk. One is the ’90s Hulk, where Bruce Banner had complete control over his facilities while transformed, and the other is the Maestro, a tyrant and sex-god from the future whose had his powers amplified by a nuclear holocaust. What a beautiful premise! Let the battle begin!
It’s the normal punch-fest, which mostly involves the Maestro tossing around the Hulk. But as soon as the Hulk lands his first punch, the Maestro decides to play dirty and grabs the first scantily clad woman he can find.
The Hulk tries to convince Maestro that he doesn’t care because she’d be better off dead than living in this world. Of course, we all know this is a ploy, so when Maestro starts the swing that will crush her into the ground, the Hulk lunges in and gets a boot to the face. With that the fight continues for quite a while. Eventually, the Hulk gets in on the dirty fighting with a ball-punch of his own.
With the Maestro distracted for a second, the Hulk punches him so hard he flies into on of the city’s dilapidated buildings. They immediately collapses and crushes the inhabitants. While the Hulk tries to save the people, the Maestro sneaks up behind him and delivers the coup-de-grace.
Back in the lair of Rick Jones — okay, maybe it’s more of a hideout for the good guys, but with the whole grave-robbing thing revealed in the last issue “lair” seems more appropriate — Rick Jones tries to convince the discouraged rebels that the Hulk’s defeat is only temporary. No one really trusts him. I wouldn’t.
He also feels the need to reveal the extremely important origin of his great-granddaughter’s name!
Back in the Maestro’s fortress, it is revealed that the Hulk is not dead, but his neck is broken and he’s apparently paralyzed. The Maestro then begins his ultimate torture of the Hulk. He forces sex slaves upon the Hulk! Oh, I only wish I was kidding. From here, it just gets worse and worse.
That’s right! The Maestro has his favorite sex slave go in and rape a paralyzed Hulk while pretending to be Betty Ross! And the writing really couldn’t get more explicit without putting it in the adult section.
The Maestro reveals his plans to his Minister, and then proceeds to escalate his own unique form of torture by turning into a full-fledged orgy!
Meanwhile the rebels go to the outskirts of town to find the body of Pizfiz, the rebel who was tortured and murdered by Maestro in the first issue. Their resolve to take down the Meastro is strengthened. However, this one-page interlude really just serves to remind the reader of the actual plot while Peter David goes on and on enjoying making everyone picture the Hulk having sex. Then Maestro offers the still mostly paralyzed Hulk a way out, one that might even destroy the Maestro himself.
Of course, the Hulk drops the gun. The scene then shifts to a farming operation on the outskirts of the city. The Maestro has taken the semi-paralyzed Hulk with him on an outing. It couldn’t possibly get worse. Right? Well, it seems the Maestro has come to cultivate his crop. And I’m not talking about vegetables.
The father tries to dissuade Maestro from taking his daughter, Char. She tells him that it’s alright and there’s nothing they can do. She is to go and become one of Maestro’s sex slaves. But not before a very thorough inspection.
Maestro leaves them food as a payment for raising her “well” while the rebels look on from the distance to remind you that there will be some actual plot at some point. But not yet. We’re still talking about Hulk sex!
Back in the fortress, the Hulk and the Maestro hang out with his favorite sex slave again. And why is she the favorite?
And then we go to another of the Maestro’s fabulous parties. Guests are wined and dined by scantily clad women, including the freshly-indoctrinated Char.
During this, the Maestro explains the rationale for his actions since the destruction of the world. Here is another example of some well-written exposition that seems randomly thrown into what has become a very creepy, disturbing work of fan-fiction. This time it lasts two whole pages! And ends with Hulk saying that he’ll think about becoming a willing partner in Maestro’s mad escapades.
Outside the cities, the party’s fireworks are seen by the crying father of Char. This section was really well done, but still doesn’t forgive…well…everything else.
After the party, Maestro’s minister sneaks into the Hulk’s bedroom with the intention of murdering the sleeping Hulk. His plans are interrupted by Janis and the rebels. The Hulk then wakes up and explains that he’s learned enough from Reed Richards to know that eliminating himself won’t necessarily keep the Maestro’s future from happening. He then reveals that he recovered more quickly than the Maestro had thought.
Which can only mean that the Hulk pretended to be incapacitated while Maestro’s sex slaves had their way with him… which is creepy.
The cowardly minister then leads the rebels to a secret entrance of Maestro’s inner sanctum. But it seems that the Maestro was prepared for this. He attacks the Hulk with his most powerful weapon: a really bad joke!
And with that all hell breaks lose. Everyone’s fighting. The Maestro breaks the Minister’s neck, and everyone runs. On the way out, Janis saves the life of Char, whom she recognizes as the farmer’s daughter. And how do you comfort a girl who has been kidnapped to become a sex slave? Well, by hitting on her of course!
During the commotion, the Maestro finds the tunnel used by the rebels and follows it to the source. There he finds his old friend, Rick Jones. After a quick reunion, Maestro decides that he’s let Jones live entirely too long (and I entirely agree for once) and attempts to punch him. But quick thinking Rick pulls up Captain America’s shield to save himself! And what happens next is pure comedy gold!
Rick’s creepy grave-robbing memorabilia museum is the ultimate cause of his downfall. And a well deserved one. But don’t worry, the Hulk shows up just in time to get into a old-weapons-from-dead-superheroes brawl! The Hulk eventually gets the upper hand by kicking the Maestro into Rick Jones’ collection of superhero ashes, effectively blinding him!
After a little more back and forth, Maestro appears to be coming out on top. The bloodied and battered Hulk manages to drag himself to a control panel just in time to use Dr. Doom’s time machine on the Maestro before he gets pummeled to death. Where Maestro’s sent is truly a brilliant ending to a royally screwed up comic.
And in the end everyone’s happy. Maestro is dead. Char is rescued. The rebels have set up Doom’s time machine to send the Hulk back to his own timeline.
But wait, there’s one more creepy thing to take care of first. Rick’s great-granddaughter, Janis smears a “special adhesive” all over Captain America’s shield.
And with that oddly creepy, but somewhat appropriate, tribute to Rick “Grave-Robber” Jones, the tale comes to a close.
The conclusion, in general, was very good. The plot was very interesting. In fact, anything that had to do with the plot was excellently written and developed. My problem is that only about half of the content of these two issues actually related to the plot. And the parts that weren’t related were HORRIBLE. I don’t know if I’ll ever, ever wash some of those terrible images out of my head.
This is a perfect example of what happens when too much control is given to the writer. A writer can have a great idea for a story and sell it to their publishers. The publisher then gives them full control and tells them to fill so many issues. And in letting the writer fully flush out any ideas they have for their story, some really disturbing ones, that should have been cut in editing, make it in to ruin a perfectly good story. And with that, the stage is set for the Mark Millars of the world.
Marvel credits Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect a story which “ranks among the classics in Marvel history.” In the end, I think I agree with that. The story is really good. Peter David creates a convincing future reality while skillfully avoiding setting up any confusing paradoxes. It’s just that the little details thrown in to flavor the story that make it almost unreadable. If you read this series, you’ll catch flashes of brilliance from Peter David. That is, if you wade through the parts that compel you to burn every copy ever pressed.
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