The Maestro is a fictional comic book supervillain in Marvel Comics' The Incredible Hulk publications, combining Bruce Banner's intelligence with the Hulk's more malevolent aspects. Created by Peter David, the Maestro first appeared as a vision in The Incredible Hulk (vol. 2) #401, and made a full appearance in The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 (December 1992). The term maestro is an Italian/Spanish word meaning master, teacher, or professor.
Maestro first appears in the 1992 mini-series The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect. Approximately a hundred years into the future, a nuclear war has killed almost all of Earth's superhumans and has taken the world to the brink of extinction. A future version of the Hulk, called Maestro, has seized control, driven insane by the nuclear radiation he has absorbed and the bitterness he feels towards the world at his continued treatment. The radiation also significantly enhances his strength when compared to his counterpart. Acquiring Doctor Doom's time machine, the rebels opposing the Maestro (led by an elderly Rick Jones) bring the Professor Hulk forward from the past, hoping that he can defeat the Maestro, only for the Maestro's superior strength and experience to allow him to easily dominate the Hulk in their confrontations. At the conclusion of the series, despite the Hulk's best efforts to defeat his future self in physical combat (including using Captain America's shield against him), the Maestro is only defeated by the use of Doom's time machine, with the Hulk sending the Maestro back to the time and place that the Hulk was created: ground zero during the testing of the atomic Gamma Bomb. Appearing next to the bomb itself, Maestro is seemingly killed in the same moment that creates the Hulk.
Maestro's next appearance is in The Incredible Hulk (vol. 2) #460 (January 1998) where the Hulk learns that the "homing sense" that has always allowed him to locate ground zero, his "birth" place, is actually attracted to the Maestro's spirit and remains. The Maestro has also been absorbing gamma radiation from the Hulk each time he returns to the site, gradually restoring himself. When the Hulk returns shortly after the Heroes Return crossover, he is radiating vast amounts of energy. Maestro absorbs enough radiation to restore his body, although initially in a weakened and emaciated form. In the following issue, the exhausted Maestro is last seen being buried in a small rockslide, now seemingly fully recovered.
Maestro was next seen in June, 2006, in a two part story in the reality crossing series Exiles. Set before Future Imperfect, an elderly Rick Jones encounters the reality-hopping mutant Proteus, who has possessed the body of an alternate reality Hulk from the year 2099. Proteus intends to discard his current body and possess the Maestro. Jones, unaware of his plan, provides a weapon created by the X-Man Forge, which might be able to kill Maestro. However, the plan fails when the Maestro is warned by the Exiles, who are pursuing Proteus. Proteus possesses a new host and flees to another world, breaking the Maestro's neck during his escape.
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