George Pérez is a man of many hats – artist, writer, inker, inspiration, role model and more. The man can do it all and has done it all. There have been more than a few moments in comic book history where the man has created it like Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first team-up between the Justice League and the Avengers to name but two and yet there is one that sits back, half in shadow which has never been forgotten, just never mentioned among the same echelons that these other projects have reached. That is, of course, Hulk: Future Imperfect as released in 1992, written by Peter David and of course, drawn by Mr. Pérez.
The story concerns the future, an alternate one that holds the very real possibility of coming true and it concerns the Hulk. At first, it is not apparent as to how but that is soon revealed as an older, meaner and far more ruthless Hulk is introduced. He is Hulk no longer though but the Maestro and he rules all within his purview. This leads to a clash between the Maestro and the Hulk with a lot of goodness packed in and around said fight throughout the two-issue series. David writes a great tale of course and while it might have been a good book no matter the artist on it, Pérez would take it to another level as he always does and that is not simply due to his depiction of the Hulk but of the Maestro and the world that he lives in. Here, Pérez shines much like he has continually done over the years and he elevates the material from being just another alternate timeline story, still somewhat rare come the Marvel Universe at this point in time, into a classic and simply because of the visuals represented within.
Those panels and pictures that appear on every page of this series comprise a classic sense of storytelling that has somewhat fallen by the wayside in today’s books, not that there is anything inherently wrong with books produced currently as all things change in time, as well as the incredible amount of detail that Pérez is known for. It is that attention to detail and the ability to fill up a page that has garnered the man so much acclaim over the decades. There are some prime examples of this that stand out within each of the issues, pages that draw the eye in immediately such as that shot of the bazaar during the opening of the first issue, a spread that makes one want to pour over the page, taking their time as they soak everything in, perhaps trying to see if the man has hidden anything within and even had he not done as such, simply to marvel at the intricacies before them.
One of the most famous pages within the book is when the Hulk goes to meet Rick Jones and sees the ‘trophy’ room. While it is understandable that Pérez could not draw every hero under the sun within the book, he did the next best thing with this scene by bringing those symbols and relics that represented them to life, items of a time gone by thanks to the rise of the Maestro. The shield of Captain America is one such piece that immediately captures the reader’s attention and from there those that have picked up this book will notice all sorts of things like the skeleton of Wolverine, the visor of Cyclops and so much more. It tells a story without telling a story, of a Hulk gone mad with power and one can imagine all of these battles that have taken place over the years thanks to this amazing depiction.
There are more examples, such as the first page of the second book, one that consists primarily of rubble and yet it is so detailed and so well laid out it opens the book on the perfect note – that of destruction, both in the past and yet to come. Another scene that tells an entire story is about seventeen pages in and depicts a gigantic pile of bodies that scavengers are looting in the dark. Pages like this helped to flesh out the tale of the Maestro without David saying a single thing or providing any back-story whatsoever and that is what makes this book such a treat for the reader. Again, David might be the architect of it all but Pérez would take it to that next level and for that, it is thankful that he was brought on to do so.
There is a lot that goes on in these pages as it details the story of the Maestro, of his past and his rise and of his loneliness even, for why keep his past self around if he were not looking for some company that was on the same level as himself, if not a challenge should that come to pass. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of drama as readers also see the Maestro through the eyes of the populace, of the downtrodden, the soldiers and even Rick Jones. The last sequence in the book which finds the two Hulks battling it out, the death of Rick and the eventual defeat of the despot is amazing to behold and it leaves the reader wanting more while also feeling satisfied and needing to experience it all again.
While David and Pérez have received many kudos over this story through the years, it will never be enough, so many thanks once again.
The Superhero Satellite – PEREZ
Between the Pages Blog – George Perez’s Uncanny X-Men
In My Not So Humble Opinion – I-BOTS from Tekno Comix
Comics Comics Comics blog (JJG) – Justice League of America 200 and discovering George Perez
Source Material – Brave and the Bold #1-6
Dave’s Comic Blog – George Perez’s Fantastic Titanic Firsts
*51- JLA/Avengers: It Had to be George
RAdulich in Broadcasting Network – Comic Stripped: Logan’s Run
The Daily Rios – TDR 543: A George Pérez Celebration 2