With INCREDIBLE HULK: FUTURE IMPERFECT as the current feature of the This Week in Marvel Unlimited Reading Club, Marvel.com caught up with writer Peter David to learn how this instant classic time travel story evolved.
Marvel.com: How long had this story in particular been on your mind as one that you wanted to tell?
Peter David: It hadn’t been on my mind at all. It originated when [editor] Bobbie Chase approached me about writing a dystopian-based Hulk story that was going to be penciled by some Italian artist who specialized in that sort of thing. She proposed the idea and I thought, “Well, what if I inverted ‘The Terminator?’” That instead of having someone come from the future to change the past, we have someone go into the future in order to deal with stuff that went wrong then. And if we assume it’s The Hulk who goes forward, what could he possibly have to deal with? That’s where The Maestro came from and the story developed after that.
Marvel.com: Did you ever consider tackling it as part of your regular ongoing INCREDIBLE HULK series or was it critical that this story be a standalone project?
Peter David: No, it was designed as standalone, although I did work it into the ongoing.
Marvel.com: Throughout your prolific career, you have worked with myriad extremely talented artists. But this particular story was a rare treat, teaming you with legendary artist George Perez. What do you most remember about getting to collaborate with Perez?
Peter David: The situation under which it happened: I had taken my daughter to the local doctor’s office and sitting there was George. We started talking and he said how he’d love to work with me on a project. Since Bobbie still loved the story I’d come up with even though we no longer had the Italian artist, I pitched FUTURE IMPERFECT and George loved the idea. I immediately contacted Bobbie and she of course was thrilled with the prospect of George as artist.
Marvel.com: In the scene where Hulk walks into Rick Jones’ relics room, readers are given a great deal to take in, in terms of the decimation of Marvel’s universe. Am I right in thinking of all the reveals in that scene, understandably the loss that hit Hulk hardest was when he held Betty’s urn in his hands?
Peter David: Yes. Understand that I didn’t specify a lot of what was in the trophy room. Aside from several specific items, all of which were involved in the big fight, the rest was George. But yes, having Betty’s ashes in there was my idea, and obviously it hit the Hulk the hardest.
Marvel.com: What was the biggest challenge of trying to write the same character in the forms of Hulk and Maestro?
Peter David: It wasn’t a challenge at all, really. The Maestro was quite simply the logical forward extension of Bruce Banner, and we’ve seen that the integrated Bruce [Banner] can sometimes be something of a [expletive]. So this was just an ultimate [expletive] version.
Marvel.com: More than 20 years later, this story clearly still resonates with readers. Care to speculate why that is?
Peter David: Uhm…it’s really good?