The Immortal Hulk has been a trip through the mind of Bruce Banner, with the scientist rotating between the various gamma-irradiated personas within his head. These include the mindless Savage Hulk, the thuggish Joe Fixit and the seemingly demonic Devil Hulk. While the latter may not actually be as bad as his name would suggest, there’s one incarnation of the Hulk that’s definitely anything but heroic. The Maestro, an evil Hulk from an alternate future, has tangled with the mainstream Marvel Universe multiple times.
Given the events of the current Hulk series, it’s certainly possible the Maestro will return, dooming the rest of the world in the process.
In the future of a doomed version of the Marvel Universe, nuclear war has decimated Earth — including its superhuman population. One of the lucky survivors is none other than the Hulk, who stills bears immense hatred toward humanity for its treatment of him. Having gone insane from the additional radiation he’s absorbed, he renames himself Maestro and takes over what remains of the world, gifted with Bruce Banner’s intelligence and his own incredibly enhanced strength.
Eventually, those who oppose Maestro’s rule acquire some of Doctor Doom’s old technology and use it to bring Professor Hulk to their time to fight Maestro. Despite himself having Banner’s intellect and Hulk’s strength, the Professor is unable to defeat the grossly overpowered Maestro. Using the same time-traveling technology, however, he sends Maestro back to the place where he was “born”: The Gamma Bomb testing site. In a sort of predestination paradox, Maestro dies as soon as the Hulk is born.
Banner eventually gains a persona called Doc Green, whereupon he also has visions concerning the Maestro. This new personality also begins to think more barbarically like the Maestro, while Banner contemplates growing out a beard like him. Afraid of the implications if this persona is allowed to develop, Banner opts to allow his intellect to lapse, with a recent treatment of Extremis wearing off and leaving him in a savage state of mind.
Throughout Themmortal Hulk, Banner has willingly cycled through each of his old personalities depending on the situation. These include Joe Fixit, who Banner summons when in need of a hoodlum’s wit and fists, as well as the mindless Savage Hulk, whose only purpose is to smash. Others include Worldbreaker Hulk/Green Scar, the tactical leader Hulk from the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk storylines. Devil Hulk has also resurfaced, showing both a newfound affection for Bruce Banner and a mysterious connection to The-One-Below-All.
A newer personality is Robert Banner, who is mostly human, save for his Hulk-like disdain and disgust for humanity at large. Perhaps the most fearsome personality shown so far is the future possibility of The Breaker of Worlds: A Hulk who replaces Galactus, but instead of eating planets, he simply smashes them. It’s the latter especially who makes the return of Maestro all the more possible.
In the past, Banner learned that he felt a connection to the Maestro’s soul whenever he returned to the Gamma Ground Zero. Given his current base of operations at Gamma Base, it’s possible the mental connection could return. The Doc Green persona which began to resemble Maestro was only kept at bay due to Banner’s fear over what would happen to humanity at large.
Banner’s current thoughts concerning Earth and those who live on it — as well as his pragmatic use of even the most diabolical Hulk personas — could indicate a willingness to allow this personality to prosper in case he needs it. He could at the very least encounter Maestro through the Green Door, the Gamma Hell for those affected by the radiation.
Maestro’s own immense mental and physical attributes — the former of which once allowed him to possess the Destroyer armor — could also give him the opportunity to overpower even the Devil Hulk persona. Devil Hulk has in many ways been the driving factor of Banner’s actions, including his current misanthropy. The Breaker of Worlds future also suggests Hulk is the current Marvel Universe’s last survivor, a task which Maestro would physically be up to. It remains to be seen if the future of the galactic Hulk is set in stone, but it certainly seems another imperfect future with Maestro could be in the cards.
While the Devil Hulk may not be as much of a threat as he seemed, Hulk's ultimate evil form could make a comeback, at the expense of humanity.