Hulk: Future Imperfect – A Comic Classic Review

What’s the greatest threat for the Hulk, the strongest one of all? Or even for Bruce Banner, the smartest one of all? I mean, he’d likely survive a nuclear apocalypse, and be left behind with the cockroaches and whoever might have hidden out…

Hulk Future Imperfect 2There’s a story in the comics where just such a turn of events happens. As the strongest survivor of World War 3, the Hulk by right of conquest becomes the Maestro. And so we find the Hulk’s greatest threat – his own cruel future self.

The Maestro is the creation of Peter David, one of the best known writers of The Incredible Hulk series (and my personal favorite author). In a two-part comic called Future Imperfect, the Hulk is recruited to head to the future and defeat the Maestro. As the only one who possibly could.

They duke it out physically, where the 100-years-older Maestro is nonetheless stronger, having absorbed so much radiation. Of course, it’s still a pretty good fight…

Puny Banner

The Maestro is stronger, and he wins the fight, taking Hulk prisoner. At that point, the battle turns internal. The Maestro wins the mental battle as well – as they fight over whether the death of the Hulk would alter the timeline. The Hulk doesn’t give in to try this desperate play.

Time Travel Theorizing

The other battleground is internal, as the Maestro knows the Hulk and what he might want. He also has the arguments and simple proof that the Hulk eventually gave in – and became the Maestro. So the third battleground is temptation. The idea that the Hulk could join the Maestro, and that together they could rule, and as the strongest ones, take whatever they wanted.

Strongest One of All

The future that was painted was interesting. It reminded me a lot of The Incal and I was surprised to see it wasn’t Moebius doing the art. It’s a full-on dystopia (literally called Dystopia), with a lot of new slang and a lot of horrible things. The Maestro, in particular, is ridiculously chauvinistic and most of the women in the society might come to be his possession. It’s good of the Hulk to come around and beat him…


It also has one of those great sorts of future scenes that often show up in visions of Marvel’s future: a room full of the paraphernalia of dead heroes and villains.

The Hall of Dead Heroes

Future Imperfect is a fascinating little comic, so if you’re looking for something to read that will make you really root for the hero to overcome the villain, check out this classic!

All images from Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect, copyright Marvel, and captured from the Marvel App.

Editorial | Does Geek Culture Hold the Answers to National Security?

I shared this early in the week and promoted it a bit. Saved the reblog for those of you who come around on the weekend. Read this. Please. Reasons:

1. If you identify yourself as a geek or nerd, claims are being made about your culture which you might want to sound off on.

2. If you like science fiction, you will love this!

3. Are you a technophile? This post discusses the 3-D printing of food, Iron Man armor, and shield technology.

4. Are you an international relations geek? If so take a look at the thread. You’ll find three IR geeks talking about world order issues and we would love to meet three more.

5. Inclined to do me a personal favor? This post is a collaborative effort produced by two of my favorite bloggers in the whole world. I will totally take you leaving a comment on the thread as a personal favor.

Therefore I Geek

For this post, I collaborated with Hannah Givens, from Things Matter (which you should totally check out).  Our mutual love of international relations shines through everything we do, apparently.

Technological innovation raises some obvious questions. What kind of technology will humans use in the future? How will it work and what will it do for us? How will it change the way we do things? Those questions are, perhaps, at their most controversial in the realm of national security, where technology can kill (or protect) ever-greater numbers of people. Fortunately, geek culture is an oracle of war. Science fiction has been imagining the future for a long time now, and was already providing possible answers before national security experts even understood the questions.

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Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November… and V for Vendetta!

“Remember, remember,

the fifth of November,

the Gunpowder Treason and Plot.

I see no reason

The Gunpowder Treason

Should ever be forgot.”

In 1605, Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators aimed to destroy the House of Lords in London – and were caught. Months later (according to Wikipedia), the remembrance of the date as a holiday was already codified. Four hundred years later, in 2005, I was in London and got to see firsthand that this holiday is still going strong. Fireworks, and a little bit of lawlessness. I haven’t gotten to see police running away from a situation any other time, but it made sense then – my friends and I were running away too.

Ah, good times.

V for Vendetta - CoverI thought for today I would explore one of the top pieces of media around this holiday – the comic V for Vendetta by British comics author Alan Moore. There’s also the movie adaptation (also from around the 400th anniversary in 2005, interestingly enough), which I am going to have to talk about a bit more than planned – I haven’t finished reading the comic yet myself! It’s 287 pages, and I am halfway through.

What I have read so far has been good, and quite a bit like the – a statement which probably makes Alan Moore unhappy, but I’ve previously talked about his troubled relationship with movie adaptations of his work with Watchmen. If you like the fight against totalitarian and fascist control, dystopias, or comics, this is one for you!


I’ll try to avoid spoilers, and won’t talk much about how it resolves – in part because I’m not sure if that will be different between the film and the comic!

It’s the future (or, when Moore was writing this in the 80’s, it’s the late 1990’s…), and society collapsed. At the end of the Cold War, someone started firing the nukes. Nuclear Winter – which, according to Moore’s note in the intro, was not a concept yet. Somehow, England avoided being nuked – in part by having gotten rid of all of the nukes in the country first.

So England Prevails. They’re not dead, but contact with the rest of the world is basically gone, scarcity is at its worst, and so the worst sort take control. They have a plan, for keeping the world going – for the select. For those like themselves. They’re Fascists, or more Nazis, pretty much. They even have “Norse” in the party name. One race, one faith, one nation.

Creepy stuff, and coldly logical. You could see it happening. Doesn’t make it better or right, just makes it that likely sort of thing that makes it interesting, and a good target for exploring what could or would happen.

Which is where we pick things up in the comic (and the movie). Someone has decided to stand up to this – one man, in a mask. A Guy Fawkes mask. And on the fifth of November, he blows up the Houses of Parliament, fulfilling the Gunpowder Treason against a government likely worse than the one which was the original intent.

The comic goes into more details of the depths of the Fascism, of the hate for homosexuals, for any other race. The concentration camps. The ideology. It’s hard to include all of this in a film – but Alan Moore might point out that it’s why he made a comic and not a film.

I was a history major, so in large part the ideas seem scooped from a history of 1930’s and 1940’s Europe.

Our one man standing against this all is almost superhuman in his prowess – able to outfight all opponents. We find out why later – he was experimented on in the concentration camps. He has spent years perpetrating his Vendetta – killing everyone involved with the camp he was in. In the comic, they make this great point, about how he could go one of two ways. One way is that all he is is this Vendetta – and, everyone dead, he would be done. The other way it could go is that, by killing everyone involved – everyone who might know who he was or what he was capable of – there was no one to stop him as he moved on to phase 2.

It seems the latter – and V, named for the fifth of November, and for room five, and for the Vendetta, V tears the government down.

He does not do it alone, however. Along the way, he brings along Evey, a young girl and just another victim of their world. Nothing special – but then, V points out that everyone, in all their great diversity, is special. More than in most fiction, Evey stands in for society, for the audience, for everyone. She is the Everyman, and purposefully – V seems to have her there to show that she would come around to his way of thinking, to show that he is not alone in his attitude. Maybe he is willing to give up if it were just him, but I imagine he knew what the outcome would be.

Evey, and the reader/audience with her, come around to V’s point of view (more than we naturally are in opposition to Fascism and Totalitarianism…), and are completely rooting for these rebels and terrorists by the end.

So What’s the Point?

I’ve alluded to the fact that Alan Moore thinks rather a lot of his work, and I can’t help thinking of that while I read it. Trying to fight the temptation to read this as pretentiously as Moore comes across.

However, keeping the author in mind for this work seems like a good idea. Moore is an Anarchist, and those leanings come across for sure in V for Vendetta. While Totalitarianism is a rule by the few or the one, Anarchy is a rule by no one – which is actually an individual rule by each and every one.

He has V, at times, speaking from a point of view outside of humanity, outside of time. Like he is one of us, but also not. At one point he is quoting Sympathy for the Devil, comparing himself to the Devil in this case.

In the biggest departure I’ve read so far between the movie and the comic, there is a scene where V is making a broadcast to the nation. He speaks as though he has been there, managing humanity, from the start. Devil or Angel? Regardless, he is disappointed. And then, we get this:

V for Vendetta - Broadcast

“You don’t seem to want to face up to any REAL responsibility, or to be your own boss.”

Unwilling to rule ourselves. To take that next step up. And so we keep abdicating authority, responsibility, power, to those who want it. To the very worst of us. And it’s our fault, for electing them, for letting them have our power.

It’s the complaint of an anarchist against the people, those who will happily live in a government – often willing to live in an incredibly dangerous or restrictive society, to live in society. It is, I feel, Moore’s point with the comic.

Anyway, that’s V for Vendetta on this, the fifth of November. Enjoy your Bonfire Night, be more than passing upset at invasions of privacy and personal autonomy, and hopefully (in the US) you voted yesterday!

What do you think of my interpretation of V for Vendetta? What do you take away from it – comic or movie? Let me know in the comments below!

Maps:how the physical world conquered the virtual

This is awesome. Seriously, one of the best posts I’ve read since Thanksgiving. Friends: This blog is worth following.

Utopia or Dystopia

World map 1600

If we look back to the early days when the Internet was first exploding into public consciousness, in the 1980’s, and even more so in the boom years of the 90’s, what we often find is a kind of utopian sentiment around this new form of “space”. It wasn’t only that a whole new plane of human interaction seemed to be unfolding into existence almost overnight, it was that “cyberspace” seemed poised to swallow the real world- a prospect which some viewed with hopeful anticipation and others with doom.

Things have not turned out that way.

The person who invented the term “cyberspace”, William Gibson, the science fiction author of the classic- Neuromancer- himself thinks that when people look back on the era when the Internet emerged what will strike them as odd is how we could have confused ourselves into thinking that the virtual world and our work-a-day one…

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