Well, that was unexpected. That’s not the same as saying “good,” by the by.
Issue: Maestro: War and Pax #5, May 2021
Writer: Peter David
Artists: German Peralta and Javier Pina
The Plot: Dr. Doom and the Maestro face off, but not for the reasons one might suspect.
Commentary: For starters, there was a chance this issue could have been better. It wasn’t, in part, because the Pantheon back-up story made the main story shorter to fit the page count. And that Pantheon story conclusion didn’t do much more than say the Pantheon was smart enough to wipe out the terrorist group in multiple locations at the same time while revealing the leader was a nihilistic and disillusioned former stockbroker, not some cackling madmad supervillain. Really, the back-up was a waste of time.
But the main story showed some potential, first with a reveal I didn’t see coming but that fit in rather well with the sort of character the Maestro is: he and Doom were working together the whole time to take out both the Pantheon and AIM. That was unexpected. Theoretically, both Doom and the Maestro probably could have done that on their own. The Maestro is strong enough and Doom certainly has the resources somewhere that he could have easily vaporized either group, I am sure. I suppose having the pair work together makes all that faster, and if, say, the Pantheon failed to utterly destroy AIM in the end, then at least there’d be a war between both groups. It also helps to demonstrate, from a narrative perspective, how cold and ruthless the Maestro has become that he and Doom were in cahoots the whole time.
And of course they betray each other because why wouldn’t they? Furthermore, both more or less saw it coming.
That just leads to a brawl, one where Doom initially appears to have the Maestro outclassed until the former Hulk retreats to somewhere that has the tech necessary to strip Doom of his armor, leading to perhaps the best exchange in the issue where the Maestro sees Doom’s unmasked face. The Maestro asks if he did that.
Doom replies that Reed Richards did.
Because of course Doom can’t give up a grudge even if his sworn enemy is probably just a pile of dust somewhere.
But really, given the brevity of the main story, all set up to give the subpar Pantheon story a conclusion, there didn’t seem to be much happening here compared to what it could have been doing, especially since the main story ended with someone new entering the field to set up the third and final part of this trilogy of mini-series. There are still a few obstacles left to the Maestro’s total control of the world, and one of them just woke up.
Hopefully there won’t be some back-up stories to make the main stories feel rushed in the last mini-series, but why stop those now?