The Taskmaster, sometimes called "Tony Masters" is as much an enigma as he is a missed opportunity. With his photographic reflexes and encyclopedic catalog of skills to call on, he should be one of the most lethal, dangerous people in the world. Somehow, he's remained a punchline and here, manages to be the second or third banana in a book flying his name. This just as well could be called Marvel: Clandestine and been a season of a book alongside stuff happening with Shang Chi, Black Widow, and others.
Nonetheless, here we are, and here's the gag: Taskmaster works for money using his ridiculously impressive power set for a ridiculously unimpressive set of tasks. Here, he and Bullseye have been hired to play doubles at a mob golfing tournament. Yes, you're reading that right: Taskmaster is partnered with a paunchy mobster named Calhoun who dislikes the skull-themed costume when gunfire erupts, sending Tony on a track to find answers to questions he didn't even know were being asked.
Jed McKay has an admirable script here that has action and amusement aplenty for Alessandro Vitti, Guru-eFX, and Joe Caramagna to present visually. The lushness of the green grass on the golf course is fantastic; the scattering of automatic gunfire on it shortly afterward is thrilling. A guest star makes a very on-the-nose parallel to Morpheus' phone call in The Matrix leading to the central mystery. Likewise, there are tons of great hooks to continuity, from Wakanda to Clark Gregg's famous fanboy, which makes this a comfortable fit on Earth-616.
What went wrong was that Taskmaster reacts to everything that happens, not having great responsibility to match his great power. He floats from thing to thing, the tool of others proffering agendas he doesn't even understand. It's possible to do a story about a simple person, but if you traded Taskmaster for Bullseye for most of this, or even Echo really, very little would have changed narratively.
There's nothing wrong with this book, but it doesn't feel like a star turn, and unless you have a jones for Taskmaster, this might not stick in your memory for very long. RATING: MEH.
TASKMASTER HAS MURDERED MARIA HILL! Or at least that's what the whole world thinks. Now the greatest spies in the business are hunting him down and won't stop until Taskmaster is dead or clears his own name! Follow JED MACKAY (BLACK CAT) and ALESSANDRO VITTI (SECRET WARRIORS) on a globe-spanning adventure that will send ripples through every corner of the Marvel Universe's espionage community!
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
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