Taskmaster #1 sees writer Jed McKay, currently best known for his run on Black Cat, give this Marvel villain his own title with art by Alessandro Vitti, colors by Guru-eFX, and letters by VC's Joe Caramagna. Let's see if this tale of villainy is worth the read.
Taskmaster #1 took me by surprise. Jed McKay was good on Black Cat, but this series sees him take his storytelling, dialogue, and characterization to the next level. Getting down and dirty with a gun-for-hire like Taskmaster seems to fit him with the same kind of harmony we saw when Nick Spencer, known at the time for amazing creator-owned books but less-than-stellar Marvel work, took on The Superior Foes of Spider-Man to great acclaim. That seems similar to McKay's vibe on Taskmaster here, as he takes one of Marvel's most interesting villain on a surprising chase scene through a golf course that ends with Nick Fury Jr., an interesting set-up with Black Widow as his hunter, and a final page that sets up an intriguing direction. Interestingly, Widow is not currently in the same situation she's in for the Black Widow miniseries, so it'll be fun to keep reading both to figure out where they fall.
McKay writes Taskmaster with humor, exciting action, and sharp character insight. In the entire issue, only one single word stood out as a miss. There is an egregious use of perhaps the best SFX in comics' history… Splortch. Splortch, you see, must be earned. Splortch is for disembowelment. Splortch is for untold bodily injury to the core. Splortch is a guy blowing up. Splortch, on the other hand, is not a guy getting shot in the head. That's, at best, a Paft. While any respectable comics reader will call foul on this use of Splortch, no points are taken off of this excellent script, but next time McKay comes with a Splortch… he best comes correct.
The art is fun also, with linework a bit grittier than the standard Marvel style that is balanced out with a detailed color palette from Guru-eFX. With art like this over a story like McKay's Taskmaster #1 is the whole package.