There is absolutely no reason to believe a Taskmaster series would ever be made without a Black Widow movie planned for release, but that doesn’t mean the fine creators behind this new series can’t prove to us this sometimes mercenary, sometimes hero, always jerk doesn’t deserve one! Given how good Jed MacKay’s Black Cat series has been and Alessandro Vitti did a great job on Hardcore, we’re in good hands. Now, can Taskmaster make it out alive of this miniseries?
Taskmaster has always been an interesting character because he’s usually in it for himself, but also not pure evil. He’s been played up as a goof while also playing the part of an evil supervillain. In Taskmaster #1, he’s a bit of a goof with a lighthearted personality that can laugh at the stupidity of his costume and the stupidity of the superhero business. Taking a glance at the preview, you can see Taskmaster is in a chase whilst driving a golf cart. Need I say more? MacKay is clearly having fun with an off-color mercenary type who isn’t a buffoonish clown like Deadpool, but he’s also totally not getting paid enough for any trouble in the slightest. In a sense, he’s all of us — only he wears a crazy skull mask, and instead of being good at a trade or skill, he can mimic others. See, relatable!
Golf carts aside, this first issue sets up an intriguing espionage tale that makes a lot of sense for Taskmaster to get in on. I’ll avoid spoilers, but he has real buy-in to do the right thing and help the good guys, and it allows MacKay and Vitti to explore some unused corners of the Marvel universe right now. This issue offers good buy-in for readers too, since Taskmaster gets little play these days and MacKay captures his unique voice. The dude isn’t “haha” funny, but he is “wink wink” funny in this issue.
The art by Vitti suits the espionage angle, with heavier inks in the corners. Vitti is a great artist when it comes to clothing, which can gain a life of its own in a somewhat more realistic narrative like this one. Sure, Taskmaster’s mask is insane, but he’s dealing with bullets and knives, not optic beams. Vitti suits that style. The comedic element works well too thanks to Vitti. The golf cart in this issue is a good example as it gains air and looks extra preposterous with a flowing cape escaping its silly little roof. Really all vehicles and weaponry look good in this book.
The pacing is a bit wonky in this issue. The first half drops us into an action sequence, but the second half slows way down with lots of exposition and conversation. There are some scene changes that help keep things moving along, but aside from establishing a relationship you may not have known Taskmaster had, it needs a bit more of a shot in the arm to fire on all cylinders. When collected this will lead right into the next mission and won’t even be noticed, but as a single issue goes a little more action or a subplot could have picked things up.
Taskmaster #1 is a good first issue, offering an off-color anti-hero that is interesting enough to draw you in. He’s no Deadpool, but that’s kind of the point since Taskmaster is such a loner. This issue seems to suggest maybe he doesn’t have to be such a loner and at the very least many will be along for the ride.
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