There have been a lot of good fight comics in the last decade or so. Steve Orlando and ACO’s Midnighter comes to mind, as does the Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey Moon Knight. Just 22 pages of our heroes whaling on some poor, benighted evil-doer.
Taskmaster is the mirror universe version of that book. It is 22 pages of our protagonist (because, well, it’s Taskmaster; can’t quite call him a hero) getting his tuchus kicked over and over and over again. And it is just delightful. There really isn’t a better way to describe it.
So. Taskmaster has been framed for the death of Maria Hill, and in order to get the information proving that he’s innocent, he needs to copy the body language of three different spies. Don’t ask me why they decided to build body language-based locks. Two problems. One, Black Widow is out to kill Taskmaster. Two, all three of these spies are protected by extensive superhero teams.
Taskmaster has to go after Phil Coulson. But Phil Coulson is protected by
Superman Hyperion. Hyperion just destroys Taskmaster, over and over and over again. He tries all these gizmos and weapons and tricks, and just gets destroyed. Of course, this being a comic with Taskmaster’s name on the cover, he eventually gets the upper hand, but the just brutal beating that Taskmaster suffered is impressive.
The book, artistically, is pretty clean. There are mostly bright colors, clear linework, and not very heavy inking. Artist Alessandro Vitti reminds me of an Ed McGuinness or an Ivan Reis, stylistically. But then they spot Taskmaster himself with just inordinate, extreme amounts of blood. Hyperion himself remains clean, as does the environment that they’re fighting in. But Taskmaster, as he gets more and more and more beat up, is just spattered with a vibrant red. By the end of the issue, Taskmaster’s mask and costume are obscured in shadow and in just a heap of red blood – it’s a really striking contrast from the rest of the issue.
Jed MacKay’s interior narration for Taskmaster is really interesting as well. Tony Masters isn’t really a deeply characterized person, but MacKay’s version of the character is someone who you can really understand why he wakes up everyday and puts on a skull mask to get socked in the face by Spider-Man.
That’s not to say it’s flawless. It’s not really as episodic as the book wants you to believe, and the jumping back and forth from the fight with Hyperion and Nick Fury’s briefing really saps all the speed from the tempo of the book. This isn’t a book that is changing the genre or anything. But it’s really very fun.
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