Taskmaster #1 Review

by Charles Martin on November 11, 2020

Taskmaster #1 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: Alessandro Vitti
Colourist: Guru-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Let me start with a fair warning: I have a comics crush on Jed MacKay. I didn't even know he was scripting this series when I requested it, but here we are.

I love his Black Cat series to pieces. I'm even a fan of his flawed but phantasmagorical Daughters of the Dragon digital miniseries. I mention it because that mini featured a Taskmaster cameo, which is brought up in a small but important way in this one.

If you're pondering whether or not to check out the DoD series, my best advice is to consider it as a psychedelic Tom Robbins sort of comic. If you love Tom Robbins or don't know him, check it out. If you know Tom Robbins and hate him, then you probably won't like Daughters of the Dragon.

Or if you need a less-obscure touchstone for this comic's tone, this detail should tell you everything you need to know: Taskmaster's ringtone for merc work is Dolly Parton's "9 to 5."

Anyway, Taskmaster #1! It starts with a single page that elegantly implies Taskmaster killed Maria Hill. (And that's the only spoiler I'll be handing out.)

From there, the tone swerves madly to Taskmaster's day-to-day money-earning. In this case, which he considers embarrassing, he's playing in a Maggia golf tournament, squaring off against Bullseye.

Can I just pause to appreciate the wonderful weirdness of the Marvel universe? Two amoral super-mercenaries facing each other in a celebrity golf fundraiser sponsored by gangsters! Marvel runs, more than anything, on a spirit of "it's just crazy enough to work," and this ridiculous golf scene is a perfect example of that spirit.

Things turn serious when a mystery assassin opens fire on the foursome, and Taskmaster is dismayed to discover that he is the target. An unlikely friend provides him with a getaway and gets him up to speed on Maria Hill's death: She was killed with Taskmaster's shield, but it's definitely a frame-up.

The motive for the murder is locked away in an old H.A.M.M.E.R. file that requires three "kinesic signatures" to open. This provides an elegant map for the rest of the series: Taskmaster can copy the body language required to beat the lock, but to do so, he'll have to get close to three of Marvel's biggest super-spies. 

And that assassin is still after him. The antagonist's identity is guessable before the comic reveals it, but Mr. MacKay's script builds it up so elegantly that it's hugely satisfying whether or not you figure it out in advance.

That script is a gem of admirable characterization and briskly-paced action. Mr. MacKay inflates Taskmaster's ego to reality-TV-star proportions before adroitly puncturing it with challenging plot developments. The dialogue is razor-sharp and endlessly quotable.

The writing gets a formidable visual counterpart in Alessandro Vitti's art. He's a veteran of super-spy comics, having supplied a lot of the art for the original Secret Warriors series. He hasn't lost a step in the years since then, and his chunky character renditions prove equally adept at conveying action and emotion.

Guru-eFX puts the finishing touch on weighing down these characters, shading them boldly to emphasize the third dimension and setting each scene with vivid colours that are perfect for the breathless pace of the action.

This Taskmaster miniseries kicks off with a bang, swamping the protagonist with challenges that are exactly ridiculous enough to suit his skills and temperament. Conveyed with witty writing and muscular art, this story delivers multiple delights to any reader who's ready to see exactly what it takes to shake Tony Masters' unshakeable self-confidence.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I have a strange love for Maria Hill, despite her doing few lovable things. So I'm delighted when this comic summarizes her career thusly: "Hill did make enemies like Frank Castle makes corpses."