Taskmaster is on the hook for a murder he didn’t commit, and the only way out is to answer the question: What is the Rubicon Trigger? Your Major Spoilers review of Taskmaster #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Jed McKay
Artist: Alessandro Vitti
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Chris Robinson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 11, 2020
Previously in Taskmaster: 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!
We open at a murder scene, as Taskmaster’s narration talks about the kind of jobs you have to do when you’re a mercenary: Espionage, muscle work, bodyguarding… golf? Cut to the 4th Annual Maggia Celebrity Doubles tournament, featuring a couple of mooks who have hired ringers to up their game. Taskmaster has watched Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus tapes all week to keep his skills in order, but his foe, Bullseye just gets by on raw aim. There’s a really amusing bit where Taskmaster defends his uniform (He’s won Best Skull Costume, three years running. “I beat out the Red Skull!”) but the game is interrupted by gunshots. Taskmaster makes a run for cover in a golf cart, only to find that his attacker is more than up to tracking him, even with a couple of arrows in her gas tank. A sudden phone call offers help, but his savior turns out to be Nick Fury, who has bad news: The Black Widow is after Taskmaster, thinking that he murdered Maria Hill, and the only chance they have of getting him off the hook is if Taskmaster can perfectly duplicate the body language and biometrics of three of the most dangerous people in the world.
YOU HAD ME AT “SLEEP-APNEA SKELETOR”
Honestly, I didn’t have any expectations of this comic book, as I’m not terribly familiar with the creative team and I sometimes find Taskmaster to be an overly cocky character, but this issue truly surprised me. The humor is just right, not quite as over-the-top as a Deadpool story, but avoiding the oh-so-serious 90s-style melodrama that I associate with the character. The plot is clever, setting up a MacGuffin that only Taskmaster could provide, using Nick Fury to good effect and even throwing in one of the only people Tony Masters would worry about facing. Best of all, the art is really good, feeling a bit like Howard Chaykin in spots, with special kudos due to the rendition of Tasky’s skull mask. The chase sequence is lovely, even though it features a golf cart, and the reveal that their targets are Phil Coulson, Okoye of the Dora Milaje and the head of South Korea’s spy division makes it all feel integrated with the Marvel Universe at large.
BOTTOM LINE: PLEASANTLY SURPRISED
With action, a little buddy comedy and a really good-looking main character, Taskmaster #1 hits the golf-themed hole-in-one, pulling together a lot of moving parts in a satisfying way, delivering a Taskmaster story that’s finally worthy of Perez’s legendary design, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. This first issue has convinced me to pick up the entire five-issue miniseries based on this skillful setup, which is exactly what every debut issue would like to be able to do.
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McKay's script has a Deadpool vibe with less slapstick and the art is unique and dynamic, making for a pleasantly surprising debut issue.