Taskmaster: Unthinkable

This one came out of left field.  I was at my local comic book shop and spotted Taskmaster: Unthinkable on the rack.  I remember reading good things about the series but hadn’t given it any thought; being a light week I picked it up and am I glad I did.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Taskmaster Unthinkable CoverTaskmaster has trained henchmen for every terrorist organization and criminal cartel in the Marvel Universe. So when the rumor starts that he’s turned traitor and now works for Steve Rogers, a billion-dollar bounty is put on his head. Now, every cadre of costumed fanatics — A.I.M., Hydra, Ultimatum, the Sons of the Serpent and more — is looking to collect. Taskmaster must fight hordes upon hordes of his psychopathic students while at the same time uncovering who framed him — which requires him figuring out who he really is! That’s right, the man with the photographic reflexes has no memory of his true identity — and you’ll learn the unexpected truth along with him! The action-packed secret origin comes courtesy of New York Times bestselling writer Fred Van Lente (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and acclaimed artist Jefte Paolo (DOCTOR VOODOO)! Collecting TASKMASTER #1-4 and material from AGE OF HEROES #3.

Someone at Marvel went all out with that one.  Fred Van Lente has crafted an excellent story about a relatively minor villain and his search for himself.  We’re treated to a full origin, a deep background and genuine character development, all the while maintaining a wry tone with come great comedic moments.  Good twists and unexpected opponents round out the tale.  Van Lente takes a clean slate approach and builds Taskmaster into someone I want to read about; lets see if he can work on Paste Pot Pete next.

Taskmaster Issue 2   Taskmaster Issue 3

Art is solid and highly enjoyable.  This is my first experience with Jefte Palo and I came away impressed and entertained.  I enjoyed the approach taken to Taskmaster’s mimic ability: when he was using someone else’s fighting technique the character would overlay as shown in the two pages above.

Taskmaster has been a throwaway character or “mort” for a few decades but with his new origin in this well crafted softcover by a refreshing creative team he’s become one to watch.  Extras include covers, Marvel Handbook style info pages on characters and groups featured, two script pages and art breakdowns and completions.  At $15 for 96 pages it’s a bit light but a great read.

Taskmaster: Unthinkable
Marvel, 2011, ISBN 978-0-7851-5260-6

First published at Comic Book Daily.