Didja Know... Taskmaster
Didja Know digs into downright delightful details from across the merry Marvel Multiverse!
Didja Know digs into the fun facts, strange stories, and divine details that helped build the hallowed halls of the House of Ideas!
In between every honorable hero and vile villain in the Marvel Universe there lurks those cloaked in shades of gray. They’re mercenaries, mostly; the furtive figures who skirt the edges of the big battle of Good vs. Evil, looking to profit while everybody else slugs it out. Who’re we talkin’ about specifically, True Believers? None other than Marvel’s other malicious mercenary, the Taskmaster!
Let’s peel back a few layers of this kooky cut-up and see what we can see while he allows it!
Didja Know… Taskmaster used to have a thing for circuses and carnivals?
Following his first frenetic fashion show in AVENGERS (1963) #196—this dude really knows how to rock a skull-mask—Taskmaster really got down to business with his awful academies of terror training and somehow decided a carnival would be the perfect “front” for them. Why? Are you gonna ask him, Bunky?
Now, the first mistake the merc made was to take over the actual carnival Hawkeye himself used to perform with, prompting some swift action by the amazing archer in AVENGERS (1963) #223…along with some ant-size assistance from Ant-Man, t’boot. In fact, those two hunky heroes did give Taskmaster the boot, and he ran off, cape between his legs, to lick his wounds and start over again.
But, he didn’t learn his loser’s lesson about carnivals and circuses. Fast-forward to THE THING (1983) #26 and he’s back in the business of barkers and big tops! Why? No one’s gotten up the guts to ask him! Anyway, Ben Grimm and Vance Astovik take him down in their own indomitable fashion, leading to Taskmaster actually being captured!
And Didja Know that incarceration literally led to the merc to training U.S. Agent for the U.S. government in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #334? Now you do! Who says this ain’t the Marvel Age of Cavortin’ Continuity?
Didja Know… Taskmaster once created an ersatz ensemble of his own Marvel maniacs?
Now, hang loose, heroes; we won’t leave ya hangin’ with a fifteen-dollar word—“ersatz” simply means a copy of substitute that’s usually inferior to real deal. Got it? Good, ‘cause we’re rollin’ right along with a few nutty notes on that time Taskmaster put together his own Cap, Hawkeye, and Spidey…
See, it all swung into significance in the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #367 when the wondrous Web-Slinger teamed up with Solo to take down the Red Skull, but instead ran up against Taskmaster and his three best—at the time—students, the nuttily named Death Shield, Jagged Bow, and Blood Spider. Whew! With monikers like those, who’s surprised they didn’t get their own Marvel mags, huh? Regardless, the three sloppy stand-ins fought and lost to Spidey and Solo, but Tasky took off as is his tradition, and reported the injustice of it all to his boss, the big bad Red Skull.
Many years later, the Tried-and-Fried Trio reappeared in VENOM (2011) #37, but no amount of terrific training from Taskmaster could make them super-stars. Hmm, we wonder if a name-change could help?
Didja Know… Tasky’s not a mutant?
C’mon! You haven’t seen him skulking around in the shadows on Krakoa, the marvelous mutant refuge way out to sea, have you? We think not! Because despite his amazing ability to monitor, match, and mimic the equally amazing abilities of our street-fightin’ stars, this merc is not a merry mutant.
Way back in AVENGERS #196 we learned his uncanny moves first manifested when he was a kid, which of course might’ve led some Faithful Followers of ol’ Marvel to believe he had the mutant gene, but in time we all discovered the truth of the matter and the secret of his singular skills. Turns out it the whole deal is rooted in an old Nazi formula that unlocks parts of the brain connected with memory—allowing Taskmaster to literally learn Spidey’s and Cap’s, and Daredevil’s, and Iron Fist’s major motions and cunning capabilities.
So, anyway, Taskmaster: No ersatz in effect here, Effendi! He’s made his mark as the Merc with the Most, and one of the true originals of the mighty Marvel pantheon!
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