Published December 30, 2016

The History of Marvel's Deadliest Assassin

We put together a generous dossier on Taskmaster.


They Take to It Younger and Younger These Days
Tony Masters grew up in Brooklyn, experiencing a fairly typical—for the pre-gentrification boom—childhood. One day, after watching a cowboy drama on his family’s television, he went into the yard and mimicked the hero of the show’s rope tricks, exactly. Not kind of got it. Exactly matched them. A doctor’s appointment and a bunch of tests later, young Masters received a diagnosis: photographic reflexes. Any physical action he observed, he could perfectly recreate.

With Great Power Comes Great Opportunities for Attention
Realizing the limitless potential of his power, the man who would be Taskmaster did the logical, if cynical, thing and set out to imitate the athletically talented. His favorite sport proved to be football and after taking in one game, he brought professional level quarterbacking skill to his high school team. Victory and adoration followed.

Whatever I Do, Crime Must Be in The Name
After graduation, Masters considered joining the ever expanding field of crime fighters. However, as he saw the potential for the public to turn on you and the lack of opportunity to make money, he decided crime committer might be a better choice. Sure, people would not love him, but he’d always have money to soothe those hurt feelings.

The Evolution of a Man Without Morals
Initially, Masters decided to go for unflashy theft. However, it also turned out to be too messy, too unpredictable. Yes, he always got his money and yes, he always got away but that kind of direct contact with the law—and with it the possibility of being shot or arrested—just did not sit well with him. So, instead, he took his money and parlayed it into a small business of sorts: he would train the criminals of the world, reap profits, and stay generally above the fray.

Not Just for Crime Anymore
Sensing a revenue stream that heretofore had been unavailable, the now christened Taskmaster threw all sense of rules and structure to the wind and literally became available to the highest bidder. That meant for a time he might train super hero knockoffs like Blood Spider and Jagged Bow for criminal endeavors and then turn around and prepare John Walker—the now USAgent—for his brief time as Steve Rogers’ government sanctioned replacement.

The Only Value is Don’t Get Caught
Along with his stance on being easily bought, Taskmaster has one principle: never go down for a crime. He does not care if it makes him look like a coward. Dumb people can have pride, he’d rather keep his freedom, thank you very much. So, at the first sign of trouble, ol’ Tasky sneaks for the door. Who needs to prove themselves, really?

Still, Sometimes It’s Hard Not to Compete
His principles, like his morals, sometimes prove flexible. At times, the money becomes too high to be ignored, no matter the risk. At others, he just has to remind people that he could be the best, he would just rather count his cash. Almost inevitably, these moments where pride and greed got a little too much control of his decision making process, led to him being arrested and/or pummeled.

Cannot Keep Him Down
And yet, Taskmaster always seems to find a way back. He has been crushed in a bubble by Sue Storm, shot a bunch by Mockingbird, turned into the Avatar of the Abyss, dropped into a town of Hitlers, forever forced to forget his marriage, badly injured by Doctor Doom, had his oxygen cut by Norman Osborn, and nearly had his face cut off by Moon Knight. Still, before you know it, he returns, upright in pirate boots, swathed in blue, orange, and white, just as cocky and fashionable as ever.