Anything you can do, he can do better. Well actually he can do it just like you perfectly the same way without fail over and over again. Who is he? Taskmaster, master mercenary and trainer to any army willing to pay his fee. Whether you got some Hydra recruits or S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, he can give them the best moves from the best fighters. How did Taskmaster come to be? Let’s find out!
Anthony “Tony” Masters was born with an innate ability, “photographic reflexes” the ability to watch someone do a physical activity and then mimic it perfectly then after. He learned this from a young age by being able to perform stunts he saw on TV. As Tony grew, he learned to use this for financial gain, watching star athletes perform allowed him to be just as good.
Money was always a driving for for Tony so when he saw people running around in costume, he figured that the crime side was more likely to get him rich. His career as a criminal was short lived when he realized the knowledge he’d gathered of heroes fighting from archived footage, he could become the best combat trainer around. Soon he was being hired by both sides to train their soldiers how to fight like the best.
His academy would use the Solomon Institute for the Criminally Insane for a front. The man in charge of the Institute would use the facilities to make a clone body he could harvest organs for himself to survive. The clone would escape and find his way to the Avengers and alert them of all the illegal activities going on and Tony had to fight off Captain America and Iron Man, he was doing well until more obscure members like Jocasta and Scott Lang were to fight him. He’d get away but lose his training camp.
Deciding to keep moving, Tony would take up some mercenary work for a while. He’d eventually end up making a new Frightful Four along with Constrictor, Wizard, and Deadpool. When it turned out that Franklin Richards was more than any of them had bargained for in the powers department, the team quickly disbanded.
Tony would decide to start up another school and with it he’d have a student body that would go on to become villains such as Crossbones. He’d be found out by several heroes over time including Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, and Nomad. This would eventually find him locked up by the FBI where the Red Skull, in disguise, would find him and be able to manipulate the government into letting Tony train the next Captain America (who would go on to become USAgent.)
Once freed, Tony would be hired by Red Skull to train many others to fight just like Captain America, so that the Red Skull could fight and kill them to better himself for confronting Steve Rogers. The money he got from Red Skull allowed him to open a new academy in Brooklyn. Here he would train the newest Spymaster and fight Spider-Man. He’d get into a contest held by the Hand to compete with Tombstone over who could kill the most targets. Getting a knife in the gut from the Punisher would take him out of the competition.
Having recovered, he’d have several adventures and confrontations with many heroes and villains. He’d testify in court when it was villain v. villain. He’d be captured by cosmic forces to fight it out and he’d end up in Madripoor to enter their deadly bloodsport to gain more money. Still struggling for more money, he’d join Agent X for mercenary work.
During the Superhero Civil War, Tony would be arrested and eventually find himself brought in to train the new registered superheroes for the Initiative at Camp Hammond. He would train many new heroes and even after being extremely stern and living up to his codename, showed kindness to those who had to leave the program.
Norman Osborn raises to power as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the Skrull Invasion, this would allow for Tony to also gain influence as he became part of Norman’s inner circle. He would co-head the Initiative while training villains in combat skill and how to pretend to be heroic. Deadpool would call in a favor for when he helped Tony escape from prison by the two fighting Osborn’s Thunderbolts team in secret. During the end of Osborn’s regime, Tony would help take down Thor among other heroes and villains in one last stand. Having been on the losing side and being back in custody, Tony would spend time working with the Secret Avengers for S.H.I.E.L.D.
There’s also a short run where Tony’s powers come at the cost of his memory, he can barely remember longer than a few days. This story has him fight a town of Hitlers and play with a mariachi band. He’d meet a possible daughter and fight her to try and remember her moves if that’s all he can remember. Tony was recently seen using the villain job app, Hench to be hired to mess with Ant-Man, Scott Lang.
There you have it! Taskmaster is one of my favorite villains/anti-heroes. His powers are fun and honestly, any of the Marvel TV shows or movies could easily bring him in because you just need a very good martial artist on the pay roll and this is Marvel, of course they do. Who knows where Taskmaster will show up next. Maybe he’ll have his memories back back. Whatever happens, he’ll show off someone’s moves and probably get away to train or merc another day. See you next time!
Taskmaster Vol. 1
Avnegers: The Initiative