In a universe full of characters with immense power, Taskmaster doesn’t seem like he would be one of Marvel’s top villains, yet he consistently manages to take on beings far stronger than he is. So how does he do it? The comics have the answer.
Marvel’s ongoing Taskmaster series from Jed MacKay has Taskmaster teaming up with Nick Fury after he gets framed for killing off the Avengers’ Maria Hill. To clear his name, Taskmaster will need to use his photographic reflexes to copy the kinesic signatures of three high-ranking officials so he can unlock the file Hill was investigating before her demise. In issue #2, Taskmaster’s attempt to observe Phil Coulson backfires into a battle with Hyperion, Marvel’s version of Superman. Despite being severely outmatched, Taskmaster manages to secure a victory over Hyperion with special kryptonite. Taskmaster’s photographic reflexes may not let him copy the actual powers of any superhumans, but they still come in handy when fighting them.
Thanks to his years of experience fighting the Avengers and other Marvel superheroes, Taskmaster has a plethora of fighting styles and techniques memorized, which he makes ample use of in issue #3. However, this issue also revealed another benefit of Taskmaster’s abilities. After infiltrating Buramsan Mountain by following Taegukgi, Marvel’s new South Korean hero, Taskmaster observes Director Ami Han to get her kinesic signature and immediately notices she’s not what she seems. “There’s something about Han…” Taskmaster says, “She’s like Hyperion. Like Taegukgi. She may be pretending to be human, but she’s not…Enhanced physiognomy, no doubt. Enhanced senses too, I’ll bet.” Sure enough, Ami Han later reveals herself to be the White Fox, proving that Taskmaster can ID superhumans with ease.
If that’s not proof enough, over in Marvel’s Power Pack #3 by Ryan North, Taskmaster shows he can not only tell when someone has superpowers, but can even tell what their powers are. When Zero-G tries to increase the gravity around Taskmaster to make it harder for him to move, Taskmaster can immediately infer what his abilities are based on his behavior and stance. In addition, he can also tell that his personal gravity was upped by 10%, showcasing a hyper-awareness of his surroundings. Although the Power Pack manages to outsmart him, Taskmaster proved that he can analyze his foes and determine their strengths and weaknesses with no more than a glance, which explains how he consistently takes on much more powerful opponents and comes out on top.
Taskmaster’s mind is an arsenal of all the best techniques from Marvel’s top fighters. Add that to his ability to infer ahead of time what his opponents’ capabilities are and it makes a lot more sense why Taskmaster is one of Marvel’s toughest villains.