Taskmaster #3 by Van Lente, Palo, and Beaulieu, out today . . .
I'm of two minds about this issue. On the one hand, I'm not wild about Taskmaster's new backstory and some of the changes Van Lente's had to make to get it to work. On the other, this comic is a ridiculous amount of fun. An absolutely ludicrous amount of fun.
There are two main threads to this story. The first is Taskmaster and Mercedes infiltrating a Nazi hideaway in South America where everyone thinks their Hitler (it's pretty great), a location which turns out to have tie-ins to Taskmaster's history. The second is Nick Fury giving Steve Rogers a briefing on the same topic.
Tony Masters was a SHIELD agent. As part of the wrap-up of the first Hate Monger attack, he was sent to raid the South American hideout (see above) of a Nazi scientist named Dr. Gorsht who was developing a speed-learning formula, the better to indoctrinate people to Nazi ideology. The mission went south, the place was going up in flames, and Tony decided to inject himself with the formula. It damaged his hippocampus, hindering his ability to network his memories. As Nick tells Steve, Tony has always worked for SHIELD, even while he was actively fighting superheroes. He became a bad guy who couldn't remember he was really a good guy, and was dependent on his handler for everything. His handler . . . Mercedes. Who's also his wife.
The third plot thread lets us know who's behind the current plot on Taskmaster's life. It's a coalition of henchmen who want to find and overthrow The Org. Their leader? Redshirt, the Uber-Henchman! Yes, it's as awesomely ridiculous as it sounds. The page where one of his underlings questions his name choice is just . . . I laughed out loud.
Like I said, it's awesome. The dialogue sparkles, the art's fantastic, and, again, it's a ton of fun. I'm not entirely comfortable with the changes to Taskmaster's backstory (I don't know that he needed an explicit origin and the memory thing seems to void a big chunk of the character's past characterization), but it's a pretty great comic in spite of that.
Anyone else pick this up?