Marvel character highlight #26: Taskmaster

Name: Tony Masters

Alias: Taskmaster, Barney Toastmaster, Captain America, Chief Warrant Officer T. McWilliams/Ground Crew Chief McWilliams, Tasky

Affiliation: Power Elite, Ravencroft Institute, Black Ant, Hydra, Hydra’s Avengers, Hydra High Sect, S.H.I.E.L.D. Secret Avengers, A.I.M., The Org, The Cabal, Initiative, Shadow Initiative, Committee, U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., Cyber Ninjas, Lords of the Living Lightning, Sons of the Serpent, Black Choppers, Trenchcoat Mafia, Militiamen, The Inquisition, Agency X, Frightful Four, Thunderbolts

Special abilities: Photographic memory and, after taking an experimental version of the Super-Soldier Serum, the ability to memorize the motor skills and abilities of others. This ability comes at the cost of his own memory.

Background: Tony Masters was born in the Bronx and realized at an early age that he could perform feats he’d seen on TV just by watching someone perform them. When he matured, he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. as an agent. During a mission, he injected himself with the Nazi experimental version of the Super-Soldier Serum (much like the one that changed Steve Rogers) and gained enhanced abilities gained through his photographic memory and reflexes. This came at the cost of his memories as he overwrote his true memories with those of the person he observed. His wife, Mercedes Merced, then crafted the Taskmaster persona to help him. Through his ill-gotten gains as Taskmaster, he became a trainer of villains, or anyone who would pay. He has trained several super villains, been part of the Secret Empire and Hydra and re-learned his true past, only to lose it again after being forced to learn a new set of moves.

Relationships: Mercedes Merced (wife)

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Appearances in other media:

Television: Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble (animated)

Film: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, Iron Man (animated), Captain America: Heroes United, Black Widow (upcoming live-action)

Video games: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel Heroes, Avengers Initiative, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel: Avengers Alliance Tactics, Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Official Game, Marvel Avengers Academy, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Avengers (2020), Marvel: Future Fight

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book games edition

1. Marvel vs. Capcom series

If there were ever a polarizing yet fun fighting game, it’s probably Marvel vs. Capcom. The first few Versus games are fun yet broken, but you don’t know broken until you get to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Spending 18 hours at a tournament to watch the same 10 characters fight in teams of three makes you dislike and love a game at the same time.

2. Batman Arkham series

Batman’s run of action-adventure games has quite a few standouts. Rocksteady outdid themselves in letting you become the Dark Knight and immerse yourself in the world of Gotham and the insane asylum that is Arkham. Any entries are classics that shouldn’t be missed.

3. X-Men arcade game

“Welcome to die!” is a pleasant yet infamous greeting waiting for you at the end of the X-Men quarter muncher. Gold and Blue ’90s-era X-Men join and fight in a team of four to take on the Brotherhood of Mutants. It’s a fun romp that reminds you of how powerful the original animated series was in terms of impact on gamers and comic book nerds alike.

4. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

If there is ever a game on this list that personifies GI and its life in the ’90s, it’s this sequel. Easily one of the best quarter stealers of all time, TMNT2 took everything from the comics, the original animated TV show and the movies and turned it into an ultra-fun excursion in the world of the lean mean green fighting machine.

5. Marvel Ultimate Alliance

An insanely fun brawler that’s chock full of Marvel awesomeness, the first Ultimate Alliance game is fun and full of depth. It’s also co-op and introduced you to the then-obscure Marvel characters that are now household names. I didn’t know the Winter Soldier then or Fing Fang Foom but I bet I do now. This is the Marvel encyclopedia.

Otaku Corner: Pandemic blues or a geek’s battle cry against Covid 19

Or how we will learn to emerge awesome from Downersville

As I write this, like many of our fellow geeks around the country and the world, GI staff are dealing with a new and unknown “normal.” Ever since January 20, the U.S. has been under siege by the Covid-19 virus causing untold sickness and death. As an essential worker for the state of South Carolina, I have not had the comfort of working from home and have experienced city-imposed lockdowns, bi-weekly quests to obtain basic supplies for home and work, and the daily reports of areas I had to avoid on the job. I also had to firmly but fairly inform visitors who come to visit their loved ones receiving medical treatment at my place of employment that visitation was suspended.

Myself and Lyndsey were hoping to cover many new games to play, movies to see at theaters and the latest anime series to binge watch on Netflix and Hulu. However, Covid-19 has dealt a devastating blow to release events of video games, canceled comic book/anime conventions or forcing them to provide virtual adaptations, slowed down production of anime series causing delays for dubbing and releasing in various global markets, and of course, rescheduling or direct to on-demand services for upcoming movies. As Lyndsey and I prepare this edition to upload I learned ways to soften Covid’s blow on #hotgeeksummer and continuing #geek life:

  1. Support official works of franchises: I know many of you have heard this phrase many times, but it’s important to do it since every time a new project for Dragon Ball Super or DC or Marvel releases, these companies make deals with the creators/original studios to handle voice cast recording, translation, marketing and other elements to ensure the success of the stated project. By buying official merchandise, everyone involved can be compensated for their awesome work, ensuring that a loved series stays with its fans longer.
  2. Heed trusted wisdom: By now, you’ve heard about the importance of social distancing, wearing cloth masks, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding unnecessary trips outside home, right? There’s a reason for that; To stop Covid’s spread, these few yet effective methods drastically reduce the chances of Covid spreading to innocent people, especially those with serious health issues. Also, please follow the advice of CREDIBLE scientists, doctors, nurses and other first responding professionals fighting the good fight against this disease. By heeding this wisdom, the chances of beating Covid greatly increase.
  3. Patience, patience!: I know it’s easier said than done, but even our favorite providers of nice things are affected. Cartoon Network’s “Toonami” block had to replay previous episodes of shows and do special events on the fly because content licensors have had to figure out logistics in developing new episodes of currently airing shows. Funimation Entertainment was waiting on creative partners in Japan to obtain episodes of recently acquired shows such as “My Hero Academia” in addition to figuring out how its voice actors can record their roles safely. If these companies had these problems, Netflix, Hulu and Crunchyroll are having them, too. Give them a break. This applies to your favorite convention, too.
  4. Support your local geek merchants: Doing business in a pandemic is CRAZY. For a certain few, they have developed specific skills that has prepared them for this moment and are ready to help keep your sprits up. I bought said items from a local geek and friend of GI and they are awesome, helping GI in its mission to cover gaming and geek news as well as keeping us safe from Covid when doing vital outside business. Also, support those local businesses providing safety options such as online ordering, curbside service and delivery when you are hungry or chilling with comics. These choices keep them and their rockstar workers rolling in these mean Covid streets.
  5. All for geek, geek for all: As geeks of color, we know about feeling rejected and unliked by other fellow geeks, which is not cool. However, with recent news involving geeks of Asian descent being accused of intentionally spreading Covid and assaulted, I have to say this: IT’S. NOT. COOL. While professional health and scientific organizations have determined that Covid started in China, geeks of Asian descent here in the U.S. and other places across the globe HAVE NOT contributed to its spread. In fact, they’re doing their part to help defeat it through various actions. Let’s do our part in having each other’s backs and theirs, too.
  6. Level up self-care: You know your favorite heroes can be dealt some brutal punishment giving the bad guys a temporarily win, causing our heroes to need to recover. Eating properly, a good exercise regimen and proper mental health care are proven methods to help in the comeback. It’s OK not to feel OK during this time; just remember to do self-care to get back in the fight and win!
  7. Level up skills: With many anime/comic book conventions being shut down, this is the perfect time to develop a new skill that could help you become stronger after this. Whether it’s setting up a game stream on twitch, creating the next big podcast or polishing moves for the next fighting game tourney, this is the perfect time to skill up for many victories that lie ahead. Don’t just apply this to things geek; you can also do this for adding on to a resume or other real-world situations. I’m taking some courses on emergency preparedness and other hobbies, and it’s helpful in improving mind and body. Try it, you’ll like it.

I know that 2020 has been a complete Dumpster fire for everyone thanks to Covid, but I want to leave you with this nugget: THINGS WILL GET BETTER. If we geeks get into formation and combine like Voltron, we’ll win. Even if our favorite geek activities are shut down, we will overcome and be ready for even more awesome things. Why? Cause Stone juggernaut said so. By the way, I’m giving thanks to UAL — Urban Anime League, Neo Monster Island, Arcade Impact, Nekitou’s Artcadia and, of course, our awesome readers, for providing champion support to us each time we go to print. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #18: Death Note Ep. 6 – 12

Series: Death Note

Episodes: 6 to 12

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incredibly gifted mentally. He’s looking for things to do outside of hacking the national police database and is preparing to go to law school for a career in criminal justice. One day, while in school, he happens to notice a strange book appear outside. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to follow the person who finds it. Light’s discovery and subsequent dealings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of justice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got everything you could want: Suspense, drama, several murder mysteries, a plot that makes you question life choices and characters to root for.

Breakout character: Misa Amane. Say what you will about the second Kira, but she is the breakout star here. She immediately makes an impact on Light, good or bad, and she joins the story permanently at a crucial time.

Best episode: “Overcast,” Episode 7. Light finally succeeds in convincing the watcher that he has always had less than noble ideals as he commits a shocking murder. Not only is the person he murders shocking, but also the way that he kills the person using the Death Note shocking: He causes them to commit suicide with his written command. This was the point at which you ceased to sympathize with Light in any way, but it now makes an interesting mystery even deeper because it’s now a race to see just how long Light will get away with his crimes as Kira.

Where it’s going?: The heat ramps up on Light as Kira, as he will have to juggle discovering there’s another Kira, L’s continued investigation and his life otherwise.

Property Review: Captain Marvel

A marvelous beginning

Captain Marvel
Marvel Studios, 2019

We all knew she was coming; we just didn’t know when. And when Carol Danvers got here, we were waiting, and we were not disappointed with what she brought with her.

Captain Marvel’s origin story is a tale as old as time: Heroine has amnesia, discovers her previous life and the reason for her amnesia, finds new allies and turns on her old “allies”/captors. However, this is different. Set some ways back in the MCU, Captain Marvel manages reasonably well to stick to the comic book origins of the character. With the hard work established in the story, thankfully, Jude Law and Brie Larson have chemistry and are a good match from the outset.

As we learn more about the good “Vers,” we also learn that not everything is as it seems. Danvers gets down to business and explores her origin in a funny yet serious way that highlights the central question that most all the Avengers and heroes of the MCU have had to ask themselves: Who are you?

And that’s the most important question asked by this film. Who is Carol Danvers to the outside world after being gone for six years? Who is she to her colleagues? Who is she to her friends and family? And, most importantly, who is Carol Danvers to herself? Going on this journey is the key to understanding the film and the character in later appearances.

Speaking of later appearances, Ronan the Accuser makes an appearance in what is chronologically his first appearance in the MCU. Technically, he steals the show in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, but in the MCU timeline of events, he first appears here to torment Danvers and he almost steals the movie right from under her. Lee Pace deserves mention for his nuanced portrayal of the villain. Ronan could easily have been a one-dimensional act, but Pace has shown layers to the villain and truly carried his weight when it came to showing the might of the Kree fanatic.

With the scene being set for the captain to do her thing and return to her roots, it’s no wonder that the film moves along at a nice clip. It done well and doesn’t stray too far from the comics or do too much extra work beyond what you’ve come to expect from a Marvel origin story. In fact, it does everything you need it to do to set up Captain Marvel for Avengers: Endgame and it does that extremely well. The look at the good captain is fun and packed full of action to set up for one of the most powerful beings in the comics to finally make her way to the cinematic universe in a dramatic and fun way.

Like the comics: 8

Story: 6

Acting: 6

Total: 20/30 or 6.7

HOW WE GRADE
We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Strip Talk #28: All hail the return of Keaton, king of the Batmen

The king has returned home to his throne. All is right in the world of DC.

It had better be because the best Batman is returning.

Michael Keaton has been announced to return in the Flash’s new movie as a different version of the Caped Crusader. This version, in line with his continuity as Bruce Wayne/Batman from our favorite Batman films, is an alternate universe version of Batman, different from Ben Affleck’s most recent version. While Affleck was decent as was Christian Bale, there is no one more deserving of a return to the tights and cowl as Keaton.

Keaton is the version of Batman that I know. Yes, I was around through ’80s syndication for the Adam West version of the ’60s, but Keaton is the big-screen version that I grew up with. He’s the model that made me fall in love with the Dark Knight. Not the comics, not the animated series in 1992. No, Keaton is the version that defined the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Keaton held his own and managed to go toe-to-toe with scene mangler Jack Nicholson as the Joker, which is a feat unto itself. Keaton gave the quintessential performance that set the standard for how a brooding Bruce Wayne should be. He is the template that all later Batmen are created from. Despite there being almost 30 years since his last portrayal of the character, he is the gold standard.

I’m excited and looking forward to a DC movie for the first time in many years because Keaton is back and ready to do justice to Bruce Wayne once again. I’ve missed him and very much think no one else can compare.

All hail the king. I’m ready to dance with the devil under the pale moonlight once again.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh[at]gaminginsurrection.com