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Mercenaries of Mayhem

Captain America Legends
by yo go re

Today's reviews are both about learning new things.

Powered by disguise and mimicry, these villains may not be original, but they are deadly.

Taskmaster's origin has changed since the last time we reviewed him - it used to be that he was born with photographic reflexes, and first demonstrated this talent as a child. New origin says he grew up normal, and became an agent of SHIELD; sent to Bolivia to kill a Nazi scientist who had made a new version of the super-soldier serum. With the test notes destroyed, the agent injected the last of the serum into himself, and gained the ability to absorb knowledge instantaneously, at the cost of his own memories. While his muscle memory remains, anything personal he learns is gone after a few days - he doesn't even know he works for SHIELD.

Not since Black Costume Wolverine has there been so much confusion over a character's outfit. A lot of folks think this is the Udon costume (named for the studio that provided art for the Deadpool arc where it first appeared), but it isn't. It's similar to the Udon costume, but there are lots of differences: that one was blue and white, like this one (sort of) is, but it didn't have a stripe across the chest, and the limbs just had some padding, not the full armor seen here. So what, in fact, is this?

Turns out, this costume is what Taskmaster wears starting in Season 2 of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon - same stripe on the chest, same armor, everything (in Season 1 he looked like the comics, but apparently after getting his butt kicked by teenagers he felt an upgrade was in order). At last, White Tiger has somebody to fight! His torso is reused, but the arms, legs, hands and feet are all new molds. He has a pair of shoulder holsters and a utility belt that was also created specifically for him. Once you recognize the source, it's really easy to see how close this figure gets it!

The head comes right from the cartoon, too. Like the classic Tasky, it's a skull inside a white hood (a "keep your hair dry" kind of white hood, not a "Donald Trump's father" kind of white hood), but the mask is metallic silver and has exaggerated angles that keep it us from mistaking it for actual bone - something the 616 Taskmaster could use sometimes!

If you want a more modern Taskmaster, this set's got you covered. When Udon redesigned his costume, they changed his mask with it: it was still stylized like a skull, but looked more like a hockey mask; it covered his face, rather than his entire head. And fortuitously, the USM cartoon design was also used in the 2014 DTV movie Heroes United: Iron Man and Captain America, but with an Udon-inspired mask instead of the silver skull.

Unfortunately, cartoon Taskmaster doesn't use as many cool accessories as comicbook Taskmaster - he's got everybody's powers, but he doesn't get all the cool gear. His guns don't even come out of his holsters! The toy comes with a shield (with all its details painted, not sculpted) and a lightsaber. Okay, it's probably called an "energy sword" or something, but Disney owns both Marvel and Star Wars, and Taskmaster uses a sword with a translucent red laser blade. It does look pretty nice with the figure, creating a single flash of color against an otherwise dark figure.

The articulation is right on par with other Legends - none of the joints are missing, but the new limbs don't add any surprises until you get to the ankles: those have a swivel in the foot for "rocker" range of motion, a hinge, and then another swivel that goes up into the shin; it's similar to the way the shoulders work, and helps with stability. It wouldn't work for most figures, since Taskmaster's shin armor helps conceal the joint, but it's nice that Hasbro went to the trouble of including it here.

He also gets a piece of this series' Build-A-Figure, Red Skull. The red skull. That is, he comes with Red Skull's red skull. The head is a little too large for a 6" scale body, but that won't matter on the larger BAF.

Neither of these figures is very colorful, and neither is wearing the first costume you'd want them in, but mindless thugs need love too!

-- 03/21/16

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