A Trainer of Minions
The man who would become the Taskmaster was born a prodigious savant of mnemonic talents. 1 He discovered his unusual abilities in childhood when, after watching a cowboy television program, he found he could duplicate the rope tricks he had seen the actors perform. Growing to understand his ability, he saw a man perform a difficult backwards leap from a diving board; he duplicated the dive, but nearly drowned because he didn’t know how to swim. Afterwards, his mother called in psychiatrists who studied his ability, terming it “photographic reflexes.” He employed his talent several times during his youth for professional gain, most notably when he became a star quarterback of his high school football team after watching one pro football game. After graduating high school he contemplated becoming a crimefighter, but decided crime would be more lucrative.
Solomon Institute for the Criminally Insane
He then began a program of observing the fighting techniques of various super heroes and their techniques through archival television news broadcasts to expand his combat repertoire. Initially committing several grand larcenies, he decided it was smarter to avoid risking direct confrontation with law enforcers, and used his stolen capital to establish himself as a combat trainer for aspiring professional criminals, specializing in producing henchmen for super villains and criminal organizations around the world. Designing a costume, he took the moniker “Taskmaster”; one unidentified early graduate of his criminal academy would become espionage legend Spymaster. 2 Taskmaster set up the Solomon Institute for the Criminally Insane as a front for one of his training academies, but its administrator Dr. Pernell Solomon developed heart problems and had Taskmaster’s science staff grow him a clone, Selbe, to harvest for a replacement organ; Selbe escaped and ran to the Avengers, who exposed the operation with the aid of their ally Ant-Man (Scott Lang). Taskmaster single-handedly held his own against both Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Iron Man in combat; while tempted to test himself against all the Avengers, he realized that he would not be able to run his business from jail and fled after the unfamiliar abilities of obscure robotic Avengers associate Jocasta threw him off balance. 3