Taskmaster

As requested by the infamous, nefarious and downright decadent Zsa-Zsa-La-Trine; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents one of Marvel comic’s gems. He looks cool and has a cool power.

There he is in all his finery. Powers Unknown.

There he is in all his finery.
Powers Unknown.

Taskmaster

To avoid any confusion, this is Taskmaster. Powers known.

To avoid any confusion, this is Taskmaster.
Powers known.

The Taskmaster, (created by David Michelinie and George Pérez), is more often than not primarily portrayed as a villain rather than the anti-hero he really is. Real name speculated to be Tony Masters, is a mysterious figure believed to have been born in Brooklyn, New York City, and once went by the  alias Contingency T.

He made his first appearance in Avengers vol.1 #195, (May 1980),before making his full début in Avengers vol.1 #196 in which he was introduced as an enemy, and gave them a pretty hard time. Although the Avenger’s line-up, with the exception of Iron man, was fairly lame at the time.

Because of his notoriety he usually finds employment within criminal organizations as a training instructor. However, in Taskmaster vol.2 #3 (2011), it was revealed he was a sleeper agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. planted by Nick Fury for the purpose of intelligence gathering. During this time though, Taskmaster had trained quite the contingent of super hero imposters meant to discredit the real thing; Blood Spider the criminal version of Spider-Man, Jagged Bow and Death-shield were trained to be replacing Hawkeye and Captain America.

So what’s this groovy power you mentioned?

Checking out all his bad-ass equipment may give you a clue.

Checking out all his bad-ass equipment may give you a clue.

Photographic reflexes

Photographic reflexes is the ability to essentially copy any skill, talent or ability you see. Anything that you see, even video footage will be sufficient. As long as he spends enough time observing another’s physical movements, no matter how complex, he can then go straight ahead and duplicate them without even needing to practice. Sweet. The drawback to this groovy power is that the new knowledge he gained from each observation will replace his previous non-skill related memories.

Due to these powers he can almost imitate super powers. For example he has discovered that watching Martial arts movies on fast-forward he is able to briefly duplicate the moves at a greatly increased velocity, effectively giving him a limited form of super-speed.

He was previously a naturally gifted athlete who trained himself to superb physical condition. He committed the fighting styles of:

Captain AmericaDaredevilElektraHawkeyePunisherTigraUSAgent, Spider-ManAnt-ManBatrocBoomerangBushwackerBlacklashGenis-VellCableDeadpoolFalconFataleFirestarIron FistJusticeMoon KnightPower Man, SilverclawSilver SamuraiShatterstar,  and Wolverine to memory, as well as many others.

As well as fully utilising his ability to copy the fighting techniques of others, he had mastered hundreds of forms of unarmed combat, both ancient and modern, and had created some of his own original techniques as well. As if that wasn’t enough he is skilled in the use of all conventional weaponry, an unerring marksman, master of swordsmanship, gymnastics with aerial acrobatic capabilities and adept at sleight of hand. This is not an individual you would ever want to get in a ruck with.

He has often shown the ability to actually predict an opponents next move before they make it if he has studied their fighting style enough. Opponents who are skilled at improvisational fighting styles, or who have a more random unpredictable style are less likely to have their moves predicted by Taskmaster. He is a master strategist and tactician, which he has used to great effect against Captain America and Iron Man during the siege of Asgard.

In addition to his already formidable abilities, he went about training his body to be in peak physical condition and engaged in intensive regular exercise. His strength, endurance, stamina, reflexes, and agility are on the level of an Olympic athlete. That means he can lift 440 lbs / 199.6 kg, that’s close to half a ton. Due to the intensity of his training he was nearly the physical equal of Captain America, and that’s without all the super soldier steroids.

He then went about recruiting a top team of scientists to recreate duplicate version of the weapons used by super-humans, which after having studied their skills, could utilise them with just as deadly efficiency as their respective original wielders.  Among such combat based finery was a copy of the Black Knight’s sword, Daredevil’s multi-purpose billy club, Hawkeye’s trick arrows and bow, a .45 calibre Colt automatic similar to the Punisher’s, and a shield designed like Captain America’s but it was not forged from Adamantium, therefore wasn’t indestructible; it was made from an Osmium alloy, the same alloy that the X-Men’s Colossus‘ flesh morphs into.

That's kick-ass guy with kick-ass gear. Take note y'all.

That’s kick-ass guy with kick-ass gear. Take note y’all.

Taskmaster has come to blows and also teamed up with Deadpool a number of times; the two became friends when Taskmaster started dating Sandi Brandenburg, Deadpool’s Personal Assistant when both were employed by Agency X at the same time.

Two of the badest mofos in one scene. Nice.

Two of the baddest mofos in one scene. Nice.

 

Taskmasters work with Deadpool, and thus observing and learning from him, led to a considerable change in appearance; he designed a costume that could efficiently accommodate all his spectacular new gear and was modelled on tactical battle armour. He ceased to encumber himself with the arsenal of duplicate weapons. His primary arms became a pair of semi-automatic handguns and a Katana, which he wielded with deadly grace after having observed the Silver Samurai’s fighting style. But by far his most efficient piece of gear is a prototype wrist-mounted device, stolen from S.H,E.I.L.D., that can spontaneously generate solid energy shapes. It can even be used to duplicate Captain America’s shield and Spider-Man’s webbing. Nice.

Deadpool should feel very flattered.

Deadpool should feel very flattered.

Weaknesses

  • The Taskmaster was not capable of duplicating a physical feat if the effort to do so requires a superhuman effort. For instance, he could never fly, have X-ray vision or any abilities outside the parameters that a human could attain.
  • His abilities were also limited in that they did not grant him an innate understanding of underlying disciplines. For example, as a child, he nearly drowned after imitating a dive because while he was able to mimic the dive, he did not know how to swim. Because of this, he has a fear of drowning.
  • Taskmaster was unable to copy the moves of Alex Hayden ,(Agent X), for unknown reasons
  • When Taskmaster copies something new, it pushes old memories out of his brain in a form of amnesia.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The Legend of You

It should really be called the Legend of Link, not the Legend of Zelda.  Coming from humble beginnings he struggles against monsters, dungeons and awkward Nintendo puzzles. But that teasing, troublesome tart Zelda never even gave our hero a flash of boob for all his daring efforts.

You deserve better Link. I'm sure there are plenty more pointy-eared princesses out there who would be gagging for a bad-ass adventurer like yourself.

You deserve better Link. I’m sure there are plenty more pointy-eared princesses out there who would be gagging for a bad-ass adventurer like yourself.

What kind of legend are you?

There is a legend inside us all, but nobody is born that way, we all have to start somewhere.  Heroic tales of regular folk rising to the challenge, facing all the trials that Hyrule / London / New York / Tokyo etc. can throw at them and coming out on top. Heroic tales wouldn’t be nearly as inspiring without all the effort they put in to conquer hardship, yet come out on top. Yay for the underdog.

Our multi-talented hero will even go so far as to risk a time / space paradox that could potentially destroy the known universe by learning the Song of Storms from a man in the Kakariko village, then travelling back in time and playing the Song of Storms in the windmill in as a child; so that same man learns the tune and can then teach it to Link in the future. What lengths will you go to in order to reach your goals?

So what can we learn from this damsel rescuing, dungeon delving, Paradox dodging, all round awesome adventurer?

What can’t we learn from Link? He’s a freakin’ legend. But we need to be ‘realistic’ about things, so here’s how we apply his heroic endeavours the Level Up way. Yay.

Find your motivation then explore everything

First you need to figure out what you want. Finding the motivation was easy for Link; he unwittingly found a sword, got a quest from a talking tree, busted his way through a bunch of dungeons, did a little time travel via an ocarina, kicked Ganondorf‘s ass and rescued the prudish princess.

Adventurers back in these days were total bastards. They'd barge into your gaff, uninvited, smash all your pots looking for your hidden rupees, and once totally looted be on their merry way.

Adventurers back in these days were total reprobates. They’d barge into your gaff uninvited, smash all your pots looking for your hidden rupees, and once totally looted and vandalised, they’d leave the legal tenant of the property rather disgruntled and in poverty, and be on their merry way.

There are literally thousands of fitness routines, skills and proficiencies out there; even ways to become smarter, so explore everything. Decide which attribute or skill you wish to work on, but make it something you really want, something fun or even something profitable. It really has got to be something you want though. Nobody ever succeeds getting in shape for the sake of it, or learning a new skill unless there’s a good reason or desire for it. Once your goals are defined, add the all important motivation. Like wanting to do serious strength training to be able to lift all those pesky rocks that seem to cover the entrance to anything useful in Hyrule, or training for a specific skill such as archery to clear those dungeon critters at long-range, or get up close and personal with some Swordsmanship. Then the motivation should fall sweetly into place. Once you have  a specific goal in mind, and the motivation has dug its heels into you, it’s on to the next nugget of Hyrulian wisdom.

Use the right tools for the job

Link's inventory clearly demonstrates my well-informed point.

Link’s inventory clearly demonstrates my well-informed point.

Link didn’t just charge straight through Hyrule, confront Ganondorf, grab little miss never-puts-out and ride off into the sunset. He had to run a gauntlet that covered all of Hyrule, in both past and present, each step of the way he was faced with obstacles that required him to figure out exactly what he needed for the task at hand. It wasn’t always obvious what he needed either; maybe a hook-shot to enter the forest temple, iron boots to navigate the water temple or a colossal hammer to smash stuff that allowed access to other areas.

The same applies to taking on a journey to learn and / or improve skills and attributes. There will be a lot of trial and error finding the correct method to achieve what you want. Always give new ideas a try, but be weary, there are many fads out there waiting to take your hard-earned rupees, be sure to research thoroughly and pay nothing up front. The minions of evil are trying their darndest to sabotage us and our quest to legendary status. They’re even making a profit from it. Check out these disturbing links: The Flex Belt, Ab Circle Pro, and my all time favourite ridiculous, ineffectual piece of rubbish Power Spin. Beware, beloved reader, these are the tools of the foolish, not the tools of the legendary.

As anyone can clearly see, this is f**king retarded. These are not the tools you're looking for.

As anyone can clearly see, this is f**king retarded. These are not the tools you’re looking for.

Find the right training for the results you want

Sounds a lot simpler than it is. You need to know what kind of training will garner the results you are after. You won’t be a great basketball player if you go powerlifting and don’t instead practice plyometrics. Not doing your research may lead you into fitness ruts, you could end up doing the same ineffectual workouts and be totally befuddled as to why it’s not working. Going to the gym and feeling obliged to bodybuild is a fine example of a fitness rut; Lifting heavy on a split body part routine whilst pumping yourself full of excessive amounts of protein aren’t the right tools to become an endurance athlete for example. I know how tricky it is to go to gyms and avoid the bodybuilding peer-pressure, don’t misunderstand me, beloved reader, there is nothing wrong with bodybuilding if that’s your goal, but these vile dungeons called gyms are full of meat-heads, jocks and gym-rats and are quite the environment of unspoken coercion. All you have to do to avoid this awful phenomenon is visualise those that have fallen for some fitness fad-trap, (cue Admiral Akbar), there will be plenty of them in there, and realise how sickeningly sycophantic they are; then have a great workout knowing you will reach your goals because you’ve dodged that misinformation bullet, whilst they probably don’t even know what they are working toward at all, and more than likely quit after a few weeks.

Most of you will probably want to train more sports / skill specific; muscular endurance and flexibility for Martial Arts, cardiovascular endurance to compete in marathons or for the true bad-asses, like Link, go and compete in the pentathlon with his swimming skills, constantly running everywhere, equestrian prowess, unrivaled marksmanship and expert swordsmanship, he’d totally own it.

Training can all be accomplished in the gym or at home, even outdoors if you don’t mind the inarticulate japes of the ignorant and sedentary that plague the streets. At home is my personal preference, that way I can avoid distractions from people who use the gym solely as a social gathering, and the gym-rats trying to ‘inform’ you. Plus home training always allows access to the equipment I require, without waiting for some rude guy using what I need to use and is unwilling to share. The choice of training environment will depend greatly on the skill you are improving.

Don’t be shy to use assistance or ask for help

Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me.Please don- What? Your helpful. You look like the nototrious soul sucking goth queen of Camden.

“Please don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me.
Please don-” “What? Your helpful. You look like a Camden skag head that levitates.”

Link asks for help all the time, even though he is truly bad-ass, he knows in his rather ample stores of applied wisdom, that he cannot complete this epic solo quest without a boost from some unlikely new friends. He enlists help from frog choirs to families that have been magically transformed into Skulltulas, from going through overly long trials and tribulations to acquire a new song from some twat who wants nothing more than to inconvenience our hero, to that brutally hard second race on Lon Lon Ranch to get Epona whose help is essential to help get him through his epic quest.

If you’re hitting it hard on the bench press don’t be shy to ask for a spot, that is assuming you don’t have a training partner, if not there can some agreeable and amiable folk to be found in the gym, far fewer than your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor would like, but there are some helpful chaps and lasses.

Or if you can’t manage to perform pull-ups yet, don’t feel abashed, regardless of the disapproving looks you may get from the gym-rats, about using the pull-up assist platform on the gym’s machine, remember that those meat-heads and jocks had to start somewhere as well, so screw them and their arrogant criticism. They probably have erectile dysfunction after all the steroids they’ve pumped themselves with. Or if you’re attempting pull-ups at home, work up to them gradually, start off with inverted rows, then maybe hit the pull-up bars with the assistance of resistance bands, like our hero Link, you will get there eventually. If you put in the effort, it really is just a matter of time.

The perfect assistance with pull-ups, especially when in a very spikey room. EEK.

The perfect assistance with pull-ups, especially when in a very spiky room. Does Batman know he has this?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew 

Link didn’t strut straight up to Ganondorf / Ganon thinking he could take the gargantuan villain on right away, he knew he had to work up to it. And work hard he did, numerous dungeons did he delve through, gathering all the items and power ups he would need to face such a deadly adversary.

Unlike the gym-rats, Link is quite capable of taking on this guy. He's done the training, done the research and selected the right tools for the job.

Unlike the gym-rats, Link is quite capable of taking on this guy. He’s done the training, done the research and selected the right tools for the job.

Basically, leave your ego at the door when you enter the gym. I see way too often, guys slapping on the poundage on a barbell, that they clearly cannot lift properly. They pick it up swing it all over the place with awful technique and form, and gaining very little for their ‘efforts’. Their ego said “lift heavy”, this is good advice, but what is meant by lifting heavy is the greatest weight you can mange, not a vast amount of iron beyond your current capabilities. Remember it is the exercise itself that produces the anabolic effects we desire, the weight is merely there to offer resistance. With consistent training that resistance will increase when you train with perfect form. It wont increase if your cheating the movement by swinging, potentially risking injury, and looking foolish to anyone with even a smidgen of kinesiological knowledge. Behold, exhibit A:


But that’s not to say don’t push yourself a little harder each workout. If you can add some resistance, then do so. Strength training, or any kind of training for that matter is a slow progress. Kind of like geology; it takes time and pressure added in carefully measured increments. Always keep a record on an Excel spreadsheet, it’s a really handy tool to keep track of weights / reps / sets /distance etc. also it’s really nice to look back a few weeks through your training log, to see how well you’ve progressed. A good motivational tool.

Great for adding resistance to chins, pull ups, dips and completing the water temple.

Great for adding resistance to chins, pull ups, dips and completing the water temple.

A rest day is a rest day

I’ve heard way too much bullshit about ‘off’ day conditioning. The point of a rest day is to recover, that’s when the magic happens. All physical attributes grow during the days off, don’t add any more. If the training regime requires rest days, you must take them. That’s not to say do completely nothing on those days. Light activity, known as ‘active rest’, is a great tactic. Engage in some light activity such as walking, playing pool, and of course fishing. It’s when your resting after training and getting proper nutrition, that your body is making its repairs, leading to the attribute, skill and sports performance gains you worked so hard for in the workouts.

Even our intrepid hero takes a relaxing break from adventuring. Link knows the value of recovery.

Even our intrepid hero takes a relaxing break from adventuring. Link knows the value of recovery.

Never quit

Does Link simply hang up his sword, shield, bow, boomerang, ocarina, various masks and bottled fairies to call it a day? Nope. But that doesn’t mean be too strict. If your working hard, taking an extra day off as a reward is fine, having a filthy great cheat meal like a massive pizza is fine too. But don’t make a habit of it. Sure, the results of training are the rewards of our work. But without our little evils, we will end up wondering why it’s worth it, we are not machines. Yet. Viva Skynet.

Until next time. Stay informed.