TASK FORCE

Membership: Argento (Michele Silver), Blue Condor (Emilie Scholz, deceased), Dragonfly (Cornelia van der Valk, deceased), Iceboy (Hamish Carlyle, deceased), Tiger (Hughes Aït-Kaci);
    survivors merged into Euroforce

Purpose: Rapid-response combat unit

Affiliations: Director François Borillon, EuroLab, EuroMind, European Union, Salome, S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) European Branch, Moloid Subterraneans

Enemies: A.I.M., Lords of War (Sakuragi, Kaneda, Oda, others), S.H.A.P.E. (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) Commission

Base of Operations: EuroMind base, Spain

First Appearance: Europa#0 (April 1996)

History: (Europa#0/text (fb) - BTS) - S.H.I.E.L.D. created Task Force, a team of "intervention-ready" combat specialists led by Dragonfly, recruited mostly from Europe's elite special forces. They were loaned to a European section of the agency called EuroMind, assigned to provide security and acting in emergencies as a rapid-response unit. EuroMind (and Task Force) were based in a secret location near Spain's Mediterranean coast. Task Force was sometimes instructed to protect EuroMind's scientific research group, EuroLab.

(Europa#0/2 (fb) - BTS) - While there was respect for each others' abilities, EuroLab's leader Key viewed Task Force as heavy-handed barbarians with no sense of scientific values, while Dragonfly in return resented her unit having to "baby-sit a Boy Scout troop."    

(Europa#0/2) - EuroLab were sent to an archeological site in Spain to investigate alleged monster sightings, though team leader Key was less than impressed to learn that Task Force were present to monitor their mission. Via a natural gorge, EuroLab descended into the cavern system below, where they were attacked both by Moloid Subterraneans and by unidentified monsters. Though EuroLab put up a good fight, numbers were against them. Despite this, and Dragonfly's urgings, Key was determined not to call Task Force into the caverns, fearing the archeological damage they might do. Ignoring Key's preferences, EuroMind's Director Borillon deployed Task Force, who dropped down into the caverns and into the fray. Task Force ignored the protestations of EuroLab's Danger about their use of lethal force, gunning down the monsters, but Nuage, EuroLab's telepath, shouted to them that the Subterraneans were not hostile, merely frightened and disoriented. Accepting this, and with more monsters than they could handle anyway, Task Force began defending the Subterraneans too, gunning down the monsters attacking them. Reaching out telepathically, Nuage convinced the Subterraneans that the monsters were a common enemy. Even working together, the heroes and Subterraneans risked being overwhelmed as more and more creatures arrived. Detecting thirty more creatures inbound, but also fresh air that hinted at an exit to the surface, they fled to another part of the caverns. The creatures pursued, and Dragonfly ordered Iceboy to join her in targeting a rock arch they had passed through, though he responded that the arch seemed too solid for gunshots to bring down. Key protested that doing so might destroy the entire cavern they had just left, and shouted that they could use Bengal lights (flares) to buy time. Seeing the creatures already clambering into the new cave, Dragonfly thanked Key for giving her an idea, switched her gun to explosive rounds, and blew up the arch in an impressive pyrotechnic display, much to Key's annoyance.

    Afterwards EuroLab and Task Force discovered inscriptions explaining that the "monsters" were descendants of Inhumans who had been captured by the Spanish Inquisition, and thrown into the gorge to die. A few survived the fall, and, unable to escape the caves, scraped a living, eating whatever they could find. Then the Inquisition dropped another group of "demons" into the precipice; the remains of a crashed Skrull ship and its crew. Eating the dead Skrulls caused a mutagenic change in the remaining Inhumans, driving them insane, and they had degenerated into a colony of predators.

(Europa#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - For several days, Task Force's Argento felt he was suffering from an unidentified malaise, and he asked his employers for a check up. However, routine scans showed nothing, so he soldiered on. Meanwhile, across Europe, there were several reported incidents of individuals undergoing spontaneous mutations, but the mutations always vanished before EuroMind could find them. A report came in of a similar mutation incident taking place in Kuantan, the capital of the Pahang district of peninsular Malaysia, EuroMind tapped into local sources, including radar. A U.F.O. appeared on said radar, just as reports from the market announced the mutate's abrupt disappearance, but vanished near Mount Mulu, Sarawak (a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo). Task Force were swiftly deployed to investigate (see comments).

(Europa#1/2) - On the Malacan peninsula near Mount Mulu, Task Force found plane wreckage with the insignia of French multinational Nadir, Inc. Insisting that "big fish" like that didn't leave traces, Tiger warned Dragonfly that he suspected a trap. She reported their discover to EuroMind via the radio, then, heeding Tiger's advice, instructed Iceboy and Blue Condor to patrol the perimeter, warning them that the team was in a "hot zone." Up in a nearby tree, Argent announced he had found a corpse, too normal to be the mutate but wearing a uniform with the Nadir logo. Dragonfly told him to procure a DNA sample anyway, feeling it was too big a coincidence for Nadir to be unconnected to the mutate sighting. In the jungle nearby, Iceboy proceeded carefully, trusting his instincts that were warning him that something was wrong, and checking Blue Condor's location via radio. As she reported that she had not moved, a red armored figure (Oda) descended silently from the sky behind him and charged up its left fist to strike. Iceboy informed Blue Condor that he was nervous, and her voice crackled back over the comms. It started to tell him his nervousness was justified, but the sentence was completed in person as Blue Condor suddenly smashed into the would-be ambusher, her timely intervention surprising and saving Iceboy. As the armored man climbed back to his feet, wiping his jaw where he had been struck, Blue Condor shouted to Iceboy to warn the others they were facing an Iron Man-wannabe. Disparaging the comparison with "that two-bit Avenger" the armored figure declared himself a Lord of War, and smashed Blue Condor to the ground with a sudden lunge. Looming over the stunned woman, the Lord of War charged up both fists with energy and told his victim that it was time to send her to her god. As the energy flared, a horrified Iceboy screamed "no!" and opened fire.

Hearing the sounds of battle, the remaining members of Task Force raced to their friends' aid, but the malaise that had been affecting Argento recently suddenly flared up. Crunching up in pain, he dropped his guns as energy began to crackle around his hands and eyes. Unwilling to leave his teammates in the lurch, he forced himself to catch up as the others reached the battle site to find a trio of armored Asian figures looming over their fallen comrades, with steam still rising from Iceboy's back and Blue Condor's head where they had been blasted. One of the assailants (Kaneda) wryly told his compatriots that it seemed their job wasn't finished yet, and another, a female (Sakuragi), cockily replied it should only take them a few seconds. The first speaker, apparently the commander, opened fire on Tiger, inflicting pain but minimal damage on the indestructible soldier. The armored leader reminded his fellow Lords of War that they were professionals, not "supergaijin," that this was intended to be a hit-and-run mission, and so they should be fast and expeditious, and not play with their foes.

As Task Force's remaining members opened fire, Argento noted the Lords of War had enough artillery to destroy an army. Agreeing, Dragonfly instructed Task Force to open fire with everything they had, and to aim for joints and exposed flesh. Leaping up, she vaulted over the lead Lord of War, her right hand briefly touching his back as she used him to complete her jump. As she landed alongside Tiger and Argento, the latter suggested they deploy an E.M.P. to take out their opponents' armor, but Dragonfly told him it was too risky, as it would also disable their weapons, too. Smiling, she pulled out a remote control trigger and noted she had another solution, then pressed her thumb down. An explosion engulfed the Lord of War she had touched, as the bomb she had stuck to his back detonated. However, the smoke cleared to reveal her target unscathed but angry. He ordered the other Lords to stop wasting time and switch to "armor B." Shocked at his survival, Dragonfly noted her charge could have taken out a building, and she and Tiger watched as the Lords' armor bulked up, covering them more fully and extruding even more weapon ports.

Then Dragonfly noticed that Argento was crouched, ignoring this new turn of events as energy poured from his hands and eyes. He responded to her cry of concern to confirm he wasn't hurt, but that whatever had been afflicting him recently had now exploded inside him. Just then Tiger leapt forward, telling his distracted teammates to stay behind him as he blocked an energy blast from their temporarily forgotten foes. Kaneda reminded the other Lords that he wanted the fight ended with the next shot, and Tiger warned his fellows that he didn't think they would survive another blast like the last one. As the Lords flew towards them, Dragonfly told Tiger to keep his composure, adding that they needed to figure out a way to make a run for it. Fighting against the pain inflicting him, Argento found a way to relieve the pressure building up inside him, unleashing it as an energy shield that blocked the Lords and their assault, while simultaneously ripping up the ground between them, opening a portal elsewhere. Slamming into the momentary barrier, the Lords were knocked to the ground, and Tiger seized the opportunity to pick up the now unconscious Argento and grab Dragonfly's arm, urging her to jump into the portal. Dragonfly hesitated, pausing to glance back at their opponents and shouting she thought she had identified something on their armors, but before she could complete her thought, an energy blast ripped through her midriff. Emerging from the other side of the portal a few feet up in the air, Tiger plumetted to the ground, his weight and strong grip on Dragonfly's arm pulling her through after him. The portal closed as soon as they were through. Leaving the unconscious Argento to sleep, Tiger cradled the fatally wounded Dragonfly, telling her to resist and telling her that though they didn't know where they were, they had escaped. Smiling, Dragonfly told Tiger this was good, and promised him the team would be more the Lords' match next time they clashed, more prep....Her voice trailed off as she died in Tiger's arms, and a mournful Tiger promised his "little one" that yes, next time they would.   

(Europa#2/2 (fb) - BTS) - Tiger and Argento returned to EuroMind's base on Spain's Mediterranean coast, and Tiger reported that while Dragonfly and Blue Condor were dead, he believed Iceboy had survived; however, when the area was checked, there was no sign of him or the remains of plane. EuroLab also arrived back from a mission that had involved a mutate, but like Tiger they were ordered to stand down from further investigations. Some thirty-six hours after the Malaysian battle,Argento had recovered enough to undergo tests, which identified the energies he had been accessing as mystical.   

(Europa#2/2) - Returning to his room after the tests, Argento found his mystic powers were growing stronger and increasingly difficult to control. Tiger meanwhile took out the frustration at the loss of his friends on the training equipment; Key, who had known him since both served in S.H.I.E.L.D. together, tried to talk to him, and although Tiger was initially unresponsive, he eventually began to listen. They were called to Director Borillon's office, who informed them that the human mutates case was to be closed, by a direct and irrevocable order of the executive commission of S.H.A.P.E. When Key protested, Borillon informed him that orders had come from Euromind's superiors at the U.N. and from S.H.A.P.E., Euromind's financiers; the director then asked rhetorically if his orders were clear enough for them?  However, Key was not ready to accept it.

(Europa#2/2 - BTS) - A.I.M., who were behind Nadir and the Lords of War, instructed infiltrators within EuroMind to eliminate the members of Task Force and EuroLab. 

(Europa#2/2) - A EuroMind agent arrived at Argento's quarters, ostensibly to let Argento know his check-up had been brought forward. However, when Argento turned his back on the agent to pull on a jacket, the agent slipped his gun from its holster. Sensing this, Argento ducked and dodged sideways as the agent opened fire, then fought back. Another shot winged him, knocking him down, and his assailant prepared to take a final, fatal shot, but Argento accessed his new powers and fried his attacker's head.

(Europa#2/2 - BTS) - Aegento used the attacker's radio to contact the assassin's masters and misinformed them that the murder had been successful.

(Europa#2/2) - Elsewhere in the base, Tiger met with EuroLab's members. Key informed his team of their orders to stand down, and Tiger made it clear that he now suspected S.H.A.P.E. were involved in the mutate business. Picaro suggested he and Deep Sight could undertake an unofficial web investigation of Nadir and the Lords of War, but Key angrily denounced S.H.A.P.E.'s orders, unwilling to leave Iceboy a captive to Nadir's tender mercies. Agreeing that they would have to work unofficially, they decided they would return to Malaysia and hunt for the missing Iceboy, noting that S.H.A.P.E. could hardly complain if they succeeded in rescuing their lost friend, and that strictly speaking they wouldn't be violating their instructions to drop the mutate investigation because there was no official connection between Iceboy's disappearance and the mutates anyway. The group were unaware their discussion was being watched via security cameras. Viewing EuroLab's mutiny as perfect for their plans, a shadowy figure ordered more assassins to proceed with their mission, unaware that as he did so, the supposedly dead Argento had snuck up on them and killed them both.

    Tiger and EuroLab entered the base's hanger, but as they approached their chosen vehicle, alarms sounded and EuroMind agents entered, immediately opening fire. EuroLab's Danger released an energy discharge intended to buy them time to run for the aircraft, but one of the attackers got Tiger in his rifle crosshairs and was about to fire when Argento dropped on him from above. Pulling his own guns, Argento ploughed through more agents and made a dash for the plane, only just making it through the closing entry port before it shut. Unable to stop them, the EuroMind agents watched as the aircraft flew out the base, then some of the agents present abruptly gunned down the rest, and reported back to their A.I.M. masters that the plan completed. Video footage was swiftly doctored to show that EuroLab and the Task Force survivors had murdered the slain agents during their escape, and they were declared outlaws.   

(Europa#3/2 (fb) - BTS) - The two teams decided to merge under the new codename of Euroforce, and Task Force ceased to exist.

...and the story continues in Euroforce.

(Europa#4/2 - BTS) - Euroforce's hunt freed Iceboy, but only after A.I.M. had mutated him, and he died during the team's escape. After Euroforce faked their deaths to stop pursuit with the help of Borillon, who had not fallen for the frame-up attempt, Tiger reminded everyone they still had an unpaid blood debt, as the dead of Task Force had not been avenged. 

Comments: Created by Xavier Marturet and Paco Diaz for Marvel Italia.

    Though EuroMind's remit was Europe, they didn't hesitate to send Task Force well outside their jurisdiction to Asia when an incident there echoed a problem plaguing Europe. Presumably Task Force officially belonging to S.H.I.E.L.D. proper and only being assigned to EuroMind rather than a component of it (as EuroLab was) allowed them a degree of flexibility to operate further afield.

Dead links are for upcoming profiles. They are coming soon!
--Markus Raymond

Profile by Wolfhead and Loki, with invaluable aid from comic translator Angelo Mammone

CLARIFICATIONS: Task Force should not be confused with


images:
All images from Europa issues, 2nd (Euroforce) stories:
#0, p15, panel 3 (main - Task Force in battle)
#0, p14, pan 1 (Task Force descend into the caverns)
#1, p14, pan 5 (Task Force discovers the Lords of War standing over their downed comrades)
#1, p21, pan 3 (Task Force's last stand, as Argento saves them with an energy shield)
#4, p22, pan 1 (Euroforce remembers their fallen Task Force friends, their blood debt not yet repaid)


Appearances:
Euroforce#0-4 (April-October,1996) - Xavier Marturet (writer), Paco Diaz (art), Enrico Fornaroli; Marco M. Lupoi; Miguel Carrasco (editors) 


Last updated: 05/23/17.

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