Monday, November 4, 2013

Atari Force

I don’t want to make anyone jealous but take a look at this Ebay purchase.

Sorry for the bad image. I took this pic with a chisel.
That’s right…. Almost a full run of the mid-80s mega-comic Atari Force!

The absolute worst part of this purchase is that I already own a full run of Atari Force. Unfortunately, those comics are buried away with thousands of issues of Dazzler, Moon Knight, and Weird War Tales.

I wanted to experience the magic that once was Atari Force. The first run of Atari Force, if you want to call it that, consists of those mini comics DC was found of putting out to help cross promote certain products. They did it with He-Man and before that they did it with the video game system Atari, Inc. The mini comics were included with the games Defender, Berzerk, Star Raiders, Phoenix, and Galaxian. DC used some top talent to produce these minis. Artists like Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, Ross Andru, and Mike DeCarlo drew certain issues, while Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas were asked to write. There were only 5 issues of the original Atari Force and they were printed in 1982.

In 1986 DC decided to rework Atari Force and introduce it as a full sized 32 page comic. The new comic takes place 25 years after the mini comics ended. The original Atari Force crew consisted of: Martin Champion as the mission commander, Lydia Perez as the pilot and executive officer, Li-San O'Rourke as the security officer, Mohandas Singh as the flight engineer, Dr. Lucas Orion as the medical officer. The new Atari Force featured Chris Champion aka Tempest, the son of Martin Champion and Lydia Perez, and Erin Bia O’Rourke-Singh aka Dart, the daughter of Mohandas Singh and Li-San O’Rourke. New characters include Morphea, Martin’s psychiatrist, the infant, giant Babe, Pakrat the rogue, Dart’s boyfriend Blackjak, Taz the mercenary, and some other creatures that aren’t very interesting.

Obviously, I thought Atari Force was cool. I have now purchased what is, honestly, not a very good series, twice. Once when it was .75 cents an issue and once when it was roughly 1.15 with shipping and handling. The release of Atari Force coincides with my first regular visits to a comic book. This means that Dan, the maestro/owner of the store, was well aware of my need to read Roy Thomas. I imagine he did not have to persuade me very hard to collect Atari Force. He might have even advised against it.

Looking around on the internet I found these cool custom figures from .

I wish Mattel or Hasbro had actually released Atari Force figures back in the day. They would have loved to join my GI Joes in fighting the combined dark forces of Cobra Commander, Skeletor and Darth Vader.
My favorites from the team were Dart and Pakrat. Dart, by admission of the writers, was not meant to be the focus of the comic but she won them over. Tempest was meant to be the main character but it reality he is barely touched by the writers. Sure, he has his plot points but they are not inspired. You can tell that the creators; Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, really got into her character. The artist, typically Garcia-Lopez, enjoyed drawing her.

I think Pakrat was another creator favorite. I know that he was kinda like a jovial Wolverine. Pakrat was all fun and games until you backed him into a corner then he went berserk. He even looks like Wolverine.

Okay, he doesn't really look like Wolverine.

Maybe a bit more Wolverine-ish now?

I just wanted to share this bounty and provide a little information about one of the lost treasures (at least to me) from DC’s glorious 80s. Feel free to share any memories you might have regarding Atari Force or any other little known comics.


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