Robot 6

It’s time for the return of Atari Force

Atari Force #1

Atari Force #1

French video-game publisher Infogrames Entertainment announced last week that it’s returning to its 1980s roots, reverting to the name Atari and focusing on online and casual games.

That, of course, can mean only one thing: Someone needs to bring back Atari Force!

Oh, all right, it can mean several things, but one of them should be the return of the space-adventure comic loosely — very loosely — based on the Atari brand.

If you’re not familiar with Atari Force, it’s probably because you’re too young — or else I’m too old.

In 1982, DC Comics produced minicomics that were packaged with several Atari home-console games (DC and Atari were then both subsidiaries of Warner Communications). Among those comics was Atari Force, created by Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, and linked to the game Liberator. For five issues, Commander Martin Champion and the crew of the starship Scanner One searched for a new home for the human race because Earth was on the brink of ecological disaster.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in the original version, and only vaguely remember seeing it at the time. But in 1984 Atari Force made the move to a full-sized, ongoing series by (at least initially) Conway and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez that again featured Martin Champion, this time with his dimension-jumping son Tempest, telepathic mercenary Dart, insectoid empath Morphea, enormous alien toddler Babe, and the rodent-like thief Pakrat. Other characters, like Blackjak and Taz, were added later in the run.

Hey, 1984-Kevin thought it was awesome. And it probably was. (I still have a couple of issues somewhere, but I haven’t looked at them in a while to see how the series holds up.)

I realize Atari hasn’t been owned by Warner for 25 years, so licensing becomes an issue. But if DC’s Wildstorm imprint can maneuver a corporate obstacle course to produce comics based on World of Warcraft, Everquest and Mirror’s Edge, surely it can make Atari Force happen again. If not as a new series, then maybe in a “remastered” collection to celebrate the rebirth of the Atari brand?

Come on, it’s just 20 issues — 25 if you include the original minicomics. Please? Do it for the ’80s.



You know, I was a big fan of this series back when it first debuted. I pulled it back out just a few months ago as I have been culling my collection, and began to reread it. I didn’t make it past issue # 3. It has not aged well. Or maybe I haven’t, however, this series did not make the cut and I got rid of it. However, the art sure was pretty to look at–Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez followed by Eduardo Barreto, but I can see that in the pages of Baxter New Teen Titans if I want to.

Kevin Melrose

June 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm

“It has not aged well.”

Noooo! Don’t tell me that!

Atari Force was the best. Dan DiDio said at a con a few years ago that DC would totally reprint it if they had the rights. I already have it and I’d probably buy it again just for the pure joy of it. I wrote a thing about it here that’s one of my favourite things I’ve written.

(And I think it holds up just fine.)

They gonna get Gabriel Garcia-Lopez to do the artwork again? I’d buy that in a heartbeat.

I’ve never read Atari Force, but I wish I had. I’d be all over a reprint if DC managed to do it.

>> They gonna get Gabriel Garcia-Lopez to do the artwork again? >>

That’s Jose Luis Garcia Marquez.

No, wait —


I so loved that series. I remember being a kid and being like *wow* did Blackjack and Dart just have sex?

Yeah, long day, Kurt. I often mix up magical realists and comic artists when I’m tired.

Garcia-Lopez is justly lauded for his art on Atari Force, but what’s not often recognized is that when Eduardo Barreto took over, there wasn’t a dropoff in quality.

Great book. I loved ATARI FORCE when I was a kid! And it was probably my first exposure to the incredible art of Garcia-Lopez.


This was one of the first books I picked up when I jumped back into comics. It was awesome, and imaginative, and filled with fairly fleshed out characters. And the art was fantastic. As a developing Marvel Zombie, I didn’t buy anything from DC. Except for this.

And I, too, think it holds up quite well.

Technically, you could also add DC’s first ‘graphic novel’, Star Raiders, as its not only based on an Atari video game, it’s also set (more or less) within Atari Force continuity!

(By ‘graphic novel’ I mean the oversized square bound, painted, better-than-a-comic-book idea of graphic novels we had back in 1983).

Star Raiders also has some beautiful artwork by Garcia-Lopez who was unbound by having to do his artwork in pen and ink. Though, I prefer Warlords, another Atari adaptation with even more stunning watercolor art from David Wensel.

Wow… Atari Force… I gotta say Tempest and Dart are the two character that really liked… hell I’ve got the complete collection … now I need to go back and re-read it…

Andrew Collins

June 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

That’s okay, Kevin, I remember those mini-comics too. I’ve never read the full-sized comic, though I’ve been meaning to pick it up because all I ever hear about it is good things. I’ve also heard that it ended prematurely, and that the reasons weren’t sales related. I don’t think I’d realized that Garcia-Lopez and Barretto did the artwork. I definitely need to track it down now.

Oh, and I would totally buy any reprints of it if somebody WERE to pick up its rights…

@ Matt Spatola:

It’s “Blackjak” without the second “c”!


GREAT IDEA! But you can pick up the original series without hurting your wallet too much…

A deluxe size hardcover would be even better though!

I never read the series, but I remember picking up a “Best of DC Comics” digest in the early 80s. They were Archie digest sized, but ran some of the best stories from DC comics that year. It was awesome and less than a buck, I think. I read “The Anatomy Lesson” and “Mogo doesn’t socialize” for the first time in one of those digests.

Anyway, there was an Atari Force story in one of them. Even at the tender age of 12 or so, I kind of rolled my eyes at a comic series based on a video game (this from the guy who loved Micronauts and Shogun Warriors), but there was an Atari Force short story in there somewhere. I’m furiously blanking on it, but it was dead funny. Does anyone have any ideas what I’m talking about? Because if the rest of the stories were that good, I’d pick it up.

Btw, doesn’t the whole idea of a “Best of DC Comics 2009″ sound like a good idea? Do it in trade format instead of digest, but price it cheap and put 10 of the best DC and Vertigo stories of the year in there. It’d be a nice sampler to get people interested if the price was right.

That was probably the backup story from the final issue, “Hukka vs. the Bob”. I think it was Keith Giffen and possibly Robert Loren Fleming, and it was in fact excellent. It’s not really representative of the rest of the series, but it is about as good as the rest of the series.

I have just contacted Atari Inc regarding the possebility of a reboot of the series and am awating a reply.
Do any of you guys know who holds the rights to the comic book series?
Is there someone over at DC that would know how to get the ball running on this one?

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