I am pulling out ALL the stops this week, in a walk down memory lane of some of my favorite, all-time comics.
What trip down this particular path would be complete without mentioning Atari Force?
Atari Force started, oddly enough, with Atari video games. That’s right – Atari video games. They were bundled with the games to tell a connecting story – sort of like a crossover where you have to buy different titles that you might not ordinarily buy in order to get the whole story.
The comics were packed in with the games Defender, Berzerk, Star Raiders, Phoenix, and Galaxian. Artists included Ross Andru, Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, and Mike DeCarlo. The team name and Commander Martin Champion are also featured in the Liberator arcade game.
As a side note – I never really read the ones that were packaged with the Atari games. I take that back – I may have, but they made no impression on me whatsoever. What did make an impression was what came next – a ‘second generation’ of Atari Force published by DC comics (who also published the first series for Atari).
Here were the kids of the original Atari Force, plus some friends tossed in for good measure and to mix things up.
The team included Chris “Tempest” Champion, son of Martin Champion and Lydia Perez; Erin “Dart” Bia O’Rourke-Singh, daughter of Mohandas Singh and Li-San O’Rourke; Hukka; Morphea, an insectoid empath; Babe, an alien toddler of immense size and strength; and Pakrat, a humanoid rodent thief. Later additions to the team were Blackjak, Dart’s human lover; Taz, a short alien warrior; and Kargg, the Dark Destroyer’s former chief underling.
The premise here was that Martin Champion put together this team to fight the Dark Destroyer from his earlier adventures, believing his old nemesis was still alive and kicking somewhere out there in space. The kids of the original team weren’t ‘normal’ – see, Tempest? He could phase in and out of reality – he could phase parts of himself across the room, or his whole body, or take someone with him – the more he did it, the more tired he’d get. They figured out that the original Atari Force team had been in space so long they’d been exposed to all sorts of radiation that changed their genetics and affected their children, born later.
Dart had a way with machines and engineering, knew just about every form of combat imaginable, and she had this nifty precognition thing that let her see what was going to happen ahead of time.
This is, by far, one of my all time favorite comics! It was fun, it was engaging, it had wild and different characters, it had really believable aliens and a twist that took me completely by surprise. I was soooo sad to see it go. 🙁
This is the kind of stuff I absolutely loved then, and now. The twist… I want to do stuff like that in my own writing, really throw people a curve ball that they never, ever see coming that makes them stand up and shout at the book saying, “What?! What?! NO FREAKING WAY!”