Atari Force: The Adventures Continue

by Richard Goodwin

From Video Games magazine, volume 2, number 10, pp. 12-13

When last we saw martin Champion and his intrepid band of trackers, they had found another dimension for the ravaged population of future earth to relocate to. The mission done, Champion and his copilot, Lydia Perez, walked arm and arm into the sunset to begin building a new life for themselves, while a new civilzation was taking root.

So ended the saga of the Atar Force, a five-issue tale prepared for Atari game cartridges by DC Comics Inc. These so-called In-Packs were scheduled to be the beginning of a long-running relationship between the two Warner Communications companies, but the plans were put aside late last year when Atari's financial situation began a totally different saga.

Since then, plans for the existing Atari-related material have been bouncing around with two stories set to see print as graphic albums; the first of which, Star Raiders, is now out (Video Games, July issue.) The second, Warlords, will be out in time for Christmas. Meanwhile, DC has decided to go ahead with a newsstand Atari Force comic.

"The In-Packs were designed, and this is not a put-down," write/creator Gery Conway says, "as white bread. It was going out to what we estimated to be a million readers and the odds were that most of those people would not be aware ofthe advances in comic book story-telling and characterization. Now in the Atari Force comic book, it's a much broader, much more imaginative book than the In-Packs."

Editor Andrew Helfer adds, "Everybody at Atari loved the Atari Force, but our president Jenette Kahn, and most of the people at DC, felt that we had gone as far as we could go considering there were five humans and they were heading into a kind of brave new world." He points out that in this new dimensional home for mankind, there are myriad alien races, many superior in terms of technology and evolution. It no longer made sense for the Atari Force to be comprised only of humans.

The new adventures, which premiere in a 32-page, 75¢ monthly comic next month, take place 25 years after the transplanting of earth's inhabitants. Champion and Perez married and had a child, Tempest. Lydia died during childbirth and for the last 15 or so years, Champion has been trying to cope with her absence. Li-San O'Rourke and Singh also married and produced a child, Dart. The children have been born with unusual abilities as a result of the constant dimension-hopping done by their parents. Tempest can move himself through the multiverse while Dart can see through the multiverse and use her sight to see potential futures. Helfer warns that her accuracy rate is only 75 percent because "the future is always changing."

The duo are joined by others during the first three issues, which Conway is using to introduce the new situation and characters. Several different story lines will come together in a special 48-page fourth issue this January. As the new year begins, the Atari Force will be born. The team members will have been brought together by enigmatic Dark Destroyer, who, according to Helfer, is the "antithesis of prosperity. He recollects from his former life tha the Atari Force defeated him. He's the one who brings them together in the first place so he can try and destroy them. He doesn't count on the presence of these other characters."

Included are several aliens starting with Morphea, who is an insect-type creature, as well as Martin Champion's psychiatrist. Also joining the group is Babe, described by Helfer as a super-strong, large person who is basically a six year old. Then there's Pakrat, a petty thief who stows aboard Scanner One when it is in a museum. He's still aboard it, avoiding capture, when Tempest leads his newfound friend aboard to steal the ship and confront the Dark Destroyer.

And what of Champion? Conway explains, "He's somewhat out of his prime. Like so many heroes, his moment has come and gone. Now he has to deal with that for the last 20 years. In his own mind, he's still the protagonist and star. He is very involved with the Atari Force and is not exactly their leader." Helfer says part of Champion's problem is caused by something with his son, a plot point to be explored in future stories.

Both creators feel there is a rich tapestry to be explored in the multiverse but all the story elements will not come from Atari games. Some will, Conway promises, when they fit. "The other problem with the In-Pack books," he says, "was the desire to tie them into the game structure. To do that successfully, the book needed a three month lead time while the games needed only four weeks and the programmers were always reworking the game right up until the last minute."

Handling the graphics will be Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, a talented artist who had finished the Star Raiders graphic album just prior to beginning redesigning the Atari Force. This will represent Lopez's first regular comics assignment and Helfer expects his popularity to grow by leaps and bounds through his Atari connection.

It's a new world with new races to meet and new dangers to conquer. Will the brand new Atari Force be ready for the challenge? DC hopes so and are expecting a long life for their latest super-team series.

"The Atari Force: Martin Champion, Lydia Perez, Star Raiders, Warlords, Tempest, Li-San O'Rourke, Singh, Dart, Dark Destroyer, Morphea, Babe and Pakrat are Trademarks of Atari, Inc."

Copyright 1983 by Pumpkin Press, Inc.

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Created: 6 May 1999; Last Modified: 6 May 1999