What started as an endorsement deal between Atari and DC comics (both owned by Warner Communications) in 1982 evolved into this gem of a space opera.
In 1984, DC comics launched Atari Force v2 as a follow-up to the 1982 Atari Force series of mini-comics that were packaged along with Atari home video games. This premise of this second series is that it’s set about 20 years after the first series and has a different cast of characters. Some fans speculated that Atari Force’s overall concept was reminiscent of Marvel’s Micronauts.
This second series didn’t have anything to do with Atari video games (other than the word ‘Atari’ appearing in the title) and ran for 20 issues and 1 special. While Atari Force didn’t have much to do with the rest of the DC Universe, they do manage to slip a Crisis on Infinite Earths reference in issue #18 (they attempt to navigate their ship through the mangled multiverse).
This series is notable for it’s high profile creative team. It was written by Gerry Conway and illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (and sometimes Ross Andru penciled an issue). Near the end of the series Mike Baron (Nexus) took over writing chores and Eduardo Barreto became the regular penciler. Amazing Heroes #63 listed Atari Force as #8 on the list of 10 best comic books of 1984.
An essay in the letter column of the last issue of the series explained that Atari Force was being cancelled because, while sales were still okay, they wanted to end the series on a high note rather than overstay their welcome and watch the book’s sales deteriorate. Another reason that may have contributed to the series cancellation was the North American video game crash of 1983 - which resulted in Warner Communications selling Atari Inc in 1985.
While being highly acclaimed by anyone who read it at the time, this series will most likely never get reprinted due to licensing issues.
I inherited the first five issues of this series from a cousin who was trying to get rid of all the comics he had no interest in. I didn’t care much for this series but I always thought Dart (grey-skinned white-haired woman) was pretty hot.