In Part 1 I discussed the origins of Atari Force as a mini comic book packed inside the video game cartridges back in 1982-1983. Now the deep dive into the 20 issue series from DC Comics.
Currently I have no plans for this to be a 20 plus part series of posts. This instead will feature highlights, discoveries, and thoughts along the way.
And a special thanks to long time reader and fellow blogger AEIOU… and Sometimes Why for hooking me up with the entire series. If this does become a twenty part series, you know who to blame.
The original Atari Force were humans checking out other worlds for safety from an Earth that was falling apart. This new team, 25 years later, shows the results of that search. A galaxy of troubles, of good and evil, and of diverse characters that may be from other worlds but showcase every aspect of the human experience.
What strikes me immediately is the difference between the star at the beginning of the story vs. the star as the series progresses. The more and more I read, write, and discover the more truth I find in Joseph Campbell’s dissection of myth. Whether the creators of Atari Force did any of this intentionally or whether stories are so deeply rooted within us the pull cannot be denied, I do not know. But the tale of Tempest and Dart forges it’s own path.
Christopher “Tempest” Champion is the son of two members of the first Atari Force. His mother died during childbirth, and his father – destroyed over the loss – abandons him to be raised by others. Tempest discovers his power of jumping between worlds of the multiverse. This can be done in short distances to escape a room or across planets. It is also learned that this ability is what killed his mother.
Long blonde hair, good looking, tall, athletic, male – everything the hero is “supposed” to be. So many lead heroes follow this profile – Duke from G.I. Joe, He-Man, Luke Skywalker, and on. So much focus is placed on these leads that it causes less attention on the rest of the cast. But the funny thing any writer will tell you is that all of the characters exist in your head and as the process of creation continues these characters have a funny way of breaking through and commanding attention.
Dart bursts forth as stronger, more well rounded, and ultimately more interesting as a character. She is also a child of the original Atari Force, but lied to and manipulated her entire life. As she and the reader discovers truths about her upbringing all of it only makes her more captivating. Dart’s power allows her to see glimpses of the future – but not always clearly and not always a definitive future. This ability never makes her seem overpowered or having an advantage. If anything it makes her more the hero, forging onward despite the knowledge it might result in failure. While Tempest’s power at times gives him a literal easy way out, Dart’s can be a dual blessing/curse.
While both are on heroic journeys everything about Dart says her journey has been harder. No one ever said Luke Skywalker lived a life of leisure on Tatooine but it is obvious from the first minute on screen that Han Solo has gone through more. As the series progresses this imperfect broken warrior woman not only steps forward but pushes everyone else out of the way.
A character like this is heralded and lauded today. That makes this near forgotten tale from back in 1983 that should have been a simple comic based on simple video games now look groundbreaking.
I don’t think I’ve read the entire new series, at least not recently because I know I would have been all over anything Atari when the comics came out. Dart’s design has always been a favorite of mine.