Atari Comic Connection
by John Hardie

For those who don't know, back in the early eighties before Jack Tramiel bought Atari, they were owned by Warner Communications. One of the things Atari made good use of while under the Warner umbrella was the utilization of other Warner properties and licenses. Look at some of the games that were developed or in development around this time: 2600 Bugs Bunny, 2600 Taz, and 5200 Looney Tunes Hotel were all based on Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon characters. When Atari decided to stage the premiere videogame contest, Swordquest, they tapped the Franklin Mint to craft the prizes. The Franklin Mint was owned by Warner at this time. So when Atari decided to integrate videogames and comics, it only made sense to go with their own company, DC Comics. I'm sure there are other examples of these connections throughout Atari history but for now let's concentrate on the comics.

Atari and DC developed several incarnations of comics based on Atari game titles, characters, and contests. Some comics were mini-sized pack-ins that came with the various games, others were full-size comics that could be purchased on the news-stands. I'm not going to get into much detail about the plot content, connections, and other oddities of the comics especially the Atari Force Series since there already exists a fabulous Atari Force Comic FAQ.

This article will serve as more of a checklist with some pertinent information for each comic rather than an in-depth review or description of each. On to the comics...

- Atari Force Mini Comic #1 - Packaged with Defender cart. Part # CO18256. (c) 1982.

Part 1 of the origin of Atari Force.

- Atari Force Mini Comic #2 - Packaged with Berzerk cart. Part # CO18257. (c) 1982.

Part 2 of the Atari Force origin.

- Atari Force Mini Comic #3 - Packaged with Star Raiders cart. Part # CO18258. (c) 1982.

Contains an ad for the upcoming Swordquest series.

- Atari Force Mini Comic #4 - Packaged with Phoenix cart. Part # CO20133. (c) 1982.

This comic is the same as the free 16 page preview that appeared in "Superman in the House of Mystery" #53 Jan. 1983. Some items to note: The title in the preview is: Atari Force Code Name: Liberator while the mini comic is simply called Atari Force: Phoenix. All references to the spaceship Liberator have been replaced with the name Phoenix. The aliens on pages 5, 9, 10, 13, 15, and 16 of the preview look like frogs while the aliens in the mini comic have a more sinister look to them.

- Atari Force Mini Comic #5 - Packaged with Galaxian cart. Part # CO20131. (c) 1983.

Last of the mini comics and lead-in for the New Atari Force full-sized comics.

- Swordquest Mini Comic #1 - Packaged with Swordquest: Earthworld cart. Part # CO19251. (c) 1982.

The comics for Swordquest were an integral part of the game and contest. Earthworld is Book One.

- Swordquest Mini Comic #2 - Packaged with Swordquest: Fireworld cart. Part # CO19252. (c) 1982.

Fireworld is Book Two of the series.

- Swordquest Mini Comic #3 - Packaged with Swordquest: Waterworld cart. Part # CO20134. (c) 1983.

Waterworld is Book Three of the series. As most of us know, neither the Airworld game or comic were completed and the whole contest was a bust.

- Centipede Mini Comic - Packaged with Centipede cart. Part # CO20132. (c) 1983.

One of two non-serial comics. This story was geared more towards kids.

- Yars' Revenge Mini Comic - Packaged with Yars' Revenge cart. Part # CO18215. (c) 1982.

I believe this was the first comic Atari produced. It was done solely in-house, not in conjunction with DC. It's possible that after reviewing this effort, they realized they needed help in the area of comic production.

- Atari Force Preview - DC Comics Presents: #53 (c) Jan. 1983. Superman in the House of Mystery.

This issue of "DC Comics Presents" had a 16 page Atari Force preview inside. It is believed that this preview also appeared in an issue of "New Teen Titans". This is a re-done version of the Atari Force Mini Comic #4. See that entry for differences between the two.

- Atari Force Full-size #1 - (c) Jan. 1984.

Interesting that they waited one year from the preview to release the full-size series.

- Atari Force Full-size #2 - (c) Feb. 1984.

Includes three character fact-files and editorial info on how the project came about.

- Atari Force Full-size #3 - (c) Mar. 1984.

Three more character fact-files.

- Atari Force Full-size #4 - (c) Apr. 1984.

Includes three fact-file corrections.

- Atari Force Full-size #5 - (c) May 1984.

Cool Joust ad from Atari on inside front cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #6 - (c) Jun. 1984.

Three more fact-file corrections.

- Atari Force Full-size #7 - (c) Jul. 1984.

Comic-style Moon Patrol ad by Atari on inside back cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #8 - (c) Aug. 1984.

Burgertime ad on back cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #9 - (c) Sep. 1984.

Masters of the Universe for INTV ad on back cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #10 - (c) Oct. 1984.

Bump 'n' Jump ad on back cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #11 - (c) Nov. 1984.

Comic-style Mario Bros. ad by Atari on inside front cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #12 - (c) Dec. 1984.

Starting with this issue, Atari Force had two stories per issue. One story is the continuing adventures of Atari Force, while the second story is usually a solo story starring one of the Atari Force characters. This issue has a solo story about the character Hukka.

- Atari Force Full-size #13 - (c) Jan. 1985.

This issue is the end of the first major storyline that spanned issues 1 - 13. Also the second story is another one written about the Hukka character.

- Atari Force Full-size #14 - (c) Feb. 1985.

The second story is a solo involving the character Babe. Nice Pitfall 2 ad on the back cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #15 - (c) Mar. 1985.

The second story is part #1 of a 3-part Pakrat story. Ghostbusters ad on back cover.

- Atari Force Full-size #16 - (c) Apr. 1985.

Part #2 of the 3-part Pakrat story is the second feature.

- Atari Force Full-size #17 - (c) May 1985.

The second story is the conclusion of the Pakrat 3-part saga.

- Atari Force Full-size #18 - (c) Jun. 1985.

Another solo story featuring Hukka.

- Atari Force Full-size #19 - (c) Jul. 1985

The second story is about the character Taz.

- Atari Force Full-size #20 - (c) Aug. 1985.

The last issue of Atari Force. Another Hukka story as the secondary tale.

- Atari Force Special #1 (Full-size) - (c) 1986.

This comic actually contains 3 stories. Codename Dart: A Mercenary's Story, A Hukka story called "Food for thought", and a "A Second Skin".

- Star Raiders Graphic Novel (DC Graphic Novel #1) - (c) 1983.

This is the first graphic novel produced by DC Comics. This novel is an extension of Atari Force Mini-comic #3.

- Warlords Graphic Novel (DC Graphic Novel #2) - (c) 1983.

Loosely based on the Atari 2600 game Warlords.

A bit of speculation here: It's interesting to note that the Atari/DC Comic alliance lasted for four years from 1982 until 1986. One would think that when Warner sold Atari to Jack Tramiel the comics would no longer be printed. Perhaps DC had an agreement for a certain number of issues. Also note that all of the comics except one (Yars' Revenge) were done by DC. Yars' was done in-house by Atari and was the first comic pack-in available. It seems Atari realized they weren't up to the task and decided to do it right by working with DC.

If you're interested in seeing more scans of the various comic covers, stop by Atari Gaming Headquarters at and check under the features section.

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Last updated Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:01 PM