It's time for the return of <i>Atari Force</i>

French video-game publisher Infogrames Entertainment announced last week that it's returning to its 1980s roots, reverting to the name Atari and focusing on online and casual games.

That, of course, can mean only one thing: Someone needs to bring back Atari Force!

Oh, all right, it can mean several things, but one of them should be the return of the space-adventure comic loosely -- very loosely -- based on the Atari brand.

If you're not familiar with Atari Force, it's probably because you're too young -- or else I'm too old.

In 1982, DC Comics produced minicomics that were packaged with several Atari home-console games (DC and Atari were then both subsidiaries of Warner Communications). Among those comics was Atari Force, created by Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, and linked to the game Liberator. For five issues, Commander Martin Champion and the crew of the starship Scanner One searched for a new home for the human race because Earth was on the brink of ecological disaster.

To be honest, I wasn't all that interested in the original version, and only vaguely remember seeing it at the time. But in 1984 Atari Force made the move to a full-sized, ongoing series by (at least initially) Conway and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez that again featured Martin Champion, this time with his dimension-jumping son Tempest, telepathic mercenary Dart, insectoid empath Morphea, enormous alien toddler Babe, and the rodent-like thief Pakrat. Other characters, like Blackjak and Taz, were added later in the run.

Hey, 1984-Kevin thought it was awesome. And it probably was. (I still have a couple of issues somewhere, but I haven't looked at them in a while to see how the series holds up.)

I realize Atari hasn't been owned by Warner for 25 years, so licensing becomes an issue. But if DC's Wildstorm imprint can maneuver a corporate obstacle course to produce comics based on World of Warcraft, Everquest and Mirror's Edge, surely it can make Atari Force happen again. If not as a new series, then maybe in a "remastered" collection to celebrate the rebirth of the Atari brand?

Come on, it's just 20 issues -- 25 if you include the original minicomics. Please? Do it for the '80s.

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