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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Atari Force 12 - the Dark Destroyer revealed, and Hukka back-ups begin

Hukka begins as a back-up series in Atari Force 12 (Dec 84).

Conway, Helfer, Garcia-Lopez and Smith handle the lead story, which starts to resolve the storyline that has been taking place since the series began. Christopher Champion is brought before the New Earth Council, though he tries to fight his way free from Captain Hunter. He tells them about his father's mission against the Dark Destroyer, but they are reluctant to believe him.

The villain is bringing the Atari Force's ship directly to his base, but Martin Champion has them all eject first, figuring to find and take control of whatever destructive device the Destroyer has. They find the anti-matter bomb, but the Dark Destroyer shows up there, having guessed what Champion would do. He seems to know everything the man will do, even before he does it.

So it's not really too much of a shock when he removes his helmet, and we see that the Dark Destroyer looks like a younger version of Martin Champion, and even claims to be him.

The Hukka back-up story is by Keith Giffen and Ernie Colon, and is an enjoyable few pages. Very silly. The Hukka is hunting a smaller creature, and captures him.

But then a much larger creature shows up, scaring the Hukka. The big monster flies away.

Relieved, the Hukka decides to also let his creature go. But lessons are never learned, and the creature the Hukka released goes after something even smaller than itself.

Atari Force 11 - Blackjak turns traitor

Even if the cover of Atari Force 11 (Nov 84) had not proclaimed it, I totally knew Blackjak was going to turn on the team. His story of survival thanks to the Dark Destroyer was just too convenient.

Conway, Garcia-Lopez and Smith don't bother keeping things a secret, since the cover gives it all away anyway. Blackjak is still screwing Dart, but sneaks out of bed to send a message to the Dark Destroyer. We do see that the villain is able to inflict mental torment on Blackjak, to keep him under his control.

Christopher Champion is now in a prison cell on New Earth, guarded by Captain Hunter. Dart's father talks to Chris' doctor, and completes the flashback stuff from the previous issue, going all the way to Chris' birth, and the death of his mother. The mother's dying words were interpreted by Martin Champion to mean the baby killed her. Which is a weird thing to think a mother would say, but ok. Now he has finally figured out that she was referring to the Dark Destroyer. Which is also a bit of a leap, even if it is correct.

Blackjak keeps sabotaging parts of the ship, almost killing Martin and Taz. Dart finally realizes Blackjak has been behind this, and they have a great fight. It lasts for a few pages, and during this they talk, Blackjak revealing how he always felt second place to Dart. He turns out to be a really shallow and insecure guy, even without the Dark Destroyer forcing him into turning on the team. Dart beats him. Like there was ever any doubt. The damage has been done, though, the ship is now under the Dark Destroyer's control, and he informs the Atari Force that he is leading them to a planet he intends to destroy.

Atari Force 10 - Blackjak's back

Blackjak returns from the dead as Eduardo Barreto joins Conway and Garcia-Lopez on Atari Force 10 (Oct 84).

Dart is thrilled with Blackjak's return, and doesn't even bother to question him at first, to find out how he survived his apparent death. Martin Champion is not quite so trusting, and suspects they may be dealing with an impostor. Meanwhile, we find out that the Dark Destroyer is having his forces grab some anti-matter from an anti-matter universe, which he can then use as a bomb to destroy the real universe.

After he and Dart have sex, Blackjak finally gets around to explaining how he wound up not dying. He tells Dart that it was the Dark Destroyer who saved him, pulling him into his ship. Despite this, they had no contact, and Blackjak spent his time chained up in a brig. He reveals that he was even on the ship when Dart came to rescue Christopher Champion, which he saw when he escaped from his chains. Dart left before Blackjak could alert her to his presence, but he followed her, which is how he got to the ship. 

Christopher continues being pursued by Captain Hunter, eventually making it back to Dart's father, who continues his tale about the Hukka and everything. He explains how the original Atari Force found a world where peace was a given, and everything was idyllic, and how the Dark Destroyer warped the minds of the inhabitants, turning them all violent and warlike. Martin Champion blasted the source of the Dark Destroyer's power, and he believed he had killed the creature at this time.

And the Captain Hunter shows up again, this time capturing the wounded Chris. Poor kid just can't catch a break.

Atari Force 9 - where the Hukka came from

The Hukka's backstory gets explored as Robert Smith joins Conway and Garcia-Lopez on Atari Force 9 (Sep 84).

Christopher Champion winds up teleporting around a bit at the start of the story, winding up back on New Earth with his doctor at the top of the tale, giving her a recap of the events of the book thus far. He is spreading the word about the Dark Destroyer, and his father's plans to stop him. Captain Hunter gets introduced at this point. He has been sent to retrieve the ship the Atari Force stole, and tries to capture Chris, who teleports away, heading to talk to Dart's parents.

There are some scenes back on the ship with Babe, Morphea and Dart. Dart is still puzzling over her vision of Blackjak, while doing a very impressive workout. Her telepathic powers enable her to keep one step ahead of her opponents, real or programmed, in battle, which is why she is such a successful fighter.

In talking with Dart's parents, Christopher learns about the the first encounter the Atari Force had with the Dark Destroyer. It was when they entered the multiverse. They came across a giant alien squid-type creature, which tried to consume their ship. They got away, but sensed an evil sentience controlling the creature - the Dark Destroyer.

The team then crash landed on a long dead planet, which is where they encountered the Hukka. The Hukka lead them to an abandoned space ship they could use to escape. The team was attacked by another alien force, the Zylons (from the Star Raiders story), who were also under the control of the Dark Destroyer. They fled from the Zylons, bringing the Hukka along with them. A very nice tie-in to the Star Raiders adventure. Captain Hunter then bursts in, and Chris has to teleport away again.

The issue ends with Blackjak suddenly showing up on the Atari Force's ship, all alive and well. Dart is shocked, even though she literally saw this coming.

Atari Force 8 - Babe's adventure

Andy Helfer joins Conway, Garcia-Lopez and Villagran as Babe gets the focus in the story from Atari Force 8 (Aug 84).

This story is a delightful change of pace, giving the spotlight to Babe and the Hukka. Although they intended to fly to the Dark Destroyer's ship and join in with the rescue mission, they actually wound up crash landing on a planet, and get involved in a war against an occupying alien force.

The other members of Atari Force discover that Babe and the Hukka are gone, and spend the issue searching for them. Dart has a vision of Blackjak, and wonders how this can be, as Blackjak is dead and all.

Babe and the Hukka come across a tiny white creature, who will come to be known as Taz. At first they think he is a threat to them, but then realize that is fighting to protect them from the aliens invading his world.

Once that gets cleared up (which isn't easy, as Taz doesn't speak in a language they understand, the Hukka only ever says its name, and Babe is pretty dense), they all work together to take out the evil invaders. It's Babe who makes all the difference, with his massive size and strength.

The Atari Force show up at the end to retrieve their friends, and Taz, now the sole survivor of his people, just sort of joins the team.

Atari Force 7 - Martin Champion confronts the Dark Destroyer

Sorry I have been gone for a while. I am in the final month of rehearsals for two shows for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and, until August, these blog entries will become more sporadic. Anyway, on with Atari Force 7 (July 1984), by Conway, Garcia-Lopez and Villagran.

So in the last entry I forgot to mention that Pakrat reluctantly joined Dart on her rescue mission onto the Dark Destroyer's ship, to free Christopher Champion, who was being tortured by Pysklops. So yeah, he does, and kind of messes things up, setting off an alarm. Good thing Dart is a good fighter.

Martin Champion was so into his plans against the Dark Destroyer that he didn't even realize that Dart had taken off. He makes an unusual comment, blaming the Dark Destroyer for the death of his wife. Up until now, he has been laying the blame firmly on Chris, just for being born. It is not yet clear what has changed his mind. At any rate, he doesn't want to lose his son, so decides to head to the ship himself, with Mophea accompanying him. This leaves Babe alone with the Hukka. Babe is not happy to be left behind, and the Hukka convinces the giant infant to head out on their own ship, planning to join the others. That is not what winds up happening to them.

But we don't find out about their adventures just yet. Martin Champion quickly falls into the hands of the Dark Destroyer, who seems to know a lot about him. The villain even knows that Martin has a bomb implanted on him, willing to sacrifice himself to free his son.

But Martin is more of a decoy, as it turns out. Morphea is the one to find Chris and the Psyklops. The psychic torturer goes after Morphea's mind, and we see her memories of being an outcast on her own world, striving for emotion and individuality.

Just as Morphea proved powerful enough to overcome the "mother" of all of those on her own planet and escape, she is more than capable of fighting off the Psyklops' mental attack, turning it back on the creature and defeating it, then freeing Chris.

Dart takes control of the engine room on the Dark Destroyer's ship, and they have a stand off. Still, it is surprising that the Destroyer gives up so easily, allowing them all to go free. But this does not come off as poor writing. Instead, it gives one the strong sense that there is more going on with the Dark Destroyer than the Atari Force understand.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Atari Force 6 - the Dark Destroyer

Villagran returns, joining Conway and Garcia-Lopez for Atari Force 6 (June 1984).

At the top of this issue, Christopher Champion uses his teleportation powers to enter the Dark Destroyer's ship. He finds that the villain has a huge army at his command, vastly outnumbering the tiny Atari Force team.

Chris returns to his father's ship and reports on his findings. Pakrat over-reacts to everything quite humourously, while Dart makes the practical suggestion that Chris teleport back carrying sleeping gas, to knock all the bad guys out.

Seems like a good idea, but then Dart has a prophetic vision of Chris captured and tortured. Sure enough, the plan goes awry, and Chris falls into the Dark Destroyer's hands.

Yup, see, there it is. Guess I should have saved that last sentence for this point.

With the crew very much not knocked out, Dart travels over to the enemy ship and starts battling her way through it, determined to find and rescue Chris.

The issue ends as Dart finds her "brother," being tortured just as her vision foretold.