Reviews | Written by James Bridcut 29/09/2017

ATARI SWORDQUEST

In the early 1980’s Atari had planned to release four interrelated fantasy adventure games – Earthworld, Fireworld, Waterworld and Airworld (the last of which was never actually released) – for their 2600 home console that told the story of twins Tarra and Torr, whose parents had been slain following a prophecy that they would ultimately kill the evil King Tyrannus. When old enough, the twins embark on a quest to avenge their parent’s death that sees them exploring the titular worlds searching for artefacts that would enable them to destroy Tyrannus. 

Each of the aforementioned games came bundled with a comic book that not only explained the plot but also served as part of a solution to a puzzle that, if solved, could win a real life contest. However the contest, along with the game & comic series, was abandoned following Atari’s financial problems in 1982/1983.

This collection brings together the comics that were bundled with the 3 games (as well as an additional comic adaptation of Yars’ Revenge)

The setup is snappily delivered and the story flows at a satisfying pace. Unsurprisingly the comic’s structure is similar to that of a computer game as the protagonists move from one fantastical set piece or location to the next while periodically battling large mythological beasts.

The colours are vibrant and really pop in this reprint and unlike its video game counterparts each world is visually distinct with their own feel and character. Perez and Giordano do a wonderful job of bringing the world of Swordquest to life in a way that consoles of the day never could.

The comic is competently written, excellently drawn and the art style is a beautiful reminder of the often vivid art style of the 1980s when the likes of Perez et al were king.

While this ‘sword-and-sandal’ tale may seem dated and slightly derivative in 2017, its fast pace and colourful visuals make it thoroughly enjoyable. 

Other than being briefly discussed in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (and undeniably an inspiration for the contest within the book), it is highly probable this video game/comic curio would have been lost to the mists of time if it were not for this reprint by Dynamite. For those that experienced this multimedia project on release will enjoy the nostalgia trip and those that are reading it for the first time can enjoy this camp, pulpy, fantasy romp due to the calibre of the creators involved – all of which are industry luminaries. While this collection serves as a welcome relief to the more serious tone of many modern comics it’s a shame that Atari or Dynamite didn’t take this opportunity to revisit the property and conclude the story. 

ATARI SWORDQUEST / WRITERS: ROY THOMAS, GERRY CONWAY, HOPE SHAFER / ARTISTS: GEORGE PEREZ, DICK GIORDANO, FRANK CIROCCO, RAY GARST, HIRO KIMURA / PUBLISHER: DYNAMITE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


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