It's the early 1980s and there's only one thing on everybody's mind - video games. The bleeps and bloops and ka-chings of the arcades swelled to a harsh cacophony that rang out across the nation and into our very homes, thanks to popular home video game systems. Now, you might think video games by themselves were so ridiculously popular that ancillary marketing tools simply weren't needed. You'd be right. These things sold like hotcake-flavored gangbuster fireworks on the Fourth Of July. But say you're in the marketing division of Warner Communications. You might say, "Hey, we own a video game company AND we own a comic book company, why don't we get some of that synergy going and use one to promote the other? Surely this will ensure our video game company will always be number one in the industry!" And they did, and it didn't. And here's why.

So you're twelve and you just convinced Mom and Dad to shell out thirty bucks for the new 2600 cartridge. You get it home from the K-Mart, you take it out of the box, you're about to plug that cart into your Atari and spend the next eighteen to twenty four hours playing Phoenix - but suddenly you notice a comic book shoved in that packaging! Will you halt your video gaming to read this no doubt exciting tale of the ugly space monster and what appear to be his circus acrobat pals? No. No you will not. But if you did, this is what you'd be reading.

"Warp out before my shields go down under that death ray that's blasting my probe-ships? Why didn't *I* think of that?" the pilot thought to himself sarcastically, as sparks erupted from his control panel and his Battlestar Galactica viper model kit shattered into a million pieces.

Translated into the real world, this moment is the in-game interpretation of the exact moment you pull a quarter out of your pocket and put it on the video game cabinet to indicate you've called the next game, because you have a pretty good idea your current game is about to come to a violent end.

One more good friend lost to those space invaders. I know how you feel Martin. You know when they got that new Dragon's Lair game down at the mall? I lost a lot of friends to that one.

So this Atari video game company comic book is all about how in the faraway time of 2005, Atari will be the only hope for Earth's future. Getting a little full of ourselves, aren't we Atari? Why don't you throw another E.T. cartridge into the landfill, see how confident you feel after that.

Judging from the design of the Phoenix Star Fighter, and how it's built like a gigantic, easily targeted tank filled with highly explosive fuel, I may have an idea of why exactly these turn out to be suicide missions. Now, let's take a look at those controls.

As you can see, we have finger-operated activation devices to indicate lateral motions to both port and starboard, another to trigger your offensive weapons, and one to activate your defense screen. Additional controls will select either one or two pilots depending on how many "space quarters" are placed into what our engineers refer to as "the slot".

Your enemy is the Malagon, an evil race of grotesque horned slug toads occupying a parallel universe, enslaving native populations of hunky male super models to work in their old-timey ore-cart coal mines. This reign of terror must be stopped!

"Now usually mines just have a gate and a sign that says "keep out." But these guys have missile bases, killer satelites, and death-ray flying saucers! Talk about paranoid. By the way, it's that death-ray that rayed David Marcus to death, that's what a death-ray does, and if any of his relatives are in the crowd right now you have my sympathy. But what are the odds of that?"

Here in the computerized high tech Atari Age world of the future 2005, they need to randomly select their next suicide mission pilot. And for that they will use the good old Lotto corn popper. Tonight's winning numbers are Bob Marcus, brother of the guy that just got death-rayed!

Bob, if you're going out there to blast those grotesque disgusting alien hunk-slavers with any kind of anger or grudge in your heart on account of how they death-rayed your brother... then you'd be perfectly justified, and that's an absolutely normal human reaction.

Liftoff! Earth's most advanced warcraft has.. let's see, four little probe fighters, two wimpy gun turrets, and is, let's not forget, full to bursting with extremely reactive fuel? Come on fellas. I can go to the Wal-Mart right this minute and walk away with more firepower than this.

He's picking up Malagon Scout Ships on his sensor screens! Get that button-slapping finger ready, and let's think about what this video game scene looked like before it was transposed into the comic book medium.

This here is the actual Atari 2600 Phoenix, the actual cartridge plugged into an actual working 2600 and the signal sent through a complicated series of wires into the computer, where I can capture an image file of the screen, so everyone can see exactly how out of practice I am at this game.

The comic sure makes this whole alien blasting thing look more exciting! Of course the comic book doesn't have a kid sister sitting next to you, constantly bugging you about playing "Smurf Rescue In Gargamel's Castle" next, or a parent hollering from the next room to go do your homework.

See, the Malagon mine the metals, which are turned into missile systems, which are used to defend the mines, where the Malagon mine the metals, which are turned into missile systems, and so on! It's a wonderful cycle.

Aligning your fire controls to shoot down waves of incoming warheads? Focus, guys, this is Phoenix, not Missile Command. Missile Command can go get its OWN comic book.

So Marcus here has defeated eight solar systems full of Malagon mining colonies, and we didn't need to see any of it, thanks to the magic of comic book editing. Shall we call Marcus back in and let somebody else take a crack at it? No. It's his quarter, and he's going to keep playing until he gets the high score!

NO ONE can stand up to this kind of continuous onslaught, even the most caffienated tween will have to take a break from Ms. Pac Man or Asteroids for five or ten minutes.

I'll leave it to the... engineers? Physicists? Mathmeticians? in the audience to work out exactly how much force would need to be applied to an entire planet to not only stop, but reverse its rotational motion fast enough to shift one hundred miles in the less-than-a-second time it would take to get out of the way of the particle beam fired by this Atari Force space ship. Now I'm no scientician, but it seems to me that this rotation-reversal will cause WAY more damage to the planet than anything Marcus can fire at it. Congratulations Malagans, you played yourselves!

the alien (that's us) is hopelessly bewildered (agree)

Thank you, Atari Force Phoenix comic, for gifting us all with the mental image of "tonguing flies from a net."

Well it looks like this thrilling science fiction story is reaching its awesome climax! What did this scene look like when rendered in the 4K memory of an Atari cartridge?

This is it, gang, this is what cutting edge video gaming looked like when I was a kid. And we liked it!

As amusing as it is to watch an entire planet shake back and forth like a giant Magic 8-Ball, we are just about out of pages in this comic book, or quarters in the arcade, or time before we have to go mow the lawn. So let's finish this thing!

If only the aliens had thought of rotating their planet in directions other than "left" and "right," they might have avoided this fate! Let this be a lesson to all you planet-rotators out there.

This is what it looks like in the game, BTW

And we've freed those underground... hey, wait a minute, these aren't hunky guys! Where are the hunks??

Become a Patron! Hey gang, thanks for reading Mister Kitty's Stupid Comics! If you enjoyed it and want to show your appreciation, you can now become a patron by hitting that Patreon button above! Or, you can hit that PayPal button on our home page, or turn off your ad blocker so's our advertisers know you're out there! And remember to visit our YouTube channel, our Facebook group and our Instagram? Why don't you.