The upgrade was planned prior to the loss of the Cheops command module in The Dualist. Unlike its older sibling the Atlas is fully integrated, with command and service sections existing as parts of a single hull.
Development Notes: Primary design influences include The Last Starfighter (which also informed the Cheops) and Roger Corman’s Battle Beyond the Stars. The design direction was to “build a better Cheops.” and as the spacecraft was slated to show up in only a single page of the comic, only an absolutely minimal effort was made with decals. While this isn’t really visible in the comic, the lack of textures is very obvious in the presentation render.