REVIEW: Space Pirate Captain Harlock #1 (2021)

A comic by Leiji Matsumoto and Jerome Alquié

Ablaze Comics has come out of nowhere as one of my new favorites when it comes to comic book companies that I follow. Having read The Cimmerian and The Breaker, and thoroughly loving them both, I was pumped to see one of my favorite franchises, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, under their wing. Written in collaboration between Belgian artist Jerome Alquié and the legendary Leiji Matsumoto himself, with art by Alquié, every page is a trip back in time to the Captain Harlock that everyone grew to love. Melding the sensibilities of both western comics and manga, this is an interesting hybrid project that excels in it’s goal – bringing this beloved franchise to a completely new audience.

Leiji Matsumoto’s original Space Pirate Captain Harlock series ran from 1977-1979 and became a worldwide hit. This was especially true in French speaking countries where “Capitaine Albator” became a immediate classic. Ablaze Comics is a French language comics publisher that thankfully has an English Publishing arm, so they were perfect to bring a project like this into the world.

From the legendary Leiji Matsumoto, along with Jerome Alquie, comes an epic new story! Set within the timeline of the original series, this brand-new Captain Harlock adventure marks the beginning of a new story arc. Planet Earth is threatened by an upcoming invasion by the Sylvidres and despite being banished as a pirate, Captain Harlock won’t give up trying to save the world. This time, the source of danger comes directly from Earth, not outer space. A team of scientists discovers a Sylvidres mausoleum where they find information about terrifying genetic manipulations and a destructive power capable of either providing the Sylvidres with immortality or putting an end to their civilization. The unprecedented cold spell hitting Earth might only be a taste of what this new enemy has in store…Will Captain Harlock and his crew manage to solve this mystery and save the Earth from yet another menace?

Book description

The first thing that you will notice is that Jerome Alquié has mastered the art style and tone of the original manga and TV series, albeit with his own flourish. For many years, there has been an effort by cynical media executives to change what Harlock is, whether it be art style, tone, or characterization. The 2013 film commits a lot of these sins, attempting to alter the story to a much darker affair. Ablaze’s Harlock, however, runs head-first into the source material, existing as a sequel of sorts to the original story. We are greeted with a prologue that brings the reader up to speed with the characters and some big events that took place prior to the events of this book. Harlock is seen brooding over the death of his best friend Tochiro, then BOOM new story-line and the introduction of what I assume is the new villain.

With this being issue #1 of an ongoing series, I can’t speak as if this is a completed story or anything, but what we get here is action-packed, vibrant, and gets you really ready for more. Here’s hoping we get a nice long run out of this, because I think we all need a bit more Harlock in our lives. If you are an old-school anime fan of this franchise, or a fan of science fiction, or space operas in general – do yourself a favor and pick this up. Stay tuned for fore reviews of this series as it progresses. I left this one fairly spoiler free, aside from the book synopsis, and will go more into detail in future reviews.

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