With anchors aweigh, sails unfurled, and all systems go, the new story to Leiji Matsumoto’s iconic series Space Pirate Captain Harlock makes its debut through ABLAZE Comics as an omnibus collection. In collaboration with Matsumoto is Jérôme Alquié — the new comic’s writer and illustrator — who offers the franchise an all-new story and redefines the art style that defined Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
This omnibus collection features all six issues of the series and is set to release on February 26th in both hardcover and digital print for USD $24.99. Writer Nico takes a dive in this anthology to see how it lives up to the original comics.
This series takes place in the year 2997 where Earth is in a technological gilded age. Wondrous innovations and mega metropolises hide corruption and apathy. Most problems are ignored by the governments, especially an existential crisis from Queen Lafresia of the Mazan, an ancient plant-like race from a distant dying planet, whose people seek to conquer the Earth to save themselves. This war is waged in secret, and only the ragtag band led by Captain Harlock aboard the legendary ship Arcadia bravely fight the Mazan for Earth’s freedom.
This is a thankless job, as Harlock and his crew are outlaws by the world government and are viewed as dangerous criminals by the common people. Above all, Harlock fights to preserve Earth for Mayu, the daughter of Harlock’s deceased friend, who now resides in the soul of Arcadia as the onboard AI controlling and protecting the ship and her crew. Together with his crew and Arcadia, the enigmatic space captain plunges into countless adventures, all while facing overwhelming opposition and maintaining his own pirate honor code.
In this new series, Harlock and the Arcadia crew discover that Earth’s global temperatures are mysteriously dropping. Fearing a plot from the Mazan, they travel to ancient ruins hoping to find a solution to prevent a global catastrophe. However, they end up discovering a foe who seeks to destroy the Mazan through any means necessary, including the destruction of Earth.
It is a clash of ideals between searing vengeance and unflinching resolve that drives the story from every corner of the planet and space as the crew must outmaneuver the forces that oppose them. This ranges from exploration to exhilarating space battles and even includes some glimpses of psychological struggles of the heart that tests the crew at every turn.
As a longtime fan of the series, the sequel appeals to an innate desire for adventure and excitement and is a great introduction to the Harlock franchise. Jérôme Alquié’s art style is fully colored and blends the action pieces into a dynamic masterpiece that further excites me. This modern style is a departure from the more rigid framing of the original Japanese manga, as Alquié’s framing highlights Harlock’s independent personality as he dives into the heat of battle. Combined with some striking elemental effects such as smoke and fire, the art style maintains the retro character designs in a polished modern environment that is enjoyable for both old and new readers of the franchise.
Additionally, the omnibus contains special behind-the-scenes drafts and original comic print covers that dramatically show the range and influence of this series. I find myself going back to admire the meticulous details that just pour from these designs. I appreciate this fresh and aesthetically pleasing sequel that serves as a celebration and continuation of the fantastical space opera.