Space Pirate Captain Harlock holds a special place for certain anime fans of the early 1980s. Leiji Matsumoto's series was syndicated worldwide and gained an especially large cult following in France under its French title Captain Albator. The quintessential space pirate captain who commands the only invincible ship in the galaxy that's the only holdout against the alien colonizers of Earth has been an enduring fantasy of freedom and rebellion for decades. Brooding and deadly, but with a soft spot for a little girl whose guardian he's become, you can kind of see why this series appealed so much to the French.
In Japan, Captain Harlock never really went away – there are always more manga and anime series in the 90s and 2000s. There have been a few Westernised Captain Harlock comics in the 80s and 90s which felt adulterated and inauthentic. This new series from ABLAZE, written by creator Leiji Matsumoto and European writer and artist Jerome Alquie is the first series that's considered canon with the 1980 anime series. The characters are all here: the little girl Mayu, the Mazon invaders, Harlock, and his rag-tag crew. The plot is a side story that takes place during the anime series, where a menace is unleashed against everyone in the galaxy.
The first issue is a prologue and thus all set up. To fans, it's a reintroduction to the original anime series story and characters. It also has to serve as an introduction for newcomers who haven't experienced Captain Harlock before. The comic is an interesting merging of manga style and European bande desinée-style storytelling dynamics. Alquie is a fan who grew up on the anime and recreates the lavishly coloured look of the original anime. The script gets Harlock's brooding eloquence right along with the slightly wacky crewmembers in a few deft touches before they raid a passing Earth ship. The slower pace of the first issue is closer to a European comic than a manga, and hopefully, the story should pick up in the 2nd issue.