Drawn by the film's mechanical designer, Satomi Mikuriya, the comic adaptation was serialized in Asahi Sonorama's Manga Shonen comic magazine at the time of the film's premiere, and a month later compiled into a 200-page volume as the Manga Shonen supplement.
The story follows the events of the film closely, with minor corrections (there is only one Space Shark; Godo is not the only convict on the prison ship; Rock and Lena have a priest at their wedding; the Space Shark is hijacked without a fist fight but after a shoot-out, etc.)
However, the mood and pacing are completely different. The story comes off as fast and violent, without many sight gags or philosophical musings. It is a straightforward SF action adventure.
Mikuriya's drawings look their age much more than the film does. His art, bold and dynamic, was characterized by Tezuka in an interview as "American". Indeed, there is something Western in the way Mikuriya combines exaggeration with realism, a manner very different either from the film's smooth designs or from Tezuka's favorite rounded, cartoony style.
Godo gets the snub nose and thick eyebrows of the eighties action hero. In the film he mostly wears uniform, so it is refreshing to see him at the camp in civil clothes and cowboy boots.
Olga is as graceful and pretty as in the film, if not better, without highlights on her body.
The Phoenix proves it is not really a bird by having even thicker and more impressive eyelashes than Tezuka's design.
Black Jack is lean-faced, scarred and charismatic, and his cape is interpreted by the artist, absurdly, as evening dress.
Lena looks like a Hollywood star and changes outfits on every page, as she should.
On the other hand, Rock in military uniform is just boring.
Volkan translates to Mikuriya's art style surprisingly well.
Poox and Crack (seen here with Saruta and Ban, on Lacrimosa) are also comparatively unchanged.
A great shock is Pincho, old, ugly and grumpy.
But the most startling transformation of all is surely Saruta's; it is difficult to recognize Tezuka's alter ego in this stocky, square-built man with something of a druid in his face and a splendid mane of hair.
Some more images from the comic:
- Godo and Olga looking at the sea
- robot guard ordering Godo out of Lena's garden
- Pincho, Saruta, Olga and Godo planning escape
- Godo climbing into a crater
- Olga saving Crack from the Phoenix
- battle with the Phoenix
- Olga floating in space with a tank of caustic soda
- Godo and the Phoenix
- Black Jack, in evening dress, spreading panic at the camp
- happy ending
- pinup from the last page, and a part of it enlarged - this is definitely not the typical Japanese comic art.
Many thanks to OlgaMaster, who provided this rare, out-of-print book.