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Black Jack, Vol. 1 Paperback – September 23, 2008

28 customer reviews
Book 1 of 14 in the Black Jack Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Manga legend Tezuka fuses medical drama (think a manga House) with philosophy in this famed series about the adventures of the world's greatest surgeon, the eponymous Black Jack. Created in the '70s, Black Jack combines the episodic tension of Tezuka's early serials with the humanist concerns of his later work, like MW and Phoenix. Black Jack is a dramatic, nearly Byronic figure, with a scarred face and sinister black coat who is unlicensed despite his unparalleled healing skills. Operating outside normal society, Black Jack is called in for the most outré and serious cases: a rich man's son who needs a body transplant; a young woman who keeps seeing the face of a murderer through her newly transplanted cornea; an American superdoctor computer that decides it's sick. In one of his most bizarre cases, Black Jack removes from a woman a teratoid tumor containing an unborn twin and uses the removed bits and synthetic parts to create a lisping little girl named Pinoko who functions as his sidekick. With genre-spanning stories—horror, sci-fi, romance—and Tezuka's signature blend of drama, bathos and extreme broad comedy jammed together on every page, Black Jack is a wild but extravagantly entertaining ride that's far more accessible than the author's novel-length epics. (Sept.)
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“Surely there’s nothing in this series more continually striking than the artist’s relentless, guaranteed depictions of surgery itself, happy rubber skin always peeled away to show realist meat and bone, minutely detailed organs mended or transplanted, then covered up again in the stuff of effortless napkin doodles… I found even the least of [these stories] fascinating examples of an artist casting his net especially far, secure in his talented hands and firm in his fame—ready to confront any malady, striving to cut away any harm, instrument tips sharp
for making flesh whole.”
—Jog –The Blog

“‘Iconic’ doesn't begin to sum up Black Jack's importance in the world of manga… I see a lot of Tezuka fans reaching for their wallets—not just for this volume alone, but for the whole of Black Jack as it's finally being re-released in the English-language edition it has always deserved. It was, and will be, more than worth the wait. Platinum Award.”
—Advanced Media Network

“Totally fun, totally engrossing. Black Jack is a page-turner of the highest order, and I blew through 280+ pages and I'm hungry for more.”

“Great material—classic crazy Tezuka with a bloody medical heartbeat tuning out the sound of man's inhumanity to man.”

“While Astro Boy is more iconic and Phoenix is more epic in scope, Black Jack is arguably Tezuka’s best and most enjoyable work… [It] hits Tezuka's sweet spot where his heart, his head and his sense of humor
meet in perfect company.”

“To match the beautiful outside, Camellia Nieh did a fantastic job with the translation. The entire book was a fantastic read cover-to-cover that I refused to put down. Whether you're just getting into manga, or have been a fan for decades, it would be a shame not to
own this seminal title.”

“Black Jack is a dramatic, nearly Byronic figure… With genre-spanning stories—horror, sci-fi, romance—and Tezuka's signature blend of drama, bathos and extreme broad comedy jammed together on every page, Black Jack is a wild but extravagantly entertaining ride that’s far more accessible than the author’s novel-length epics.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The stories are a unique mix of an Isaac Bashevis Singer morality tale, and outstanding creative medicine. Though Black Jack is aimed at a young audience, it has maturity not found in adult works. It's a piece of comic art that excels in form, and message.”
—Ain’t It Cool News

“Vertical, Inc. has promised 17 volumes of Black Jack to be released every other month over the next three years. That seems like a bold commitment, until you start reading the stories… From sores that look like faces (and talk, too) to eyes that see ghosts, the busy doctors on ‘E.R.’ never had to deal with any of these unique patients. Osamu Tezuka’s attention to detail on close-ups for surgeries and strange growths makes for some rubber-necking horror hard to turn away from. Black Jack is a 10.”
—Comics Village

“Black Jack was Tezuka at his best; moving beyond his comfort zone, away from licensable children’s robot characters (for him) uncharted gekiga manga territory… You don’t need a doctor’s prescription and there’s no complicated follow-up medication or painful physical therapy—just some serious entertainment from the pen of one of the world’s masters of comics.”
—Let’s Anime

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193428727X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934287279
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Osamu Tezuka (1928-89) is the godfather of Japanese manga comics. He originally intended to become a doctor and earned his degree before turning to what was then a medium for children. His many early masterpieces include the series known in the U.S. as Astro Boy. With his sweeping vision, deftly interwined plots, feel for the workings of power, and indefatigable commitment to human dignity, Tezuka elevated manga to an art form. The later Tezuka, who authored Buddha, often had in mind the mature readership that manga gained in the sixties and that had only grown ever since. The Kurosawa of Japanese pop culture, Osamu Tezuka is a twentieth century classic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
A super-hero surgeon seems a pretty unlikely protagonist. but Tezuka pulls it off with his hero Black Jack. Like any proper rouge, Black Jack lives outside the rules of society, sweeping in when his skills are needed and making the corrupt pay for their mis-deeds. Hey, he even wears a cape.
Each story manages to set up a situation where a super surgeon is necessary. However, due to Tezuka's fine writing skills, there is a humanist element to each tale, that is often melancholy. Black Jack makes other's happy, but he is rarely happy himself. He cannot taste the forbidden fruit that is peace of mind. Life, death, failure, lost love, childhood and age, these are all the themes presented here. Each story is some sort of morality tale, so the logistics behind the melodrama are not as important.
Tezuka's cartoony style can be off-putting to those who are used to more refined Japanese manga artists, but it soon flows into the story and is admired rather than questioned. Those already familiar with Tezuka will find the art here as fine as anything done by the "God of Manga."
All in all, a really excellent comic. Give it a chance, and you won't be disappointed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Raul on April 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How many volumes will there be?

This edition of Black Jack has a total of 17 paperback volumes, containing about 12 stories each. It is based on the Japanese 17 volume Akita bunkouban edition.

Wait, paperback? so what are those expensive hardback versions?

Vertical also published special limited hardback editions of books 1 to 3 in the series. They are limited to 1500 (vol.1) and 1200 (vol.2 & 3) copies and distributed through Diamond to brick and mortar comic-book stores.

The difference is not only in the cover, they include three additional stories (one in each) NOT included in the Japanese edition on which the Vertical paperbacks are based. These three stories will not appear in the softcover books. More on this later.

Is this The Complete Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, then?

Well, no. Even if you buy all the three hardcovers, the answer is still no. No book edition, including all the Japanese editions so far, includes all Black Jack stories as originally serialized in magazines. Also, not all the book editions omit exactly the same stories. It is a bit messy, actually. More on this later.

Why were some stories excluded from the books?

In many cases, criticism or controversy about the medical conditions depicted. Some of the stories missing from the books deal with lobotomies, for instance. Or are inaccurate. Or relatives of patients with the disease depicted in a story would complain. Tezuka was very sensitive to all this criticism. In other cases he simply thought the stories weren't good enough to be reprinted in book form.

So, how *complete* is this?

Very, actually, one of the more complete there is. There are a total of 243 issues of Black Jack.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Young on December 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
BJ is considered to be one of Tezuka's best comics. The whole series consist of twenty-two paperback volumes of short stories. The main character, BJ, is a genius surgeon who practices without a license. Although BJ is an outcast, many people rich and famous are willing to pay top money for his service. Through out the people and events that BJ encountered, Tezuka questions the value of Doctors in the medical systems, the meaning of a qualitative life, and the price of health.

update: 9/16/2010 - fans of BJ are in luck. Vertical has published the entire BJ in 12+ volumes. Thank you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is manga at it's greatest! I admit, when I first picked this book and thumbed through the artwork, I had my doubts, but reading the first novel changed my view on Black Jack for good :) Black Jack has to be one of the most engrossing mangas that I have ever read. The storyline of this novel has yet to be surpassed in my mind. The depth of the storyline is fantastic. The stories themselves - although maybe seeing far-fetch at times - always have a great twist or turn. What is most intriguing about the storylines though; and the philosopical and psycological implementations in each story. All events have a good reason - there is no mindless play-fights or brain-knumbing stupidity. Black Jack is written with intelligence and intergrity. Although difficult to explain, Osamu Tezuka has a way off exploring the human interlect, in ways other manga artists cannot. (Many have tried, but never quite made it).
To sum it up. Black Jack is for anyone who enjoys a good intelligent story. There is also a good spattering of comedy, (You see Astro Boy hidden in the odd corner, or running out of buildings occasionally!) and raw human emotion. The manga is rendered in Osamu Tezuka's typical loose style, but the characters have a feel of their own.
An absolutely fantasic read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Lynn Hachigian on May 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Cool stories and one cool main character. Strong character designs and crystal-clear storytelling. I hope that more of Tezuka's work gets translated for the U.S. market -- I like his style!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Zagnorch on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Having seen a few episodes of "Astro Boy" and "Kimba The White Lion", I never considered the possibility that anime/manga legend Osamu Tezuka was capable of heavier fare. So needless to say I was thrown for a loop when I picked up and leafed through a copy of "Black Jack" volume 1. It's significantly more mature in theme and story than Tezuka's more notable works, and contains some fairly graphic depictions of surgery. But considering the fact that the books' title character, Black Jack, is the world's most skilled and naturally gifted surgeon, I should've at least semi-expected it.
The book contains eight one-shot stories, and have no linkage to each other. Probably the most significant chapter is the one that tells the origin of Black Jack's "daughter" Pinoco, since she makes appearances in a few subsequent stories. Another significant chapter is the "origin" of B.J. himself, which tells the story of what inspired him to become a healer, and introduced (and sadly, also bade farewell to) his mentor. But quite possibly the most unusual moment is our hero's reunion with a lost love-an interesting take on the popular manga & anime formula of gender-switching. There's quite a few other offbeat moments inside this tome, which you'll have to read for yourself...
Quite a few of the secondary characters depicted in Tezuka's renderings are reminiscent of early Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera cartoon shorts, with a little bit of the "Speed Racer" look thrown in for good measure. For someone who's considered the originator of the modern anime and manga genre, I guess it was only natural that Tezuka had to draw his inspiration from somewhere.
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