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Black Jack, Volume 1 by Osamu Tezuka

Black Jack, Volume 1 (1987)

by Osamu Tezuka

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Black Jack is a doctor. But his scarred, patchwork face, forbidding demeanour and his own mysterious moral code have put him far beyond the pale of mainstream medical convention. Some think him nothing more than a backstreet black market charlatan, taking advantage of the weak and sick. He has no license. He charges exorbitant fees. He takes cases only for his own, often opaque, reasons. And he is a medical genius: the greatest surgeon who has ever lived.
I’m a sucker for ‘wandering hero’ stories, and Black Jack hits that spot in me exactly. The way Jack goes from place to place, cuts into situations and people, uses his godlike powers to alter them irrevocably and not always for the better – then leaves – appeals to me enormously. I love the stories’ abstruse, edge-of-unfeasible medical details. I also love the series’ occasional and always surprising elements of sci-fi and fantasy: there’s a story in the first volume in which Jack is called in to ‘heal’ a medical computer that, until it became ill, was so sophisticated that it could run a whole hospital and even perform operations – and if you like that, you’ll love the origin of Jack’s companion, Pinoko.
Most of all I love this series’ strong moral core. This is storytelling that isn’t afraid to tackle big themes, and do so with style and wit as well as passion.
Tezuka himself studied medicine: it’s obvious that Black Jack is a character who was close to his heart. And whenever I spoke to people in Japan about comics, it was Jack’s name that most often came up. Of all the characters Tezuka created I think it’s this one who will best continue to hold an appeal that crosses borders and generations. Black Jack is a manga classic, and I would recommend it to anybody and everybody. ( )
  othersam | Oct 25, 2012 |
This is without a doubt one of the strangest books that I have ever read. Black Jack is a physician without a license, who can cure the strangest diseases you've ever had... for a price. A very large price. This volume of manga contains a number of standalone stories, each showing a different one of his many strange cases.

There is one where Black Jack makes telepathic contact with a tumor on a famous women, the tumor being the organs of a twin that never fully formed. There is another where he talks to a boil on a man's face that takes over his personality periodically. There is another where he watches as a young boy with polio walks across Japan to raise awareness for the disease. There is another where he transplants the brain of a painter with radiation poisoning from a nuclear bomb test into a new body. This is another where he intervenes in office politics at a local hospital. There is another where he is called in to operate on a robotic doctor that has decided it is a human being and not a robot.

Some are gross stories, some are melodramas, some are horror, some are humorous (ostensibly anyway). I can't say I've ever read anything like it, and I have absolutely no idea what I think of it, other than that it was worth my time to experience something so strange and unusual. And that my favorite joke was the fact that a distinguished doctor (not Black Jack) at one point informs the other characters that he is the best-selling author of the book How to Poop.
  Stevil2001 | Mar 18, 2012 |
This graphic novel is centered around a doctor named Black Jack. The book contains several stories that involve the doctor performing selfless acts that no one really notices. Black Jack often finds way to cure people's problem free of charge. The doctor also possesses super human abilities that allows him to achieve certain feats. For example, perfoming a surgery in the dark. The graphic stories are filled with science fiction that will stimulate the readers' minds. Each story is only around 20 pages long.

One could use the fact the book is backward and the type of graphics used to teach students about different cultures. The overall themes throughout the stories can be used to teach students morals and how to react in certain situations.
At first i thought i was not going to enjoy this book but as i kept reading i started to enjoy it. The graphics in the book helped with telling the story. If it werent for the graphics i think the book would be really confusing. The overall message in each story inspired me to be a better person. ( )
1 vote KelliSingleton | Feb 14, 2011 |
One of the best known pop culture characters in Japan, Black Jack is also, oddly, the Osamu Tezuka creation perhaps most accessible to both Western and non-manga readers generally. And that’s not the only odd thing about the eponymous anti-hero of these adventures. The world’s foremost unlicensed surgeon, Black Jack is equal parts Mad Scientist, Gregory House, the Phantom of the Opera, and Batman.

Indeed, the open-ended nature of his protagonist—a brilliant free agent who operates across geographical and social borders—allows Tezuka to create a rich gallery of grotesqueries. Some of these dozen tales are humorous, some touching, some simply horrifying. So if the offbeat is your thing when it comes to literature, graphic or otherwise, look no further. You’ll meet, among many others, an eyebank recipient subject to disturbing visions, a malevolent “face sore,” and painter named “Go Gan” who desperately needs a brain transplant.

Those familiar with Tezuka will find that Black Jack includes many of his perennial themes: heart-tugging parent-child relationships, a macabre treatment of social justice issues, and even a bodily stitched-together “innocent” à la Astro Boy and Dororo. Yet the reason this book could also serve as a perfect introduction to manga itself is that each 20-25 pp. story is self-contained and satisfying in its own right. While their order, selected by Tezuka for the definitive Japanese edition, does provide a rough narrative continuity, readers aren’t committing themselves to an epic, multi-volume story. One result of the brisk pace, though, is that Tezuka is restrained from indulging in his trademark artistic flourishes. That means you won’t find quite as many expansively detailed establishing shots or innovative page layouts as in his other works, but the economy of the storytelling is worth the trade-off: these stories can be devoured like popcorn.

Ostensibly a medical drama, Black Jack actually permits Tezuka to explore a variety of genres—science fiction, mystery/suspense, social drama, romance, and horror. Throughout, Black Jack himself remains largely aloof. In this respect, the episodes recall British secret agent TV series of the ‘60s, in which half the fun was seeing a new crop of colorful characters interact with our coolly detached loner. Like Gregory House, Black Jack’s superior intellect and lack of a personal life put him very much in the Sherlock Holmes mold—a vaguely misanthropic, vaguely deranged genius working on society’s fringes. Join him or miss out on the fun.

by Peter Gutierrez

copyright ForeWord Magazine, Volume 12, no. 1 ( )
3 vote ForeWordmag | Jan 23, 2009 |
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One day, somewhere in Europe....
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 193428727X, Paperback)

Black Jack is a mysterious and charismatic young genius surgeon who travels the world performing amazing and impossible medical feats. Though a trained physician, he refuses to accept a medical license due to his hatred and mistrust of the medical community's hypocrisy and corruption. This leads Black Jack to occasional run-ins with the authorities, as well as from gangsters and criminals who approach him for illegal operations.

Black Jack charges exorbitant fees for his services, the proceeds from which he uses to fund environmental projects and to aid victims of crime and corrupt capitalists. But because Black Jack keeps his true motives secret, his ethics are perceived as questionable and he is considered a selfish, uncaring devil. The Black Jack series is told in short stories. Each volume will contain 16-20 stories, each running approximately 20-24 pages in length.

Black Jack is recognized as Osamu Tezuka's third most famous series, after Astro Boy and Kimba, the White Lion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:28 -0400)

Follows the experiences of Doctor Black Jack, a physician who is able to work miracles but is unlicensed to practice due to mysterious circumstances.

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