Black Jack vol. 1 Comic Review

One of the world’s best-known comic artists, Osamu Tezuka drew thousands of pages of art in his life, including the popular series “Astro Boy” and “Kimba the White Lion.”  “Black Jack” is his third-most popular creation, and Vertical, Inc., has started releasing that series in English.

 “Black Jack” is the story of a mysterious unlicensed doctor of the same name, who cures incurable maladies and performs almost impossible surgical procedures, but for a high price.  Yet while he sometimes seems like a mercenary, Black Jack will sometimes give his fee to someone who needs it or make sure evildoers who might bring harm to others pay for their sins.

 It’s hard to find flaws with this book because, bluntly, Tezuka had so few.  The stories in this book are top-notch, showcasing the moral ambiguity Tezuka put into so many of his stories and characters. 

 The stories are short and self-contained, with Black Jack being summoned to different locations to cure maladies ranging from major surgery on a car accident victim to helping an artist with radiation poisoning to curing a computer that said it needed a doctor.

 This series also has few recurring characters – with Black Jack and his assistant Pinoko being the only ones who appear regularly – which makes it easy for new readers to jump in.

Before he became a manga artist, Tezuka went to medical school and became a licensed doctor.  While he never practiced medicine, he did use his knowledge here, as evidenced by the incredibly detailed drawings and information about medicine and diseases he used in these stories, even though most of the stories border on the fantastic.

This book did have one flaw, but it’s nothing Tezuka did.  The cover of this collection is one of the most visually unappealing things I have ever seen.  It consists almost entirely of four solid-colored boxes, with a couple of tiny drawings you only realize are supposed to be internal organs after staring at them for a while.  Seriously, that’s the best they could come up with?

Despite that, I am looking forward to the rest of the series, and with several more volumes already on the release schedule, I should be kept entertained for quite some time.

Stars:  Five out of five
Dry slaps:  One, for that cover

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