Black Jack, Volume 13
By Osamu Tezuka
(Vertical, Paperback, 9781934287897, 296pp.)
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
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Black Jack is a mysterious and charismatic genius surgeon who travels the world performing amazing and impossible medical feats. Through highly trained, he freelances without a license because he distains the medical establishment. This leads to run-ins with the authorities and unscrupulous, sometimes criminal, individuals. Because Black Jack keeps his true motives secret, his ethics are perceived as questionable and he is considered a selfish, uncaring devil.
An Animator Suffering from Cancer: In a chapter devoted to Pinoko, we follow her to the pool where she is starting to take swimming lessons. The nineteen-year-old in a tween's body is struggling with her slow development and is anxious to learn to do what most everyone else her age takes for granted. So after finding herself in a bit of a verbal bind, she decides to take the plunge only to quickly sink like a rock. Her body made of prostetics, she had little chance of floating let alone swimming very far. But a proud teen came to her aide. The boy is a genius. A budding animator he is working on the animated adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Jungle Emperor Leo but there is something lurking within him that might take his dreams away...cancer. Pinoko knows too much about the disease, and she knows that there is someone in her life that can treat it like no one else ever.
Death of an Actress: Marilyn Swanson, the top female actor of the 40's, is suddenly seeing a revival among the cinema inteligentia. Her films are being broadcast on TV through almost every channel in prime time and every major film festival is devoting screenings to her performances. She was a rare beauty that captivated a generation on and off the screen. But age has caught up to her. Because of her pride she cannot make any appearances at these events, and worst of all she cannot perform again without regret. So she asks a medic with god-like skills to reverse time, if only briefly so she can dazzle audiences one last time.
Osamu Tezuka was born on November 3, 1928, in Osaka. He grew up in an open-minded family exposed to comics and Walt Disney. As a boy he also had a love for insects, which he would later as a grown-up incorporate into pen name. Having developed an intense understanding of the preciousness of life from his wartime experience, Osamu Tezuka aimed to become a physician and later earned his degree in medicine, but ultimately chose the profession he loved best: manga artist and animated film writer.
Tezuka's manga and animated films had a tremendous impact on the shaping of the psychology of Japan's postwar youth. His work changed the concept of Japanese comics, transforming it into an art form and incorporating a variety of new styles in creating the "story cartoon." Osamu Tezuka lived out his entire life tirelessly pursuing his efforts, passing away at the age of 60 on February 8, 1989.
In all, Tezuka produced more than 150,000 pages of graphic storytelling before his death. Posthumously Tezuka's work have won a number of awards in the U.S., including the 2009 Eisner Award given to his series Dororo.
“What makes Black Jack so great, in addition to Tezuka’s artwork and whirlwind narrative velocity (you can either breeze through these volumes or linger on the details), is his bottomless bag of stories. Tezuka effortlessly integrates scores of different surgical procedures into short, sharp tales that eviscerate the codified vicissitudes (especially reticence and duty) of Japanese society with, yes, surgical precision.”—Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
“Manga master Osamu Tezuka may be best known for Astro Boy, but this installment of Black Jack continues the adventures of a far superior character… With his shock of white hair and rock-star demeanour, Black Jack transfers well to the manga version of the operating room. The book is peppered with enough knowledge to hint at Tezuka’s fascination with the frailty of the human body. [I]t means he can avoid the clichés of most manga storylines.”—The Guardian (U.K.)
“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.”
“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.”