Black Jack, Volume 14
By Osamu Tezuka
(Vertical, Paperback, 9781934287941, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 31, 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.
The Third Call: A man who's mother recently passed away calls Black Jack's home office. As soon as the surgeon picks up the phone, the stranger on the other line goes into a long tirade about hospital conditions and the lack of care his mother's doctors were able to provide. He quickly turns to attack Black Jack's practices and his high fees, calling the rogue medic out for ignoring his medical roots to alienate the poor and challenged. And before he hangs up he informs BJ, that he has kidnapped Pinoko. He demands Black Jack lower his fees or else after three calls he will not only kill Pinoko he will kill everyone BJ saves.
Transcient Love: A young woman is dying from what has long been considered a terminal illness. With only about a month or so to live she shares her dying wish with her parents. Despite being bed-riden she wishes to someday marry. She wants to be a happy bride, and realize the joy of having someone love her eternally. Her father struck with grief, promises to marry his daughter to the first man who walks into her hospital room. That man is Black Jack, and his medical fees do not normally include fake marriage fees. This is going to be one costly marriage, however he cannot deny the fact her wish is essentially what is keeping her alive right now. If taking her hand will give her the strength to survive this procedure, it will have to considered part of the treatment.
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.”—Comics Village