Vertical’s continued English translation of Black Jack (we’re now at volume 13) is proof of two things. One: even when Osamu Tezuka was doing comparatively minor work, he was still beating the pants off his manga-creating contemporaries. Two: Even when featured in said comparatively minor work, renegade surgeon Black Jack was and still is one of Tezuka’s most compelling creations, and arguably one of the best in all of comics.
This volume, like all the others after volume 11, is collected from episodes that ran after the manga officially ended its original run. It’s a jumble, but a fun jumble. Among the adventures this time around is one where BJ serves as a sort of midwife for an E.T. (no, seriously); several clever uses of plastic surgery, including one where an entire body is re-used port-mortem in what amounts to a pre-CGI reincarnation of a dead actor on camera; a grim reappearance by euthanasia artist Dr. Kiriko, whom BJ uses to convince a patient to forsake dying; and even a bonus flip-movie version of Pinoco giving us her best “Acchonburike!” face. The best volumes in the series are probably behind us, but I’m still eternally grateful Vertical saw fit to commit to Black Jack for the long haul as part of their efforts to bring the too-long-underappreciated Tezuka to a worldwide audience.