I continue to read graphic novels because I think I’ll find some gold in them, and occasionally I do as with the work of Joe Sacco. Lately I’ve been trying Manga, and except for the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi in Good Bye I have been disappointed. Black Jack, Vol. 1was not an exception. Although Osamu Tezuka is a pioneer and master of the form, I found his work, or perhaps it is just the form, lacking much depth.For those who don’t know, Black Jack is a mysterious doctor who doesn’t have a license but is the greatest doctor on earth and can save patients in complicated surgeries all by himself. While the concept itself is not bad, in execution the mysterious doctor flies in for the life saving surgery just at the right moment not only to save a life, but to give someone his due. The stories are formulaic: someone is ill or injured; they deny they need help or denied help; Black Jack shows up and offers to save the ill person and against everyone’s wishes he succeeds to everyone’s amazement. Black Jack pretends to be a selfish man, but in reality he has a heart of gold. While Black Jack does play with themes of health and the power of science, the stories are not particullarly long lasting and are emphemoral like so much pulp. I hold out hope that Manga will truely be interesting, and will in the words of Yani Mentzas will “stay within the framework [of Manga]to analyze and foreground its themes, especially the controlling one, that which exceeds man.”
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