Black Jack, Vol. 1 - Osamu Tezuka
After having to return the other bulkier edition of this book, I took this one out of the library. I have to say - based on the fact that this edition of the manga is - *gasp* - flopped as well as the fact that the cover art is not simply hideous, but also sincerely horrifying - that the other edition was superior.

Nevertheless, even with Viz's incompetence with the packaging, the quality of Tezuka's creation shines through - like a scalpel in a casing of hard calcium, I suppose.

The Operations 1 - 4 are basically pure gold, and I am reluctant to spoil anything by describing anything beyond them - but trust me when I say that they are, at turns, surprising, depressing, dark and shocking. After having read these, I now understand all of the excitement over this series.

Operation 5 is the only one in the collection whose narrative is not focused on Black Jack, and although it doesn't "suck," it's pretty predictable and focuses on a wholly unlikely situation. It's certainly no "tearing a woman's cyst open, then reconstructing the bits of skin and organs in the cyst to make an assistant," so... Yeah. Definitely not one of those types of stories. I did love the art on the two main characters, however, so that counts for something.

Operation 6 is more interesting - the weird factor in this story alone makes it worth a read, but outside of that, we get a bit of Black Jack's background and it is a bit drier than the rest of the Operations, but then again, we happen to be reading a book containing facial tumors hijacking some dude's face and consciousness, so I think Tezuka's idea of "dryness" may be different than a non-manga artist's.

Finally, regarding the last two operations, number 7 is an interesting little bit of "It's a Wonderful Life," while Operation 8 is a little bit self-righteous and cynical - a bit much for my tastes, but there you go. I was also not fond of the fact that Black Jack never actually operated in the last entry, so I can't help feeling that Tezuka ignored the rather obvious and unique character trait that he had with his titular hero being a surgeon.