Vertical, which has already published Osamu Tezuka's Buddha, Ode to Kirihito, Apollo's Song and MW, will begin publishing the manga master's 17-volume Black Jack manga series in September with the release of a first 400-page hardcover volume ($24.95). Each volume in the Vertical Black Jack series will contain 20 of the 20-page stories (often referred to as 'chapters') that Tezuka fashioned about the mercenary outlaw surgeon who combined the ethics of Robin Hood with a crusty exterior and a heart of gold.


Viz Media originally had the North American license for Black Jack, but Viz has published only two volumes containing about 18 of the saga's 242 chapters.  Viz chose to put together chapters from throughout the manga's long run, while Vertical plans to release the chapters in the same order in which they originally appeared.   A second Black Jack volume from Vertical is due in November. In Japan Black Jack is the third most well-known Tezuka manga property after Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion (Kimba makes numerous cameo appearances in Black Jack).  In 1977 Black Jack won the very first Kodansha Award for 'Best Shonen Manga.'


The Black Jack manga has been made into a number of anime series including a 10-episode OVA in the 1990s, a 61-episode TV series that aired in Japan from 2004-2006, an anime feature film in 2005, and a 17-episode TV anime, Black Jack 21, which was broadcast in the summer of 2006.


In addition to releasing the first volume of Black Jack in September, Vertical will also publish Edge City, the latest prose thriller from Koji Suzuki, the master of horror and suspense responsible for Ringu, Spiral, and Dark Water.