Black Jack consists of hundreds of short, self-contained episodes that are typically about 20 pages long. Black Jack has also been animated into an OVA, two television series (directed by Tezuka's son Makoto Tezuka) and two movies. Black Jack is Tezuka's third most famous manga, after Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. In 1977, it won the 1st Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen. About.com's Deb Aoki lists Black Jack as the best "re-issue of previously released material" of 2008.
Most of the episodes involve Black Jack doing some good deed, for which he rarely gets recognition — often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching the arrogant a lesson in humility. They sometimes end with a good, humane person enduring hardship, often unavoidable death, to save others.
Osamu Tezuka drew on his knowledge as a physician in writing Black Jack, and the manga contains frequent medical details. However, Tezuka chose to generally eschew medical plausibility in his manga: Black Jack is superhuman, regularly performing spectacular and impossible feats of surgical virtuosity, such as operating in absolute darkness completely from memory, operating on himself in the middle of the Australian outback surrounded by hungry dingoes, and transplanting body parts without any risk of rejection. (However, rejection is accounted for in some anime episodes.) The Black Jack stories also frequently include pseudoscience and science fiction elements. The manga also breaks the fourth wall from time to time; characters will comment that they only have a few pages to work in, or that a problem will be dealt with quickly 'because these stories are only about twenty pages long'. In at least one situation, characters literally run through and shatter several panel borders, and then complain that 'the small panels make it hard to run away'.