Title: Master Keaton
Author: Naoki Urasawa (original story by Hokusei Katsushika)
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 3 omnibus, $19.99
Vintage: June 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Detective, mystery
It’s time for another slew of adventures with Taichi Keaton. First up, Keaton is sent to appraise an old ruin being damaged by a nearby refinery. A legend surrounding the crumbling Wall of Joy propels one man to fight against an oil company. Keaton’s skills are next tested during a hostage negotiation, where Keaton is sent to advise the local authorities in handling the ransom and ensure the safe return of the hostage. He gains the family’s trust and keeps everyone calm during the stressful incident. More local mythology surfaces as Keaton is asked to inspect a villager’s catapult recreation, designed to help the man fly toward an old tower during a local festival. While there, he helps reveal the truth of the town’s legend. An old rivalry between two men pulls Keaton into a deadly duel, with one of the men walking away with a new outlook on life. A bomb builder for the I.R.A. enlists Keaton’s help to locate and disarm a bomb of his own design before it can be used to kill innocent people. When Keaton tracks down a man who faked his suicide for the insurance money, he’s nearly killed by a well trained attack dog. A past incident with his father gives him the skills needed to wrangle the dog down. From a memory of his father, to visiting his father, Keaton returns home for a time, only to discover that his 16-year-old daughter appears to be gambling on horse races. Then it’s time for some good old fashioned archaeology, as Keaton helps a former colleague protect and excavate an important burial tomb that could hold a clue to an ancient civilization. After that, he helps a childhood friend solve a murder that isn’t quite as simple as it seems, then he assists a reporter in finding the cause of a mysterious death on the streets of London. The final story brings a group of men together for an awkward Christmas gathering, that is saved by a well timed snowball fight.
It’s clear by now, since I’ve also reviewed the previous two volumes, that I quite enjoy this series. While each volume does tend to be a series of unconnected stories, there’s a slow, underlying minor plot involving Keaton’s personal life – his employment future, his desire to excavate a specific site, and his relationship with his father and daughter. This surfaces here and there, generally in throw away comments from Keaton, but they come back into focus during chapters that center on his family. It’s also nice to see Keaton doing actual archaeological work, since that’s his real passion (he appears to be growing tired of working for Lloyd’s Insurance). It’s not exactly less dangerous than his work for Lloyd’s, since he faces down some bulldozers with a fellow archaeologist who likes to shoot rock salt at her foes. He also seems to enjoy solving mysteries. But he’s clearly tired of traveling and misses his daughter, and also expresses regret that he doesn’t get to teach much anymore. At heart, Keaton is a scholar, and he’s clearly at his happiest when making new discoveries or focusing on his research. Unfortunately, he just can’t seem to manage getting hired on at a university. So don’t worry, he’ll still be gallivanting around the globe solving mysteries for a while yet. There should be about six more of these volumes. Plus a one volume sequel, which I believe Viz Media also has the rights to. Plenty of Keaton left!
Review copy provided by Viz Media.