Master Keaton Volume 12
And so the Master Keaton series ends, with one big story that takes up the last eight chapters of volume 12, wrapping up all the themes Naoki Urasawa (Pluto, 20th Century Boys) has been exploring throughout.
But first, four chapters remind us of some of the character basics. In the first two, Keaton finally has a chance to become a university professor. While interviewing, though, an old colleague warns him that this faculty is only concerned with socializing, sucking up to the higher-ups, and drinking together. Keaton finds that their insistence on hierarchy and lack of ethics too much for him to put up with, inspired by the memory of a dedicated professor he once studied with. That professor recently died, but he left Keaton something he must recover, sending him on a journey through his mentor’s life, particularly emphasizing his anti-conflict tendencies.
Doing the tough but right thing, regardless of personal sacrifice, and the multi-generational effects of a strong personality have been seen throughout the series. The fight against war and the dedication to life-long learning, no matter your circumstance, also recur.
Then we check in with Keaton’s investigator boss and, in a politically disturbing comedy chapter, see that Keaton’s daughter is great at preaching independence for women but throws over her dreams immediately as soon as she meets a guy. The less said about that the better. (This series was written 30 years ago, it helps to remember.) If Urasawa’s art wasn’t so stunning, I’d be a lot angrier at how stupid that piece was; the abbreviated length doesn’t help, making her decisions seem even more abrupt.
The final story begins with Keaton and a tough-guy former police officer heading to Romania to investigate stolen cars. The ex-cop is framed for a hooker’s murder because he won’t stop bulling his way through. There’s a missing orphan, victim of the ex-dictator’s policies, and eventually, a conspiracy to find a hidden fortune. It’s all punctuated with a high body count, lots of suspenseful chases, plenty of survival strategy, and finally, a shootout with an entire town. What a note to end on, as Keaton takes down an entire government!