Master Keaton Volume 2 by Naoki Urasawa
I enjoyed the first volume of this series a lot, but I was hoping that the second volume would be a bit more consistent, without some of the pacing issues that I noted in the first volume. My expectations were met, as the stories in the second volume had a good balance of mystery of the week, background on Keaton, and just enough crazy wilderness badassery.
The pacing of the chapters in this volume was more episodic, and I enjoyed the faster pace as Keaton moved from case to case. He investigates a stolen Olympic medal only to uncover a complicated friendship between two champion runners, then moves on to investigating an insurance case that manages to touch on the legend of William Tell. “Red Moon” features more of a medical mystery, and the male equivalent of a Black Widow. Keaton’s personal life is touched on as well. The second volume feels more settled, without needing to frantically introduce both his academic and military background. The fallout of Keaton’s tendency to travel instead of teach is followed up on, with him losing his previous position. He’s now serving as a guest lecturer in another university that is about to close its doors, but he manages to convey his passion for education and reconnect with a long-lost mentor.
Keaton’s military background is showcased in a couple stories. In “Black Forest” he helps the object of a manhunt by building improvised weapons drawing upon his knowledge of archaeology and in “Little Big Man” he crosses paths with a group of bounty hunters, only to singlehandedly deal with his job and expose them as amateurs. There are a couple scenes showing more of Keaton’s family, as his daughter shows up to visit for one story, and an entire chapter is devoted to Keaton’s father solving a case of a missing rare dog.
Overall, this volume just felt more self-assured in the storytelling throughout the manga, with the pacing and variety of the stories just right in terms of exploring the variety of situations Keaton can find himself in. With chapters exploring murder, survival, the value of higher education, and the strained relationships among the folks who end up as the subject of an insurance investigation, the second volume of Master Keaton made me more interested in picking up the rest of the series.