Viz Media Acquires U.S. Rights To Naoki Urasawa’s ‘Master Keaton’ So Get Ready For That To Win Some Awards Next Year
Under normal circumstance, a publisher announcing that it got the rights to a foreign series with plans for a US printing later in the year wouldn't be cause to get more than the usual amount of excited, but when the series is a classic from Naoki Urasawa that's described as a "post-Cold War thriller" about a world-traveling archaeologist/insurance investigator? I mean, that's like six different things that I'm into in one sentence, so rest assured that I am pumped about this news.
The series in question is Master Keaton, which debuted in 1988, set for release in 12 deluxe edition volumes as part of the Viz Signature line this December, and cannot get here fast enough.
Urasawa is already well-known to American audiences from his long-running 20th Century Boys, Monster, and Pluto, also published through Viz. I've missed out on those first two, but the latter is one of the single best comics I've ever read, a retelling of Osamu Tezuka's classic Astro Boy: The Strongest Robot In The World that's one of the only darker, edgier takes on an older superhero story that actually works beautifully in its own right. Master Keaton looks to be cut from the same sort of adventure story cloth, judging by the official description from the Viz press release:
The riveting detective drama introduces Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, an archeology professor and part-time insurance investigator known for his successful and unorthodox methods of investigation. The son of a Japanese zoologist and an English noblewoman, educated in archaeology at Oxford and a former member of the SAS, Master Keaton uses his knowledge and combat training to uncover buried secrets, thwart would-be villains, and pursue the truth.
I will confess that I'm a little let down that this isn't the story of Michael Keaton solving crimes on the set of Batman '89, but still, that sounds pretty fun. Also, ComicsAlliance editor Caleb Goellner said it was "sort of like National Treasure," the Nicolas Cage film, and if that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will.
[Editor's note: I meant that in a good way!]
The relaunch comes at an interesting time for fans of Urasawa, who returned to the series with Master Keaton Remaster in 2012, meaning that it's likely we'll be seeing an American release for that as well, along with a new edition of Monster to coincide with its development as a TV series for HBO by Guillermo Del Toro. There's going to be a lot of stuff to catch up on this year.