6 Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton Review

By | Monday, May 23, 2022 Leave a Comment
You ever pre-order a comic because you're familiar enough with the creators that you know it'll be good regardless of what the story is? You ever get wrapped up the first couple months that it comes out that you figure, "You know, it's only a six issue series -- I'll just wait until all the books are out and read the whole story at once"? You ever get the last issue and think, "Wow, I wish I had the time to sit down and read this whole series"? You ever realize, "Hey, I think this wrapped up over six months ago -- I should really get around to reading these"?

This is why I'm just now reviewing a book from last year.

Imagine that you've got a guy like Chuck Norris -- an excellent martial artist that was able to transition to a successful film and TV star and he lands a cushy studio contract that will keep him employed for 25 years. So now you've got this guy who's physically kicked the ass of just about anyone of note on the entire planet, and guaranteed employment for decades. That's bound to mess with your head, right? That's bound to make you an asshole if you weren't one already. This is Trigger Keaton. He's pissed off and/or alienated everybody: producers, stunt people, camera operators, other actors... Despite his contract, his projects keep getting cancelled because of his abhorrent behavior. Worse yet, the actors who've taken on sidekick roles in his projects have had their lives all but ruined by him; most have been forced out of the industry entirely. After two decades of being such a horrible human being, it's no wonder he turns up dead.

While the cops write off the death as a suicide, Miles Nguyen, Keaton's current sidekick -- the one he hasn't known long enough to really have pissed off yet, is convinced it was murder. Keaton's star power is still significant enough that his funeral is something of a media event, which brings together all his former siderkicks, where Nguyen convinces most of them to track down clues to Keaton's murderer. One of the main problems, however, is that none of them are really trained for it. Nguyen spent a little time in detective courses for his role, but the others are a nurse, a stuntman who won't do falls, a voice actor, and a young woman who's resorted to fighting bigger guys in bar bets for money.

"But Sean," you say, "That's only five! I thought there were six sidekicks!"

The last of them was a former professional football player before teaming up with Keaton, so Richard Branagh had enough clout to continue acting. However, his last several films haven't done well, and it's debated on whether that's because he's bad at picking decent projects or he's been off his game since he discovered Keaton slept with his wife shortly before she committed suicide. In fact, that incident is what (not surprisingly) cut short his TV show with Keaton after Branagh threatened to kill him on set. Despite his composure after Keaton's death, though, he is Nguyen's prime suspect.

The series is then something of a comedy of errors as these very-much-not-detectives try to solve the case. What's great, though, is that they're not played for buffoons. Their missteps are genuine ones you could easily see non-experts making. These are regular people coming to grips with the loss of a very influential, but deeply problematic, figure in their lives and they're doing so in different ways based on their own dealings with Keaton and their own backgrounds. There's more than a few conflicting emotions at play there, particularly as each of the sidekicks has a distinctly different amount of remove from their situations.

On top of being a fun set of characters and an interesting concept, the story is told very well. We regularly get snippets of the various shows Keaton worked on, each being a pitch-perfect example of a show typical of what was popular at their respective times. I mean, of course he did a show with a talking car! These are integrated very well to not only provide some context and backstory for the sidekicks, but also manage to help advance the primary story simulataneously. They're not just Family Guy style flashbacks for the sake of a joke.

Creators Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer do an excellent job at fleshing out Trigger Keaton's world. You can tell, even setting aside all the back matter, that they've got loads of material rolling around in their heads that never made it into the story itself. If you're familiar with either of their prior work (which you should be if you aren't already) you'll find many of their hallmarks on display with the additional benefit of just that much more practice at their own skills since whenever the last thing you read from them was. But at its core, it's a fun whodunnit with some excellent and entertaining characters. I believe a trade paperback collection came out earlier this year, and it's worth picking up to encourage them to make a sequel!
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