Comic Book Wednesday: ‘Katana’

Readers of manga and Asian comic books will definitely enjoy DC Comics’ latest offering, “Katana.”

This story revolves around Tatsu Toro (Yamashiro), a Japanese character who was created in the 1980s, but made a second appearance during “Blackest Night” and “Flashpoint.” Katana is Tatsu’s alias.

This time, during DC’s New 52, Katana was recruited for Birds of Prey and the Justice League of America. During the fourth wave of new titles, the comic book publisher decided to give Katana her own title.

This title is jam-packed with information, but I think the story flows well.

We first meet Katana after she becomes trapped by Coil, the master of the spiral sword. Coil insults Katana as a woman, saying she was a dutiful wife, until her “bunny slippers” were soiled with blood.

The story then jumps to a few days before this encounter, and we watch as Tatsu comes to San Francisco, headed to the fictional Japantown in order to see a girl named Shun. Readers watch as Tatsu sets up her space to train, haggling masterfully with the community members that, despite an outward appearance of tradition, are seedy underneath.

We also learn about the Soultaker, a sword wielded by Tatsu that holds the soul of all those killed by it, including Tatsu’s deceased husband (she did not kill him with the sword, though this information is not specified in this comic but in past ones.) Tatsu talks to the sword, communicating with her huband’s soul, and acknowledges that others think she is crazy.

Tatsu prepares for possible battle, making herself into Katana, as she ventures to see a woman that has ancient history etched on her skin.

The comic then brings us around the the story in the first pages, with Katana able to escape Coil’s grip. Things take an interesting turn from here, leaving a cliffhanger and a decision needing to be made.

It makes me happy to see a woman writer, Ann Nocenti, on this new DC title. Many times comic books can get too sexual and unrealistic with costumes and stories. Nocenti gives Katana that fighter’s touch and the determination of a mourning woman who seeks revenge. Katana is a strong role model, which is exactly what comic books need.

The art, done by Alex Sanchez, is soft and reminiscent of manga and other Asian works. I think it fits beautifully. Some of the fight scenes don’t seem so dramatic, because of the soft lines, but this makes the titles that much more unique.

This titles is now available in local comic book stores.


Comic Book Wednesday showcases a variety of visually based books that fit into this wide category, to give a taste of this other form of reading.

About Bethany Fehlinger

Bethany Fehlinger is a journalist in the Design Center at the York Daily Record. She is a graduate of Penn State University, is a York City dweller and has been vegetarian and geek for more than five years. Twitter: @Wonder_veggie
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