My feelings about this issue are a bit mixed. My initial reaction is that this was a fantastic first issue. The writing is excellent and the art is simply gorgeous. But judging by DC’s recent track record, it’ll probably last all of seven issues before DC cans it. (RIP Sword of Sorcery.)
The book features former Bird of Prey Katana setting up shop in San Francisco’s (fictional) Japantown, searching for the criminal Coil, who serves as something of a Catwoman to Katana’s Batman, if that makes any sense. If you’re unfamiliar with the character, Katana wields a legendary sword called the Soultaker that supposedly houses the spirits of anyone that is killed by it, including Katana’s deceased husband. Katana is considered by many to be unhinged because she speaks to her husband’s soul within the sword. This issue also establishes a rich, unique supporting cast for her and I would argue that Japantown itself serves as a character in this book, with its strange anachronism, embodying both modern day Japanese culture and ancient, feudal culture.
Writer Ann Nocenti really goes all out with this book. Katana is NOT a major character and never has been. She was used often as a member of the Outsiders (which is referenced frequently here) but has really never been explored as a solo character. Rather than simply coasting, Nocenti dives right in and really delivers a strong, well-rounded, interesting character here with a full life and supporting cast. She goes above and beyond!
I am not familiar with artist Alex Sanchez, but his work here is absolutely stunning! It’s really fantastic! I will admit that it’s a bit stylized, so maybe it won’t work for everybody, but I was blown away.
Katana is no one’s idea of a lead character. I’m not sure why DC felt she deserved her own series, but this issue is stellar. The creators really sink their teeth in and deliver a solid comic! It’s the first issue! Jump on board! (Plus, she’s going to be in the Justice League of America, so this could help you understand this character before seeing her there!)
Written by Ann Nocenti
Art by Alex Sanchez
Cover by David Finch