Gotham City villain, Killer Croc heads west to Los Angeles to acquire Katana’s magical blade for an undisclosed motive. Meanwhile, Katana continues her mission against the Japanese American crime world, overhearing one drunk gang members plans. After losing to Coil and his ribbon-like sword, Katana decides she must learn to master his unique weapon and purchases one herself, only for drunk/secret martial arts master Junko to humiliate her with it, due to her total lack of experience. Finally, Tatsu attacks the “Short Swords” in a boat cemetery. She slices through them like they are drunk amateurs (because they are), but when Croc shows up, things go south pretty quickly!
The art this issue is provided by Cliff Richards, whose work isn’t bad at all, but compared to Alex Sanchez’s work on the past two issues, it’s much more mainstream and “normal.” Richards’ work really excels in capturing energy. When Katana approaches the gang members, her body gives off a tenseness, then when she springs into action, there’s a fluidity and real sense of motion. So while I miss Sanchez’s extreme style, Richards still delivers a solid comic book.
The writing is hitting all the right beats. Katana at times, comes across as an unstoppable force, but by having Junko school her after she purchases the flat sword, we remember she is still a relatively new hero and isn’t perfect at everything. When she confides in her sword, we also get a sense of insecurity, a glimpse past her steely, single-mindedness.
The biggest surprise this issue is spoiled by the fold-out cover, but it looks like we’re seeing the return of another character from DC’s past, The Creeper. But this version doesn’t seem to have anything in common with the old version. The new Creeper appears to be an ancient Japanese mystic, not a “good version of The Joker.” I really can’t say that I was a big fan of the old one. (He had one of the worst costumes ever.) This doesn’t bug me, but I’m sure some fans will be unhappy.
So despite a big change in the art style, this issue continues to deliver a unique, entertaining comic series and I will continue reading it for the foreseeable future.
Written by Ann Nocenti
Art by Cliff Richards
Cover by Juan Jose Ryp