The problem with doing a gimmicky crossover month is trying to get back into the rhythm of a series once it resumes its normal storyline. Since ‘Katana’ didn’t really get a ‘Villains Month’ issue (although ‘The Creeper’ issue of ‘Justice League Dark’ kind of qualifies), this was especially challenging.
But as for this issue, Shun accompanies Katana to confront Coil, the master of a long whip-like sword. Katana must battle him using his weapon of choice, but he’s spent a lifetime mastering it and she’s only just learned how to use it. The two spar, both physically and verbally, with Coil taunting her about her deceased husband.
Elsewhere a demon named Mona Shard has come to possess a fragment of Katana’s Soultaker sword, after it was shattered earlier. She takes on a particularly disturbing host body and intends to take over the otherwise inept Dagger Clan. Also taking on a host body is the Mad Samurai. Plus we meet a new mysterious falconer who cryptically tries warn Katana of… well, something. It hasn’t been fully explained yet.
The rhythm of this book took a while to get used to again, but as it went on, it started to flow. The plot is building to big things with the creepy Mona Shard and the Mad Samurai sure to cause problems in the months to come. Reading it, you really get the feeling that writer Ann Nocenti has a grand plan in mind and that this isn’t just another month-to-month comic.
Like a lot of great DC comics, the setting is almost like a character itself. Batman has Gotham City. Jack Knight had Opal City. Katana has Japantown, a subsection of San Francisco, which adds a subtle layer of richness to the overall tone of the story.
Cliff Richards’ art is just beautiful. The ‘fight choreography’ in particular really struck me. He plays a little with panel and page layouts, which keeps things interesting. If I have to complain about something, it’s just that it can be a little inconsistent. But overall, it’s quite strong and suits the tone of the story.
All in all, this is one of those great under-the-radar books. It has a unique style and voice. It’s not like anything else I’m reading on a monthly basis. I’m not sure if this makes the best issue to suddenly jump into, but overall, it’s a good book.
Written by Ann Nocenti
Art by Cliff Richards
Cover by Fabrizio Fiorentino