Katana is a series dominated by good action and interesting ideas but completely unremarkable delivery. Ordinarily, the issues aren’t very good. But then, this month, something wonderful and unexpected happened. Like a magical clown bursting out of my bedroom closet in the middle of the night and giving me free Reese’s Cups, I found myself lowering the baseball bat I keep under my bed and smiling as Katana surprised me with a genuinely good issue.
The least interesting plotline Katana has had so far has been the love triangle between Katana, the ghost of her dead husband Maseo, and her husband’s brother and killer, Sickle. The thing is, the love triangle hasn’t really been believable up until this point. Katana and Sickle just had a lot of awkward sexual tension for no real reason, and it just seemed like nothing more than a distraction. This issue goes into the past of the characters, making the relationship dynamics believable, as we finally get to see just what they’re all like.
Children ask the best questions.
Another bothersome thing about the subplot has been that Maseo’s ghost is a real jerk to Katana. He’s constantly putting her down, either for sleeping with a sword or flirting with his brother, and then sometimes he acts like he cares and wants her to move on, and it’s really confusing. Maseo is finally humanized in this issue, and we get some more interesting characterization with Sickle, which actually makes you want to learn more about the character for the first time.
Intrigue is abound, and it is fantastic.
Nocenti finally wraps up what has been the worst subplot in the book by answering questions I didn’t even realize were present wonderfully, and it’s great. While some of the revelations leave a bit to be desired as far as quality goes, this part of the story has finally paid off, and the payoff was worth the wait.
This issue also brings back some members of the supporting cast, including Katana’s sarcastic drunken master Junko, and the mysterious tattooed woman/human prophecy known as Shun the Untouchable. Shun especially goes from being a walking plot device to an actual character, as she gets her first substantial lines of dialogue and we learn about her own history and motivations.
Also, we get a new villain, who is absolutely ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible. I cannot wait to see more of this guy, because if Nocenti plays her cards right, the absurdity is sure to provide boundless entertainment.
I don’t care how much this may wind up sucking, because it is going to be fun regardless.
On the artistic side, while it’s a bit upsetting this book has two artists and two inkers (though it’s really only three people, because Fabrizio Fiorentino did both pencils and inking) I have to give props to Alex Sanchez, Fabrizio Fiorentino, and Wayne Faucher, because I really couldn’t tell a difference at all while reading.
While the introduction of the Falconer and his Falcon is welcome, this series currently has at least three antagonists whose stories have yet to be wrapped up. First is Sword Clan member Coil, who it looks like Katana is about to have her final showdown with in October. Next is the Creeper, who will be the star of next month’s Justice League Dark #23.1.
That’s right, Harv. “Justice League Dark”. Not “JLA Dark”. “Who edits the editors”?
And we still have Killer Croc running around with the ghost of a dragon who has escaped from Katana’s Soultaker sword, which hasn’t even been mentioned since it happened a few issues ago, which is a shame since I think this duo could have the best road trip across American since Green Lantern and Green Arrow back in the 70’s. Nocenti’s just kind of given us too much stuff at once, while constantly introducing new elements to the story, and if you’re interested in a specific plotline there’s a good chance that it won’t even be brought up.
While this was a really good issue, what’s “really good” for Katana is still the equivalent of “decent” for most other books on the market. That said, this issue really is a step in the right direction for the series, and if Nocenti continues to play her cards right, I really see this book turning around.
Katana #7 is available from physical and digital retailers for $2.99 USD.