SPOILER WARNING – One apple is included in this issue’s casualties.
With Katana #10, Ann Nocenti brings the titular hero’s revenge-fueled story to an end. Considering the multiple plot threads Nocenti had been juggling leading up to this issue, one can’t help but wonder if she would be able to bring them all together in a satisfying manner. Will 22 pages allow her the ample space to tie everything together in a pretty bow?
Say what you will, but Katana continues to be a unique and entertaining title in the New 52 lineup. Whereas the rest of the DCU is embroiled in traditional superhero tropes, Katana diverges from the mainstream and takes influence from classic films such as Enter the Dragon and Hard Boiled, with a dash of Big Trouble in Little China for good measure. The series repeatedly side-stepped the readers’ expectations, making each turn of the page offers something that was not anticipated. In an age where spoilers run rampant and stories are predictable, Katana provides a refreshing, almost unfamiliar experience, and issue ten is no different.
Adding to that experience is the crazy-town story that concludes Nocenti’s run. There’s Shun the Untouchable gunning down a bunch of Yakuza, Katana fighting Shun, Katana fighting the Mad Samurai, the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme, and mystical falcons. Some may complain that it is an incoherent mess, but it’s so over the top that it comes across like an insane, cheesy movie out of the 1980s. With the right mindset going in, Katana #10 is fun, albeit unrefined.
The biggest problem with Katana #10 is that not all of the plot threads are resolved, most notably the Mona Shard arc that took up much of the previous issue. Katana manages to survive Mona Shard’s attack in the opening pages, but then the story shifts quickly to the Shun/Mad Samurai conflict. The Mad Samurai is a forced addition to this issue, which is a likely consequence of the title’s cancellation.
There were a few instances where the dialogue was questionable. In one instance, Shun is describing the interior of a cabin, which is odd since there is no one else present. Internal monologue boxes would have probably been more appropriate to use in that situation. Then again, Shun is crazy and this might be something she actually does.
The art by Cliff Richards and Alex Sanchez is visually captivating throughout the issue. Unfortunately their style, which falls into the oft criticized “house style” that DC employs for most of its titles, is a tonal mismatch for this series. Had an artist with a more cartoony style such as Jonathan Case (Batman ’66) worked on the title, the series as a whole would be seen in a more favorable light.
Katana #10 may not be the satisfying conclusion to story threads that readers were hoping for, but it does manage wrap of the larger narrative in an entertaining manner. Now that it is concluded, readers can look back on Katana as a “junk food” comic—it may not have been good, but it was a peculiar divergence from the norm every month. If for no other reason than for daring to be different, we should be happy that DC took a chance on it. Hopefully, they will continue to take similar chances in the future.