Watchers of DC’s New 52 have taken careful notes of the timing of DC’s announcements of cancellations and new titles, and so no one was very surprised this morning to get the news of a few new titles for the New 52, including Justice League of America, Vibe, and Katana. Those last two are pretty cool, as they’re both characters of color who have never had their own titles before. But we’re especially excited about Katana getting her own series because, well, we’re The Mary Sue, and because, as DC Women Kicking Ass points out, this is only the third time in the history of American superhero comics that DC has had a woman of color with her own ongoing series. But that’s just one reason you should care about Tatsu Yamashiro, alias Katana. Here are some more.
Tatsu lived the ordinary life of a Japanese woman and martial arts prodigy, with two brothers for her best buds: Maseo and Takeo. Of course, both brothers were besotted with her, and when she eventually chose one of them over the other, it did not go well. Maseo accepted her hand in marriage, while Takeo took his sorrow and anger to the Yakuza. Takeo’s skill allowed him to rise quickly up the ranks, eventually receiving an ancient and magical katana as a gift from one of his bosses. By that time, Tatsu and Maseo had settled down to raise their twins.
Still, when Takeo returned to take his revenge, Maseo was able to hold him off until their struggle started a fire and the danger to his children distracted him. At this point, Tatsu came on the scene of her husband’s murder, disarmed Takeo, and that her husband was speaking to her through the sword that had just taken her family. One escape and a training montage with a samurai master later, Tatsu was the newly fledged bane-of-the-Yakuza Katana, her sword, imbued with Maseo’s soul, her only companion.
So, to put in another way, she’s a genderswapped, Japanese version of the Punisher, if Frank Castle preferred to wield a samurai sword that spoke to him in the voice of his dead wife.
You Might Already Be Familiar With Her
Katana was among the first to be hand picked by Batman for his “covert ops” Justice League, The Outsiders. The Caped Crusader formed the group as one that could take on the cases that were to nightmarish in public opinion for the Justice League, as the public face of superheroes, to touch. Katana was a constant in the group, from its inception in the mid-eighties right up to the New 52.
You Might Be Seeing More of Her Soon
Cartoon Network hasn’t been doing the best job of promoting its DC series right now, but one of the shows that it’s got waiting in the wings is Beware the Batman, the newest Batman cartoon series since Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Among the show’s changes from what children of the 80s and 90s remember from their Batman cartoons is a gun-toting Alfred and no Robin. Instead, Batman’s new sidekick is, yes, a young Japanese girl who goes by the code name Katana. And while creators have assured us that Alfred’s handguns, which appeared in leaked pitch material, are an inaccurate representation of what’s actually going on, Katana remains.
It does make one wonder if Warner Bros. Animation used its shared parent company to drum up some publicity for their show. Katana is likely to come to stores around February, and Beware is scheduled for spring 2013, so there would at least a few issues of it out. DC has not, with the New 52, shown much inclination to tune their comics in tone or characterization to a popular cartoon adaptation, however, so it could be mere coincidence.
Katana is being written by Ann Nocenti, one of the
two three female writers DC currently has working on the New 52. Nocenti will be leaving her post on Green Arrow’s title for the job, but keeping her post on Catwoman. I admit I was particularly turned off by Nocenti’s take on Oliver Queen, but I was interested to see where she took Catwoman, a book I’d studiously stayed away from. Unfortunately, my store was sold out of her debut issue last month! I wait with bated breath to see what she does with Katana next year.