Katana ventures to the Japantown district of San Francisco in search of a girl named Shun. The word is that the girl’s entire body tells a story. One that Katana wishes to see. During her search, she sets up shop in a hidden street that houses those who never truly went home after World War II. It is here and it is within the story told on the girl’s body that Katana will discover that there is more to her sword Soultaker than she has even known. A power she may not be able to handle.
Katana is written by Ann Nocenti, who is one of the few long-time female writers in American comic books. Nocenti left Green Arrow, a book she didn’t feel she got a handle on, for a book she can explore out of her love for the films of Akira Kurosawa. Being a fan of the master filmmaker myself, Nocenti certainly has a handle of how to approach such a style of storytelling. Take a scene where Katana appears to be dreaming of making love to her deceased husband. It does not take long for her to recognize that something is not right. Nocenti writes it in a delicate manner, giving it a touch of horror as opposed to making it seem creepy in a negative way. However, this is a story that probably works better when read in its entirety as opposed to having to work my way monthly into unraveling the tale.
Illustrating the book is Alex Sanchez. Here he tries to give the book a sense of gritty realism without going too far in that direction. He has an interest in letting the eyes tell me everything I should know about how the character is feeling in the scene. In a two-page spread where Katana is attacked in a garden park, one panel has her looking crazy or in a state of blood-lust. Upon closer inspection, I actually don’t think this is the case. She is in a state of focus, letting her mouth open to convey the look of someone crazy as a decoy, to let her enemies think she is not in control. The one thing about the art that I am not quite sure about is the coloring by Matt Yackey. They look saturated and lack shading.
Katana is an interesting read. Writer Ann Nocenti clearly wants to apply a style of storytelling to the medium that honors a master in Akira Kurosawa. Alex Sanchez draws the book that deals with deception in a way that is unique and convincing. With that said, it is hard for me to recommend the book to any one. It is not the kind of book that a reader could pick up and get themselves immersed it. Furthermore, I think the story will probably reads better when it is whole rather than in parts.
Would a female writer have a better handle in telling the story of a heroine? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @LordAkiyama.