By Ann Nocenti & Cliff Richards
The latest issue of Katana sees the titular heroine continuing her current challenge to become the leader of the Swords clan. The latest obstacle is the vicious Coil, who’s been a recurring a foe. They finally duke it out in classic fashion. Also, a new antagonist is introduced that Katana must face.
Ann Nocenti’s work on this title has been consistently strong. She spends the majority of the issue focusing the fight between Coil and Katana (Tatsu). They clash not only blades, but words, which is Coil’s strongest weapon. Perhaps this may seem like a cliché plot device, but Nocenti makes the convention work in her favor. She revealed the events surrounding the death of Tatsu’s husband, Maseo, last issue and the verbal battle between Coil and Katana had the stakes raised because of this. Tatsu is recovering from the revelation, so Coil preys on that showing that the heroine is not all-powerful and can easily be put in jeopardy. Seeing a driving plot element come to a conclusion can easily kill interest in a series, but Ann is able to make Katana an interestingly complicated character with more issues and conflicts that the reader wasn’t aware of.
The panels depicting the fight between Coil and Tatsu were magnetic. Cliff Richards had a majority of the fight set against the backdrop of a neon lit billboard. This made each panel lively and engaging. It was a brilliant move to have that as the setting. The sequence of the fight through the panels was well done and diverse. Richards would show different fight stances/actions or depict a shadow image of the previous action of a character to indicate the passage of time. Cliff has been swapping art duties with Alex Sanchez on this run and he has proven to be a great addition to the creative team on Katana.
This was another sound issue in this run. With the introduction of a couple new characters and plots, it seems the book will continue that way.