||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (April 2008)|
|First appearance||The Brave and the Bold #200 (July 1983)|
|Created by||Mike W. Barr (writer)
Jim Aparo (artist)
|Alter ego||Tatsu Yamashiro|
|Place of origin||Japan (of the fictional DC Universe)|
Birds of Prey
Justice League of America
|Abilities||Superb martial artist and fully trained samurai warrior. Her sword captures the soul of every being it kills and allows her to communicate with that soul, including that of her deceased husband.|
Katana is a fictional character, a superheroine that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. She first appeared in a special insert in The Brave and the Bold #200 (July 1983), and was created to be a member of the first Outsiders team by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jim Aparo.
Fictional character biography
Tatsu Yamashiro (山城 たつ) was an average Japanese girl, save for her proficiency in the martial arts, a trait encouraged by her parents. Two brothers — Maseo and Takeo Yamashiro — both proclaimed their love for her. While she liked both, she chose Maseo. Takeo, "did not take this well," and refused to attend the couple's wedding. Unmissed — indeed, Maseo (his only family) disowned his brother, who had joined the Yakuza, taking their mark of a large dragon tattoo across his chest — Tatsu and Maseo, mourning the deaths of Tatsu's parents (cause unknown), started a family of their own. Tatsu gave birth to twins, Yuki and Reiko, while Takeo rose in rank of the Yakuza, indulging his "exotic tastes" for ancient weapons. He was presented with a pair of matching swords by General Karnz (later henchman to Baron Bedlam), one of which Takeo favored for its mystical properties.
Takeo spent days preparing himself, before taking both swords to the Yamashiro residence, demanding his brother duel for the "prize" of Tatsu. During the course of the struggle, a fire was started, and — while Maseo was distracted by his children — Takeo killed his brother with the sword which would become known as "Soultaker". Tatsu arose just in time to see her husband die and engaged Takeo, gaining the upper hand and disarming him. Attempting to save her children, she heard her husband's voice coming from the sword, telling her they were already lost. Escaping with her life, Tatsu began training as a samurai under a master called Tadashi. After much time she graduated from his tutorship and left for America where she intended to use her talents to fight for justice. She took the codename Katana after the sword that she wielded, possessed for some time by the soul of her husband.
Becoming an Outsider
Eventually Tatsu journeyed to Markovia, a small Baltic state, where she had tracked down Karnz, and she was successful in killing him, inadvertently implicating Black Lightning (coincidentally there with Batman) in her crime. Attempting to rectify the misunderstanding by freeing Black Lightning, she encountered a young girl who was named Halo. The two joined up to rescue Black Lightning, Batman (himself captured due to a blunder by Halo), and Bruce Wayne's employee Lucius Fox from their captor, Baron Bedlam.
Batman was himself in Markovia to rescue Lucius Fox, and having sought — and failed to gain — the help of the Justice League of America, had resigned his membership in the Justice League. Inspired by the teamwork he encountered between Black Lightning, Katana, Halo, Geo-Force (Prince Brion of Markovia), and Metamorpho (also coincidentally present), Batman decided to form the Outsiders. The team managed to end the Baron's tyranny in Markovia and moved to Gotham City, where they set up their headquarters (a former penthouse of Bruce Wayne, secretly the Batman). Tatsu became Halo's guardian and the two moved into the penthouse.
At the same time, Takeo was still at large and had followed Tatsu to Gotham City. Secretly he switched swords with her and left for Tokyo with the Outsiders on his tail. Takeo took the sword to his master, the godfather of the Yakuza, known only as the Oyabun. Performing a specific ritual, the Oyabun and Takeo managed to recall the souls that inhabited the sword, who proceeded to take corporeal form. Among them were legendary mercenaries and assassins, but also Maseo, who was now a slave to the Oyabun. Katana — and the Outsiders — had to fight them all, but was ultimately able to reclaim the Soultaker from Maseo. Forced to kill her husband, she was also able to kill Takeo, finally putting some of her ghosts to rest. By undoing the ritual however, her husband returned into the sword as well.
At one point the Outsiders split from Batman's leadership and took up residence in Markovia where they were funded by the Markovian crown (Geo-Force is a prince of the royal family). They became the official agents of Markovia and moved to the city of Los Angeles where they made their headquarters in the Markovian embassy, while retaining another secret HQ just off the shore. Although Tatsu had left her past behind, the Oyabun returned in her life and sent a tengu after her, with which he captured her. Her teammates in the Outsiders, namely Halo and Looker were able to save her using other tengu and the tengu leader, who aided them in battle.
After a while, the team disbanded after various tragic events surrounding Geo-Force's parents and Markovia. Nonetheless the Outsiders were forced to defend Markovia against the Manhunters, but during the fight Halo was knocked into a coma, saving Katana's life. Bounded by giri-ninjo (a debt of honor even unto death), Tatsu left the team so she could tend to Halo's wounds. During that time however, she was approached by a family member of her husband, who wished her to accompany the Suicide Squad on a mission to destroy a large hoard of weapons that was about to be sold to the Yakuza. She declined on the basis of her giri-ninjo, although she was willing to help if the need was truly desperate. That family member was later killed, and she went after the killer, the Daichi-Doku's Oyabun (of which her relative was a member), who did not wish to see the weapons destroyed and tried to stop the Suicide Squad. During that adventure, she saved the life of Bronze Tiger and Manhunter (Mark Shaw), making them honor-bound to her by giri-ninjo. Mark Shaw then assisted her in taking down the Daichi-Doku's Oyabun. The Oyabun committed ritual suicide and Katana stood by as his "second", ready to help with a blade strike so he could keep his honor.
Returning to the Outsiders
Eventually though the Outsiders re-form and return to Markovia. Instead of a peaceful reunion however, the team become trapped in a web of public relations that brands them outlaws. Although the charges would be dropped eventually the team was fractured. Halo dies from an assassin's blast but was reborn in a new body, which put an immense strain on Tatsu's relationship with Halo. Katana joins a team with Geo-Force and Technocrat, taking the lead. During a lone mission, Tadashi, her old mentor sends Lady Shiva to claim Katana's Soultaker sword. Shiva confronts Katana, who had been battling a gang of drug dealers. Katana had slain many, but refuses to kill the youngest member, something Shiva insults her for. Shiva, being world-renowned as the world's greatest assassin and fighter, was able to kill Katana with her own sword. Katana returns to life after a trial by combat within her sword, which includes confronting many of the souls of the people she had killed. Afterwards, she manages to find her old mentor and take his life. The two splinter teams would eventually reunite, to take on more supernatural threats focused around the new team member Sebastian Faust. Katana and her friends suffer through the mental and physical tortures that Faust's father, Felix, puts them through. Halo eventually frees them by destroying several of Felix's items of power. Soon after, the group breaks apart. After disbanding, Tatsu has kept her association with her old allies among the Outsiders (such as Black Lightning, Geo-Force, and Halo), and although they did not operate as an official team, were always seen alongside each other during major crises. Her close ties to Batman also saw her fighting by his side, several times, notably during the Imperiex crisis and the Day of Judgment incident when Hell invades Earth. The main battle against the villain, the rogue angel Asmodel, with the power of the Spectre, takes place in New York. Katana personally protects Madame Xanadu who is guarding the rest of Asmodel's power with a mystical shield. Katana's protection of Xanadu is assisted by Doctor Occult, Phantom Stranger, and Alan Scott. Later, Katana assists Batman when he and Superman were declared outlaws. Katana was also called upon by Black Canary, together with other female mercenaries, in order to rescue Oracle from Senator Pullman. After Oracle was saved, Katana received a card, together with the promise of a favor if required. Katana later returns to assist Oracle in issue #108 alongside dozens of other agents.
Later Katana joined a new team of Outsiders after assisting them in defeating a more powerful Sabbac. That team consisted of all new members, with the exception of Metamorpho who rejoined the team after Shift's demise. In Outsiders #42, Katana dons a new costume, as she felt it inappropriate to wear a costume based on Japan's flag. The country had revoked her citizenship due to her membership with the controversial team. Later, Katana summons Sabbac to destroy Dr. Sivana's base with his Hellfire. Katana remains an active member of the Outsiders following the One Year Later continuity jump. Initially, the team is led by Nightwing, but later leadership transfers to Batman. Batman decides to 'test' Katana and the rest of the initial team, in order to design a better team. Katana is Batman's first official recruit.
While escorting Killer Croc to incarceration, the Outsiders' vehicle is demolished by Maseo, Yuki, and Reiko, who have all been revived as Black Lanterns. Katana, believing that she has been reunited with her lost family, lets her guard down, but is saved from death by her teammates. Realising the truth, she draws her sword, preparing to fight her undead husband. When Katana stabs Maseo, Soultaker reveals to her the Black Lanterns' full intentions. Her attacks soon prove to be completely ineffectual against Maseo, who is instead destroyed by an outpouring of light from Halo, who also destroyed Katana's children.
The New 52
|Publication date||February 2013 – present|
|Number of issues||4 (as of May 2013 cover date)|
|Artist(s)||Alex Sanchez, Cristina Coronas, Bill Sienkiewicz|
The events of Flashpoint led to reboot in continuity for the DC Universe which altered some of the fictional history but left other pieces in place. Each of the DC Universe titles were relaunched and the rebooted titles have been labeled The New 52. In this rebooted continuity, a newly healed Barbara Gordon returns to the Batgirl identity and takes a leave of absence from Birds of Prey and suggests that Katana take her place full-time on the team.
Katana joins Black Canary and Starling as the third member of the Birds of Prey. Katana is described as a lethal fighter who has spent the last year waging war on the Yakuza clan that is responsible for the death of her husband. She is rumored to be mentally unstable due to her belief that her husband's soul, whom she often converses with in Japanese, resides in her sword.
After a number of adventures with the Birds of Prey, Katana leaves the group in order to keep an eye on a cult of assassins known as the Daggers. She later accepts membership in Amanda Waller's new Justice League of America in exchange for information on her husband's murderers.
Powers, abilities, and weapons
Katana is a highly proficient hand-to-hand combatant and swordswoman, having studied martial arts as a child and later being trained by the samurai Tadashi. From her time with the Outsiders and Batman, she has also developed strong tactical skills.
Katana's Soultaker sword, along with its non-powered twin, was forged in the 14th century by Muramasa, whose swords were said to be cursed and make those who were evil commit evil acts. It sometimes takes the souls of those it kills, storing them inside the sword, where they can engage in limited communication with whoever wields it. These souls can be reincarnated by the means of a sacred ritual, under which they serve their summoner, even if it is against their will.
In addition to the Soultaker, Katana often carries additional Oriental weaponry into battle.
- A character similar to Katana called Tsukuri (voiced by Karen Maruyama) appeared in the Justice League animated series, in the episode "Fury", as an assistant to the villainness Aresia and later as a member of Grodd's Legion of Doom.
In other media
- Katana appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold voiced by Vyvan Pham, and later by Kim Mai Guest.
- In the episode "Enter the Outsiders!", she is shown as a member of the Outsiders alongside Black Lightning and Metamorpho, as teenagers rather new to their abilities. They serve the sewer-dwelling villain Slug until Batman and Wildcat defeated him and persuaded them not to follow Slug's ways. Katana was mostly silent, typically letting her actions talk for her.
- Katana, Black Lightning and Metamorpho are seen in a holographic training simulator with Batman in the teaser of "Duel of the Double Crossers!", where they had to protect a virtual city from a virtual Despero.
- In "Inside the Outsiders!", a different origin is explored via a nightmare created by Psycho-Pirate: Katana was the student of Tadashi, who was killed by the evil samurai Takeo. Psycho-Pirate makes her believe that it was her talkative nature that led Takeo to Tadashi, leading to her becoming silent out of shame. Batman reminds her that this was not what happened; Tadashi sacrificed himself to make her a greater warrior, and her silence honors his teachings of self-control.
- She briefly appears in "The Siege of Starro! Part One", where she is shown as one of the numerous heroes under the mental control of Starro. She attacks Firestorm with her sword, but she is easily defeated after he hits her with an energy blast. She is shown to be wearing a new costume from this point onwards.
- In the teaser of the episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!", she and the other Outsiders fight and defeat Kobra with the aid of two new members: Geo-Force and Halo. **Early promotions for the show depicted Katana's original costume as a purple samurai suit/armor and her hair styled in pigtails.
- Katana will appear as one of the lead characters in Beware the Batman, voiced by Sumalee Montano. In this show, Katana will be portrayed as a former member of the League of Shadows and the CIA.
- Katana appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
- An evil version of Katana known as Sai appears as a member of the Crime Syndicate of America in the animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. As her name implies, this version uses sai as opposed to her trademark swords. However, in this version she wears a cat's mask which is more popularly associated with Cheshire from the Teen Titans animated series and is similar in appearance to Cheshire's subsequent appearance in the Young Justice animated series.
- Although her first chronological appearance was in Batman and the Outsiders #1 (cover-dated August 1983). See Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.
- Nagorski, Alex (November 5, 2012). "MTV Announces New Justice League of America Books for February". Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- Batman and the Outsiders #12 (July 1984), pp. 9–15. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders, Vol. 1 (DC Comics, Sept. 2007, ISBN 1-4012-1546-7, pp. 319–325).
- "The Unofficial Katana Biography". DCU Guide.
- Batman and the Outsiders #1 (August 1983), pp. 13–15.
- Batman and the Outsiders #2 (Sept. 1983), pp. 5–6.
- Batman and the Outsiders #2 (Sept. 1983), p. 24.
- Batman and the Outsiders #11 (June 1984), pp. 20–23.
- "The Outsiders!".
- Adventures of the Outsiders #34 (June 1986)
- Outsiders vol. 4, #24
- Outsiders vol. 4, #25
- Birds of Prey (vol. 3) #1
- Birds of Prey (vol. 3) #2
- Birds of Prey (vol. 3) #15
- Justice League of America (vol. 3) #1
- Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (July 2011)
- Promotional image for TV show Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Harvey, James (4 October 2011). "'Beware The Batman' CGI Animated Series Coming For 2013, 'DC Nation' Updates". worldsfinestonline.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "Comic-Con: After ‘TDKR,’ a CG ‘Beware the Batman’ will rise". Hero Complex (Los Angeles Times). 13 July 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Lima, Sara 'Babs' (5 November 2012). "Character Bios And Designs For 'Beware The Batman' Revealed". Comicvine.com. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "1st Look: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Clip". Newsarama.