Katana (comics)


Katana is a fictional character, a superhero published by DC Comics. She first appeared in the The Brave and the Bold #200 (July 1983)[1], and was created to be a member of the first Outsiders team by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jim Aparo.

Fictional character biographyEdit

Becoming KatanaEdit

Tatsu Yamashiro was an average Japanese girl, save for her proficiency in the martial arts, a trait encouraged by her parents.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] He was presented with a pair of matched 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.[2] During the course of the struggle, a fire was started, and - when 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.[2][3]

Becoming an OutsiderEdit

Main article: Outsiders (comics)

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.[4] Attempting to rectify the misunderstanding by freeing Black Lightning, she encountered a young girl who was named Halo.[5] 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.[5]

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 and Geo-Force (Prince Brion of Markovia) and Metamorpho (also coincidentally present), Batman decided to form the Outsiders.[6] 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.[7] 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, 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.[8]

Family debtEdit

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 horde 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 OutsidersEdit

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 returnes 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 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 Judgement 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.

New OutsidersEdit

Most recently, she has joined a new team of Outsiders after assisting them in defeating an a more powerful Sabbac. It consists 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 innapropriate 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.

The SoultakerEdit

The Soultaker, 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.

Suicide SquadEdit

Main article: Suicide Squad

After the Outsiders had been cancelled, Katana went on a mission with the Suicide Squad. She left the squad after her mission ended, and did not return, even though fan response to her inclusion was heavy. Nine issues after her cameo though, the Suicide Squad title was cancelled.

Other mediaEdit


  • Katana appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Enter the Outsiders" voiced by Vyvan Pham. She is shown as a member of the Outsiders alongside Black Lightning and Metamorpho. They served the Slug until Wildcat defeated him and persuaded them not to follow Slug's ways. Katana was mostly silent, typically letting her actions talk for her. She didn't get a speaking role until after Wildcat had a heart attack, advising the other Outsiders on how to save him.

External linksEdit

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