Thursday, June 9, 2011

Katana's new look

Let's talk about something positive. Let's talk about the inspired new costume Katana will sport in the upcoming Birds of Prey series by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz. I love the old Batman and the Outsiders series, so I have a soft spot for Katana. Besides Batman himself (old school Batman, not 1990s-2000s Batman), she's always been my favorite Outsiders team member. I haven't kept up with all the developments in her ongoing narrative, but now I see she's got a sharp new outfit. It sleek yet powerful, and announces Katana as a force to be reckoned with. I hope the writing measures up to the visual.

Jim Aparo, bless his heart, never quite got the katana. His version of Katana's namesake weapon-- which she apparently nicked from Elric of Melnibone-- usually looked like a scimitar straightened straightened by some gifted yet demented blacksmith. And Katana's costume was less samurai and more Indonesian, with a side of McDonald's and some Genghis Khan for dessert. Actually, now that I'm on a roll, she looked like one of Ming the Merciless's soldiers from the 1980 Flash Gordon flick. Or maybe she was angling for Ming's job all along.

While I lived in Japan for 6 years, I didn't meet too many samurai or ninja. Yeah, I hate to disappoint you, but there aren't a whole lot of ancient families living the bushido code in the high-tech urban landscapes of Tokyo and Osaka, no rooftop battles at night between American costumed heroes and hundreds of black-clad assassins. No haughty businessmen who spend their off hours railing at their kids for not upholding the family's honor who are also secretly training sword-wielding armies to protect their virginal daughters against the handsome yet deadly oldest son of their hereditary enemy clan. I'm not sure if they all live in a certain prefecture and I just didn't get up that way, or if they were all around me and their ancient martial arts powers of invisibility hid them from my idiot eyes. But I did see a few suits of samurai armor in museums. None of them were 100% magenta+100% yellow/100% yellow. Maybe those are too valuable to display. Or maybe I needed to order a tsukimi baga to catch even a glimpse.

The recent Wonder Woman design looks like a random assemblage of clothes meant for a motorcycle mama on her way to Sturgis and cluttered up with handmade jewelry from one of those stores that also sells dreamcatchers and tie-dyed shirts. No theme, nothing really tying it together other than bad taste. Katana's, by contrast, features authentic touches with the shoulder and wrist guards, sleek lines, interesting mask and elbow pads giving it a splash of color. Her gray face-- make-up?-- is reminiscent of a Noh mask. You look at it and you instantly get who she is and what she's all about. Okay, I admit ogling artifacts in glass cases certainly didn't make me an expert on Sengoku jidai arms and armor, but I like to think I know a bad ass when I see her. And baby, this new Katana is one of those.

She also reminds me a little of this guy:

No comments: