Best Nocenti Work Yet
Right off the bat, I was worried about this series after Ann Nocenti's atrocious run on Green Arrow and her devastating run on Catwoman, and this first cover certainly didn't help. Are her ankles tied together or something? Is she about to take a dump? Katana is drawn in the one of the most awkward and impossible pose I've ever seen with bizarre breasts and excessively curvy hips and legs.
But as soon as I opened the book and took a glance through it, my hopes were raised a bit because Alex Sanchez's artwork is GORGEOUS. A big chunk of the credit must definitely go to Matt Yackey's coloring, because the very unique and soft palate is one of the things that really helps set this series apart, visually. But Sanchez's penciling is definitely a big benefit to the visual storytelling.
On the writing side, this issue is very different from what I expected from Nocenti. Here and there, there's a fair bit of cheesy dialogue, but the plot actually moved forward quite smoothy. It wasn't hectic or overambitious, although things are still a little vague for the first issue. I was impressed, I didn't think Nocenti was capable of work of this style based on her track record. Although I'm pretty confused at how the first scene connects with the final scene.
There's an interesting tone here, or rather a wide mix of them. There's definitely a manga-esque sense of tone and style, but also a unique protagonist portrayal for the New 52. Unless you know her history, it's easy to see Katana here as legitimately insane, or at least a little mentally unstable. It's sweet in a crazy way, to see her apologize for her unintentional infdelitous nightmare, or dismiss the mockery behind her back because her husband, in her sword strapped to her back, "has her back." Most of Katana's dialogue and monologuing is very formal, but not always to the point where it's stiff. For the most part it just feels like part of her character.
DC REALLY needs to decide what they're doing with 'The Outsiders.' Some consider Red Hood's team to be the 'Outsiders,' Batman Incorporated has established Batman still has his Outsiders, Green Arrow's current antagonist group is supposedly The Outsiders based on solicits, and Katana, former founding member of the original Outsiders, is seeking to.... do something with a seemingly completely different Outsiders. It's just.... too much. DC needs to pick an Outsiders and STICK WITH IT.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
Still a little rough around the edges, Katana actually shows surprising promise. Ann Nocenti appears to slowly be getting her act together, and maybe she'll finally climb her way out of my "Liefeld-bad" category. Katana's an odd and interesting character here with a mission and all sorts of mysteries. I'm interested to see where things go.