Yeah, This is the Nocenti I Know
David Finch provided some excellent covers for Brightest Day, but his Katana covers so far are just... bad. This one is way too crowded with a very dull and generic layout that's far too close up.
And this issue, Alex Sanchez's artwork isn't nearly as good as it was in the first issue. The colors are still very light, but they lack the unique kick they had before and look much more normal. And when in costume, Katana's face tends to look absolutely bizarre. Not to mention that he battle scars from the fight with Coil seem to come and go.
Ann Nocenti managed to impress me last issue with writing I didn't think she was capable of. It wasn't great, but it wasn't nearly as bad as she usually is. Long story short, I got my hopes up and now I regret it. While this issue is till better than most of her Green Arrow and Catwoman work, it's basically what I've come to expect from her.
The characters are all so damn generic and flat. We've got the misogynistic evil samurai/ninja, the pacifist samurai/ninja who's family is ashamed of him, and the seemingly drunk secret martial arts master. Katana's the only one who's vaguely interesting, but even she doesn't really get to shine much in this issue, at least not as much as she did last issue. Oh, and EVERYONE is named after weapons or techniques. Katana, Coil, Sickle, freaking THRUST? And maybe not a weapon but the girl who is locked away from the world is named Shun? Yeah, THAT'S subtle.
And if Thrust is a massive pacifist, why the hell would they take him out on such a key mission to take out KATANA!? Or make hr join them? Or... something? I can't follow the Sword Clan's motivations whatsoever, and I can't figure out why the Soultaker seems to take over Katana only when she fights them.
And why is she so quick to cry foul when Shun's foot shows a dragon? I thought Katana was a wise martial artist, yet she can't decipher simple riddles, is quick to anger and disbelieve the skills of a supposed drunkard, and doesn't even consider the possibility that the dragon tattoo on Shun might be SOME KIND OF METAPHOR especially since HER FREAKING REAL NAME MEANS DRAGON. And she believes in magic swords, but living the DCU thinks dragons are utter fairy tails? And what's the point of her disguise if she's going to take it off as soon as she's inside and challenge the Sword Clan to a duel?
And what's the deal with short bus Killer Croc? I mean, I know he's usually not portrayed as the sharpest tool in the shed, but in the New 52 we've seen him as a bit wiser than before in flashbacks from Red Hood and the Outlaws, and DC Universe Presents. But now he's some kind of slow dummy obsessed with dragons or something?
In Conclusion: 2/5
I just... DC. STAHP. Ann Nocenti isn't a talentless hack, but she's only good at basic plot concepts, she has no grasp of actual plot structure. She needs a co-writer or A LOT more writing lessons. I saw hope at the start, but this issue didn't even have the benefit of super pretty and unique artwork, Alex Sanchez seems to be slipping as well. The plot was full of holes and generic characters and this is turning into an unfortunately huge disappointment.