EXCLUSIVE!: Ann Nocenti Slices Into A New 'Katana' Ongoing Series

Earlier today, we told you all about DC Comics' big Justice League of America plans for February, and gave you exclusive insight from creators Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire. Now it's time to turn the spotlight to writer Ann Nocenti's new, ongoing series, "Katana."

Spinning out of Justice League, and tying into DC's Birds of Prey as well, Katana focuses squarely on the DCU's most mysterious woman. And according to this essay from Nocenti, it won't all be Swords With Friends:

Katana walks a tightrope of contradictions. She is a trained assassin, and yet she is not a killer. She is a master swordsman who has left the team Birds of Prey to walk the path of a true outsider. She feels destined to conquer the secret powers of her Soultaker Sword. Mythology contains a rich history of legendary weapons, most famously “Excalibur,” weapons that could only be used by the pure of heart. It is one thing to wield the Soultaker, it is yet another to be worthy of it, and be able to control it. Does Katana’s Soultaker sword really contain the souls of those she kills? Is this a sign of the sword’s great power, or of her madness? Is the endless bloodshed changing Katana? Is she worthy of her own sword? Will she ever master it?

I have a fascination for extra-judicial societies and underground cultures, and in situations where justice can only be found outside the law, and how these societies have evolved over the centuries. The spirit of Katana lies in the true Samurai of long ago; both those trained to protect nobility and the clans that rose in the countryside to protect villages. They were ruled by codes of honor, bravery and selflessness, but over the years many devolved into assassins for hire. Katana will encounter and battle modern day versions of ancient clans, the Sword Clan and Dagger Clan, and her antagonists will include SICKLE, COIL and SHACKLE, men who have mastered their preferred weapons.

KATANA will be a lean, mean, and very visual book. There will always be a spectacular battle in a striking setting. I am inspired by both Japanese Samurai films, in particular the films of Kurosawa, and how they share the spirit of American Westerns, with the influences running in both directions, and including the “Spaghetti Westerns” and films of Sam Peckinpah. These films share the spirit of clans of men, or sometimes loners, who have their own sense of justice and yet know their way is dying out. In that sense, KATANA will be both modern and ancient at the same time. I have a curiosity about the ancient lives and codes of a ninjas, samurai, assassins, and the clan system of old, but want to explore a modern, edgy side of this culture. Katana is an outsider in every sense, and will fighting both modern and ancient evils as she struggles to understand the secret powers of her SOULTAKER sword.

I am thrilled to be working with Alex Sanchez as the artist on Katana. His work wildly eclectic, exciting and powerful, yet slyly humorous, which is a perfect match for Katana.

Katana herself is searching for redemption even as she does the dirty work of an assassin. The sword is her purgatory. The thing about killing is that eventually it either makes you sick, or you get to like it. Katana knows this. The trick is to balance on that highwire so that you avoid both fates. That is the core of her struggle.

Katana #1 slices and dices in February from DC Comics, but here's a sneak peak at the pencils for the first issue, now: