CultureHead Magazine

Katana
Courtesy of DC Comics
Katana
Courtesy of DC Comics

I’m going to be straight with you. I never got myself into reading superhero comics no matter how hard I wanted to be that type of teenager after I watched The Dark Knight as a 14-year-old. Then, much later and already a college senior, I consciously picked up an iconic DC comic book ready to be blown away and hooked on this art. Instead, I was left feeling extremely uncomfortable and… ashamed? The comic book in question was Batman: The Killing Joke, a 1988 graphic novel that is supposed to be Joker’s origins story. Not going to go into too much detail but I remember interpreting a widely discussed plot twist as a rape of Barbara Gordon. The use of sexual violence against women as a tool to progress the plot and add depth to the male characters turned me off comics and the Joker character in particular. 

The Other History of the DC Universe is supposed to be an alternative look at the established characters, which exposes their stories and struggles to the realities of the modern world plagued by inequalities and violence. It is also the first time I read a superhero comic since the Killing Joke

The series’ third issue focuses on Tatsu Yamashiro, a.k.a Katana, and her origin story as a wronged woman whose husband and children were murdered turned mercenary turned superhero. She introduces me to her world and the world of the Outsiders. Given that the only major appearance on the silver screen Katana has had so far was the Suicide Squad movie, I have not been acquainted with her character before. I have a feeling that Katana as known from other comic books would have left a different impression on me compared to who she is from her P.O.V. in The Other History

The Other History of the DC Universe CultureHead Magazine
Karen Fukuhara as Katana in Suicide Squad. Courtesy of DC Comics

[Spoilers ahead]

The way The Other History re-imagines how its heroes would feel about certain issues, what would move them, what would enrage them, and what would make them cynical is what makes it worth reading. This is where the story of Katana, a Japanese woman who came to America in the 80s, comes off as timely as ever. Who would think that a comic book could be a quick and informative way to learn about the history of anti-Asian hate in the U.S. and even the interracial tensions between Asian and Black communities? 

The solidarity and empathy that Katana extends to some other women present in the story are also insightful, especially for someone who has no preconceptions about them. It is a pleasant and necessary change from a one-dimensional portrayal of Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke whose pain is sensationalized and forgotten by the end. 

When it comes to the core of her character, Katana’s sword bears no magic power in this graphic novel. She does not believe that her late husband’s soul is trapped inside of it. Instead, Katana makes it abundantly clear that what makes her so good at what she does is her own skill, a sharp weapon, and a lack of fear. It is a small but crucial detail that breaks the bond originally created between this fierce female character and her husband who was made to be the main driving force behind her action and basically a secret ingredient to her power. No, here, it’s all her. 

The comic doubles down on its message by bringing Katana close to death and, therefore, reuniting with her husband and children in the afterlife. Instead of hanging onto what she appears to have wanted the most, she chooses to live. Katana is not a martyr and she is not biding her time secretly longing for love and family in the most conventional sense. She is a warrior full stop, which is a luxury not often awarded to female superheroes out there. 
I know that The Other History is an alternative take on DC characters but I wish this kind of more intricate storytelling was the norm rather than an anomaly.

More From CultureHead

Why We Recommend You Play Elden Ring

From Software has spent years developing what many gamers would call some of the most challenging games of all time. Dark Souls, Sekiro,

Click Here to read more

5 Best Studio Ghibli Movies

Studio Ghibli films have received critical acclaim not just in Japan but all over the world. Guided by Hayao Miyazaki’s unique artistic vision

Click Here to read more

The Coolest Indie Games Coming out in 2022

2021 was a good year for the indie gaming industry, and 2022 promises to be even better, with several interesting titles lined up

Click Here to read more

Unpacking: A Relaxing Puzzle Adventure About Moving Homes

The gameplay of Unpacking is relatively simple. At each level, you find yourself in a new location where you unpack a collection of

Click Here to read more

Teacup Review: A Wholesome Tea Party Experience

Meet Teacup, a shy young frog who loves to drink tea and read books. She’s planning on throwing a tea party for all

Click Here to read more

Marvel Mini-Series of 2021, Ranked

While Avengers: Endgame bade goodbye to Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America, it ushered in a new era for

Click Here to read more

Superheroes of Color and Why We Need Ms. Marvel

Superheroes are supposed to protect innocent citizens, capture dangerous criminals, and in a nutshell, save the world. Unlike villains, they use their magical

Click Here to read more

New Anime Releases in 2022 We’re Looking Forward To

2022 promises to be a great year for anime fans, with the release of several much-awaited series, such as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and the

Click Here to read more

What We Know About Marvel’s Upcoming Mini-Series Moon Knight

With a tentative release date of March 30, Moon Knight is slated to be the newest Marvel release in 2022, following the success

Click Here to read more

Slay The Spire: A Review

Slay the Spire is a unique video game that combines the best of rogue-like mechanics with deck-building card games. In Slay the Spire,

Click Here to read more