When Tatsu was a little girl growing up in Japan, her grandmother taught her how to wield a samurai sword. But the bushi queen begged her young charge to be careful. “You may hold my katana,” said Onna-bugeisha Yamashiro, “but only if I have my hands around yours.”
Even though it was way too big for her at the time, Tatsu quickly became an expert with the iconic curved blade. Her grandmother was impressed. “Katana!” she exclaimed happily. “We should call you Katana from now on.”
Over the years, Tatsu Yamashiro mastered many fighting techniques and had many weapons in her arsenal. Shuriken, nunchakus, kusari-fundo, tsubute, blowgun – she was expert at all of them. The katana, however, was her number one weapon of choice. After all, she had been named after it.
Katana liked swords in the same way Batgirl liked bats, Hawkgirl liked hawks, Cheetah liked kittens, and Big Barda liked Scott Free. As the captain of the fencing team at Super Hero High School, Katana diligently developed a new kind of fighting technique that combined martial arts, bushido, saber, foil, legend, and superpowers.
Because she was the granddaughter of a legendary female samurai warrior (R.I.P. Onna-bugeisha), Katana was focused, disciplined, and frighteningly efficient in her fighting methods. No one at school (except for Wonder Woman) understood the art of war better than her. She also looked sharp in her faux samurai outfit.
This is the fourth novel in Lisa Yee’s ongoing DC Super Hero High series. Previous volumes featured unique stories about Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl, but this one is the most fully realized of the bunch. The narrative bounces back and forth between Metropolis and Tottori prefecture (Japan), and is perhaps the best origin story we’ve read about our favorite samurai vigilante.
A school assignment further underscored Katana’s place in two worlds. History teacher Liberty Belle asked her students to examine their past and relate it to their present while forecasting the future. Working hard to complete her homework, Katana uncovered family secrets that unalterably set her on her path in life.
She would always embody the bushido code (respect, honor, loyalty, and courage), and worked hard to be worthy of her family’s heritage. “I am Katana, formerly Tatsu Yamashiro, and granddaughter of Onna-bugeisha Yamashiro,” she proclaimed at the end of the novel. “I am a samurai superhero.”
[Katana at Super Hero High / By Lisa Yee / First Printing: July 2017 / ISBN: 9781101940686]