This is going to be a tough review. To be clear this isn’t a good comic. I mean I hate to say that right away, but I think it’s important so that you know what you’re getting into. Katana is a comic by the loosest meaning of the word. There’s a narrative, there’s sequential artwork and you have to turn the page. That’s really the only thing that makes this a comic book. The story is told to you in narrative captions. Rarely does the art depict the entire contents of the narrative, but rather plunks out one aspect of the narrative and depicts just that aspect. For instance the opening page shows a man and a woman standing together on a balcony. Here’s the captions verbatim that appear with this one panel of art:
“During a trip to Greece, Morikawa met a woman of virtue named Ioanna.” “With his parents permission he wed her before returning home.”
Now when we move onto the next panel of the same page it’s an image of their child in a crib (the crib appears to be hovering above the room by the way). Again, here’s the narrative verbatim:
“Morkawa and Ioanna bore a son. Morikawa named him Daimyon, because he knew he would be a great warrior.”
The story just continues to plug along at this pace. Daimyon grows up within two panels and is already trying to marry someone on his own. We’re never told why he was destined to be a warrior and it really seems that it’s only to kill the man that his two-second love is sold to for marriage.
The problem here is that the narrative is giving us all the information while the art work is literally just something on the page. A lot of this has to do with the fact that its CG constructs for everything. All of the art is computer generated and while it’s mostly good when you consider one person did all the work on it, it doesn’t tell a story. The reason it doesn’t tell a story is because there are so few panels, likely due to the amount of time each panel takes to create and render.
The strength of the comic medium and something that every comic reader I’ve encountered agrees on is that the art tells the story. Sure there are times when the art isn’t as strong of a storyteller, but for the most part you should be able to just look at the visuals and get the gist of the idea. You should be able to follow the story along.
With Katana that’s impossible. If you were to just look at the images you wouldn’t have a clue about the story. It wouldn’t probably come off as a tale of Samurai’s kidnapping women from Greece.
I would say that the story can be fixed, but really by that I mean the structure of the story could be fixed. I don’t know if it would make more sense, but it could have been approached differently. Really the entire opening with the parents could have been a few pages on their own. Now that doesn’t mean it would be interesting, but it would have been better than me meeting them and instantly not carrying about them a panel later.
Most of the story doesn’t make any sense. Greeks with Katanas and armor? What I assume is Japanese people sailing to Greece to… wed? I mean it’s a comic book so I’ll give you a pass on the fact that they’re all speaking English, but when you think about it this is a story between Japanese people and Greek people and they’re having no problems communicating… and it’s not set in modern-day in case you were wondering.
The CG is okay. There’s plenty wrong with it, but considering that it was one person for everything I can accept that they did a hell of a job on their own. They still have a ways to go though. A lot of angles are just weird. Like I said the baby crib, which is more of a modern crib that doesn’t fit the era, is floating in the room due to the angle of the floor and the crib.
It’s better than what I could do with CG, but again it doesn’t tell the story on its own. I don’t want to slam it too much, but really it’s a series of jump cuts more than anything else.
It sucks to write a review like this and I could have easily mocked and made fun of the creator’s efforts, but I didn’t see how that would give them any feedback to improve upon. It’s clear that they wanted to tell a story and try something different and while I don’t think it was successful at least they attempted it. Hopefully they’ll learn and grow from this first issue and produce a stronger more cohesive second issue.
Writer: Sabrina Childress-Miller Artist: Alfred Miller Jr. Publisher: C&M Concepts Price: $.99 Website