One of DC’s own anti-heroines, the warrior known as Katana has no special powers beyond superb martial arts and a sense of justice. Hopefully, she’ll move out of the “underrated” list with her appearance in the 2016 movie, The Suicide Squad. For now, though, she’s:
No. 4: Katana
Alias: Tatsu Yamashiro
Abilities: Master Hand-to-Hand Martial Artist, Master Swordswoman
Paraphernalia: The Soultaker Sword
Tatsu Yamashiro was an ordinary Japanese girl, save for her proficiency in the martial arts. Two brothers, Maseo and Takeo both proclaimed their love for her, but she chose Maseo. Takeo, angered by this, refused to attend their wedding. He revealed himself to have joined the Yakuza, and his family disowned him. Tatsu and Maseo started a family of their own, and she gave birth to twins, Yuki and Reiko. Takeo rose in rank in the Yakuza, and his exotic tastes included ancient weapons. He was gifted with a pair of matched swords, one of which had mystical properties, and which would come to be known as the Soultaker.
He arrived one night to duel his brother for Tatsu, and accidentally started a fire. While Maseo was distracted by his screaming children, Takeo killed him with Soultaker. Tatsu arrived just in time to see her husband die, and engaged Takeo, defeating and disarming him. Just about to go back for her children, she heard her husband’s voice telling her to turn back – coming from the sword. She listened and watched as her house burned.
She took up the sword and began training under master Tadashi. When her tutorship ended, she left for America, intending to use her talents to fight for justice, taking the codename Katana.
Katana was one of DC’s earliest Asian superheroes, as well as one of the few Asian superheroes of notoriety, as, despite her noble intentions, she often comes into conflict with superheroes who have a no-kill policy, running afoul of Batman and his associates more than once. Because of this, she is sometimes portrayed as a villain, or at best as an anti-hero, despite her heroic tendencies and belief in justice.
Before gaining prominence on her own, she often served as a guest character in many long-runners, and proved capable of fighting even super-powered villains alongside the likes of the Flash with her mystical blade.
Perhaps noting the popularity of the character, despite her limited screen-time, she was eventually cast as one of the leads of the Birds of Prey in the The New 52 reboot of the DC Universe.
The Soultaker Sword was said to have been forged in the 14th century by the famous weaponsmith, Muramasa, whose swords were reputedly cursed. It sometimes took the souls of those it killed, storing them inside the blade, enabling a limited communication with the wielder. These souls can be reincarnated by the means of a sacred ritual, under which they may serve their summoner, even if it is against their will.
- Tatsu Yamashiro appeared in Season Three of Arrow, donning her iconic mask.
- Katana is set to appear in the new Suicide Squad Movie.
- Katana is one of the most proficient martial artists in the DC universe, thought to rank slightly below Batman, and Lady Shiva in ability, considered to be roughly equal to Deathstroke and Nightwing (who has defeated Batman in combat).