Katana is a superb samurai, she uses her deadly sword, The Soultaker, to fight evil around the world. The mystic sword contains the soul of every person killed by it and Katana can communicate with those souls.
Tatsu Yamashiro was an average Japanese girl, save for her proficiency in the martial arts. Two brothers, Maseo and Takeo Yamashiro, both proclaimed their love for her. While she liked both, she chose Maseo. This angered Takeo, who refused to attend the couple's wedding. By this time, he had joined the Yakuza, receiving a large dragon tattoo across his chest to mark himself as such. As a result, his family disowned him.
After the deaths of Tatsu's parents, (cause unknown) she and Maseo started a family of their own, and she gave birth to twins, Yuki and Reiko. Meanwhile, Takeo rose in rank of the Yakuza, and one of his exotic tastes included ancient weapons. He was presented with a pair of matched swords by General Karnz, one of which Takeo favored due to its mystical properties, which would come to be known as the Soultaker.
One night, Takeo took both swords to the Yamashiro residence. Tossing the non-powered sword to his brother and demanding he duel for Tatsu, he quickly struck Maseo down. In the course of the fight, Takeo accidentally started a fire, and while distracted by his children, Maseo was slain with the Soultaker.
Tatsu arose just in time to see her husband die, and engaged Takeo, gaining the upper hand and disarming him. When she attempted to go after 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.
Tatsu began training as a samurai under a master called Tadashi. After much time she graduated from his tutorship and left for America where she intended to use her talents to fight for justice. She took the codename Katana after the sword that she wielded.
Eventually Tatsu journeyed to Markovia, a small Baltic state, where she had tracked down Karnz, and she was successful in killing him. After the fight she encountered a young girl who was named Halo. The two joined up to rescue Batman, who got captured by a blunder by Halo, and his employee Lucius Fox from their captor, Baron Bedlam.
Batman resigned his membership in the Justice League when they refused to help him in his pursuit of the Baron, and he decided instead to form the Outsiders, who were meant to be more pro-active against threats. Katana and Halo became founding members of the team, alongside Black Lightning, Geo-Force and Metamorpho.
The team managed to end the Baron's tyranny in Markovia and moved to Gotham City, where they set up their headquarters (a former penthouse of Bruce Wayne, secretly the Batman). Tatsu became Halo's guardian and the two moved into the penthouse.
At the same time, Takeo was still at large and had followed Tatsu to Gotham City. Secretly he switched swords with her and left for Tokyo with the Outsiders on his tail. Takeo took the sword to his master, the godfather of the Yakuza, known only as the Oyabun. Performing a specific ritual, the Oyabun and Takeo managed to recall the souls that inhabited the sword, who proceeded to take corporeal form. Among them were legendary mercenaries and assassins, but also Maseo, who was now a slave to the Oyabun. Katana had to fight them all and after a long battle that took its toll, Katana was able to reclaim the Soultaker and kill Takeo, and she could finally put an end to some of her ghosts. By undoing the ritual however, her husband returned into the sword as well.
At one point the Outsiders split from Batman's leadership and took up residence in Markovia where they were funded by the Markovian crown (Geo-Force is a prince of the royal family). They became the official agents of Markovia and moved to the city of Los Angeles where they made their headquarters in the Markovian embassy, while retaining another secret HQ just off the shore. Although Tatsu had left her past behind, the Oyabun returned in her life and sent a tengu after, with which he captured her. Her teammates in the Outsiders, namely Halo and Looker were able to save her using other tengu and the tengu leader, who aided them in battle.
After a while, the team disbanded after various tragic events surrounding Geo-Force's parents and Markovia. Nonetheless the Outsiders were forced to defend Markovia against the Manhunters, but during the fight Halo was knocked into a coma, saving Katana's life. Bounded by giri-ninjo (a debt of honor even unto death), Tatsu left the team so she could tend to Halo's wounds. During that time however, she was approached by a family member of her husband, who wished her to accompany the Suicide Squad on a mission to destroy a large horde of weapons that was about to be sold to the Yakuza. She declined on the basis of her giri-ninjo, although she was willing to help if the need was truly desperate.
That family member was later killed, and she went after the killer, the Daichi-Doku's Oyabun (of which her relative was a member), who did not wish to see the weapons destroyed and tried to stop the Suicide Squad. During that adventure, she saved the life of Bronze Tiger and Manhunter (Mark Shaw), making them honor-bound to her by giri-ninjo. Mark Shaw then assisted her in taking down the Daichi-Doku's Oyabun. The Oyabun committed ritual suicide and Katana stood by as his 'second', ready to help with a blade strike so he could keep his honor.
Returning to the Outsiders
Eventually though the Outsiders re-form and return to Markovia. Instead of a peaceful reunion however, the team become trapped in a web of public relations that brands them outlaws. Although the charges would be dropped eventually the team was fractured. Halo dies from an assassin's blast but was reborn in a new body, which put an immense strain on Tatsu's relationship with Halo.
Katana joins a team with Geo-Force and Technocrat, taking the lead. During a lone mission, Tadashi, her old mentor sends Lady Shiva to claim Katana's Soultaker sword. Shiva confronts Katana, who had been battling a gang of drug dealers. Katana had slain many, but refuses to kill the youngest member, something Shiva insults her for.
Shiva, being world-renowned as the world's greatest assassin and fighter, was able to kill Katana with her own sword. Katana returns to life after a trial by combat within her sword, which includes confronting many of the souls of the people she had killed. Afterwards, she manages to find her old mentor and take his life.
The two splinter teams would eventually reunite, to take on more supernatural threats focused around the new team member Faust. Katana and her friends suffer through the mental and physical tortures that Faust's father, Felix, puts them through. Halo eventually frees them by destroying several of Felix's items of power. Soon after, the group breaks apart. After disbanding, Tatsu has kept her association with her old allies among the Outsiders (such as Black Lightning, Geo-Force and Halo), and although they did not operate as an official team, were always seen alongside each other during major crises.
Her close ties to Batman also saw her fighting by his side, several times, notably during the Imperiex crisis and the Day of Judgment incident when hell invades Earth. The main battle against the villain, the rogue angel Asmodel, with the power of the Spectre, takes place in New York. Katana personally protects Madame Xanadu who is guarding the rest of Asmodel's power with a mystical shield. Katana's protection of Xanadu is assisted by Doctor Occult, Phantom Stranger and Alan Scott.
Later, Katana assists Batman when he and Superman were declared outlaws. Katana was also called upon by Black Canary, together with other female mercenaries, in order to rescue Oracle from Senator Pullman. After Oracle was saved, Katana received a card, together with the promise of a favor if required.
She joined a new team of Outsiders after assisting them in defeating a more powerful Sabbac. It consisted of all new members, with the exception of Metamorpho who rejoined the team after Shift's demise. Later, Katana dons a new costume, as she felt it inappropriate to wear a costume based on Japan's flag. The country had revoked her citizenship due to her membership with the controversial team. Later, Katana summons Sabbac to destroy Dr. Sivana's base with his Hellfire.
Katana remained an active member of the Outsiders following One Year Later. Initially, the team is led by Nightwing, but later leadership transfers to Batman. Batman decides to 'test' Katana and the rest of the initial team, in order to design a better team. Katana is Batman's first official recruit.
While escorting Killer Croc to incarceration, the Outsiders' vehicle is demolished by Maseo, Yuki, and Reiko, who have all been revived as Black Lanterns. Katana, believing that she has been reunited with her lost family, lets her guard down, but is saved from death by her teammates. Realizing the truth, she draws her sword, preparing to fight her undead husband. When Katana stabs Maseo, Soultaker reveals to her the Black Lanterns' full intentions. Her attacks soon prove to be completely ineffectual against Maseo, who is instead destroyed by an outpouring of light from Halo, who also destroyed Katana's children.
After the events of Flashpoint the DC Universe was drastically changed. Katana was asked by Black Canary to join the Birds of Prey she was also recommended by Barbara Gordon together with Starling and Poison Ivy, who joins the team even though Katana wasn't very happy about it,the team find out that on a train three people have bombs in their heads. The four of them go on to the train and stop it, after learning that Black Canary also had a bomb in her head.
After the bombs are removed they learn where the person who has been doing this is and with the Help of Batgirl they break into the building, only to get sent outside again with no memory of what happened and with out Batgirl. She uses a sword that she says has her husband's soul in it, though it is not known if its true or not.
- In the Flashpoint universe, Katana joined with the Amazons' Furies.
Powers and Abilities
- Master Martial Artist
- Skilled Samurai Warrior
- Soultaker Sword: The Soultaker, along with its non-powered twin, was forged in the 14th century by Muramasa, whose swords were said to be cursed and make those who were evil commit evil acts. It sometimes takes the souls of those it kills, storing them inside the sword, where they can engage in limited communication with whoever wields it. These souls can be reincarnated by the means of a sacred ritual, under which they serve their summoner, even if it is against their will.
- In addition to the Soultaker, Katana often carries additional Oriental weaponry into battle.
In other media
- Katana appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Enter the Outsiders!" voiced by Vyvan Pham, and later by Kim Mai Guest. She is shown as a member of the Outsiders alongside Black Lightning and Metamorpho, as teenagers rather new to their abilities. They served the sewer-dwelling villain Slug until Batman and Wildcat defeated him and persuaded them not to follow Slug's ways. Katana was mostly silent, typically letting her actions talk for her. She didn't get a speaking role until after Wildcat had a heart attack, advising the other Outsiders on how to save him (it is shown she is knowledgeable in terms of defibrilitation). She first reminds them to listen up as she hates to repeat herself. Katana, along with Black Lightning and Metamorpho, are seen in a holographic training simulator with Batman in the teaser of "Duel of the Double Crossers!", where they had to protect a virtual city from a virtual Despero. In "Inside the Outsiders!", a different origin is explored via a nightmare created by Psycho-Pirate: Katana was the student of Tadashi, who was killed by the evil samurai Takeo. Psycho-Pirate makes her believe that it was her talkative nature that led Takeo to Tadashi, leading to her becoming silent out of shame. Batman reminds her that this was not what happened; Tadashi sacrificed himself to make her a greater warrior, and her silence honors his teachings of self-control. She briefly appears in "The Siege of Starro! Part One", where she is shown as one of the numerous heroes under the mental control of Starro. She attacks Firestorm with her sword, but is easily defeated after he hits her with an energy blast. She is shown to be wearing a new costume from this point onwards. In the teaser of the episode "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!", she and the other Outsiders fight and defeat Kobra with the aid of two new members: Geo-Force and Halo.
Beware the Batman
- Katana appears in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.
- An evil version of Katana known as Sai appears as a member of the Crime Syndicate of America in the animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. As her name implies, this version uses sai as opposed to her trademark swords. However, in this version she wears a cat's mask which is more popularly associated with Cheshire from the Teen Titans animated series.