I tried watching the NBA quintuple-header yesterday, but ESPN's signal kept fritzing out during the first game. I first thought it was the TV, but that was the only channel having problems. My theory is ESPN was warned by some federal regulatory agency they would be criminally liable if their viewers contracted eye cancer from watching Bulls/Nets, and the Worldwide Leader decided not to take chances.
Katana #9 and 10, by Ann Nocenti (writer), Chriscross (penciler/inker, #9), Cliff Richards (penciler/inker, #9 & 10), Alex Sanchez (penciler, #10), Wayne Faucher (inker, #9), Keith Champagne & Prentiss Rollins (inkers, #10), Matt Yackey (colorist), Taylor Esposito (letterer, #9), Dezi Sienty (letterer, #10) - Look at that mess of credits. Yeesh. And on that cover, that seems an odd angle for Katana's arm to be bent at. I'd expect it to be flung out to the side. I guess it does convey the awkwardness that would come with being surprised.
Since the book was abruptly canceled, there's a lot that has to be crammed into this. Katana has to go after Mona Shard, the ghost of a vicious killer running around in the body of a little girl. Which is a problem, since Katana isn't going to kill a kid, no matter how much Sickle and Coil insist she must. Shun has decided to strike back against the poeple who covered her body with tattoos and scars, leading ultimately to that smug scumbag Coil. I greatly enjoyed watching him get kneecapped. The Mad Samurai that possessed the sumo has to make his move (to take Soultaker for himself), Tatsu has another conversation with the Falconer, learns the truth about Junko (not what I expected), and has a reconciliation of sorts with Maseo, her husband. Which would have been a lot more touching if it hadn't been done in one page.
This book wasn't nearly as good as Dial H, but I'm still frustrated by the abrupt ending, as I was with Mieville and Ponticelli's book. This was worse in some ways, because Mieville at least got to start some things, then had to rush them. Here, Nocenti hadn't even gotten to really get going. Like, she introduced the idea that the Daggers are mostly lower income class crooks, while the Sword Clans are more high roller types, who enjoy keeping the Daggers under their boot. So there's a class aspect to it, with Katana in the midst of it as an apparent lady of privilege in the middle. It's something Nocenti's touched on before, the idea that running around punching bad guys only does so much to address problems, but Tatsu's situation is different from Matt Murdock or Oliver Queen's, and I would have liked to see where it went. No such luck now. The storyline with the Mad Samurai had barely gotten started, Katana was going to have to go after the Creeper at some point, not to mention that dragon, Shun's arc might have been better if given more time to slowly boil over.
Cliff Richards is still the best artist this book had, and he handles the last few pages of each issue, Those are, incidentally, the best looking pages. He's really fond of slanted panels, plus he has his own inking style. Heavy on shadows around characters, but not in a way that it clouds everything. Used instead just for nice effect, to allow for contrast, and he's good at maintaining the continuity from panel-to-panel. Maybe a small thing, but there are a lot of artists that don't seem to manage that. Anyway, the shift to slanted panels was how I could tell where Chriscross' art ended in issue 9, and Richards' began. Chriscross was sticking to grids. Sometimes only three panels, sometimes up to 7, but nice, straight squares and rectangles, all neat and level. I wasn't so fond of his faces. There's a 3-panel sequence where we see Tatsu from the side and she looks pretty different in all 3 panels, especially her nose.
Alex Sanchez draws most of issue 10, with two inkers (I'm guessing Richards just inked his own work, but I could be wrong) - so the style shifts a lot from one page to another. Not a fan. On page 5, I can't tell quite what the point of the two panels of the toys floating in the air is. Katana trying to reconstruct the fight? Her freaking out because of the weight of everything she's done and where she's found herself? I'm really not sure.
The book never got far enough along to be more than potential, but I believed in that potential. Too bad for me, I guess.