For AAPI Heritage Month, we’re showcasing some of DC’s best Asian superheroes and characters. Two characters who rank near the absolute top of that food chain are Lady Shiva and Katana. Both women have a lifetime of combat training that’s incomparable to other fighters, and both have recently worked with the Batman as members of the latest incarnation of the Outsiders. And as it also happens, both women absolutely hate each other! So, what happens when circumstances pull them back together, aligning with two other women who also work outside the law? As we see in the three-part short story, “Memory Lane,” the result is a brand-new Birds of Prey team, led by Shiva and Katana!

The Premise:

In Gotham City, a new app has gone live with a hook too good to be true. Memory Lane is a software application which uses what’s known as synthetic reality to give users access to any memory they wish to relive, playing it in their brains through a special Bluetooth system akin to virtual reality. Things quickly turn pear-shaped (as things naturally do in Gotham City) and the users are psychically attacked from inside their minds.

Enter Lady Shiva. From orders and mysterious intel that she claims comes from Batman, she gathers her rival Katana, the young streetwise pickpocket known as Ghost and Miracle Molly—the tech genius who came into prominence during Gotham City’s Fear State. Their target is Noah Grove, a metahuman who suffers from prosopagnosia—a condition which hinders a person’s ability to recognize faces, including their own. Grove wields the power of reminiscence, an ability that uses people’s memories against them. As the psychic attack on Gotham starts to get underway, the new Birds pool their resources to locate Grove before the city falls under the control of Memory Lane’s mysterious creator Richard Roe in this story which initially ran in Batman: Urban Legends #14-16.

Let’s Talk Talent:

“Memory Lane” is headed up by two rising talents here at DC. Writer Che Grayson is no stranger to not only the Batman: Urban Legends series, but to the character of Lady Shiva, having penned a short story focusing on the deadly assassin in Batman: Urban Legends #3 (which has been collected along with “Memory Lane” in Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 4). Grayson’s take on Shiva is an emotional one, endlessly haunted by her relationship with her estranged daughter Cassandra. With a story about people’s memories attacking them when they least expect it, Grayson wastes no time showing off what gnaws at Shiva’s spirit.

Artist Serg Acuña has also been making waves at DC in recent years. His work on recent issues of Nightwing and Tim Drake: Robin shows he has a real flair for depicting the Bat-Family. “Memory Lane” is no different, with many eclectic characters contrasting with one another in extreme ways. From the grounded and realistically rendered young Ghost, to the sleek and understated Katana, to the wild and colorful Miracle Molly, Acuña brings excitement to each new member of the Birds, as both penciller and inker.

Not to be neglected is Ivan Plascencia, whose colors pop wonderfully in every setting, from Gotham City Square to the haunted hallways of Noah Grove’s cabin hideout. This is a special team brought together for this high-paced adventure, and it’s this writer’s hope that they continue with these characters in a future series.

A Few Reasons to Read:

  • As mentioned earlier, this series does pick up on the rivalry between Shiva and Katana from the pages of Batman and The Outsiders, written by Bryan Edward Hill. While that series—great as it was—isn’t required reading to enjoy this short arc, acknowledging it is a great tip of the hat to DC readers. Additionally, Katana and Shiva are separated from Batman and Cassandra Cain, so they’re allowed to interact on a different level than we usually see—more professional than personal.
  • This new Birds of Prey team contrasts a lot with the classic version. While Oracle and Black Canary are famous besties who bring on a circle of heroes that they grow close to, this team is purely mechanical in its needs. In fact, any familiarity actually breeds contempt. Shiva and Katana already know and dislike one another, Miracle Molly is arguably a villain (though she claims she’s a freedom fighter) and Ghost is a teenage pickpocket. Not exactly a collective of superheroes, but it’s that combination that makes the team fascinating to read.
  • In addition to Shiva, Che Grayson also explore the psychological and emotional hang-ups of Katana—now haunted by the loss of her sword Soultaker’s ability to communicate with her dead husband. With Memory Lane allowing one to access whatever memory they desire, the team’s first official mission contains a potentially fatal weakness with one of its members…

Why It’s Worth Your Time:

Batman: Urban Legends is a series that highlights a variety of Gotham’s heroes and villains, and with “Memory Lane,” heroes and villains are given the spotlight and the opportunity to work together to save the city underneath Batman’s notice. Classic characters team up with new characters to combat a threat that, in the world of AI and Chat GPT, may be closer to reality than we might realize. Additionally, this story highlights the best of Shiva and Katana—classic characters who have been around since the 1970s and 1980s. By pitting them against each other as they work together, confront their past and team with new young heroes, “Memory Lane” serves as an integral chapter in their ongoing story.

“Memory Lane” by Che Grayson, Serg Acuña and Ivan Plascencia can be found in Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 4, available now in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and digital retailers. It can also be read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Donovan Morgan Grant writes about comics, graphic novels and superhero history for Follow him on Twitter at @donoDMG1.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Donovan Morgan Grant and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.