So it’s no secret that we’re all fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra here at BoxOfficeBUZ (except for Moh, that soulless jerk) and as such we were all patiently and eagerly awaiting the slow releases of the Avatar comics. In this case the story line The Promise. After many a game of Tic Tac Toe I emerge victorious from my fellow writers with the rights to be the one to write this article.
Bridging the gap between the ending of The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, The Promise is made up of three tradeback length issues and follows the various members of Team Avatar after the war ends and how they try to restore peace and balance to the four nations. The first part actually has several scenes from the final episode of The Last Airbender scattered throughout but also the moment that this series takes its name from. During the Earth Kingdom’s celebrations of the end of the war Zuko makes Aang promise him that should he ever start to become like his father, to step in and kill him should it be necessary.
While hostilities between the nations have ended there is still the issue of the various Fire Nation colonies spread along the Earth Kingdom territories. As part of “The Harmony Restoration Movement” the various Fire Nation Colonists are forced to vacate their homes and return to the Fire Nation. You have the normal sense of loss as people who did not take part in the war but moved to the colonies looking for better living opportunities are forced to leave their homes but things are going smoothly until Yu Dao. The first of the Fire Nation Colonies, Yu Dao has existed for almost the entirety of the 100 Years War and serves not only as the largest canker and reminder of the horrible war, but ironically, also the only bridging point between any of the four nations.
We see in Yu Dao that while Firebenders and Earthbenders are not equals, they, by and large, live in harmony with one another. The governing lord of Yu Dao’s wife is an Earthbender and their daughter a Firebender. As pressure is building in Yu Dao, Fire Lord Zuko is having to fend off assassination attempts as radical elements, convinced of the previous 100 years of propaganda, feel that he is a traitor to his own people. Desperately looking for guidance Zuko goes to the one person who has the experience necessary to guide him in his new role, former Firelord Ozai. His desperation is understandable when you consider the forces he is trying to balance.
On the one hand he helped the Avatar depose his father and end the 100 Years War and the Harmony Restoration Movement works to further those ends, to restore the balance lost in the world a century before. At the same time, however, thousands of his citizens, non-combatants, old and young are being forced out of their homes and leaving their lives as a result of a conflict that many of them took no part in. There are a great many citizens who were born in the colonies but never joined the Fire Nation armed forces and so had little stake in a war that they were born into. Caught between the need to bring peace to the world and his responsibility to his people Zuko is unable to sleep or even talk to the people around him. As tensions mount Aang has to wonder whether he'll have to make good on his vow, or if there's a better way to maintain the new and fragile peace.
The comics are all about the new world after the ending of the 100 Years War. Or, more specifically, the establishment of what the world must now become. We see the first steps taken in these comics. Toph opens the first school of Metal Benders as Kitara and Aang’s relationship matures while Zuko deals with the responsibilities of the crown and trying to avoid the legacy of his family. It is fairly obvious that Yu Dao is the precursor to Republic City which we see later in Korra.
Really the only negatives I can level at these comics is that large portions of it seem rather juvenile. While I realize that the books and television show are meant for a younger audience, the humor and charm that the show had through its ‘for kids’ moments doesn’t translate too well into comic book form.
If you are thinking that these comics just continue what you’ve seen throughout The Last Airbender to its logical conclusions you’d be wrong. There are quite a few twists and turns throughout and the comics are just as poignant and emotionally involving at times as the most moving moments of the show itself was.
The best part? This isn’t the end. The final book sets up the next stage of the bridging comics, entitled The Search and it will chronicle Team Avatar’s search for Zuko and Azula’s mother: Ursa.