Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise - Part One by Gene Luen Yang et al.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise - Part One written by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru, lettering by Michael Heisler

This graphic novel picks up right where the TV show left off. Prince Zuko is now Fire Lord Zuko and he works to undo all the damage his father and the Fire Nation did when it tried to take over the world. The main project (for this story at least) is removing colonies from the Earth Nation. Avatar Aang volunteers to help the repatriation. Before they start, Zuko asks Aang for a favor--if Zuko ever starts acting like his father (i.e. like an evil tyrant bent on advancing the Fire Nation's cause against all others), Aang should kill him. Zuko realizes the pressure of leadership could change him and he thinks both he and the world need a safety net. Aang reluctantly agrees.

The story jumps forward a year later. Things have been going well on the surface. Zuko is a bit paranoid about being assassinated. His policy is unpopular with his people, especially the ones who have been living for generations as colonists in the Earth Kingdom. He has second thoughts about the colonies that have been in place for over a hundred years. People have integrated with the locals and they feel the land belongs to them as much as anyone else. Zuko gives in and announces he will stop the repatriation, but will that lead back to war?

The story has a depth casual readers wouldn't expect. The political messiness of the situation is quite interesting and isn't resolved with some simple moral platitudes like you'd see in Saturday morning cartoons.

The art is exactly the same as the TV series which is good. There's plenty of action and humor, also just like the TV show. I am looking forward to the next issue!

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