Comics Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part One

January 23, 2012 Comics, Reading, Reviews 0

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part OneAvatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part One by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru

Series: Yes, part one of The Promise series
Genre(s): Comics/Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Release Date: 7 February 2012
Available Formats: Trade Paperback
Description: The wait is over! Ever since the conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its millions of fans have been hungry for more – and it”s finally here! Think of it as Book (season) Four of Avatar! This series rejoins Aang and friends for exciting new adventures, beginning with a face-off against the Fire Nation that threatens to throw the world into another war, testing all of Aang’s powers and ingenuity! Written by National Book Award Nominee Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese), in close collaboration with series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, this is the story that Avatar lovers have been clamoring for, as well as a perfect jumping-on point for new fans!

This review is based on a copy received from NetGalley.

TDF Pamela’s Review:

I was late to the game when it came to the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon. My friends had been telling me to watch it for ages, but I finally got around to Netflixing it last year. And man, am I hooked. I have to stop myself from compulsively rewatching it.

So I was VERY excited to hear about The Promise, a three part graphic novel series that will bridge the gap between the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the upcoming series set in the same world, The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra. I’ve also heard great things about Gene Luen Yang and have been meaning to read American Born Chinese for ages. So Part One is awesome for me: I get to indulge my desire for more Avatar stories, and I get to check out Yang’s writing.

Suffice to say, I was not disappointed at all in The Promise Part One. The story picks up not long after the end of the series, with new Fire Lord Zuko and Avatar Aang attempting to find a solution to the Fire Nation colonies that will keep the Fire Nation people happy and also keep the Earth Nation protesters from smashing the colony cities with giant boulders.

The storyline is great, focusing on Zuko’s difficulties in ruling the Fire Nation and trying to not turn into his father along with Aang’s reluctance to keep his promise to Zuko that he would take Zuko down if his friend ever started to act like Fire Lord Ozai. As part one of a trilogy, the plot is mostly concerned with setting up the conflict for parts two and three, which is okay. It’ll leave you frustrated at the end, because part two won’t be out for how many more months?! But it is alternately serious and funny, much like the television series, and Yang has the characterizations spot on. Toph and Sokka in particular made me laugh out loud a few times.

The artwork works really well, too; it’s like the artist has taken the fluid animation of the series and distilled it down into still images that still somehow manage to capture the motion and grace of the cartoon. I love the subtle aging in the young characters; they still look much like they did in the series, but you can see that they’re taller, a bit more developed, a bit more adult-like in their expressions. They’re still teenagers, still young and trying to find their place in this new world, but you can see the seeds of maturity in them.

Click to embiggen

My only complaint? Aang and Katara constantly calling each other “sweetie.” But luckily, the other characters are as uncomfortable with the cutesy pet name and rib the couple incessantly. So it’s not really a complaint, but more of a high-five to Sokka for making fun of them for doing it. ;)

Everything looks great, and this really feels like a solid continuation of the series. I can’t wait to read the next two parts.

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