Alternative Character Interpretation: Upon realizing what position Azula is in at the end, many have posited that she doesn't actually have amnesia, as it's all a ploy to get in good with the Water Tribe royalty so she can dismantle the entire civilization from the inside.
Angst Dissonance: The constant weeping, the gloomy dialogue that gets copy-and-pasted as much as the art, and the really stupid spelling mistakes tend to ruin the drama for most readers.
Ass Pull: Ursa's return; we never get any explanation about where she's been or why Iroh waited until that moment to bring her around and no one seems to address it in story at all.
Bile Fascination: This is probably one of the reasons why the comic gets attention at all.
Canon Defilement: The names are misspelled, the mechanics of bending are all wrong, the characters are unrecognizable, and somehow we've translocated to the Theme Park Version of 18th century France if costume and architecture are anything to go by.
Katara. She's presented as vain ("I'm sure that Kuzon will come out quite charming, with me as his mom."), self-absorbed ("[Kuzon] died years ago, a day before my birthday..." emphasis not added), and murderous (do we even really need to mention Mai's horrifying death again?). Yet she's somehow always right and no one ever questions her.
The same could be said for Zuko. Cheats on his wife, fathers a baby with the designated heroine mentioned above, smacks Mai when she confronts him, leaves his kingdom to go to Katara... and yet we're supposed to sympathize with him?
Designated Villain: Mai. She gets mad at her husband- whom she's genuinely in love with- for having an affair, whereupon he strikes her. Not only that, but the fact she hid the letters telling Zuko about his child is apparently hideous treason. It's not a nice thing to do, sure, but she had good reasons to do so and it's certainly not treason. Particularly when Katara had every intention of hiding the child from Zuko anyway, and the only reason the letter came anywhere close to Mai or Zuko is a clerical error.
Depending on how seriously you take the feudalism of the setting (and for HIBY, that would be "very much"), a son who is a potential claimant to the throne can be a very big deal, to the point where it actually would be treason to hide his existence from the monarch. Illegitimate sons, especially with a princess of another state, are just the sort of thing that can easily start wars in a feudal system. Zuko isn't being unreasonable about that, even if he's being a jerk to Mai in a number of other ways.
Die for Our Ship: Mai is evil because if she wasn't, then Zuko wouldn't be justified in leaving her for a girl he met a few years ago.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Sho, to an extent. Probably because (a) he's an original character, and therefore does not bastardize any Avatar characters simply by his presence, (b) his "evil" alignment means he's generally trying to kill off said bastardizations of Avatar characters, and (c) he's pretty much the only badass and good-looking character in the comic.
Evil Is Cool: Sho actually manages to pull this off. He comes in out of basically nowhere, nonchalantly tossing around a knife like Mai. Then, he fights Sokka singlehandedly, slyly trash-talking with arguably the most cleverly-written dialogue in the entire comic (not that that's saying much). He almost manages to defeat him, too, until Toph steps in. And then he escapes with a badass firebending move that nobody has seen before.
Evil Is Sexy: Diaz tries to dial this down with Sho as much as possible because he's supposed to be evil. However, interested readers will notice that Sho is more muscular than Zuko, Sokka, and Aang.
Toph, after hearing that Sokka revealed Kuzon's existence by sending a letter to Zuko, says "Katara is going to kill you... I can only imagine what Mai will do to Zuko...". A demonized, Out of Character, Yandere Mai poisons Katara, causing her to miscarry note it had happened at the time, but Katara was unaware of Mai's involvement at this point in the story, and later tries to kill her herself.
It's astonishing how similar Zuko confronting Mai about hiding the existence of his love child with Katara by hiding her letters until a servant showed them to him is to Ozai confronting Ursa in a flashback in The Search over Zuko being Ikem's son rather than Ozai's- he was wrong but didn't know it at the time, something he learned by the servant Ursa entrusted to deliver her letters betraying her and giving them to Ozai. Zuko may be turning out more like Ozai than he thought here.
Bloodbending is performed without requiring the full moon, which became canon in The Legend of Korra.
Sho's use of firebending to make a disappearing act is also highly similar to something Zaheer did in season 3 of Korra, only he did it with air, a far more transparent element, making Sho's move suddenly all the more plausible.
Idiot Plot: Had Sokka not been an idiot and checked where the Messenger Hawks were going, Mai would never have got the letter. Had Zuko not been an idiot and contacted Katara on his own, many misunderstandings would have been cleared up before they became problems (and he'd have less to Wangst about). Had Mai not been an idiot and burnt the letter from Katara, Zuko would never have found out about the baby. Common sense would have made for a much shorter and far less melodramatic plot.
Hana also has a bit with an amnesiac Azula, telling her how beautiful she is several times in the conversation.
There's this line from Zuko and Katara's reunion, which can be read this way if one wants to:
Katara: Nights spent without you in the Earth Kingdom with Toph, I'd find myself thinking about you, wondering if you were happy in the Fire Nation. I hoped that you were ...
Katara's dialogue with Azula when she is braiding her hair. They're talking about her and Sokka, but it'd be quite easy to edit it to mean something else.
Katara: Where you come from or who you were doesn't matter when it comes to love. (...) It wouldn't be wrong. You're a beautiful woman, and I'm glad I know you as such now ...
In the same conversation, she (Katara) thinks Sokka would have to be crazy not to be attracted to her (Azula), given how gorgeous she is, and spends several speech bubbles giving a detailed description, from her figure to her beautiful eyes. All while affectionately clasping her shoulders.
What seemingly drives Katara to finally bloodbend Mai to death is not the revelation that she murdered her and Zuko's child, but that she (appears to have) killed Azula.
Moral Event Horizon: Mai killing Katara's unborn baby via poisoned fruit is meant to be this. For more objective readers, it's Katara bloodbending Mai to death, when she was perfectly capable of merely incapacitating her so she would be taken to trial for attempted murder.
Ron the Death Eater: Mai, who poisons Katara to cause her to have a miscarriage and later tries to kill her. Then again, this might be a subversion, as she's arguably more sympathetic than Zuko or Katara.
Rooting for the Empire: Since many of the comic's detractors feel that the heroes are hardly very heroic, it's no surprise that most of them root for Mai and Sho due to Mai being a lot more sympathetic than Katara and Sho being a badass.
Zuko confronting Mai about her actions regarding his love child with Katara. It's memorable partly because it's a good indicator of the comic's sense of morality (the "hero" cheats on his devoted wife and sires a bastard, his wife secretly has the child aborted to avoid any backlash from the scandal, and her husband physically assaults her for it), and writing (two words: "chardmonster").
Katara bloodbending Mai to death, is fairly well remembered, given that it's not only highly morally questionable, it's also a blatant violation of canon.
Snark Bait: There have already been dramatic readings!
So Bad, It's Good: The art is blatantly traced, and often seems completely unbelievable for the situation. The characters are ludicrously Out of Character, and the dialogue is terribly written, but there's quite a few unintentionally funny moments and lines.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Just about everything that goes on in the background could have made a more interesting story than the actual story. Aang finding a underground temple of surviving Air Nomads? Glossed over in the prologue. Azula's adventures, which somehow involved her blackmailing Mai to get a seat in the new Fire Senate while simultaneously dressing like a ninja? Never elaborated upon. Sho's existence? Nope. We get to focus on a convoluted and increasingly stupid romance story between six fatally brain-dead people.
Uncanny Valley: Virtually everybody, due to the very blatantly traced artwork. Specific examples include:
Aang. Good lord, Aang. He's usually drawn with a preteen's head, an adult's body, and grotesquely extended limbs.
Katara, due to her skinny limbs and weird fish lips. Not helping is the fact that she keeps that same exact face for about 90 percent of the comic.
Toph at several points in the comic sports perhaps one of the most (unintentionally) frighteningSlasher Smiles ever...
Unfortunate Implications: As this review states, this story is written by a woman who portrays the women she writes as completely useless without men. Either that, or said women pull all kinds of crap on others either just to get the men to look at them, or to punish other women for taking away "their" men's attentions.
Not to mention that Diaz completely removes Suki from the plot, instead giving Sokka a "happy" ending with the extremelyChickified Azula... but then steals Suki's design to create two servants, one Mai's maid another Toph's.
All the heroic women wear European-style fancy dresses. Mai is the only one to retain the show's Asian themes, and she's the villain.
How I Became Yours is a World of Buxom... except for the antagonist Mai.
Azula is told that her entire purpose is to give birth to a child, and that even her relationship with Sokka was manipulated by the gods.
On a more subtle level, the fic erodes Katara's and Azula's agency by having their brothers blame themselves for the girls' actions. Sokka says that Azula getting stabbed is because of him, despite him having no hand in the events that lead to it. Zuko hopes the gods will forgive him for his and Azula's actions and save Azula.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: Mai is supposed to be the straight villain, and does some pretty nasty things, but the comic makes it very clear that everything Mai did is because she is in love with Zuko. Despite everybody else's love being so important to the series, the series itself never treats Mai's feelings as important.
Katara is supposed to be seen as the torn heroine who has to fight to be with the man she loves even with the stigma. However, the story portrays her as being very shallow and self-centered,who does not care about the fact that she is a homewrecker whose actions could affect an entire nation. Her miscarriage was supposed to give her sympathy, but all it showed that she would make even her dead child all about her.
The fact that the "stigma" and "duties" are taken care of by a few choice words by Zuko, also detracts from this as it renders all points that were supposed to garner sympathy meaningless.
The Untwist: The fruit Katara ate was what caused her miscarriage. Despite this being shown in the beginning of Chapter 2, albeit as a flashback-dream, Katara is convinced that it was her longing for Zuko that caused it. It isn't until Mai flat out tells her that she gave her poisoned fruit that made her miscarry, that Katara even realizes it.
Most of the couples, particularly Aang and Toph, wangst over how they can't be with the one their love, despite having no real reason why they can't.
While Katara's angst over losing her unborn son is understandable, mourning for three years and building a giant tombstone for him is a bit extreme.
It's not just about Katara's extreme mourning, it's about how she makes it all about her. "Kuzon" died a day before her birthday, after all. The dead child is treated as just an extension of Katara's derailed personality and a plot device to have her murdering Mai in the worst way possible.
What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: Many fans seem to hate HIBY's interpretation of the female characters in general, and Azula in particular, for showing a more vulnerable and feminine side of them than their typical portrayal in the show.