If you haven't heard of it yet, Dark Horse
comics has teamed up with Bryke and company to make an interquel that bridges the gap between Avatar: The Last Airbender
and the upcoming Avatar Legend Of Korra
I recently purchased part one of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise
, and thought I'd do a little review and prompt a discussion on the story so far. Be aware that I do include some spoilers ahead!
The first thing I noticed when I opened the package was just how small the volume was. Now, I understand that "traditional" western comics tend to be small volumes, but consider the target audience here. You have kids who liked the cartoon, and you have adults, usually anime nerds, who liked the cartoon. Those are your potential customers.
Well, anime nerds are not familiar with the whole "pay ten bucks for twenty pages of glossy"; they expect entire chapters (each with the usual conflict - resolution cycle) because that is what manga does. When I drop ten dollars on a comic book, I expect it to take at least an hour to get through - not ten minutes.
Now you can say that it is unrealistic to expect an American company to follow the standards set by manga, but that is exactly what the previous Avatar: The Last Airbender
, comic, also published by Dark Horse
, did - it is actually kind of something Dark Horse
is known for. "The Lost Chapters" contains several one-off short stories, and is a thick volume, so why did they opt to break the story of "The Promise" into three unnecessarily tiny volumes? Obviously they are motivated by money here, but hell, I would have been happy to shell out thirty bucks for a single volume that covers the entire story than thirty bucks for multiple volumes which I have to wait several weeks in between each publishing date to read.
Let's put aside the annoying publishing methods now and get to the meat of the issue: the story. The book opens with the opening narration of Avatar: The Last Airbender
that we all know and love, but the problem is it is kind of ineffective for the medium of a comic book. You can't have the cool music in the background nor see the sweet martial arts going on, so instead of fulfilling the role of getting you excited about the upcoming story it comes across as pointless filler. I'm not saying paying homage to the cartoon is a bad thing, but they could have done it in a better way, without wasting the first five pages of the comic book.
Then there's the Katara <3 Aang mushiness that gets shoved in our faces and crowds the story. Sure, it does give us a few good one liners, like "Stop! Trying! To! Set! My! Boyfriend! On! Fire!", but the whole love angle in The Last Airbender
was only fun when it was a source of tension and drama. Now that Aang and Katara are together, they are really suffering from True Love Is Boring
. It's no longer a story because the conflict is resolved, so why are they putting so much emphasis on it? I know that Bryke understands how to write a good couple - just look at Sokka and Suki, they work just fine as an Official Couple
and provide the audience with some witty banter, but Aang and Katara are more like this mushie source of bad dialogue half the time. With such awful lines as "trying to see what we mean to each other" and Katara constantly acting like a total bitch to her brother just because he keeps stumbling in on their makeout sessions (which Sokka can't really help since all of them are public displays of affection). Not only is it out of character, it doesn't provide anything useful to the story, so why include it at all? My only guess is that Mike and Bryan really want to spite the Zutara crowd or something by rubbing this mush in their faces. Hell, Sokka even Hangs A Lampshade
on it constantly, so we know that making Aang and Katara all unnecessarily lovey-dovey and crap is on some level being done intentionally.
The story does have its good moments, though. For instance, I actually like that Zuko is becoming his father, is aware of it, yet cannot help it anyway because he is too invested in the welfare of his nation's people. That's called tension, and it should be the focus of the story, and for the most part it is. Sokka's still providing the occasional comic relief, and Toph is still Toph, so that's good. But the Aang and Katara thing has got to get out of the way of the real story, and Aang has to stop rehashing the same damn inner turmoil he already faced in Book 3: Fire. Yes, we get that Aang is a pacifist, and that he hates violence even if it appears necessary, why are we still going on about this? I guess my issue is that the story seems to be focusing so much on a promise Aang made to Zuko to end Zuko if he should ever go back to being evil, when it should be focusing on finding a solution to the real problem, which is that the fire nation colonials don't like the plan to ship them back to the fire nation, and nobody even bothered asking their damn opinion about things. Yet Aang harps so much on worrying about how he might have to kill Zuko he can't seem to realize that the real problem is that the Return to Harmony movement is a disaster. Its kind of a stupid way to drag out the conflict in my eyes.
As for the artwork itself, its okay. I wish that they had done a bit better job with some of the backgrounds, and there are a few panels that are just not planned out so well. For example, take a look at the cover art
. Notice how Zuko's body is HUGE? It looks as if he is supposed to be in the foreground, but he is actually in the background, as you can see when you look at Toph's position. So either Zuko is really large or Toph is really small or something. It is confusing and sloppy! Now, if that was done to try and put some emphasis on Zuko, especially because the plot does center around the character's inner turmoil, then why the brown fade effect on him? Avatar's done some amazing covers for their DVDs in the past
, so I'm left wondering why it is that they failed to do so in this comic.
Anyways, just my thoughts, what do you all think so far?
edited 2nd Feb '12 3:06:03 PM by MyGodItsFullofStars