I got no complaints about the art. I'm heartened that the writer tried to make the book accessible for non-fans, as sometimes tie-ins are too inwardly focused to help grow their audience. But it's difficult to get over the first volume's major plot and characterization problems. First, we're supposed to believe that Aang would ever kill Zuko? He already went through this whole moral dilemma back in the finale! If Aang wasn't going to kill a genocidal child abuser like Ozai, him killing someone he personally knows like Zuko just isn't going to happen. So this whole conflict comes across as nothing more than filler to make up for the fact that we already know about the resolution to the trilogy's other conflict... Which is the Problem #2. This trilogy's story falls under Korra's shadow, meaning that the United Republic is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps that's why the main drama of the trilogy was intended to be Aang's promise, as Bryke and Gene might have felt they needed something to drive the plot forward besides political drama with a resolution we already knew. Yet the road to the United Republic is maddeningly intriguing, and, in my opinion, makes for a far more interesting character conflict between Aang and Zuko. The ideological clash between the Fire Lord and the Avatar over the colonies is meaty stuff. Both sides have good points, and each character can make valid counter-arguments. Zuko's right that families shouldn't be broken, but Aang is also right that an unjust peace between the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom will lead to long-term conflict and possibly war. Aang's right that Earth Kingdomers are second-class citizens in Yu Dao — just look at the color of the clothing of who's doing all the manual labor and street vending — but he doesn't seem to have a concept for truly multicultural people like Kori. Zuko makes a good point that the intermixing of cultures has created a prosperous society even if has some shortcoming, but it's a hell of a thing to say that a rising tide lifting all boats justifies that oppression when Zuko isn't the one condemned to sweeping floors all his life because he was born to the wrong parents... etc. Friends honestly disagreeing with one another makes for better conflict than the titular promise, yet it gets shafted for needless drama. Here's hoping Volume 2 is better.
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