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Reviews Comments: Decent enough, minus two big problems. Avatar The Last Airbender The Promise film/book review by Lavanya Six

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.


  • ManwiththePlan
  • 8th Feb 12
The problem with the promise would've been fixed if Zuko had only specified that to "end him" wouldn't mean killing him. He could just take away Zuko's bending like he did with his father. But if the promise is honestly that Aang has to kill Zuko if he goes astray, then that's just melodramatic and pointless.
  • LavanyaSix
  • 9th Feb 12
Agreed, Manwiththe Plan. Not only is it distracting that the issue of Energybending isn't even brought up, but Aang himself has had no character development that would justify him thinking killing was the preferable option to Energybending. Like, if Aang had expressed some guilt because he'd come to feel like he'd "mutilated" Ozai by removing his firebending, I could sort of accept Aang considering lethal force as the least unmoral choice in a kill-or-be-killed "Fight to Save the World" scenario. But Aang *doesn't* get any character development on that front, and Zuko isn't anywhere near the threat his father or sister were. I mean, how many times did Aang kick Zuko's ass on the show? He's an excellent fighter compared to the average mook, sure, but he's never quite been on the same level of excellence as the other Gaang members. (Which admittedly is part of his underdog appeal.) All that and the lack of energybending just makes everything feel very contrived.
  • Mikesean45
  • 12th Feb 12
I disagree. Aang's problem parallels Roku's confrontation with Sozin. If Roku hadn't let his friendship with Sozin get in the way of his responsibilities as the Avatar, the war wouldn't have even started. Aang would need to end Zuko if he ever went astray or risk starting another war. Taking his bending away wouldn't do a thing here. Zuko would still be Fire Lord and the world would still end up with another war. Aang's need to end Ozai and his need to end Zuko should not be compared. With Ozai, Aang just needed an alternate way of defeating Ozai to end the war. The war still would have ended no matter how Aang defeated him since Zuko had already taken the throne from Azula at that point. With Zuko, Aang would need to kill him to PREVENT a war from happening.
  • Wackd
  • 12th Feb 12
And then who's next in line? And what if they still want war? Does Aang have to keep killing Fire Lords until one gets the message that starting war is a bad idea?
  • Mikesean45
  • 13th Feb 12
Well...yes, in a way. As the Avatar, its his responsibility to keep balance no matter what. That means stopping conquest of other nations at any cost. As for who's next in line, I think it's anyone's guess since Zuko has no heirs and I don't think it was established in the series how the Fire Nation government works in that regard.
  • MasterGhandalf
  • 13th Feb 12
Well, Zuko's closest living relative who isn't a deposed and powerless war criminal, a mentally-unstable mess, or missing would be Iroh, who has already refused the throne at least once (and maybe twice, if not challenging Ozai over "stealing" his birthright under dodgy circumstances counts as "refusing")- we don't know enough about Fire Nation succession to say if that permanently disqualifies him or not. If Iroh can't or won't take the throne in the case of Zuko dying or being overthrown, there's probably a number of nobles related to the royal family who could stake a solid claim- maybe even someone we've seen at one of the war meetings, though such a person hasn't been identified. But that's just my guesses.
  • MyGodItsFullofStars
  • 14th Feb 12
Mei could make a claim as the royal consort. I'm pretty sure a few Empress's of China were never officially wives to the former Emperor. Pretty sure.
  • Darmani
  • 12th Sep 12
They said they were acting in stead on incapable Emperors, the title being Empress Dowager or something like that. Except for the evil bitchy one from that Judge Dee movie.

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