Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise

Go To

A trilogy of Graphic Novel digests published by Dark Horse Comics in the Avatar franchise, and the first part of an Interquel series between Avatar: The Last Airbender and its Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra. The story is written by Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) with input from series' creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, with illustrations by Japanese art duo Gurihiru.

With Ozai defeated and the war over, Team Avatar and the world's governments set to work restoring balance to the world. Zuko, worried that he might go mad with power like his father, makes Aang promise to kill him should he ever become a threat. One year later, a dispute breaks out over the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom, and war may break out yet again. Worse yet, Zuko is taking the colonies' side, making the conflict worse and forcing Aang to accept that he may have to fulfill that promise after all.

The first volume was released on January 25, 2012, the second on May 30, and the third on October 9, with a hardcover compilation of the trilogy released February 20, 2013. A second comic series by the same creative team subtitled The Search began in March 2013, detailing Aang and Zuko's search for Zuko's Missing Mom while dealing with Azula, whose discharge from mental care Zuko has ordered so she may aid in the eponymous search.

The Promise provides examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Early preview images showed Zuko sporting a sort of mullet. The ensuing negative fan reaction led to Zuko being redesigned.
  • Action Girl: Kori is quote skilled in melee, defeating Fire Nation with little trouble. Borders on being a Dark Action Girl, since she's a Well-Intentioned Extremist who was probably loyal to Ozai.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Yu Dao chapter of the Avatar Aang fan club style themselves like bodyguards.
  • Animesque: Maintains the anime-style artwork from the cartoon.
  • Ascended Fan: The Yu Dao and Ba Sing Se chapters of the Avatar Aang fan club becomes the first official Air Acolyte community in one hundred years and is recognized as such as by the last living Air Nomad.
  • Asleep for Days: Zuko is under immense stress and can barely sleep, which only gets worse as the plot progresses. When the Yu Dao conflict is resolved and it turns out he wasn't turning into his father, he promptly collapses. Later, he mentions that he feels like he's been asleep for weeks; Aang replies that it's only been four days.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Zuko survives six attempts on his life during his first year as Fire Lord.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Suki and Toph in part 3.
  • Badass Cape: Part of Zuko's new, I-Am-Now-The-Fire-Lord wardrobe is a spiffy cape.
  • Badass Normal: The Yu Dao chapter of the Avatar Aang fan club diminish casualties in the climax by fighting the professional, bending soldiers from two armies.
    Sokka: Not bad for a bunch of non-bending bald girls!
  • Berserk Button:
    • Being compared to his father is one for Zuko, but what really pushes him over the edge is being considered a traitor and coward to his nation.
    • Aang's is people treating his culture like a game or their uniforms and tattoos like cosplay.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: The one from the finale of the show appears again (and Sokka helpfully ruins it), followed by another one near the end of Part 3.
  • Big Entrance: Toph uses Earthbending to leap into Appa's saddle. Mid-flight.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Toph's metalbending students, Ho-Tun, The Dark One, and Penga, respectively, for the distinctiveness.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Aang successfully averts the war between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom, Yu Dao becomes the center of a new dynamic between the nations, and Aang finds a way to carry on the beliefs of his people through the newly-formed Air Acolytes. However, Aang severs his spiritual connection to Roku, since Roku's outdated worldview and insistence that the Avatar must be willing to kill clash with Aang's Thou Shalt Not Kill attitude and new worldview. By extension, the other Avatars are a no-go in this department, as well. Zuko realizes his internal conflicts will continue in spite of his Heel–Face Turn, and in pursuit of finding peace in his familial roots resorts to enlisting his currently straitjacketed sister on a quest to find his still-missing mother. Finally, Mai breaking up with Zuko over his secret-keeping isn't resolved by the end. It remains to be seen if Iroh II's grandmother is another woman or not.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Upon meeting Sokka, Penga tells him she's "close to sixteen". When pressed about it and asked how close, she admits she's nine.
    • The firebending teacher, on seeing that he can't get rid of the spear wrapped around his head, claims he's keeping it as a convenient way of carrying flags around and that he can remove it anytime he wants.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The Kyoshi Warriors serve as Zuko's personal bodyguards after his previous guards fail to intercept six assassination attempts.
  • Bookends: Near the beginning, Zuko is asking Ozai about his mother. In the last scene, Zuko, having realized Ozai will not help him, turns to his sister Azula.
  • Boring, but Practical: Once Toph's students manage to metalbend, they train by spinning a metal helmet in the air. Toph is unimpressed, but it turns out to be a useful skill to neutralize a squad of helmeted soldiers.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • All remaining Freedom Fighters, including the long-vanished Sneers who makes his first appearance since "Jet", return with Smellerbee as their new boss.
    • Earth King Kuei has gotten back in the political game pretty quickly after Ozai's defeat.
    • Iroh and Azula finally make appearances in Part 3, with the former commenting that Zuko should really learn to come to him sooner.
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: The Kyoshi Warriors become Zuko's.
  • Call-Forward: Goes with being an interquel. The most obvious is Aang's fanclub, a group of Air Nomad enthusiasts that evolve into the Air Acolytes of The Legend of Korra.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In part three, Aang and Zuko have the same nightmare. Aang wakes up this way, while Zuko's reaction looks a little more realistic.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Zuko struggles with how to do right by his people while not doing it at the expense of the other nations. He's so torn up about this that he goes to Ozai for advice on how to deal with the pressures of the job.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One that was set up but never fired in the TV series returns here, that Toph realized her space metal armlet could alert her to potential metalbenders.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Spinning helmets is very helpful in subduing soldiers without killing them.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Played with. Kori wears both red and green, as she's an Earthbender yet also legally a Fire Nation citizen and thinks of herself as such.
  • Conflicting Loyalty:
    • Zuko, once again, has to deal with it (his people and others). Later, Aang does too along the same lines.
    • Defied by Kori, who is an Earthbender and a Fire Nation citizen, is proud of being both, and is sick and tired of being told that her loyalties between the two have to conflict.
  • Continuity Nod: While tunneling underground courtesy of Toph, Suki is about to remark on how she can't see anything. Sokka quickly stops her as it's a sensitive topic with Toph, referencing his own slip in "The Drill" and Toph's sarcastic response.
    Suki: It's so dark down here. I can hardly see anything!
    Sokka: Shhh! Toph's really touchy about that!
  • Cooldown Hug: Katara continues to pull Aang out of the Avatar State when she feels he's gone too far.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Zuko boxes himself inside the city of Yu Dao as part of his withdrawal from the Harmony Restoration Movement. After an escalating series of scuffles nearly culminates in Aang making good on his Promise, Zuko says they should talk about this... prompting Aang to flip his lid and say that's what he came here for in the first place.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not only is it showing that the ending for the series is not the definitive one nor as happy as it initially seems, but Fire Lord Zuko, Earth King Kuei, and Avatar Roku all slip into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory. A hundred years of warfare can't be unmade in just a few months, after all.
  • Decapitated Army: General How references this;
    General How:' An army with no leader is a dragon with no head.
  • Deconstruction: The series ended on a note of hope for the future, with the new Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko as the vanguard of peace among the four nations. However, the idea of leaving a group of idealistic teenagers in charge of a world that's been festering in complicated political problems for more than a hundred years is quickly shown to be an unrealistic solution. Their initial solution — simply deport all Fire Nationals in the colonies back to the Fire Nation — is quickly shown to be extremely naive and causes problems for one simple reason: the oldest Fire Nation Colonies, such as Yu Dao, are over a century old. This means that all the original settlers are long dead and the current inhabitants know no other way of life. The colonies also have a unique, amalgamated culture that's neither purely Fire Nation nor Earth Kingdom anymore, plus plenty of interracial marriages and citizenry of mixed ethnic descent. This last part is personified by Kori, who claims Fire Nation citizenship through her father, but is an Earthbender like her mother.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Read this as a 21st-century Westerner, familiar with the concept of dual-citizenship and naturalization, and it'll seem like the characters are holding the Idiot Ball. But, if you remember that people in the Avatar-verse have been raised with strong senses of ethnocentrism, and consider that such views have been popular throughout human history, and still are in some parts of the world (Japanese-born Koreans still can't vote), you begin to realize why the characters are facing this dilemma. Even Katarawho is devoutly and joyously practicing that lifestyle — only realizes this during a "Eureka!" Moment of Awesome. Doubly so given what the Earth Kingdom is based off of. China does not recognize the concept of dual citizenship, and still believes heavily in Ethnic Nationalism, that is to say, you are who you are born, and any feelings otherwise are traitorous and false.
  • Designated Villain: Zuko is this In-Universe to many of the Earth Kingdom people and the Freedom Fighters, and even some of the Gaang like Sokka and Toph. Yes, he's being an idiot, but everyone's treating him like he's already as bad a dictator as his father. Justified considering that they just wrapped up a century-long world war where the Fire Lord was the face of their enemy.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Yes Kori, the best way to solve your problems is to assassinate the Fire Lord. Because it's not like assassination of the Fire Lord will cause a civil war, leaving the Earth King free to claim the land, right? Like what happens at the end of season three of ''Korra'' when the Earth Queen is bumped off?
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Toph to her students. A typical communication goes like this, "Stop slacking off, lily livers!"
  • End of an Age: The finale cements this as modernization continues, progressivism wins the day, and the differences in philosophy between Aang and the previous Avatars result in him disowning them as mentors.
  • Enemy Mine: The novel ends with Zuko making a deal with Azula to find their mother.
  • Epic Flail: Kori wields a meteor hammer. Because the "ball" is made of stone, she can manipulate it with her earthbending for easy retrieval and trick moves.
  • Evil Mentor: Like he once did with Uncle Iroh, Zuko goes to his father for advice. He knows what his dad is like, though, and is more than willing to call him out when he smells a load of crap.
  • Fangirl: Aang and Katara meet a group of Avatar fangirls, many of whom are also fans of Air Nomad culture.
    Won-Yee: What an honor it is to meet Avatar Aang's first girlfriend!
    Katara: Why thank you, I — wait, what do you mean, "first"?
    Won-Yee: [smirks]
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Yu Dao itself is based on Hong Kong (a Chinese city colonized by a foreign power, whose people have over time developed into their own unique culture that is now under threat by the "decolonizing" forces), with a name that references the uninhabited Senkaku Islands (or, as they're known in China, the Diao Yu Dao islands governed by Japan and contested by China).
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Entire motive of Yu Dao Resistance since a large majority of its members are Firebenders and Earthbenders who wish to preserve their city against Harmony Restoration Movement's attempt to "decolonize" them without concerns over mixed populace.
  • Fly in the Soup: Ho-Tun's flashback introduction has him eat a wasp in his soup.
  • Foregone Conclusion: This will ultimately end in the founding of Republic City, as seen in The Legend of Korra, or at the very least the first steps toward that end. Additionally, though Zuko had at the time of the comic's release not yet appeared nor had any direct mentions in The Legend of Korra, he had been confirmed by Word of God to be alive, so Aang will never have to make good on his promise.
  • Foreshadowing: Kuei being willing to go to war to recover the Fire Nation colonies, telling Aang he was either with him or against him, coupled with Aang's decision to have the matter of the colonies dealt with by a council (which will clearly end up leading to the creation of Republic City) points ahead to the Earth Queen being so resentful of said city and being willing to do anything (including conscripting the new airbenders as an army and turning Korra over to the Red Lotus) to get the land back.
  • Funny Background Event: There's a running gag about Momo trying to steal Bosco's hat.
  • Glad I Thought of It:
    Sokka: Wait! You can't leave me alone with them! The oogie-osity's only gonna get worse when you're gone! How am I supposed to keep my food down?
    Toph: Well, you could come with me.
    Sokka: No, no. Hey, how about I go with you?
    Toph: Great idea Sokka. Wish I'd thought of it.
  • Good Versus Good:
    • The conflict between the Fire Nation colonists (and Zuko) who do not want to lose their homes and the people who want to remove them (the Gaang, Earth Kingdom) from land conquered during the war.
    • A smaller-scale example is Aang and Zuko's philosophical divide over Yu Dao's social order. While Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens live and work together in the colony, Fire Nation citizens are still firmly on top of the social ladder. Aang takes issue with this oppressive inequality but Zuko, while admitting things aren't perfect, feels that such inequality is an acceptable price to pay because everyone is better off than they would otherwise be.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Katara, briefly, when Aang hangs out with some fans. Justified, as one of them calls her Aang's first girlfriend. She's quick to apologize after Aang mentions how his fans made him feel like he was with his people again.
  • Gray-and-Gray Morality: The themes regarding the dangers of nationalism and ethnocentrism not withstanding, the fact remains that the Fire Nation seized land from the Earth Kingdom during a war they instigated, suppressed the people they subjugated, and all the while committed numerous war crimes. It's not surprising that the Earth Kingdom's citizens would be outraged over Zuko going back on a peace treaty by allowing Fire Nation citizens to remain in the colonies despite them never having any legal basis to live there. This is even acknowledged in-universe; simply returning the stolen territory wouldn't work because numerous multi-ethnic families have formed during the war, so it would either break up those families or expel people from homes they did have a hereditary right to (the war lasted one hundred years, after all). On top of that, in many cases the territory in question was a lot less valuable (to the point that the Earth Kingdom didn't care about "losing" it a hundred years ago) prior to the Fire Nation industrializing it, so "returning" the territory wouldn't be fair either. In the end, the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdoms both surrender the territory in favor of building an independent fifth Nation. Seventy years later, season 4 Big Bad Kuvira justifies the biggest battle in recorded history over reclaiming that territory.
  • Honor Before Reason: Zuko pulls out of the Harmony Restoration Movement without notifying his friends, presumably acting quickly so no more of his citizens would have to be taken from their homes against their will, and justifies this as being the right thing to do by his people. See below for how this almost leads to Poor Communication Kills. This later comes back to bite him in the butt with the Earth King; having broken one treaty without so much as a warning, Kuei sees no point in negotiating with Zuko again after he's proven himself to be untrustworthy.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Throughout Part 2, Sokka gripes about Aang and Katara being all "oogie", only for Katara to point out he and Suki act the same way. Indeed when she shows up in Part 3, they act just as affectionate, to Toph's displeasure.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Kori and her mother are Earthbenders, a fact the former doesn't reveal until long after Zuko has taken her prisoner and then uses to easily escape her bonds.
  • Immediate Sequel: The novel begins exactly where the TV series left off, just as Katara and Aang share a kiss at Iroh's tea shop.
  • Indy Ploy: Sokka does this as usual. He admits as much after he has had Toph, Suki, and himself hijacking a Fire Nation tank as part of a plan.
    Toph: Step one complete! What's step two?
    Sokka [shrugs] Not sure. I was sorta hoping step two would come to me while we were working on step one.
  • Innocently Insensitive: The Yu Dao chapter of the future Air Acolytes didn't entirely appreciate that permanently tattooing themselves with airbending mastery tattoos (which, understandably, they have no way of actually earning) might not sit well with the only living airbender/Air Nomad. When he calls them on it, they immediately cover the tattoos out of respect to him.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong:
    • Zuko's guards try to assure him that he is safe from assassins after he wakes up in the middle of the night believing that a new attack is coming. After one guard tells him that they moved him into a secure part of the palace to keep him safe, Kori knocks him and his partner out and tries to assassinate Zuko. After that particularly impressive failure, Mai decides to fire Zuko's old guards and replace them with the far more competent Kyoshi Warriors.
    • A firebender says Toph is selling a fantasy, as everyone knows metalbending doesn't exist. Next panel, his new hat is a spear twisted around his head.
  • Instant Waking Skills: Both times Zuko gets up, he's alert and looking for another assassination attempt. It's justified, as this has happened five times in twelve months and he's having trouble sleeping.
  • Insult Backfire: Toph disappointedly tells Sokka that she expected her students to become Metalbenders but that they keep failing. They overhear this and are motivated by discovering that she had any expectations in the first place.
  • Internal Reveal: Zuko and the audience have known since "The Avatar and the Fire Lord" that Zuko is Roku's great-grandson (Iroh and Roku himself have presumably known for quite a bit longer), but this is the first time that Aang finds out.
  • Interquel: Takes place between Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Iroh invents bubble tea. Aang and Zuko are not appreciative, and Iroh calls himself a man ahead of his time.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The Freedom Fighters use a battering ram to break into Yu Dao. Aang stops it and Smellerbee points out that it was a distraction; their true means of breaching the walls was a drill machine like the Fire Nation used in "The Drill", albeit much smaller.
  • Karma Houdini: Kori never faces any punishment for attempting to assassinate Zuko (the Fire Lord). Granted, she had her reasons, but she never even tried to talk to him first.
  • Kryptonite Ring: Of sorts. Zuko knows that, if he turned evil like his forefathers, Aang would be the only one capable of preventing another world war—by killing him. The "ring" in this case is the promise Zuko extracts from Aang, who normally won't kill anyone, even genocidal child abusers.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: Sokka confuses Smellerbee for a "he". Katara quickly corrects him.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Zuko having a Heel–Face Turn and becoming Fire Lord were major plot points during the show's final season. Here, you learn about it in the first couple pages.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Zuko becoming like his father is a big worry for both Zuko and Aang, forming one of the main dramatic arcs of the trilogy. Zuko even tries to commit suicide when he realizes that he took the same action his father would have, even if the motivation was different.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Despite being both an Earthbender and of mixed nationality in a country that was until recently Fire-supremacist, Kori is legally a Fire Nation citizen because her father is one.
  • Mama Bear: Kori's unnamed mother. She single-handedly Earthbends boulders in front of the Fire Lord and his personal guard's faces in order to safeguard her husband and daughter.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ex-Fire Lord Ozai shows that he's definitely where his daughter got it from by attempting to mold the new Fire Lord, the very one who deposed him.
  • Mercy Kill Arrangement: Zuko asks Aang to kill him if he ever shows signs of turning out like his father.
  • Moment Killer: The cartoon series ended with The Big Damn Kiss — the comic starts with Sokka walking in on it.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Kori defaults to violence to solve any problem. Her Establishing Character Moment is her attempt to assassinate Zuko, as opposed to some sort of rational discourse about the problems he's causing. She doesn't get better about it as tensions increase.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: "That's it! Don't you dunderheads know who I am? I'm Toph Beifong, the greatest earthbender of all time!"
  • Never Say "Die": Toph's student Ho-Tun is constantly worried about everything being "doomed". According to Gene Yang, Ho-Tun was originally worried about death. Nick nixed that as being inappropriate for the comic's younger demographic. The titular promise also uses "end" instead of "kill". That said, the direct words are used as often as the euphemisms.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Part 3, what started as a stalemate between the two armies escalates into a battle when Toph, on Sokka's suggestion, disassembles the Fire Nation tanks. The Earth Kingdom general, up until that point wary of starting hostilities, sees his opening and takes it.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Toph nearly abandons teaching metalbending when she thinks she's acting like her parents did by trying to force her students to be something they're not.
    • Zuko also realizes at one point he's acting like his father would, and doesn't take it well.
  • Oddly Small Organization: For the strongest nation in the world with the finest military of the three nations and several deadly canon organizations and individuals (the Yu-Yan archers and the Combustion Man), Fire Lord Zuko having only two rather incompetent bodyguards that can be taken down (not to mention a stronghold easily infiltrated by a single teenager) after five repeated assassination attempts shows a lack of planning. On the other hand, it's mentioned that the assassination attempts are coming from within the Fire Nation, so there is a good chance that Zuko not only can't rely on larger numbers to counter planning or foreknowledge, but also must make do with people he absolutely trusts. After all, what's the point of setting up twelve guards around your room if ten of them are potential assassins?
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country: The motivation of the Freedom Fighters and their fellow protesters.
    Fire Nation out! Harmony now!
  • Opening Narration: In Part 1 by Katara, as per usual.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Zuko's turnaround on the colonial issue comes across as inexplicable to the Gaang and makes Aang seriously consider invoking his promise to Zuko. When Aang and Katara go to meet him, the hostile reception Yu Dao's soldiers give to Aang and Katara provokes a fight that only stops when Aang starts to go into the Avatar State. It's only after that close call — and Katara pulling him out of it for the nth time — that Zuko is finally able to explain his position.
    • Virtually all the tension is a consequence of Zuko not telling anyone anything before making his decisions (repeatedly lampshaded by Mai). Comparisons can be made to how the entire war only began because Roku and Sozin were unable to calmly discuss their own problems, something that Roku regularly angsts about.
  • Power Born of Madness: Played for laughs. Toph finds candidates for metalbender training when they demonstrate extreme emotion, which can ever-so-slightly affect nearby metal... but the only people who get extremely emotional in public are, in Sokka and Toph's words, "crazy people."
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: The Avatar Aang Fanclub makes some pretty ridiculous attempts to imitate Air Nomad culture. For example, they try to imitate the architecture of the Western Air Temple by turning their furniture upside-down. However, they get enough right to make Aang happy until he finds out the arrow tattoos they're wearing are permanent. This makes him angry as the arrow tattoos are only meant for master airbenders.
  • Previously on…: The book opens with a modified version of Katara's Opening Narration from the cartoon, which briefly sums up the events of the series.
  • The Promise: It's right there in the title. A great deal of tension lies in Aang's promise to kill Zuko if he were to become too much like his father.
  • Properly Paranoid: Zuko fears attempts on his life, and wakes up just in time for one to happen.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • Zuko hits Ozai's Berserk Button by claiming he trusts Aang more than Ozai or even himself, causing Ozai to roar "LEAVE. MY. PRESENCE!"
    • Katara's Punctuated Pounding moment.
  • Punctuated Pounding: Katara waterbends several Fire Nation soldiers while shouting "STOP! TRYING! TO! SET! MY! BOYFRIEND! ON! FIRE!"
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Sokka uses them while he pleads with Toph to tell him what The Dark One's real name is.
  • Race Against the Clock: Smellerbee gives Aang three days to settle matters with Zuko before the Freedom Fighters take matters into their own hands. Aang runs out of time.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Aang eventually denounces Roku as his advisor.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Like every Fire Lord, Zuko personally leads combat and is more effective than his soldiers.
  • Rash Promise: Aang is overjoyed by having save the world in the series finale of the source material that he casually agrees to do any favor for his friend Zuko. Then Zuko makes him promise to kill him if he ends up turning evil, and the rest of the comic is all about Aang juggling his pacifism, Zuko's increasing resemblance to his evil father, and the promise he wished he never made.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Katara and Aang are now a full-blown couple and deeply in love... to the annoyance of their friends, who find it difficult to put up with the cuddles and pet names.
  • Releasing from the Promise: In the end, Zuko takes the burden away from Aang, admitting to Aang that, in making the promise, he had forced Aang to be the person to decide what right and wrong was for Zuko.
  • The Reveal: Zuko's final conversation with his father Ozai (which was cut off halfway after Zuko asked where his mother was) is shown in full here. Ozai taunts Zuko by answering nothing about Ursa.
  • Rival Dojos: The Beifong Metalbending Academy and Master Kunyo's firebending school stage a duel over the property rights to a training dojo. The metalbenders win.
  • Saved by Canon: The Legend of Korra has established that the main characters all live into their forties, at least. Katara and Zuko in particular are still alive. It should be said that the comics take full advantage of what Korra doesn't confirm, breaking up Zuko and Mai and teasing that he might hook up with Suki instead.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Sokka lets out a high-pitched scream when taking an underground slide. He blames the scream on Suki.
  • Sequel Hook: The same one as the cartoon, in fact. Zuko asks a different family member what they know about his mother.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Kuei admits to never so much as setting foot in the outer ring of Ba Sing Se before, let alone actually visiting the Fire Nation colonies he wants to decolonize. It's Katara bringing him down into Yu Dao to see it for himself that convinces him to change his mind.
  • Ship Tease: Zuko/Suki in Parts 2 and 3, where she becomes his confidant and there is something of a Bodyguard Crush thing going on. Interestingly enough, Part 3 also reaffirms Sokka and Suki's relationship, complete with "oogies".
  • Shoot the Dog: Roku advises Aang to do with Zuko what Roku should have done with Sozin, should it become necessary.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts:
    • Katara and Aang are very affectionate to each other, even in front of their friends. Both Toph and Sokka express their disgust after hearing them call each other "sweetie".
      Toph: Sweetie? Seriously?
      Sokka: I know, right? Sooo oogie.
    • Ironically, Sokka is later shown to be just as affectionate towards Suki, earning him Toph's disapproval.
  • Single Tear: Aang, when severing his spiritual link to Roku, because regardless of disagreements, it is a painful parting.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Played with. Zuko catches Katara off-guard from behind, grabs both of her arms, twisting one around behind her back (which is a known real-world submission hold) and has her other arm outstretched above her head so that she can't move it easily. Katara's dialogue makes it appear that she could still break free and continue attacking him, but she's reluctant to because he's her friend.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Aang is quite upset when he encounters members of the Avatar Aang fan club who wears clothes in his style and even have tattooed arrows like his own onto to themselves. While he acknowledges that they might do it in reverence of him, he still tells them that they have no right to do so as they do not fully understand the symbolism behind these things, and he feels the gesture reduces the Air Nomad culture into a "game". In the end, though, after seeing them putting their lives at risk on the battlefield in the name of peace, he realizes that their hearts are in the right place so he decides to becomes their teacher in the ways and philosophy of the Air Nomads.
  • Suicide by Cop: Zuko admits to Aang that the promise was an "escape hatch" if he couldn't handle the pressure of being Fire Lord.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The long-term consequences of a century-long war of conquest and genocide will not simply go away because one of your friends has replaced the Evil Overlord in charge of the aggressor nation and is perfectly willing to make any reparations requested. Even if both sides have well-intentioned individuals in charge, there is still the potential for conflict simply because some things can't be fixed, and instead have to be lived with.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Sokka goes with Toph to her school, not because Katara and Aang's oogies are bothering him or anything.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: When Katara is talking Aang out of the Avatar State, she appears to have all the time in the world to do so. Probably because everyone else is scared stiff.
  • Tautological Templar: Ozai's philosophy on what being the Fire Lord means:
    Ozai: There is no right or wrong apart from what you decide.
    Who you choose to defend deserves to be defended simply because
    you chose them.
    You are the
    Fire Lord.
    What you choose, by definition, is right.
  • Time Skip: The comic starts immediately where the original series left off and then skips to a year later.
  • Title Drop: The Promise happens right in the prologue.
  • Too Many Belts: The Dark One; it's part of the Goth thing.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Earth King Kuei in Part 2, as he steps up to declare war on the Fire Nation. Reversed in Part 3; once the battle starts he's cowering in fear. He wanted to invoke this to show that he is a manly king.
  • Tragic Bigot: Given the Fire Nation's long-standing and very recently ended reign of terror, one would be hard-pressed to find a single person prejudiced against firebenders and the Fire Nation that wouldn't qualify as this.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Girlfriend in this case with Sneers and Kori. A Running Gag in Part 3 is that everyone who finds out about them first confusedly confirms that they're together, then enthusiastically congratulates him.
  • Undying Loyalty: Considering that the five assassination attempts came from Ozai loyalists, we can assume that the two guards Zuko put outside his bedroom are one hundred percent loyal to him.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Smellerbee and Longshot were last seen on the show in a hopeless-looking situation, buying the Gaang time to escape Lake Laogai. They reappear here with no explanation of how they got out themselves.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: General How initially tries to get Aang to kill Zuko and force the Fire Nation army to surrender — but when Toph partially dismantles every single Fire Nation tank, How immediately orders his men to attack.
  • Universal Driver's License: Suki is shown to be able to drive airships, hot air balloons and a Fire Nation tank.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Monkey feathers" makes a return, though the situation becomes bad enough that Aang uses "monkey feathers on top of monkey feathers".
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Suki, by going to Mai with her concerns about Zuko, ends up causing her to leave him, thus driving him further into despair and worsening the overall situation.
  • Valley Girl: The Ba Sing Se chapter of Aang's fangirls speak like this. It makes them look immature and is one of many contrasts with the straight-speaking Yu Dao chapter.
  • Values Dissonance: In-Universe. This is the reason why Aang breaks his connection with Roku and all the other previous Avatars, as their world views don't line up with the changing times.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • He may be evil, but Ozai is a good judge of character. He accurately predicts that King Kuei, after years of his kingdom being the whipping boy of the Fire Nation and his own ineptitude concerning Long Feng's manipulation of him, will resort to military force to remove the colonies.
    • Also Ozai's advice to Zuko about believing in the rightness of his decisions. Everything he says sounds downright psychotic the way Ozai says it, but the point behind it is that a good leader can't have doubts regarding his actions, which is something a lot of people and even books on the topic will vouch to. Much like Alec Baldwin's iconic speech to the closers in Glengarry Glen Ross, everything he says can only make Zuko a more effective force, if he gets past the deliberate antagonistic delivery.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Surprisingly, Ozai, in the eyes of the colonials. He's a genocidal maniac, but at least he never betrayed his citizens like Zuko is supposedly doing.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Katara wipes out a group of Yu Dao guards because they attacked Aang.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Zuko gets these at several points:
      • From some of the residents of Yu Dao for giving it back to the Earth Kingdom.
      • From Aang and the Freedom Fighters for changing his mind on the Harmony Restoration Movement.
      • From Ozai about being indecisive.
    • Aang also gets offended by some of his fans imitating his tattoos, saying that they're an important part of Air Nomad culture.
  • White Man's Burden: Fire Man's Burden in this case. Despite stridently rejecting the idea that the war was the Fire Nation's way of sharing its greatness with the rest of the world, Zuko comes around to thinking that the war accomplished something positive in the colonies. He defends Yu Dao, social inequalities and all, to Aang and Katara in terms reminiscent of the White Man's Burden. It very much mirrors Rockefeller's ideology of common wealth; even if wealth is not shared equally among all parties, if the standard of living has become higher for all people involved, than it is fair to say that everyone has benefited.
    Katara: It doesn't seem like the Fire Nation citizens and the Earth Kingdom citizens share equally in that [great] wealth.
    Zuko: It's not perfect, Katara, but all the city's people, including the Earth Kingdom's people, are better off now than they were a hundred years ago.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Both Sokka and Toph can't believe anyone would name their kid The Dark One's real name. The answer to this is obvious, since he's "The Third": his grandfather and father obviously decided that their suffering needed to be passed on to later generations.
  • With Due Respect: An Earth Kingdom General yells this to Zuko during their battle, while rebutting his points.
  • With Us or Against Us:
    • Kori to Sneers, after he lets it slip that he's part of the protest looking to evict the Fire Nation from Yu Dao. Although rather than frame it as an issue of nations, as she had done to Zuko in the first volume, Kori presents it as protecting the city of Yu Dao itself.
    • Kuei tells this to Aang, after making it clear that the Earth Kingdom will re-take Yu Dao as per the Harmony Restoration treaty.
    • Sneers uses a guilt-trip version of this on Aang.
      Sneers: This is it, Aang! You choose to either defend Yu Dao with us... or doom us.