Let me come out right now and let you know that I am not a closet Avatar fan. In fact everything I know about this franchise was learned watching the movie and wondering how something so bad could get financing. At any rate, when I heard these books were coming out from Dark Horse at NYCC, I had to admit that I was curious. Having never watched the cartoon I probably won’t go into character names and such and really focus on the stories accomplishments. The story begins just after the war's end. This is the war that over-threw the Fire Lord’s rule over the lands and returned the different kingdom’s back to their rightful rulers. Now Zuko and Aang have teamed together to restore the balance to the different nations by withdrawing his Fire people who inhabit the different lands. They decide to hold a celebration to announce the resettlement which really marks the end of the honeymoon as far as the peace goes. Also Anng and Katara start dating and getting smoochy! On the last night of joyful events, Zuko makes Anng promise him that he’ll end his life if he were to end up like his father. Reluctantly, Anng promises.
The story begins following Zuko as he’s plagued with little to no sleep each night. His life has already been threatened seven times and now he’s constantly paranoid of assassins. On this particular night he’s right to be paranoid as a young girl tries to end his life. He takes the girl back to her family to show them what she is and there he makes a startling discovery. It seems that the girl is an earth bender like her mother, but 100% loyal to the Fire kingdom because that’s where her father came from. This inter-bender family shows Zuko that there are other options other than removing everyone back to the Fire kingdom. He decides to call off the resettlement, but without communicating it to the other kingdoms first.
The writing is very accessible for people unfamiliar with the world and characters. For the most part when you're confused about someone or their relationship the dialog will chime in and answer your questions. The pacing is very fitting for a comic book, which is good since the alternative would be TV pacing and that just wouldn't work here. I can imagine fans loving and hating this story. On one side its the return of beloved series, but on the other side they're basically undoing all the hard work the show did. But I really doubt anyone could not enjoy this issue. It has that classic Saturday morning cartoon ambiance that makes you feel like a kid again.
This is a pretty good All-Ages title. Like I said I’ve never watched a full episode of Avatar to compare the book to the cartoon, but I can say that the artwork looks spot on. I’m not sure if the artist formerly worked on the show, but they did a great job of capturing the look and making the comic flow like an animated show. Even if you’re not a fan of the show and only read comics, this one is actually worth checking out. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down and everyone loves a book like that.
Writer: Gene Luen Yang Art: Gurihiru Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $10.99 Release Date: 1/25/12