I’m a huge Avatar fan, and I’m not talking about James Cameron’s blue people. I’m talking about the animated television show that brought not only my siblings and I to the television set but my parents as well. The show was brilliantly written and had a satisfactory end, yet fans couldn’t help but want MORE of it. What happens when the world finally gets peace after 100 years of war? Does Zuko find his mother? What happens when Katara and Aang start dating? Can we see more of Sokka and Toph?
All of these questions (or at least most of them) are answered in the new graphic novel, Avatar the Last Airbender: The Promise, written by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko, and drawn by Gurihiru. Released in three parts over the course of 2012, The Promise will be collected next month into a single hardcover volume. The story takes place after Fire Lord Ozai* is defeated and the gang (along with the Earth King) decide how to deal with the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth kingdom. While this is being discussed, Zuko makes Aang promise to “end him” if he becomes evil like his father; Aang reluctantly promises. What I really enjoyed about this graphic novel was how true to the original source material it was in terms of the characterization; even the art was extremely similar to the show’s style.
I was happy with the direction of the storyline because it showed us that beating up the bad guy rarely equals a happily ever after as most shows like to depict. It discussed topics such as whether or not we’re doomed to be like our parents, what it means to preserve our heritage as well as the idea of colonization and how to combat something that isn’t a physical villain that you can punch. 100 years of war have left scars across the nations that Team Avatar must now find a way to help heal.
One of the biggest themes (as seen in the title) is whether or not it’s okay to kill someone even with their permission, and Aang struggles with this dilemma. The Promise delivered these very adult themes in its typical fashion: with some comedic moments to lighten the mood. Sokka and Toph are the front-runners in this but everyone has had their funny moments.
A cool addition to the graphic novel was the side notes by the authors, which discussed the various decisions they’ve made throughout the process and their reasons for everything from the development of the plot down to the clothing the characters wear. I could already tell from the story itself the attention to the show’s details that the writers have incorporated here, but the notes just solidified it and offered fun facts for readers.
The Promise is an amazing extension of the show and a definite must-buy when the hardcover graphic novel hits stores March 5th, 2013.
*Fire Lord Ozai is voiced by Mark Hamill on the show. Hamill is also the voice of the iconic Joker in… almost every animated version of him (including video games).