Avatar The Last Airbender The Promise Part 3 Review
Hello Avatar Fans, Airspeed Prime here with another comic review, one I have been eagerly awaiting since Part 2 came out. Today is the day after release of the book in comic stores, which was September 26th, those of you who have no comic store nearby will have to wait until October 9th or around there to get it from Amazon or in a book store. I would have loved to get this review out early, but sadly, Dark Horse does not consider us members of the press and so we get no preview review copy. Hopefully this review gets you excited for the series and perhaps if you already have the book, will give you some more insight into events.
Again as I always do I will emphasise how important this book and other Avatar comics are to the future of Avatar. These deserve the support as they will be out only other way of getting store outside of shows and shows cannot go on indefinitely. If you can buy a copy of this book.
This review will be split into a non spoiler and spoiler review. I will start with non spoiler.
Avatar The Last Airbender The Promise Part 3
Written by:¬†Gene Yang
Art and Colours by:¬†Team Gurihiru¬†(Art and inks by Sasaki with Colours by Kawano)
Letters By :¬†Michael Heisler
Published By:¬†Dark Horse Comics
Where to begin, hmm. Well my opinion on the book over all I suppose, I loved it completely, best of the 3 parts and a great conculsion to the series. Now onto what the first two parts of this series have done so far and what they have left for Part 3 to do. In my opinion Part 3 works so well because of what Part 1 and 2 have done beforehand, all the little pieces of set up in these books has left time for Part 3 to explore what it needs to and the book does not fail in any of these things. Everything does come to a head in Yu Dao, all of the characters have their say and all grow in some way, in so many ways this book improves upon Part 1 and 2, because it is the part to resolve a lot of the plot lines it explores them in very deep and meaningful ways. Gene Yang in this book should completely prove to any doubters that he can write Avatar, Aang and Zuko and the way they are developed in this book are the absolute highlight of the book, both being influenced to think certain ways by people close to them, but at the same time knowing in their mind that they are different. The way that nearly all of the development adds to the tension in Yu Dao is great, they all have these set ideas of what they are going to do when they reach Yu Dao, but when they do there is one thing they never considered, seeing real people, seeing the people affected by the issues surrounding Yu Dao, it is powerfully done as many characters begin to see the error of their harsh plans because they see that there are happy and loving families of both nations together.
On to The Art now, what ¬†more can I say than I have not already said about how amazing Team Gurihiru’s art is. In this book they have even stepped it up a bit, they are so consistent, the facial expressions especially are amazing in this part. What their art does so well is make up for the lack of movement in comics, by making the characters have so much expression, it works so well as you really do begin to think it is just another episode of the show. The art is colourful and amazingly smooth and easy to look at and know exactly what is going on. Seeing how far this art team has come from The Lost Adventures story “Dirty Is Only Skin Deep” is an interesting journey as it is clear to see that their Avatar style has developed from quite kiddy and making a lot of the characters look extremely young, to capturing the characters even older here.
Onto the story as a whole, I think what this part does so well is that it deals with some very complex issues in amazingly well ways, what does this remind you of?
Yes the shows, ATLA dealt with issues like Genocide, is it right to kill bad people and sexism. What is dealt with in this comic which many claim to be overly kiddy, is the aftermath of war, should towns established during war times just be ripped apart when the war ends, can ¬†some aspects of war be justified and even themes like the nations coming together and cross nation relationships not just in the context of Yu Dao, but Aang and Katara’s relationship and a new theme for this book of Cultural Appropriation (Which basically means taking some parts of a culture) with the fan club and them taking their Air Nomad fascination a bit too far and not quite respecting what the Air Nomads stand for. It is really how the book handles these issues that makes it so good, it takes them seriously, but not overly so and really make you understand both sides of every issue, this is a book that really makes you think about the issues, it does not just resolve them for you, but asks you to think yourself and because of this you understand where every character is coming from. I think at this stage to call Gene Yang a poor writer shows a fundamental lack of knowledge of Avatar canon and characters, what he with the advice of Mike and Bryan is doing is exactly what these characters need to do, exactly the way they need to develop. By the end of the series are any of our characters fully developed, no, they are still all young. Zuko may be Fire Lord, but he does not really know how to be or make these big decisions, what happens in The Promise that is dealt with, Aang is the Avatar, but he has not yet found who HE is as the Avatar, what happens here, that is dealt with.
It is hard to discuss the book with out getting into details, but in the end it is an excellent conclusion to The Promise as a series that at the same time sets up The Search well, it not only deals with what was set up in the previous parts, but introduces new issues that only add to the story. Do I have any negatives about the book ? only one really, that being that Toph’s metalbending students are still a bit one dimensional, I feel that there was just not enough pages left to give them any development, I think there is so much potential with them and what we do get of them here is good and does continue on their paths from Book 2, I hope they do return in future comics to get more development, Ozai gets no actual appearance in the book outside of the dream, it may seem like a negative, but given the development Zuko has come the end of this book it was not needed and he can always return in The Search. Speaking of The Search the way that this transitions into the search is very well done, it does not just come out of nowhere, Zuko has been thinking of this for a while and with Iroh’s The Promise Debut events are set in motion for The Search.
A must buy book for any Avatar Fan, this may seem a crazy thing to say, but I honestly believe that this is some of the strongest writing that Avatar has ever gotten, especially Aang and Zuko’s development. What is set up for both at the end of this is going to be some of the most interesting development we will see from these two amazing characters, Aang finding out who he is as his own Avatar and Zuko finding out about his mother.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD FOR PART 3
Now onto the spoiler section of my review where I will discuss events of the book in detail.
I will start with Aang and his fanclub, we get the resolution of what that messenger hawk asked of the Yu Dao chapter of the club, for them to help stop any conflict with the aid of the Air Nomad teachings they know. What is interesting here is that we see that the Yu Dao chapter has taken things to a whole different level, they have Arrow tattoos on their heads and dress like Air Nomads, Aang had been happy to see people interested in his culture and with this we see the return of an aspect of Aang we saw last in 117 The Northern Air Temple, he cares about his people’s culture and tradition. He earned his arrows, by training and learning the teachings while the club just made up and assumed a lot of the teachings without fully understanding them, I loved that Aang was angry about this, they are good at heart and he is delighted to see interest in his culture, but they took it too far with the arrows, they see it as a bit of a game and fun, when to Aang they are his beliefs and as the only Air Nomad left he hates seeing things done wrong. When the conflicts kicked off in Yu Dao, we see the opposite side of the fan clubs, that some of their knowledge of Air Nomad culture is helping, they know some of the fighting style and that they are a peaceful people and help quell the fighting. Because of this Aang sees the potential of them and we see the formation of a group we know from Korra, The Air Acolytes, being thought Air Nomad Culture by Aang. It is just a small aspect of the book, but how it handles the issue of Cultural Appropriation was excellent, introduced and resolved in the same book and done well.
Next has to be Katara in this book, I was expecting Aang and Zuko to just steal all my focus on this book, but by the end it was how Katara was done that stood out to me. She, Kuei, Aang and Zuko are the big 4 people that in the end this issue resolves around, Kuei is led by his need to prove himself as a leader and a man and so is not listening to reason, Aang is influenced by Roku and Roku’s way of being the Avatar and Zuko is being influenced by Ozai, so Katara is really the only 1 of the 4 that is fully thinking for herself, she is the one who along with a little help from Sneers, suggests the idea that Yu Dao is neither Fire Nation nor Earth Kingdom, just Yu Dao. Her biggest character strength, he caring for others is on display in full force this book, she cares about the people of Yu Dao and her friends and allies, he visit to Yu Dao has deeply affected her and this ties in with Aang’s development in this book and also how their relationship develops, when she saw Kori and her multi nation family, she also saw her and Aang’s future, she and Aang are one of these relationships that Roku’s way of being the Avatar opposes, it is a lovely scene as the two have this tender moment where they are just completely honest with each other and it ultimately has a huge impact on Aang’s way of thinking.
That being how he not only deal with the situation in Yu Dao, but also his choice to confront Roku about his ideas being only suited for the past and not the new post war world, he emotionally breaks away from Roku and decides to find his own path as the Avatar, just as Zuko has decided to take his own path as Fire Lord. It is huge development for Aang, the start of his path to becoming the Avatar we see in Korra, his line there “When we hit our lowest point we are open to the greatest change!” kind of applies here, both Aang and Zuko were at low point and made changes, perhaps his big learning curve as the Avatar here is what inspired that advice to Korra. As for his promise to Zuko, we see he does not go through with it and in the end does the exact opposite and saves Zuko when in the Avatar State he separates Yu Dao from the Earth Kingdom and Zuko nearly falls into the crevice.
Zuko in this book is also amazing with the way he develops, he is constantly doubting himself and in the end he is correct, and what he learns is just to have some confidence in his decisions, a different take on the advice Ozai gives him in part 2 that as the fire lord you are correct in any decision you make by virtue of being the fire lord. We get an answer on why he did not go to his Uncle for advice and again it is very simple, his uncle retired to his tea shop after the war and Zuko feels he has already done so much for him that he does not want to burden him with his problems, he did not go to his Uncle because he did not want to ruin his uncles retirement, in the end he and Aang visit Iroh and we see with him a huge contrast in giving advice, Roku and Ozai are quite forceful and really directing Aang and Zuko, while Iroh as he did in the series with Zuko, never really forces Zuko onto a path, but simply guides him and lets him do it himself for the most part. He appears right at the end, but it is a great first appearance from Iroh.
I think a hugely important scene for the whole book is the opening dream shared by Aang and Zuko, as this shows them both that things need to change, should things continue on as they have been that is the only conclusion, Aang fulfilling the promise and Killing Zuko. This drives both characters on and especially to change for the better. Such a great way to start the book.
I don’t just want to spoil the whole book here so I will finish up with some shipping/oogies/sweetie/romance talk. Basically KATAANG is amazing, this book just shows what a great couple they are, not just because they are cute together, but the way they can talk to each other about anything, the two care deeply for each other at such a young age and it is so believable, so when Katara brings up that she has been thinking of their future and having kids, Aang doesn’t freak out, he knows it too. It shows how mature the two are and while they have those overly cute moments and call each other Sweetie from time to time, they show it is all real and they honestly do just like each other so much. Sweetie for anyone interested and especially those for some reason complaining about a word said by a couple in a relationship it is said 1 time in this book. As for Oogies we get a great and funny conclusion to it that I have to say ¬†I called, Suki reunites with her Airship team mates Sokka and Toph and immediately Sokka and Suki are in a lip lock and Toph is right there to say Oogies, referencing Katara from Part 1 who called Sokka out over the same thing, he is just as lovey dovey with Suki as she and Aang are. It was a perfect scene to kind of resolve alot of shipping rumours people have been having, which for me really makes it clear that some fans should just not speculate about shipping, SUKKA lives, ZUKKA was nothing but Suki caring for her friend, KATAANG is Epic in everyway and Mai does not appear in this book and for me that is a good thing, Zuko is in no frame of mind to be able to have a relationship with Mai until he sorts out his issues, after Part 3 all that is left is the looming issue of his mother. So I don’t think those two ¬†will or should get back together until the end of the search. Oh and Kori and Sneers and their relationship takes every character by surprise, to many humourous moments.
I suppose I do need to mention Azula, we get absolute confirmation that she was in a mental health institution after 321 and we see that Zuko realises that Ozai won’t tell him anything about his mother, but that he may say something to Azula. With the ending we get a fascinating plot for the start of The Search set up, Azula deep down does also need some resolution with her mother too and has been deeply affected by the events at the end of 321, but that she is still mentally unstable, so how will she react to seeing Ozai again, how will Ozai react to her, to him she has probably failed him, will he try to manipulate her, will Azula actually try to help Zuko find their mother and at least for me will Azula finally see Ozai for who he really is, a father who just used her a tool to help him again power. Add to this Zuko kind of using Azula, though we really do not know how he feels about his sister at the end. It is a perfect set up for The Search as everyone is pretty much friendly by the end of this book, introducing Azula back into things, will put everyone on edge as she has wronged them all horribly, not to mention how she has changed after a year of treatment.
Final thoughts, what more can I say, Excellent Writing, Stunning Art, Complex themes and issues explored maturely and come on everyone this is the continuation of ATLA, what is not to like.
Discuss the book with our community in this thread on the forum
My Video Review of the book (Update October 8th 2012)
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