Community Opinion 16 – The Promise
Airspeed Prime here once again to present you with Community Opinion 16.For this edition the topic is on The Promise comic series, it is now out in full, with a Hardcover collection on the way. Once again we have a pretty poor turnout, but what we got is pretty good.
This is a simple “how did you feel about it” topic.
Airspeed Prime (Site Super Moderator/Podcast Main Host/Facebook Admin)
I always do an opinion in these posts as I out them together but this month I am in the position of having already discussed the topic to death. Check out my written reviews and the podcasts we did on the books for my super in-depth thoughts(Written Reviews/ Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 -Podcast Discussions/ Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Â So for this opinion I will discuss the series from a different point of view. That being my response to some of moments of the series that some parts of the fandom disliked and in some cases hated.
1/ People who think that Zuko and Aang are out of character and that their actions make little sense. I have seen so many fans (mainly on tumblr) say this and it leaves me baffled every single time they justify it. The main reasoning behind this is that what happens to both of them in this series contradicts and eradicates what happens in the show. I am always left wondering if they watched the show correctly or read the comics correctly. Here is why I think this is a poor complaint: Aang and Zuko are both NOT fully developed characters by the end of the show, yes they have developed a lot, but only in certain ways. Aang has become a fully skilled Avatar and accepted his duty in full, made up for for his 100 year absence by saving the world, but he has not yet found who he is as the Avatar yet. So much of his journey was because he was influenced by Roku’s advice, now Aang is in a situation where Roku is out of his depth and wrong, Aang needs to find his own way of dealing with the new world.
Zuko is also not a fully developed character by the shows close, yes he has found his path, but he is no leader yet. Ozai is the only person who can tell him anything about how to lead, not to mention his mothers fate also hanging over him. Until Zuko deals with both of these issues he is not fully developed. In this series he deals with the leadership issue and sticking with his choices.
The biggest complaint seems to be that Zuko asked Aang to promise to kill him and that Aang agreed. So many people seem unable to comprehend that that was done on purpose to show that the two still make mistakes, it was not them written out of character, it was both making mistakes and learning from them. Zuko asks because he does not trust himself enough, which he learns to do by the end of the series (comic) and Aang agrees because the world cannot have another Ozai happen again and the issue of if someone asks to be killed does it go against his beliefs or is he helping Zuko by doing it. In the end it is the perfect way to show both characters growth through this series of comics, they make the error with the promise and constantly wonder have they made the correct choice, by the end of part 3 both realise that the promise was a mistake and learn from it. Great development for me, the scene in the tea shop is perfectly done for both characters.
2/ People think that Roku has been ruined/completely changed as a character. This just blows my mind how people can think this, people seem to believe that Roku as a character has changed from the series to now, when in fact he is the same. In the show he is always telling Aang to be decisive and not allow another Sozin to happen, Roku’s actions from his death onwards are all in making up for his indecision with Sozin. In the finale ROKU TELLS AANG TO KILL OZAI, HOW IS HIM TELLING AANG TO GO THROUGH WITH HIS PROMISE ANY DIFFERENT. It is some fans over the top reverence of the show and unwillingness to allow the comics to connect well with it that causes many of these opinions in my view. Back to Roku. So as I have not so eloquently pointed out Roku is in character and giving Aang the same advice he always gives, to be decisive. Look back at the series Aang, you start to see a fracture between Aang and the other Avatars in that finale scene, where they all tell him to kill Ozai, but he disagrees and in the end makes the choice to take his own path and it works out. So Aang already has a history of disagreeing with Roku, so the huge difference in opinion here makes complete sense. Roku is set in his old ways, making sure that the nations remain 4, despite the fact that the world hasÂ irrevocably changed due to the war and connections between the nations have been made. He cannot see this because of his views while Aang can, he is dating a water tribe girl, his friend Sokka is dating an earth kingdom girl and many other examples in his life. So Ang severing ties with Roku makes so much sense, because they are so different. Until Roku can see the world as it is now he is of no use to Aang, so Aang must find his way alone as the Avatar. Which is great, Aang has to find his own path as the Avatar. It also possibly sets up some development for Roku, he may have been a wise Avatar, but he still has stuff to learn.
People also bring up that Roku knows that he is related to Zuko yet still tells Aang to kill Zuko. I say, look at what happened when he allowed someone a chance who he was close to (Sozin) he cannot take that risk again. Roku is putting the world ahead of 1 person.
3/ People hate the Sneers and Kori relationship. The reason I often see is that people just think it is Gene Yang throwing a new comic character together with one of his favourite minor characters for the sake of it. The problem with this is that it is blatantly wrong, the amount of story that this relationship adds to the series is huge. Not only is Sneers one of the first people to see the idea of Yu Dao as it’s own nation, but he helps Kori to see this too, him being a freedom fighter allows for the conflict with the other freedom fighters. Kori herself is a crucial character in the story and represents so much of what Yu Dao is. Them being together only makes the series better, an odd couple, but it works. Most fans I know are delighted to see Sneers return and get some character, Kori herself is a good character, but add the two together and the fandom, the same fandom that ships clothing items hates it. To me this complaint showed to me that some people just want to hate the comics.
4/ King Kuei’s actions. People really dislike how he did things, his aggressive attack to regain his land. To me this once again showed a lack of understanding of Kuei as a character. Kuei is not a proven leader, he may be older than Aang and Zuko, but he is in the same position as them, yet to prove himself as a leader. For him given what Long Feng did to him and what he has learned it makes sense that he is so eager to make the Harmony Restoration Movement happen, he has to do something to prove himself. In the end Katara shows him the error in his rash decision and he learns that nations have connected, it is about the people, not the land of a nation. The fact that he cowers away during the battle shows the rashness of his decision to attack. He develops a lot as a character here.
To finish off, I first want to say sorry if much of what I said above is blunt and to the point. If you had many of the complaints I addressed in this opinion piece then I hope that maybe you saw a different perspective on things or at least learned to respect those who enjoyed the parts. This is my opinion on many of the complaints this book has received, much of which I think is unfounded. I too have my negatives about the book, but I don’t let them be the focus of my thoughts on the series, I loved the series and would recommend it to all Avatar fans. There is a lot of hate out there from certain groups of fans, don’t let their overly negative thoughts sour you to these books which are complete 100% canon and most of all remember that Mike and Bryan had their hand in the making of these comics.
I will finish with a message to the fandom. We do not want to become like other fandoms where theyare splintered into certain groups where some only like this and don’t accept that. Look at the Star Wars Fandom for the biggest example, half of the fandom do not accept that the 3 newer films happened. We do not want that to happen to Avatar. So just stay positive people, don’t nit pick for the sake of nit picking, you are in the fandom because you enjoy Avatar and these comics are new Avatar.
As for The Search, for Part 1 I think the focus is going to be on Azula getting out of the mental health institute. This is so interesting because nearly every single one of our main characters have a reason to hate Azula for nearly killing them in the case of Aang, Katara, Zuko and Sokka, Capturing Suki and insulting Toph. So the drama is going to be intense once the others find out. Since we don’t know many details it is very hard to see what will happen, but Azula is definitely going to be a star in these books. Will she try to redeem herself and regain her sanity by finding her mother or will she revert to her usual ways.
The concept of The Promise Series greatly intrigued me from the start. I had just started hearing about The Legend of Korra when, whatâ€™s that? A comic series all about the events directly after ATLA? THATâ€™S AMAZING. Even before the release date was announced I couldnâ€™t wait to get my hands on these comics. The Promise seemed like a perfect idea to me, after all those speculations and rumors of ATLA Season 4, to quench everyoneâ€™s thirsts for Avatar content.
When I received The Promise Part 1 I was not disappointed. My thoughts as reading it: the drawings are perfect, the characters are perfect, the action is perfect, the plot is perfect. I absolutely loved it. My adoration and obsession of these comics stemmed of course from the show itself, and finally experiencing this extension of the show. Thatâ€™s all it felt like to me, an extension of plot. I saw almost no difference between the ways the information was delivered between these two mediums. I really did like the plot, mostly because of the way the characters developed. Before the comics came out, Zuko was always my favorite character, and I giddily looked forward to seeing more of his â€śbecoming of a leaderâ€ť legacy in these comics. In Part 1, Zukoâ€™s legacy is carried through all the way, through the means of his confusion, struggle, and almost submission to his fatherâ€™s advice.
Part 2 brought that to a whole new level, as the main story of Zukoâ€™s side was him finding the right path to follow: his fatherâ€™s, or his own. Throughout the book, Zuko is visiting his father for advice as to how he can possibly rule a nation with as shaky a reputation and spirit as the Fire Nation, realizing that Ozai is the only person he can ask for help in this situation. Ozai takes him on an honor rollercoaster, quizzing him and challenging him on how to do the right thing. Surprisingly, Ozaiâ€™s advice seems to be sufficient for Zuko, and for many readers. Part 2 also greatly and efficiently told the story of Toph and Sokka in the Metalbending Academy (which gives us some context toward the place of the Metalbending Police in LOK), expressed the relationship between Aang and Katara, and also developed the character of Kori Morishita, whom we first see attempting to kill Zuko, yet we later see as an important advocate of the idea of the United Republic of Nations. Part 2 is a great lead into the anticipated Part 3.
Part 3, while ultimately resolving the conflict between Aang and Zuko, gave a closure to every section of the series, which was expected. The Beifong Metalbending Academy is finally introduced to the main plotline of the story, after resolving an issue of its own; Sneers and Kori finally get a say in what they think should become of Yu Dao; and Aang and Zuko find the extents of their friendship, and what effects it has on the outcome of the world. Firstly, we get to see Tophâ€™s lily livers â€“ er, I mean students â€“ use their skills in action and slow down Zukoâ€™s advancement on the Earth Kingdom army, giving Aang and co. time to think. Sneers and Kori express their ideas to Aang, to which Katara responds by declaring her support for those ideas. And Aang finally realizes what he must do to save his world. A theme has arisen in which Aang seeks help and guidance from his past lives, and often does not receive the right help. In the Promise Series, Aang mainly focuses on Roku, who tells him killing Zuko will save the world, and fulfil the Avatarâ€™s duty. However, Aang does not see this as saving the world. When he thinks of the world, he does not see the Four Nations always separated and living their own ways, but he instead thinks of his outrageous friend group, in which he has parts from the Air Nomads, the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, and the Fire Nation. At that moment, he realizes that this is what he wants from the world; he believes nothing should be separated, and everything should be together, just like Team Avatar. He could only have reached this conclusion after the events of ATLA, and his experiences while travelling the world. That is why I see the Promise Series as an extension of plot; all the problems in the series are inherited from the show, and solved through the means of experiences in the show. Aangâ€™s realization of what the world means to him, can even stem back to before the Hundred Year War, when Aang talks of his friends around the world, like Kuzon and Bumi. He always struggled with the fact that everything should be together, and the idea of a war going on completely shocked and proved impossible to fathom to him. He later burns Monk Gyatsoâ€™s ceremonial necklace, which was his primary link to the Spirit World, to turn toward the future, and help his best friend create a new world in which everything is together.
Overall, The Promise was a great series, appealing to readers all around the world. It brought meaning, plot, and character development to the Avatar World, and also a teaser/twist at the end. In my opinion, it was a great idea which was perfectly executed, and I greatly enjoyed reading it. I encourage anyone else who hasnâ€™t managed to obtain it to read it, as it is an important part of Avatar content. I cannot wait for the new The Search comic series, which will cover the search for Ursa: Zuko and Azulaâ€™s mother. As you can see at the end of the Promise Series and the cover of The Search comics, Azula will be a part of this series, which is exciting because she could be a clever and sly villain (as always), or a useful and dangerous ally. I really hope Azula becomes an ally just to see a different side to her, as you can see she does have a sort of longing for her mother, which is directly addressed in episode 305 â€śThe Beach.â€ť Anyway, thatâ€™s all I have on The Promise and The Search, so I will leave on this note: The Promise was intriguing and entertainingly informative, and I expect the same from The Search.
Unlike the show, the main conflict of The Promise isnâ€™t â€śgood vs. evil,â€ť but â€śold ideas vs. new ideas.â€ť The old ideas are that the four nations should be separate and that the leader of a country decides what is right and wrong. These are embodied in Roku and Ozai. The new ideas are that the four nations can come together and that right and wrong is bigger than any one person.
The old ideas are a carryover from the toxic end of Rokuâ€™s relationship with Sozin. The good relationship of Avatar and Fire Lord is the beginning of Roku and Sozinâ€™s relationship. This is also Aang and Zukoâ€™s relationship. Together, Avatar and Fire Lord can change the world for the better. â€śWe should share this prosperity with the rest of the world. In our hands is the most successful empire in history. Itâ€™s time we expanded it.â€ť (Sozin.) I believe that Sozin was truly trying to help the world. He thought the way to do that was by expanding the Fire Nation. With Roku involved, he could have directed Sozin away from that and instead directed him to something like The United Republic or otherwise bettering the world. If Roku had been involved in it, Sozinâ€™s name would be praised instead of hated. â€śThere are no possibilities.â€ť (Roku.) Roku tried to keep the world frozen in time and this doomed it to a hundred year war.
The key to the four nations coming together is handling it very carefully. If not handled correctly, the stronger one hurts the weaker one. This is what is happening in the colonies and the abuses in the fan club.
This comic series is using a fantasy world as a clever way to discuss racial segregation and its end in the United States. Instead of â€śwhite only schoolsâ€ť and â€śblack only schoolsâ€ť we have a colony where the nations are mixing, to the disapproval of people like the protesters. Notice the new slurs. â€śDirt people,â€ť â€śsnow savage,â€ť and â€śash maker.â€ť Itâ€™s an interesting way to explore a real issue without the baggage.
When we hear the old ideas, it is done in such a way that it is understandable. Especially when Aang doesnâ€™t want Airbending culture to be lost. This understandability wouldnâ€™t be as possible if it were done in our world. Showing both sides and having them both understandable makes the â€śold ideas vs. new ideasâ€ť better, and the â€śnew ideasâ€ť winning at the end more powerful.
The storytelling is very well done in this series, especially the dream sequence at the beginning of part 3. It reminds us of the stakes in a very dramatic way so that it is on our minds for the rest of the book.
The layouts really impress me in these books. The layouts have nice variation without loosing readability. My favorite layouts are the prison scenes with Zuko visiting Ozai. The majority of these panels are long and some even span the width or height of the page, evoking prison bars.
I think the scene of Zuko talking to Irohâ€™s picture is played out like Iroh had died because Zuko is feeling so lost. It is important that Iroh isnâ€™t there because if Iroh is always hanging around, it gives Zukoâ€™s decisions less weight.
The placement of the metalbending school in part 2 is a little awkward, but I think they had to establish it now to make sure we know it and the students for future comics, so it doesnâ€™t bother me. Iâ€™m assuming we will be seeing the formation of the United Republic, and that the lily liversâ€” I mean Tophâ€™s students, will be the police force.
Speculation time. Ready for some crazy theories? Here goes. Okay, so Zuko had June looking for his mother, and she failed, so that means Ursa is either in the Spirit World or on a lion turtle. I donâ€™t think she is on a lion turtle, though that would open up an opportunity to give us more info about it.
I think she is in the Spirit World and that she is contacting Azula through reflections. Hear me out. Azula is crazy. Her mind is less connected to the physical world. Therefore she is more susceptible to being contacted from the Spirit World. In the finale, when Azula first sees her mother in the mirror, Azula has just cut her hair. Her craziness had been well established. There is no need for her to have crazed visions at that point. Also, Ursa keeps telling her daughter that she loves her. This is not what Azula thinks her mother feels about her. We know this from â€śthe Beach,â€ť when Azula says that Ursa thought she was a monster. Even a crazy vision wouldnâ€™t go against something like that.
But Ursa is Azulaâ€™s mother. She knows Azula is more than a little off, but she still loves her. She sees her daughter in distress, and finally able to contact her, tries to comfort her.
If Zuko is travelling into the Spirit World, they may get into Irohâ€™s past. We know that he has been to the Spirit World, but we donâ€™t know why or how. The how would be especially important, since Aang has been the only other character able to get into the Spirit World by himself.
I think Toph will be getting a love interest. (Linâ€™s dad?) I think they will either reintroduce a minor character like the Duke or introduce a new character. Or maybe both! Love triangle!
I think that Zuko and Mai will get back together at the end of the Search.
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