Avatar The Last Airbender The Promise Part 1 Review
Hello comic fans, this is Airspeed Prime here. As some of you may know if you read my review of The Lost Adventures, I am the siteâ€™s comic reviewer and I am here today to review Avatar The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1 which is out today (January 25th) in comic stores (February 7th for book stores and sites like Amazon). I would have liked to put this review out early to help you guys make a decision on if you want to get the book or not, but unlike many comic sites and a few other Avatar sites out there we did not get a review copy from Dark Horse
Now to start off I think we first need to realise just how important this graphic novel series is for the Avatar universe and fandom. This book is going to continue on the ATLA story and bridge the original series and Korra, so it serves two purposes and are 2 great reasons alone to buy this book. It has been about 3 and half years at this stage since ATLA ended and we have had that time to think about what happens next as not everything was resolved, so with this series we are finally going to get some answers and see what the end of the War brings to the Avatar world. Now on to the fact that this is a comic and not animation, many fans when they first heard about this series wondered why it was not going to be episodes, I completely understand this, but we do know from The Lost Adventures that Avatar can work so well in comic form, many of those stories felt just like watching an episode and this book is even better.
So after my fairly lengthy intro I will get into my review which I will split into non spoiler and spoiler parts. I feel like there is not much I can say about the book if I do not mention any details.
Avatar The Last Airbender The Promise Part 1
Written by: Gene Yang
Art and Colours by: Team Gurihiru (Art and inks by Sasaki with Colours by Kawano)
Published By:Â Dark Horse Comics
So I will start with my non spoiler review. Basically my overall opinion on this book is that it is amazing, very well written and stunningly illustrated. What this book does so well is that it deals with exactly what you know still needs to be resolved at the end of ATLA, so if we remember how the show ended, Aang beat Ozai, Katara and Zuko beat Azula, OWL took back Ba Sing Se thus ending the war and bringing peace to the world. Yes right up until peace in the world, because the War is over yes, but can the other nations so quickly begin to trust the fire nation again, can the world even have peace after 100 years of war.
So there are problems still to be resolved, and this book is the perfect introduction back into the Avatar world 1 year on from the finale. We begin with Katara narrating (a great reference to ATLA) and we catch up to where the show ended and get more after that before we move on a year later. Part 1 is a lot of introduction, which may come across as a flaw, but it is not, the book is specifically called part 1 so obviously it will have the job of getting us back into things a year on. That said the story flows very well and has a nice pace; it is never bogged down in too much explanation and is never too fast paced. It has the feel of the Ba Sing Se story arc from the show and In my opinion just as interesting.
You can see throughout the book the quality of the writing and the amount of care an attention that went into making this book perfect, the references to the show are great and quite obscure at times and it is clear that Gene Yang knows how to write the characters and you can tell that Mike and Bryan were involved too. The writing is good, but the Art is even better, Team Gurihiru was an inspired choice to do the art for this series. Their style is easily recognisable as Avatar without it being a copy of the animation style, what makes their style so good here is that it is slightly more cartoon-ey than the show, which allows the expressions to be extremely clear and characterful which is crucial in a comic medium where you do not have animation to show it. The art is consistent with only a few panels looking slightly messy, but it is not really too noticeable.
So to finish off my non spoiler review, this book is a must buy for any Avatar fan regardless of how you feel about comics. It is worth the less than â‚¬10 you can get it for from Amazon, you get 80 glorious pages of Avatar art, the continuation of the show and another piece of Avatar merchandise! What is not to like? The story is set up very well in this part 1, my only negative is not really a fair complaint as it is dependent on what is in part 2. It is some of the stuff we do not see, no Iroh, no Azula, no Sukka (Sokka Suki relationship scenes), but as I said this stuff may be explored in the other 2 parts and is not a negative on what this book does cover. Part 2 cannot come soon enough for me, it is going to be difficult to wait until May 30th for the next instalment.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD FOR PART 1
So now on to the spoiler section of my review (plus some thoughts)
I think the first big thing to talk about here is the big point of issue among fans when we saw half of the book in a preview. That being how Zuko is portrayed in this book, now personally I think the way he is here is perfect. I think many fans, mainly big Zuko fans make the mistake of thinking that Zuko is fully developed as a character at the end of the show and that he will never have to struggle or make a mistake again. This is not correct because of 2 reasons: The first one is that he does not know what is the fate of his mother, the second one being that he does not know how to run the fire nation fully yet. These are also two things that only Ozai knows, 2 things that still give Ozai something to hold over Zuko, 2 things Zuko needs to have resolved. So yes this book may be a bit hard for huge Zuko fans to read especially the final panels, but we do not know what Ozai wants nor do we know if Zuko will even do anything Ozai says. Also we know that Zuko and Aang together found United Republic, so he gets through this situation ok Â :). Also Iroh is not present in this book, so Zuko does not have his mentor and true father figure to help him.
That leads nicely into why Zuko is struggling as Fire Lord. The reason is the main plot of these books, what to do regarding the Fire Nation colonies and the conflict this starts between himself and Aang mainly because Zuko is unsure if he, as Firelord, should side with his people or with his friend, The Avatar, both on opposite sides of the issue. King Kuei wants to put his “Harmony Restoration Movement” in to action where the Fire Nation people in the colonies are relocated back to the Fire Nation. Should they allow them to stay as they are and effectively allow the fire nation to keep that Earth Kingdom land (King Kuei mentions that his people think of the colonies as an â€śold scarâ€ť of the war) or return the colonials to the Fire Nation, uprooting innocent civilians. It is a lose lose situation for everyone, now clearly this is leading up to the fact that Yu Dao will be the origin of United Republic, Katara even sort of suggests that Idea of a 4 nations nation and is definitely being set up as being the neutral in this issue as she notices and is intrigued by the people of Yu Dao being two nations together. Back to the struggle, Zuko is at first sided with Aang completely as he says in his speech in the finale, but after an altercation with the mayor of Yu Dao he changes his mind. Throughout his arc in this story we get insights into what he is thinking and the stress he is under, assassination attempts on his life (one by Kori, the mayor of Yu Dao’s daughter), big decisions, not wanting to become like his father. Aang also has some nice moments in relation to this issue, he has to help the world heal after a 100 year war and has it set in his mind what Roku said to Sozin that the four nations must remain 4. The problem with this is that it is not that simple any more, the colonies are well established now, in these colonies the nations are mixing and as seen here marrying and having kids. I think what will make Aang realise that his way of thinking is not correct is his relationship with Katara, they are both from Different nations and his own view is effectively against his own relationship, not to mention Sokka and Suki too.
This leads into my next point. The Promise, the name of the series, what does it refer to? As I said above, Zuko does not want to become like Ozai, so he asks Aang to promise to end him if he ever does as he does not fully trust himself to make the right decision. Zuko makes one of the most mature and clear decisions of his life here, he does not want to do another 220. Aang agrees. So with Zuko under so much stress and making bad decisions, we see where The Promise comes into play. It is not the complete focus in part 1, but is clearly set up for something big later, possibly involving what Ozaiâ€™s motives are and what he will want from Zuko in exchange for advice.
The final thing I want to discuss is Aang and Kataraâ€™s relationship in this book. It is a year on from that Kiss and the two are full on Boyfriend and Girlfriend, they are truly in love and what is great is that they are purposefully portrayed as overly romantic towards each other which is nicely lampshaded in the book by Sokka constantly being grossed out by them. They call each other â€śSweetieâ€ť a lot, I admit it is used too much, but I think it is on purpose to give Sokka â€śoogiesâ€ť ammunition. I love the way they were not portrayed in here as having constant arguments, they started out as friends and have the communication down already, they have an overly sweet relationship, but not every ship needs to be dark and full of arguments. This is a nice change. Now I think what is being set up is that Katara and Aang will have an argument and question their relationship, Sokka will realise then that they are better together and get over his â€śoogiesâ€ť to help them get back together.
So in summary, get this book. It is not expensive, it is 100% canon and you will be missing out if you donâ€™t get it. I know many Avatar fans are not comic fans, but what better time to start than with an Avatar comic and excellent quality Avatar comic. An amazing opening and intro into this seriesâ€™ story, if Part 2 and 3 can keep up this quality then this is shaping up to be an unmissable series.
One final thing. As many of you know Amazon leaked half of this book in their preview, it pretty much showed off the entire story and it either put people off the story or made them like it more. I can assure you that the 40 pages not in this preview adds so much context into what happens at various parts in the book.
I hope you enjoyed this review, please tell us how you liked the comic in the comments below or in the threads in our forum.
Here is my video review of The Promise Part 1, I tried to discuss things I did not mention in my review
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