Saturday, August 3, 2013

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part Two (graphic novel) script by Gene Luen Yang, art and cover by Gurihiru, lettering by Michael Heisler

The Promise, Part 2 continues where Part 1 left off. Like Part 1, it's extremely short - only 76 pages.

There are things in this post that probably count as spoilers. Read at your own risk. I'm not going to list any read-alikes or watch-alikes in this post. If you'd like some, I'd suggest taking a look at my Avatar: The Last Airbender TV series posts.

Synopsis:

Aang and Katara head to Ba Sing Se to convince the Earth King to set up a meeting with Fire Lord Zuko, who no longer thinks that removing all Fire Nation citizens from the Earth Kingdom is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the Earth King isn't interested in a meeting. Even if he were, it's possible Zuko wouldn't be either – he's been spending a lot of time talking to his imprisoned father and, as a result, is only becoming more uncertain of the path he should take.

Meanwhile, Sokka has had enough of Aang and Katara's lovey dovey talk and has decided to visit Toph's metalbending school. It may not be Toph's school for much longer, however – a firebending class has taken the space over and refuses to leave.

Review:

This was, sadly, just as disappointing as Part 1. Once again, I felt it was too short. So many things could have been expanded upon and improved.

While I enjoyed getting a longer look at Toph's students and school, the tone of that storyline didn't seem to fit. Sokka, hoping to resolve the argument between Toph and the firebender teacher relatively peacefully, arranged for them to have a match to the sit. The students of the two schools would fight each other and try to force the teacher of the other school to sit. Things became fairly goofy, and nearly everything was played for laughs, which clashed with the much more serious Fire Nation scenes featuring a very haggard Zuko.

The characters were relatively true to the way they were in the original animation, except they seemed sort of like they'd...regressed? It's been a while since I last watched the series, but, personality-wise, a lot of the original characters seemed to be stuck in Season 2 mode. Zuko went back to hanging on his father's every word, even though this gave him an opportunity to spread his usual poison. Where the heck was Iroh? It would have made much more sense for Zuko to use him as a sounding board than his father, even if he had to do it via letters. Aang acted like a silly kid – Katara had to remind him that they had important things to do (like hopefully preventing a war), so he couldn't spend all his time playing with his giggling fanclub. And Sokka was back to being a clown. You'd think that the episodes in which he trained in swordfighting and took part in major battles never happened. Toph might be the only one who grew a bit, and even that's debatable.

I had thought that Kori, the girl from Part 1 who turned out to be the daughter of both Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation citizens, was a throwaway character, but apparently not. She got a grand total of one scene in this volume. I'm assuming she'll play a larger part in the final volume, because otherwise her appearance in this volume was a waste of space.

I'll read Part 3 because I want to see how things turn out between the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation and what Aang chooses to do about Zuko. Unfortunately, I expect I'll be just as disappointed with it as I was with the first two parts.

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