Sunday, November 3, 2013
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part Three (graphic novel) script by Gene Luen Yang, art and cover by Gurihiru, lettering by Michael Heisler
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.
The Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation are at the brink of all-out war. The Earth King wants all Fire Nation citizens kicked out of Yu Dao, which is historically an Earth Kingdom city. Fire Lord Zuko continues to defend his citizens' existence in Yu Dao, but, privately, he is in turmoil over his decision. Is he doing the right thing? Aang is just as torn about what to do. Should he side with Zuko or with the Harmony Restoration Movement? And, if he chooses the latter, can he bring himself to keep his promise and kill Zuko?
This volume ended the story arc in a way that worked but that somehow didn't entirely satisfy me.
My complaints about the previous volumes still apply. Had the story not been shoehorned into such a small number of pages, I think it could have had more depth. I watched the first season of The Legend of Korra prior to reading this volume, and it was nice to see the connections between the two. Unfortunately, it also emphasized how little readers were given. The characters talked about needing to create a new kind of balance, but they weren't shown taking any of those initial steps. Perhaps this happens in other graphic novel volumes.
The characters were pretty much the same as in the series, only perhaps a little regressed. Zuko once again needed to figure out how to get out from under his father's thumb, and a lame explanation was given for why he never once went to Iroh for advice. I was a little surprised that Toph didn't call her student on her “Watch this!” (23) comment, seeing as how Toph was climbing a rope ladder at the time and couldn't have seen anything using her Earth bending abilities. And I continued to be annoyed by Aang and Katara's “we're a couple now and have to constantly remind readers of this” talk. Although Katara thankfully still called Aang by his name, I'm pretty sure Aang never once called Katara by her name, preferring “sweetie” instead. Ick.
Speaking of things that were a little overdone, was the repeated “OMG, Sneers, a guy like you is dating a girl like Kori?!” joke really necessary? We get it, Sneers is husky and plain and Kori is thin and pretty. Har har, the mismatch is so very funny. So funny that it came up twice in the volume.
Like the other volumes, this one was very thin, only 76 pages long. This led to a few moments that I felt were a little rushed/odd. For example, at one point Aang is talking to the Earth Kingdom army when Kori suddenly points to the Fire Nation army, which has somehow arrived and arranged itself right across from the Earth Kingdom army without anyone noticing. It was a nice visual, but it just wasn't logical. Then there were the last three pages, which showed the beginnings of the rebirth of Air Nomads, plus Zuko finally starting to look into the question Avatar fans have been wondering about, “What happened to Zuko's mother?” I would have liked a more expanded version of the first (or does that get covered in another graphic novel?), and the second was obviously meant to encourage readers to pick up The Search next. Which I will probably be doing, although I hope it will be a more satisfying story than The Promise turned out to be.