Review: The Last Airbender Prequel: Zuko’s Story

The Last Airbender
Prequel: Zuko’s Story

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Many of us liked the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Many of us were also critical and ultimately snarky about the live-action version by M. Night Shayamalan.

I am personally not anti-Shayamalan overall but The Last Airbender? I have no interest in seeing that.

But if we have anything to thank the movie for, it’s that it allowed us to have The Last Airbender Prequel: Zuko’s Story (2010, Del Rey).

Written by Dave Roman and Alison Wilgus with art by Nina Matsumoto, this can also work as a nice companion to the animated series. Sure, if you’re seen the series, not much of this is a surprise as it follows the early day of Zuko’s journey to find the Avatar to prove his worth to his father. I can only assume it provides decent background to the live-action movie.

I actually think Zuko was probably the most interesting character in Avatar: The Last Airbenderand is the one who changed the most in the series. Roman and Wilgus capture his intense anger (which is pretty justified — his dad burned his face!) while still making him into someone who wins our sympathy. Uncle Iroh continues to be the wise voice of reason.

Matsumoto’s manga-like art works well for the Asian-inspired setting and feel of the story. Her characters look enough like their cartoon counterparts to be recognizable even though she puts her own spin on them. Her inventive page layouts keep the story moving forward.

It’s hard for me to judge how well this works for people not familiar with either version of The Last Airbender but I think it’s a great bonus for fans, giving a bit more insight into Zuko’s past. And I can only hope it will lead more people to the animated series.

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