Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 2

Avatar: The Last Airbender:
The Promise Part 2

Buy at Powell’s

Let’s talk about The Legend of Korra for a minute. It’s one of the greatest things you’ve ever seen, right? The animation is monumentally gorgeous and Korra is an impressively complicated heroine. She’s forceful and powerful (but doesn’t get punished for it) but also flawed and vulnerable. And yeah, there’s probably some complaints to be made about the pace of the show, but I love that things keep happening constantly. I love this show. I’ve wanted this show my whole life. I’m going to have a tremendous gap in my week once this season ends.

OK, onto the review.

In true middle-book fashion (there’s only going to be three of these? Noooo!), Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 2 (2012, Dark Horse) shows everyone in turmoil and conflict. Toph struggles with her metal-bending students (she’s aided/tormented by Sokka). Aang gets a little too friendly with some fan club members, much to Katara’s dismay. Zuko tries to decide what is right as he battles with is conscious and his father’s “advice.”

In terms of plot, it’s hard to say how much actually happens in this book — the conflict as to what to do with the Fire Nation-occupied colony in the Earth Kingdom, Yu Dao — it does feature a lot character development. After all the events in the animated series, everyone is at a crossroads — they now have to figure out who they are and their places in the world. Aang likes his fame but that makes Katara feel minimized and insecure. Toph realizes teaching is harder than she thought it would be and that maybe Sokka is smarter than she realizes (Sokka is always smarter than anyone realizes, honestly). Zuko sadly isolates himself from those who’d be willing to help him, taking on too much responsibility for himself.

This is definitely a lot to deal with in a fairly slim volume, but writer Gene Luen Yang is still up to the task. His dialogue and storytelling is snappy and fun. It’s a fun, easy read and doesn’t let you realize how much information and depth is packed in until it’s over. Gurihiru‘s art remains snappy and animated. This artistic team has an incredible sense of layout and color to set a mood — from the sparsely dark panels when Zuko visits his father in jail to bright sequences featuring Toph and Sokka. I can’t imagine this book in anyone else’s hands.

I am still sad there’s only going to be one more of these books. I really feel like I could read Avatar: The Last Airbender comics forever, especially since Korra only has a few weeks left until the next season. It’s such a rich, beautiful world that I want as much of it as I can get.

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