Avatar: the Last Airbender: The Promise Part One (Dark Horse)

Picking up exactly where the acclaimed Nickelodeon television series left off, new Fire Lord Zuko and Avatar Aang struggle to enforce the peace they’ve worked so hard to achieve. But tensions are rising everywhere as a fire-nation colony within the Earth Kingdom forces our young heroes into the most terrifying arena of all: politics.

 

76 pgs. full color; $10.00
(W: Gene Luen Yang, A: GuriHiru)
 
Children’s television programming giant Nickelodeon struck gold when it broadcast the animated martial arts/fantasy show Avatar: the Last Airbender. With its engaging storyline, well-rounded and memorable characters (Cabbage Man!), and lavish animation, fans everywhere were, shall we say, extremely sad when this cartoon concluded after three seasons. Creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino work to soothe their fanbase with what is essentially a continuation of their extremely popular show, giving fans what they always crave: more story.
 
Picking up where the series left off, The Promise Part One explores the cold realities that often follow after battles, and shows that bringing peace is a very tricky business. Young Zuko is the new Fire Lord, and is committed to the peace that he and Aang the Avatar battled so hard for. Unfortunately, not everyone in the Fire Nation shares his vision. Hardship continues to follow Zuko as he tries to reconcile policymaking with assassination attempts. He has promised the Earth king Kuei that he will dismantle the many colonies the Fire Nation built inside the Earth kingdom over the past one hundred years, but it is a task far easier said than done. In the decades that have passed since Fire Lord Sozin began the war, the Fire Nation colonists have become integrated into the Earth Kingdom, and lead their own lives with citizenships not clearly defined. But, if the colonists stay, other Earth kingdom residents threaten to start a new war, attacking their former neighbors and shattering a fragile peace. Aang wants to help his friend, but answers to this problem elude even the Avatar.
 
Unlike some other movie or TV spinoffs which prove the adage that you can have too much of a good thing, The Promise gets at some major lingering questions that followed the end of the television series, including what happened to Zuko’s mom (we’re not there yet, but it’s brought up) and whether Aang’s defeat of Fire Lord Ozai really brought peace to the four nations. There is no feeling like the creators are grasping at straws to make a passable story; instead this book reads like an actual episode of the series, complete with enough comedic interludes to soften the edge of what is a very adult theme. Nation-building is difficult under the best of circumstances, and made nearly impossible when you’re a sixteen-year-old usurper.
 
The script for The Promise was actually created by Eisner-winner Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese), but he is working very closely with Konietzko and DiMartino, so all the writing feels true to the original storyline. Artist GuriHiru (Power Pack) does an excellent job keeping the look and feel of all the characters, showing just enough changes to highlight that they are all indeed moving on in their lives. For fans of the series Avatar: the Last Airbender who felt that the end came too soon, cease your fretting. The Promise gives you Aang and all your other favorite characters for just a little bit longer. | Elizabeth Schweitzer
 
Click here for a preview of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part One, courtesy of Dark Horse.

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