COMIC REVIEW: Avatar the Last Airbender- The Promise, Part 1

You know what’s great about Avatar the Last Airbender, besides the name Smellerbee? First off, Avatar the Last Airbender is a show that everyone in the family can enjoy. Secondly, it has all you could ever want in a TV series, whether it’s romance, conflict, comedy, or genre.

Finally, it’s a story that can be told in any medium, or nearly any medium; I still have not seen the live action film for myself.

So what happens when Avatar: the Last Airbender goes from Nickelodeon cartoon to comic book series? You get a book that you wish would be animated immediately! Gene Luen Yang is not a name familiar to fans of the Avatar cartoon, but readers may know his most popular work, American Born Chinese. American Born Chinese was a fantastic and fun story, and Yang does not slouch when it comes to telling the further journeys of Avatar Aang.

With Gene Yang is the art team of Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four, World War Hulks), and Michael Heisler (DV8, Global Frequency) as the letterer. Whoever gathered these four should be given a massive pat on the back, because this graphic novel is as close as you can get to watching the actual TV show.

The Promise Part 1 takes off right after the events of the TV show ended. The avatar has defeated the Fire Lord, and Zuko has taken his father’s place. All is not right in the world, though. Now that the Avatar has fulfilled his destiny, Zuko now has the responsibility to help bring the nations together. It’s so much easier said than done.

Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Toph (my favorite!) are all showing signs of maturity, of what they might become in adulthood. OK, except for Sokka; he is still very silly and gets the “oogies” from his sister and Aang kissing. Still focusing on the subject of maturity, Zuko confides in Aang that if he starts to show signs of following in his cruel fathers footsteps, Aang must make a harsh decision. This is the promise of the title, and it seems like it is a harsher weight to put on Aang’s shoulders than when he had to defeat Lord Ozai.

This is why I love Avatar: The Last Airbender so much. It is at a level of maturity where you can enjoy the silly, fun adventures of Aang and his friends. Then the more mature themes, like love, respect, politics and armed conflict come in, and that is when you learn that this show is extraordinary, not something to forget.

I feel much the same way about Avatar: The Last Airbender The Promise Part 1. If you are like I am, you often wonder if a licensed spin-off can carry on the work of the original, and with respect. In this case, there is no need to fear. In fact, it’s time to rejoice!

Avatar The Last Airbender- The Promise, Pt. 1 (Dark Horse Comics) arrives in comic shops on January 25th and in book stores on February 7th.

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