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The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender follows the life of Aang, Sokka, Katara, Toph, and Zuko as they try to bring balance back to the Earth Kingdom. Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water are together the four elements present in the Earth Kingdom and various nations rule under the banner of each element.
Aang, as the Avatar, has been fighting with his friends to end the tyranny of the Fire Nation. Upon the end of the series, Zuko was crowned ruler of the Fire Nation because Aang and his friends, among them prince Zuko, defeated Zuko’s father.
The comic is excellently written by Gene Luan Yang, who has received a Members’ Choice Award Winner from the American Literary Awards, along with accurate art and cover work done by Gurihiru and lettering by Michael Heisler. Created originally by Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko, both creators were also the executive producers for the animated series.
The story takes off where the series ends, setting the stage for a two-part epic continuation of the Avatar universe. Efforts have begun by Fire Lord Zuko to begin a Harmony Restoration Movement to remove Fire Nation colonies that have settled in Earth Nation locations. Avatar has always been a story about relationships, whether this is between elemental combat or mental combat between people.
In “The Promise-Part One,” Zuko has risen to the position of Fire Lord, Fuler of the Fire Nation, while his father Ozai languishes in prison. The first of the many complicated relationships is certainly between Ozai and Zuko, Zuko’s youth and passion waging war against his father’s cunning and treachery. Even against his own judgment, Zuko knows that he lacks experience and thus seeks his father’s counsel.
Zuko’s relationship with his position as Ruler of the Fire Nation is also featured in “The Promise” as pressure mounts for him to be a good ruler. There are many who view Zuko as a traitor to his father’s strength while other’s still question his sanity. There is a sense of paranoia in Zuko’s restlessness which is not entirely unwarranted either as he faces assassins that are in fact out to get him.
As a result of Zuko’s push for the Harmony Restoration Movement, it appears that Fire Nation is once again on the brink of war while trying to restore balance to the Earth Kingdom. The relationship between Fire Lord Zuko and Avatar Aang however, are the centerpiece of this two-part comic. The ‘Promise’ refers to one made between Zuko and Aang, on the basis that Aang becomes the safety net for Zuko if his position as Fire Lord compromises his goal to bring peace to the Earth Kingdoms.
Aang promises, on the encouragement of Katara no less, to help Zuko on the path to equalizing the Earth Kingdoms. This promise is put to the test when Zuko does indeed retract orders for the Harmony Restoration Movement, causing a fight to break out between the two friends.
The relationship between Katara and Aang is least complicated since these two are now closer than ever before. The power of the Water Tribe manifests itself in a strong protectiveness over Aang when Fire Nation soldiers attack Aang on the orders of Zuko. Her powers have grown, with her control of the water element becoming a strong asset to Aang’s own skill set. Whereas Aang is carefree and quick to anger, Katara is passionate and yet serene.
The Avatar: Last Airbender series, ending at three seasons and 61 Episodes, has won numerous awards and other accolades from various international organizations. The Last Airbender movie received mixed reviews, while the animated series has a huge following amongst animation fans.
Whereas the movie was denigrated for its actors and screenplay, the animated series has pleased fans for a very long time. “The Promise-Part One” therefore, thankfully, falls into the second category, surely pleasing fans of the series with not only exciting action sequences, but the continuation of the series greatest characters.
Avatar: The Last Airbender- The Promise Part One Trade Paperback is available for pre-order through January 25th at Dark Horse Comics here. Part two of “The Promise” won’t be available until May, but fans will surely wait for what appears to be yet another exciting continuation into the world of Avatar the Last Airbender.
This series will hopefully be able to bridge the gap between the end of Avatar The Last Airbender and The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra.