Avatar (the good one) – The Promise

(this is the 3rd or forth time I’ve tried to post this, let’s hope it works this time)

The previous graphic novel collection of Avatar was… mediocre.  It collected all the previous comic stories that had been published, but since those were concurrent with the show, the stories by necessity were generally unimportant and didn’t show much in the way of character or plot development.

Then along comes… the Promise.

A 3 part graphic novel series, this is functionally season 4.1 and follows the adventures of Aang and crew after the close of season 3.  Here are the links to the parts so you can order them now.

The covers are actually accurate to the tone and feel of each part.
(yes, I am trying out the Amazon affiliate program just to earn a few extra pennies off this blog, so feel free to purchase from those links please?)

And if you’re patient (or just anal-retentive), in March they’ll be releasing the collection as a whole.

What, you need more? Hmm… well if we were to divide the seasons by halves to make it fair, I would rank it the equal of 2.1 or 3.2 (first half of 2, last half of 3), which both were good, but not the best the show aspired to.

I’ll put a more in depth (spoilerific!) review down below the next link where those who missed the previous graphic novel can pick it up. Oh, and in March of 2013? Another graphic novel series apparently starts: the Search (I’m already calling it 4.2). See you guys there again. 😉

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Special Note: I haven’t gotten around to Korra’s show yet (though with SF Debris starting on it soon, so looks like it’s a race between me and Chuck) and have been avoiding spoilers.

You ever wondered if the “after” of “happily ever after” is any good?  A lot of times not.  As much as I love Lord of the Rings, and while we definitely needed to see how the world lived after the defeat of Sauron, the aftermath of the ring’s destruction can be a bit of a drag at times and just not always that interesting.  So without an “end goal” to work for, can the gaang create a compelling story?

Of course!  Just because one war is over doesn’t mean that it’s an end to all conflicts.  No, the Avatar did not bring world peace, just a world ‘breathing spell’, and it is going to take awhile to clean everything up.

Including all those places the Fire Nation conquered so long ago.  Only there’s something nobody thought to ask: what if the places don’t want to be “cleaned up”.  I admit, the chief conflict of this 3 parter is a bit of a slow build and the writers did hurt themselves by not spelling it out up front.  The conflict, while good, isn’t strong enough to maintain the mystery it has for the very end of part 1.

The B plot is Toph and Sokka training 3 students Toph has picked up to start in her school of metalbending.  This is probably the biggest casualty of the compressed format of the graphic novels as a LOT of things are glossed over and operate more on the rule of fun.  Your mileage will probably most heavily vary on this as they pick 3 students who are SO very the opposite of Toph (but each is an opposite in a unique way).  One of the students is even used by the writers to poke fun at the “pimp-daddy” meme towards Sokka.

And speaking of shipping… as I’ve stated before, I’ve never cared about the Avatar shipping wars, the only one I somewhat cared about was between Zuko and the earth girl.  The rest?  A big meh.  Here you can tell that the authors are VERY aware of those wars and trying to 1) sink the ships they consider most important and 2) provide new ships to distract the warmongers.  (I have no idea how much Korra has settled the old conflicts.  You can at least tell me whether some relationships have been confirmed/denied in the future.)  ANY ship that pairs Aang or Katara with ANYONE else is blasted so hard I’m surprised I didn’t see a mushroom cloud on a page.  Meanwhile more fuel is thrown to those who think Toph and Sokka should be together, while the writers set up a new shipping war with Zuko and Suki.  Yeah, I had the same look on my face.

We also see what looks to be a restoration of the Air Nomads via the Aang fan club.  Funny but… heartwarmingly appropriate.  What I’m wondering is that if Aang learned how to spirit bend, can he then start making new airbenders by “bending” them to do so? (hmm… I wonder if Korra will explore the possibility of someone using spirit bending to make new avatars – though probably without the avatar state)

Now what REALLY gave this books props in mind is…

Alright, let’s be honest adults here: Katara is SUCH a Mary Sue for A:tLA. (even though you think it would be Aang…)  Toph was at least allowed to make mistakes and be more human.  During this series?  We actually see Katara demonstrate a real flaw and have it be called out (sort of) and not mitigated or excused.  It actually made me like her more!

Though the one thing this series didn’t address?  What happened to the two guys that where hired by Toph’s parents to catch her?  Did they die in that metal box or not?

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4 thoughts on “Avatar (the good one) – The Promise

  1. Alright, let’s be honest adults here: Katara is SUCH a Mary Sue for A:tLA. (even though you think it would be Aang…) Toph was at least allowed to make mistakes and be more human. During this series? We actually see Katara demonstrate a real flaw and have it be called out (sort of) and not mitigated or excused. It actually made me like her more!

    Hm, this explains some of the response to Katara being stubborn in the Embers fan fic… you’d think she’d been shown eating babies, rather than behaving rationally for her background.

  2. “Your mileage will probably most heavily vary on this as they pick 3 students who are SO very the opposite of Toph (but each is an opposite in a unique way).”

    My biggest problem with this still is that I don’t remember the book ever confirming whether or not those 3 students were actually earthbenders to begin with. Toph’s brute force approach might have worked with someone who already had the basics down, at least, but the book makes it look like she just picks up 3 random folks off the street no bending experience at all.

    Tokka is now my favorite ship in this series, though. Which makes me not mind Zuki as much.

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