Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 1

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 1
by Gene Yang; Brian Konietzko 

Genre: Fantasy/Sequential Art/Graphic Novel
Reading Grade: Middle Grade
Publication Date: January 25, 2012
Source: NetGalley
Age Rating: 10+

The wait is over! Ever since the conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its millions of fans have been hungry for more—and it's finally here! 

This series of digests rejoins Aang and friends for exciting new adventures, beginning with a faceoff against the Fire Nation that threatens to throw the world into another war, testing all of Aang's powers and ingenuity! 
My Review

I have been a huge fan of the Avatar: The Last Airbender Nickelodeon cartoon series for a number of years now, so when it ended with so many of my questions still unanswered, I was miffed to say the least. Not to mention I just didn't want all the exciting adventure to end. This new comic book series, though late in getting out into the world, picks up where the TV series left off, after Aang has defeated the evil Fire Lord Ozai, and has restored peace and balance to the world. Well, he sort of has…

In this first serialized comic book installment, Zuko is now the new Fire Lord, and he and Aang, now acting as the world's ambassador Avatar, decide that all the Fire Nation colonies located within the Earth Kingdom need to be displaced back to the Fire Nation homeland. They believe there can be no real peace if those colonies remain where they are because they were built as a result of the Fire Nation's occupancy of the Earth Kingdom. Earth Kingdom peoples are wanting them gone.

But, Zuko finds some of the Fire Nation colonists are resistant to this displacement. The Fire Nation people of this colony have been living there for over one hundred years, and feel that Fire Lord Zuko is a traitor to them for making them leave their prosperous home. Someone makes an attempt on his life, and he winds up spending some time there with the colonists and realizes he has to go back on his word to support the Earth King in removing the people. This makes all his trusted friends, Aang, Katara, and Sokka believe he's becoming like his father, who is still in a Fire Nation prison.

Mostly what fuels the plot is a big misunderstanding between Zuko and Aang, and this time Zuko is in the right. Aang doesn't even realize just how hard this displacement will be on the citizens of the colonies, so they try to talk things out, as world leaders ought to. They are only able to get the Earth Kingdom protestors who want the colonists to leave to stop protesting, but that's about it. It ends with Zuko doing something quite shocking in regards to his imprisoned father, evidence that Zuko is continually haunted by him and his wicked legacy.

Zuko is the ultimate bad boy trying to change, but is constantly backsliding again and again. Despite the fact that he fought on the side of the Avatar during the war, and helped to defeat his sister, Azula, along with his father, he still has a lot of darkness within him. He's still a teenager who has a lot to learn about running an entire country. So, too, does the Avatar gang have a lot to learn about maintaining the world in a peaceful, balanced way. They are learning it's not as easy as it seems. Heck, even grown-ups can't get it right!

This new installment to the canon story felt like watching an episode of the cartoon series, in how it looked and felt on the story, dialogue, and characterization levels. The creators of the series are part of creating this comic book, so it ought to feel that way. The artwork is spectacular, as all the characters look just as they do in the cartoon. And, it leaves you with quite the shocking cliffhanger at the end! Somehow, this series is supposed to link up to the new Avatar Korra cartoon that will debut on Nickelodeon later this year, but exactly how is still not clear. I can't wait to read the next installment.

*I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My score: 4 stars out of 5. (I really liked it!)

Buy this title from |Amazon|


  1. I never got to see The Last Airbender but I saw the movie and that really killed my desire to check out any of the other stuff. Maybe now that it's a graphic novel I will be more interested!

    1. @Lan: the original cartoon is great! That live-action movie was total crap and I hated it. Please do not judge the cartoon based on the film. They are like night and day different from each other. The cartoon is totally inspired by anime and is just the coolest thing ever. I know you'd like it because you're an anime fan...

  2. I'm not an anime fan, but my son likes to watch the cartoon occasionally. He might like this novel down the road.
    Great review!

    1. @Andrea: Yeah, if he likes the cartoon, he may very well like this little comic book.

  3. I love-love-love Gene Yang. Have you read American-Born Chinese?? I didn't know he wrote for Airbender. I will have to check this out! Thanks for posting!

    1. @Camille: No, I haven't read American-Born Chinese, nor anything else Gene Yang has written. This is my first exposure to him, but I will look into his other works. Thanks for the comment!


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