Comic Book Club: Avatar The Last Airbender, The Lost Adventures

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Greetings my good hotman.  How’s that wait for Legend of Korra going? Not good? Well it’s nice to know that Comic Con is now only a few weeks away. Surely we will find out some more information then. But in the meantime, here is something else you might want to look into. In 2009, Nickelodeon Magazine closed its doors, cutting off Avatar fans’ only access to extended universe comics, several of which never even got published. But now, thanks to Dark Horse Books, the tales of Team Avatar can finally be continued in this wonderful collection, The Lost Adventures. Inside is no short of 28 short stories spaced throughout the show’s 61 episode run, but just how much is The Lost Adventures worth your well earned money? Let’s find out.

newcomics 400x600 Comic Book Club: Avatar The Last Airbender, The Lost Adventures
Man, these guys always have cool cover art.

Much like the show, The Lost Adventures divides each of the stories into one of the three books, Water, Earth, and Fire, as a way to gauge at what point the comic takes place in the series. Water is the shortest and least eventful, as those comics mostly just run on a gag the writing staff might have had in development that didn’t make it into the show (and probably for good reason). The only one of note would be the one titled Relics in which Aang, still having hope the Air Nomads might exist, is given a lead thanks to some Airbender relics a merchant said to have received by a man in the mountains. (Take it away Admiral Ackbar.)

Earth is longer, but more or less the same. Lots of cheep gags, just with more emphasis on Toph this time around (which, in retrospect, does make it better, but still). Probably one of the better stories is Divided We Fall (originally in a four-part comic series  included in the Book 2 DVD set), where the unexplained tornado from The Swamp episode comes back and separates the Gaang in another forest where they run into a group of orphans, who might have grown to be pretty interesting characters were they explored a little more (NO! They are NOTHING like the Freedom Fighters. They are completely different!). Then of course It’s Only Natural [the tale before the Earth King’s departing], Going Home Again [Zuko rekindling with Mai at Ba-Sing-Se], and The Bridge [Sokka’s brilliant plan to infiltrate the Fire Nation] all take place post Season 2 Finale, and are all pretty darn good if you haven’t read them yet.

But then we get to Fire, and not only is it the longest, but it takes a corner on 3rd and Badass. It’s got the most action, the widest variety of characters, and even gives us some stories fans have been longing to see for a while now.

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Ever wanted to meet Aang's buddy Kuzon? Now you can.

So Dragon Days — when Aang tells Zuko a story of when he and Kuzon rescued a dragon egg from poachers — is a definite highlight, though there was a ton more that was awesome. While we’ve already seen both Aang and Sokka cross-dress on the show, in Boys’ Day Out, Toph and Katara disguise as dudes to get in an all-male tavern, and Katara picks a fight with just about everyone she bumps into, just to prove to Toph she can. Ember Island Arcade, Azula challenges Zuko to a game of “Street Benders” (I SWEAR I am NOT making this up!). Monster Slayer, Appa fights an Armadillo Bear. Combustion Man on a Train, do I really need to say anything else? Swordbending, yes, Zuko and Sokka finally cross blades, and did anyone really think Sokka stood a chance? Love is a Battlefield, just a very intense moment between Aang and Katara that happened during the Boiling Rock. Bumi vs. Toph Round 1, EXPLOSION OF EPICNESS!!!

Bumi vs. Toph 450x600 Comic Book Club: Avatar The Last Airbender, The Lost Adventures
Looks like Sokka’s even more excited than me.

So that’s a brief rundown of the more important plots, but for me, probably a bigger selling point for The Lost Adventures is seeing the different art styles. Because Avatar had several different artists working on the comics, there’s a wide variety of visual styles. While both Johane Matte and Justin Ridge take up the majority of the comics and are probably the closest in following the show’s aesthetic, Corey Lewis’ drawings are very stylized and sharp (almost Cartoon Network-ish). My personal favorite style happens to be all the comics drawn by Gurihiru. I really have no better way to put it, but the way he (or is it she?) draws the characters is just plain adorable (almost Disney-ish).

Avatar gym time 580x129 Comic Book Club: Avatar The Last Airbender, The Lost Adventures

And of course, Ethan Spalding's chibi shorts are always a welcomed treat.

In addition to the short Gym Time, New Recruits is the second spinoff, featuring the winners of a “create your own bender” contest from a while back. In the credits, we have a short bio on each of the creators, as well as a seven-page preview of their image documentary, The Art of the Animated Series.

With the exception of the last two bonus stories, I feel it’s very possible for many of these comics to be perfectly cannon with the series. However, there are a few continuity buffs in the comics I can’t help but be nitpicky about:

  • In Sokka the Avatar, The Rough Rhino’s come back, except they’re missing one of their members. Not only that, it’s the coolest one: the guy with the badass helmet and the explosives. What happened to him? And WE STILL DON’T GET OUR CONCERT!
  • There are several occasions where Azula calls Zuko “little brother,” even though Zuko is a year older than her. This just may be Azula’s character, as she always belittles him, but that might confuse some casual fans not as knowledgeable of the show.
  • Both Aang and Sokka refer to themselves by name while in the company of Fire Nation citizens. If they’re still in disguise, why don’t they go by their cover names, Kuzon and Lee (or Wang Fire)?
  • In Swordbending, Zuko clams he learned his swordsmanship from Piandao as a little kid. Back in Book One, I thought that was suppose to be something he taught himself in secret during his three year banishment, so no one in the Fire Nation would suspect him as the Blue Spirit.

Those are the only ones I can think of right away. Besides the little things, The Lost Adventures is a wonderful collectable for the Avatard near you. It’s got a great variety of art, and some of the stories are genuinely funny and well written. The retail price is $14.99, but I got my copy at Amazon.com for $9.40 plus shipping. If you’re only a casual fan, or have already read a big chunk of these comics online or in Nick Magazine when it was still running, perhaps a library rental would suffice. But probably the best thing to come from this is that it is the beginning of what Dark Horse hopes to be a series of new Avatar comic strips that will take place after the series. Who knows? Someday we might actually get that “Zuko finding Ursa,” story, and the hogmonkey stampede of whiners will finally be silenced.

Are comics your scene? Be sure to have a look at theses:

-Comic Book Club: Avengers Disassembled

-Comic Book Club: The Walking Dead

-Comic Book Club: Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld

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