A few months ago, I gave my two cents on the release of Dark Horse Books collection of Avatar short comics, Avatar the Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures. The lowdown: while a fun collection of shorts with a unique variety of art styles, there was little to be had as far as real story content and evolving the Avatar lore. Much that was left to be desired was teased by Dark Horse hinting that they almost maybe very possibly might consider the thought of releasing more Avatar stories to come. Ones that may even be a continuation of the current TV series. Well it turns out fortune is for once in our favor, as barely a month after the release of The Lost Adventures, what could have sounded like a simple rumor produced through wishful thinking is in fact already in the works.
The Promise Part 1 promises to continue the story of Avatar Aang’s journey to restore balance to the world after the series finale. Writer Gene Luen Yang, as stated on his own blog, appears extremely enthused to work on such an ambitious project, and with illustrations done by Gurihiru (my personal favorite artist from The Lost Adventures), this is shaping up to be quite— for lack of a better word— promising.
Yet instead of doing a straight up preview, I felt it would be more compelling to list off some specific areas where I both expect and prefer the plot for these comics to go. I also don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that a few of these are stories many fans apart from myself have been looking to hear for a long time. To prove my point, let’s begin with the “Mother” of all loose ends.
5. Finding Ursa
I’ll come clean right now. I have made myself notorious on this very site for unabashedly mocking the majority of Avatar fans for their unrelenting whin— uh, I mean passion— to discover what really happened to Prince [now Firelord]Zuko’s mother Ursa. This is completely personal taste, but I felt that leaving that one question unanswered in the finale was a nice touch of mystery and intrigue to cap a show that made excellent strides in doing just that.
With that being said, I feel that the people who have waited ever since they saw Book 2 Chapter 7 Zuko Alone a good five years ago do deserve some answers, especially since we know the creators know exactly what happened to her (story boards of her scene were cut from the finale) and they have simply chosen to withhold that information from us. So now, I’m going to be nice for a change and say, “Yes, they’ve waited long enough. Give them a freaking bone already.” In all honesty, for anyone planning to do any kind of aftermath story, any attempts to flat out ignore this element of the plot would simply be idiotic. Like plunging-into-a-pool-of-hungry-catgaters idiotic.
4. Azula Breaks Free
Azula, in perspective, had probably the most tragic character arc of anyone on the show. In many ways, it was almost like a Greek Tragedy: someone who starts off high in stature and is then brought down by their own actions. I have friends who tried telling me that her sudden flip to insanity came out of nowhere and wasn’t built up properly, and I don’t buy that for an instant [Pranger’s Note: Nor do I!]. I could write a whole article detailing the warning signs going back as far as the opening of Book 2 (I won’t though).
So, do I personally think Azula, after her defeat against Zuko and Katara, should be somewhat involved in The Promise? Well, she was the series’ main villain for a good two seasons. Dark Horse’s summary stated that the main conflict will revolve around someone within the Fire Nation and the threat of another war, and Aang’s struggle to prevent that from happening. Though I don’t necessarily believe that’s where Azula needs to come in.
If this story does ever touch on Zuko finding Ursa, then you will undoubtedly have to bring Azula into the picture. Ursa is her mother too, and frankly, given the way each of them turned out, it seems Azula needed her mother more than Zuko did (whether she’ll admit it or not).
3. Toph Being a Badass
Okay, so is this really a plot device? Maybe not. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to put more of DarkKenji’s artwork in this article. (Seriously, go to his page, it’s awesome!) Basically what I’m asking for here is a sub plot that will allow Toph to do what she does best. Here are some ideas:
In The Lost Adventures, there was a comic titled Bumi vs. Toph Round 1, which entails that they were planning to have a rematch somewhere down the line. Toph strikes me as a character who will not be satisfied with a draw. She will continue to challenge Bumi at his best until she confirms that she is, as stated in Book 2 Ch. 19 The Guru, “The greatest earthbender in the world.” And I certainly don’t think she is going to wait around for the 112 year old King of Omashu to kick the bucket either.
Here’s an idea with a little more meat to it: Since the Dai Li are now traitors to the Earth Kingdom, and haphazardly banished from the Fire Nation, they have barely anywhere left in the world to go. But what’s to say they don’t try to hunt down and apprehend the Earth King while he is away from Ba-Sing-Se living as a commoner? It could be Toph’s duty to hunt them down before they hunt down the king.
For the sake of not sounding too much like a action nut, I will admit that it may be nice to have some deeper, more meaningful character developments for Toph. Perhaps reuniting with her family to see if they finally accept her, or probably even more popular would be this: Through the course of the show, Toph was the only main character who didn’t develop a romantic lead with anyone by the series end (She did have a crush on Sokka, but got burned on that deal when Suki showed up), and yet, she’s already confirmed to have a daughter in The Legend of Korra, so it can be assumed that she does meet someone eventually.
As for why she’s fighting with Zuko in the picture above, I don’t know, maybe she’s still a little upset for never getting her own life changing field trip like everyone else.
2. Phoenix Loyalists Assemble
In Zuko’s speech during his coronation in the finale, there is one line that I feel will be absolutely crucial to this comic’s plot:
“I promised my Uncle I would restore the honor of the Fire Nation, so I will.”
I do not believe it would be too far of a stretch to say that this could be the very same promise that the title of the comic is alluding to. Dark Horse’s summary stated briefly that Aang [and friends]would be facing off with another threat inside the Fire Nation. Clearly, not everyone in the Fire Nation is going to be cool about the war ending so near their victory. There may always be people who cling to the ideals of Zuko’s forefathers, as those ideals have been burned into the brains of his people for the past three generations.
As I said before, Azula could be involved, though I highly doubt it. This may be a great opportunity to introduce a whole new adversary. Someone more intellectual and conniving, who could be a good lead in for Legend of Korra’s adversary, Amon the Equalist (that’s his name now, apparently).
And thus we segue into my final choice.
1. The Origins of Republic City
This comic is set to release early next year before Legend of Korra is complete. That timing is quite convenient for a set of comics that are intended to bridge the gap between the two separate story lines. From what we’ve heard, it appears this story will be more closely associated to Aang’s story, as it seems to take place not much longer after the events of Sozin’s Comet. Korra’s story will not take place for another 70 years, yet it would still make sense for us to get some hints of where the world is going and what the future holds.
At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Mike and Bryan stated that Republic City will be a utopia that Avatar Aang and Firelord Zuko create together as a place where anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to come and intermingle, as a way to help bridge the gap between nations. It would be wonderful to see a few scenes of Aang and Zuko together brainstorming ideas about the city, where it’s location will be, and how they will get the funds to build it, and in the background have Sokka futilely attempting to draw up their ideas before they decide to hire a professional.
Sokka: (Sarcastically) Before I know it, you guys will tell me you want a giant statue of Aang at the entrance of the city.
Aang: Ha ha. Good one Sokka. That’ll be the day.
Zuko: Nonono, wait. That’s actually not a bad idea.
Aang: Wha-are you serious?
Zuko: Why not?
Sokka: Glad I thought of it. I’m a genius.
Zuko: That you are. Now let’s have a… (picks up Sokka’s “blueprint” of the city) look?
Little scenes like that would be wonderful. As well as maybe some mechanist cameos displaying further technological developments that will be precedent in Korra’s time.
And that just about sums up what I’m looking forward to. As an honorable mention, there are several other small loose ends that would be nice to hear about, like what happened to Smellerbee or Longshot, or some of the minor villains like Long Feng and Hama, though I don’t know if they are important enough to stress over. If there is another element of the Avatar lore you wish to be explored, feel free to share it in the comments below.
And finally, stay tuned for Avatar The Last Airbender The Promise Part 1 to be released this coming January.
As always, I give my regards to both happyzuko and darkkenji for such excellent fan art.