Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 2 – Comic Review
The major comic companies put out enough comics that sometimes it can leave your head spinning and eyes bleeding as you search the new titles each week for something worth reading. To aid in your Geeky endeavors, Speak Geeky To Me on occasion reviews new titles from the major companies to spotlight the best and worst of what’s available at your local comic shop. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a new Comic Review.
NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
(Though we do keep them to a minimum to prevent truly ruining any parts of the story)
Title: Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 2
Writer: Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Strange Tales II)
Artist: Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four, Wolverine and Power Pack)
Letterer: Michael Heisler (SW: Agent of the Empire, SW: Dawn of the Jedi)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Number of Volumes: 2
Page Count: 72
Release Date: May 30th, 2012
The Review Bit
Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 1 was a great opening salvo into the era between Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra. It picked up directly where the TV series left off and captured all the best parts of the series in comic book format. I’m hoping you have all had the chance to read volume 1, which has been in stores for sometime now. If you haven’t read volume 1, check out this article Speak Geeky To Me did on the series last month, grab your own copy to read, and then head back here for this review of volume 2.
The Promise Part 2 picks up, as you might expect, right after volume 1 of the series. The fate of Yu Dao is still in the balance, as Team Avatar must broker peace between Earth King Kuei and Fire Lord Zuko over the Harmony Restoration Pact. Well some fairly important events happen in relation to the Harmony Restoration Pact, which is the main drama of The Promise and its initial volume, that isn’t the true focus of volume 2. Part 2 of The Promise is more like one of those great filler episodes of the Avatar TV series, where character development is what truly drives the funny events, rather than anything directly involved with ending the series’ conflict. Think, for example, of the Avatar episode entitled “Sokka’s Master“, which was more about defining Sokka’s role in Team Avatar, getting in a few funny jokes, and allowing Sokka to get his “Space Sword” (which is lovingly brought up in this volume of the comic) that was a fairly important device later in the series. Like that episode, Part 2 of The Promise has Team Avatar splitting up, with Aang and Katara going to speak with the Earth King, while Sokka and Toph return to Toph’s new metalbending dojo. The core of this fun filler revolves around Toph learning to become a teacher and spreading metalbending to the degree we know it becomes in the upcoming Avatar: The Legend of Korra.
The story is separated into 3 plots: Fire Lord Zuko talking with his father, as we saw at the end of Part 1; Aang and Katara going to the Earth Kingdom to speak with King Kuei; and Sokka and Toph returning to the Beifong Academy, where they find Toph’s students have recently been kicked out. The reason Toph’s students have been kicked out is due to the momentary hold placed on the Harmony Restoration Movement, which gave Toph the dojo when Fire Nation occupants vacated it. Now the Fire Nation students are back and demanding their dojo be returned to them. As both sides prepare to fight over rights to the building, Sokka reaches into his usual bag of uniquely quirky ideas and pulls a very odd style of competition that could best decide who deserves the dojo. Without giving away the funnier parts of this, it basically will pit the students of both sides against one another in combat, showing their bending skills. The only problem is that Toph still hasn’t been able to teach her 3 ‘lily livered’ students how to metalbend. It is this plot that takes up a majority of the book, with background on Toph’s three students and a rather fun and heartfelt adventure of learning martial arts.
The other two plotlines certainly play background to Toph and Sokka’s story, but are no less important. It is these plotlines that drive the original conflict of The Promise and will likely make Part 3 so climactic and eventful. Zuko finally finds the time to talk with his father, which will heavily change the Firelord and the relationships of those around him. Pay close attention to the women in Zuko’s life, towards the end of Part 2, and their dialogue…it might be very telling of things to come. Aang and Katara’s bit is very reminiscent of the TV episode “The Warriors of Kyoshi“, in that Aang meets the Earth Kingdom chapter of his fan club and he is all too eager to impress these young women. The huge difference that makes this plotline so fun is that now Katara being stuck in the background is more eventful, as she is the Avatar’s girlfriend, not just some girl the Avatar had a crush on. Both of these plotlines are quite enjoyable on their own, giving more character growth to Team Avatar outside of the TV series. However, the two plotlines explode as they crash together at the end of Part 2 and prepare us for some major events in the concluding chapter of The Promise Part 3.
As I’ve said before, Gene Luen Yang just gets the Avatar series. He has the voices of the characters down perfectly and truly compliments the original TV series in every panel of the comic. Yang pulls some of the funniest references of the TV series out in this volume and then adds some new jokes that fit the characters effectively, while also being down right laugh worthy. Gurihiru still does lovely art that looks like you’re watching the TV series, allowing you to dive right in with no awkward moments of getting used to a new art style. Aang looks like Aang and Toph looks like Toph, and the new characters may as well have been drawn from the TV series to begin with. While Gurihiru doesn’t bring anything innovative to the pages of the Avatar comics, he does the series a wonderful justice and that is all that is needed. The only real complaint here is more editorial, in that we are limited to just 72 pages of story when fans will undoubtedly be dying for more.
The Rating Bit
The Promise Part 2 is a great continuance of the Last Airbender series from Avatar, and readers of this will likely have an idea of how it will tie things into The Legend of Korra (I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that you might be able to figure it out by looking at a map on where Yu Dao might be in next week’s TV series…but I can’t say for sure just yet). The writing is truly in the spirit of the show, as is the art. The only thing keeping this from getting a perfect 10 is that, while Gurihiru is a great artist, there wasn’t anything that really took advantage of the comic book format art wise in this volume. Furthermore, while the story was incredibly fun, it did contain a fair amount of plot filler in a series that is limited to just 3 volumes, leaving me truly wishing for more development in the overall plot to take place in this volume. Never-the-less, Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Part 2 is absolutely amazing for any fans of the TV series and easily deserves its 8 out of 10. Make sure you pick up a copy when it comes out May 30th, 2012. Now if only Dark Horse wouldn’t make us wait for September to see Part 3.
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