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Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise,…
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Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise, Part 3

by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (Illustrator)

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This volume ended the story arc in a way that worked but that somehow didn't entirely satisfy me.

My complaints about the previous volumes still apply. Had the story not been shoehorned into such a small number of pages, I think it could have had more depth. I watched the first season of The Legend of Korra prior to reading this volume, and it was nice to see the connections between the two. Unfortunately, it also emphasized how little readers were given. The characters talked about needing to create a new kind of balance, but they weren't shown taking any of those initial steps. Perhaps this happens in other graphic novel volumes.

The characters were pretty much the same as in the series, only perhaps a little regressed. Zuko once again needed to figure out how to get out from under his father's thumb, and a lame explanation was given for why he never once went to Iroh for advice. I was a little surprised that Toph didn't call her student on her “Watch this!” (23) comment, seeing as how Toph was climbing a rope ladder at the time and couldn't have seen anything using her Earth bending abilities. And I continued to be annoyed by Aang and Katara's “we're a couple now and have to constantly remind readers of this” talk. Although Katara thankfully still called Aang by his name, I'm pretty sure Aang never once called Katara by her name, preferring “sweetie” instead. Ick.

Speaking of things that were a little overdone, was the repeated “OMG, Sneers, a guy like you is dating a girl like Kori?!” joke really necessary? We get it, Sneers is husky and plain and Kori is thin and pretty. Har har, the mismatch is so very funny. So funny that it came up twice in the volume.

Like the other volumes, this one was very thin, only 76 pages long. This led to a few moments that I felt were a little rushed/odd. For example, at one point Aang is talking to the Earth Kingdom army when Kori suddenly points to the Fire Nation army, which has somehow arrived and arranged itself right across from the Earth Kingdom army without anyone noticing. It was a nice visual, but it just wasn't logical. Then there were the last three pages, which showed the beginnings of the rebirth of Air Nomads, plus Zuko finally starting to look into the question Avatar fans have been wondering about, “What happened to Zuko's mother?” I would have liked a more expanded version of the first (or does that get covered in another graphic novel?), and the second was obviously meant to encourage readers to pick up The Search next. Which I will probably be doing, although I hope it will be a more satisfying story than The Promise turned out to be.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Nov 3, 2013 |
I found Part 3 of The Promise to be a satisfying conclusion to this Avatar story line. Minimal mushy stuff. Much more action. Interesting contrast of culture preservation and a "new world". ( )
  Alyssa.Jocson | Aug 21, 2013 |
The background for those unfamiliar with Avatar: The Last Airbender, taken from the TV show’s opening: Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can save the world. [cue epic music]

At the end of the TV show, Aang had successfully defeated Lord Ozai, leader of the Fire Nation. The new Fire Lord is Prince Zuko, the formerly exiled crown prince. Zuko’s been reformed from his old habit of persecuting the Avatar, but he’s worried that the pressures of ruling his kingdom will make him evil, so he makes Aang promise to kill him if he goes astray. A year passes, and Zuko abruptly backs out of the “Harmony Restoration Movement”, an agreement he made with the ruler of the Earth Kingdom to withdraw Fire Nation colonies from their land. Aang fears that Zuko is following in his father’s footsteps, and that he may be forced to fulfill his vow in order to maintain peace.

Part of me really wishes that this story had been animated. Don’t get me wrong – artist Gurihiru does an amazing job telling the story in comic book form! But Part Three of “The Promise” has several battle scenes, and although they look great on the page they would have looked awesome in motion on a TV screen.

The story is just as compelling as the fighting. Throughout the series, Aang has supported the Harmony Restoration Movement, which that the four nations exist as separate entities. Over time, however, Katara’s views have changed. As she explains to Aang, when she looks at families that have both Firebenders and Earthbenders in them, she sees their future. If Aang insists on the separation of the groups, then they can’t be together because she is a Waterbender and he is an Airbender. When I was growing up, the pressure to identify as either Chinese (like my mother) or Caucasian (like my father) was very strong, and so this conflict hit really close to home. It isn’t a topic that always comes up in books for children – although I’m sure the selection has greatly improved since I was a kid. Even as an adult, it still pops up, like when I realized that marrying my husband meant that our children would only be one-quarter Chinese, and they even more removed from Chinese traditions than I was. But like Aang and Katara, I’d rather embrace a new mixed world than force a separation of groups to preserve the purity of tradition.

Although Part Three is the third and final installment of “The Promise”, the story doesn’t end here. The ending leads directly into the next Avatar series, due out next year, which will focus on the search to uncover what happened to Zuko’s mother. ( )
  makaiju | Dec 29, 2012 |
In this conclusion to the graphic novel trilogy, tensions between the Fire Nation and Earth Nation over their contested colony come to a head, and Avatar Aang, the teenage spiritual leader of all four nations, must resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, Zuko, the leader of the Fire Nation, is one of Aang's closest friends, and on the day he became Fire Lord, he made Aang promise that Aang would kill him if he ever put the Fire Nation's needs over the balance of the world. This continuation of the Nickelodeon cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender continues to grapple with the television show's complex issues, such as colonialism and cultural appropriation, in nuanced and complicated ways. Illustrator Gurihiru provides jewel-toned, kinetic drawings in the style of the television program with great attention to detail (for instance, the teenage protagonist is depicted as subtly growing older in between the first book and the third). Fans of the television program will clamor to know what happens next in the lives of their favorite characters, and the ending of this trilogy provides a segue into The Search, the next Avatar graphic novel trilogy, to be released in 2013. ( )
  AG314 | Oct 3, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gene Luen Yangprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
GurihiruIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
DiMartino, Michael DanteCreatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Konietzko, BryanCreatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The Harmony Restoration Movement has failed, and the four nations are plunged back into war! In the midst of the battle, can Aang and Fire Lord Zuko mend the rift between them, or will Aang be forced to take actions that can't be undone?

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