Much like how The Lost Adventures filled in the gaps between episodes, The Promise bridges the end of the animated series with its upcoming sequel. Fire Lord Ozai has been defeated by Aang and his friends, but now it’s time to rebuild. This is easier said than done, and the group knows it will be hard. There are various Fire Nation Colonies still scattered amongst the other kingdoms, and it’s at one in particular where things get complicated. On top of that, Fire Lord Zuko has made a request of Aang that will only bring about even harder choices as things progress.
One thing I’ve loved about these books is that they’re done in collaboration with creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. This helps keeps the “voice” of the characters consistent with what was established in the animated series. When you also add Gene Luen Yang’s (American Born Chinese) writing, you get a great start to an already fantastic series. The story might seem pretty straightforward at first, but several layers are added, forcing you to look at things from several angles. In the past there was a definite evil for them to fight and everything was straightforward. The grey area here is what helps solidify the story, making things a lot more interesting for the cast here.
Another great consistency in the series of books from Dark Horse is the artwork. Gurihiru keeps the visual feel of the story as fun and exciting as the animated series. He’s given the characters a bit of age, but nothing too drastic. Both the comedy and drama are translated very well and perfectly balanced. This is just one good looking story, though my favorite sequence is on the final two pages where Zuko goes to see his father. There are only a few words spoken, but the sequence is pretty strong, and if you ask me it didn’t even need Zuko’s question to have an impact.
The Last Airbender is one of the few animated shows that has been perfectly adapted to the comic medium. So picking this up is a no-brainer if you’re already a fan of the show. If you are new to the Avatar mythos, this is still a good jumping on point since you get a brief recap of how everyone ends up here. I’d still suggest watching all of the episodes that lead up to this as well, to get a much richer experience. Now, the hard part is waiting for part two of The Promise to see what happens next!