Ok, so I had some down time and re-read the comic, and hopefully I've got my facts straight.
I have to say I was....underwhelmed? I think the problem was that its been a while since an Avatar comic came out and since they've gotten progressively better (in my opinion) with each trilogy, my expectations were probably too high. Am I the only person who literally reads a comic and analyzes every single
frame? Academic research has really ruined my ability to enjoy things simply for what they are, and the whole time I'm reading something my mind is already trying to nitpick every minuscule detail.
On a scale of Skyward Sword
to 10, I'd give this comic a 5.5.
The comic ideas in themselves are great, but I think the execution for me is a tad bit off and not done as effectively as it could be. That being said, I think the trilogy has a lot of potential depending on what direction it goes. If the Kemurikage turn out to be just posers, then it kills the comic for me. Aang was slightly rattled by Old Iron's 'death,' so this trilogy has the opportunity to further drive the question of 'can humans and spirits coexist' if the Kemurikage are a some disgruntled spirits forcing Aang to confront this issue again.
Another inherent weakness is that there is no strong antagonist in this comic. Ukano has always been a weak antagonist, and the NOS failure in this comic further proved that because Ukano looked like he had no idea what he was doing. The Kemurikage waiting a month to kidnap Tom-Tom made me feel as if they don't have a sense of urgency to get rid of Zuko, nor are they something to be feared, which was disappointing. Things I liked
1) Iroh's interactions with Zuko were nice, and he definitely was the comedic relief. Iroh was dangerously close to becoming the Sokka punching bag of comedic relief, so I hope if he's around in any of the two other comics, he takes on a little more seriousness. The angsty wave gag was funny, although Zuko has been smiling a lot more lately so it might not be fully accurate.
2) I kind of liked Mai as a spy (see criticism below), and I've always envisioned her to being in some sort of deceptive position. It was nice to see the conflict between her family and politics, especially when she confronted Ukano during the fighting scenes. Either way, she and Sokka are my favorite characters so its nice at least one of my besties is getting some shine. Her fighting during the conflict was also executed well, and its great to see her character further developed without Zuko. But please Yang, for the love of humanity, the word 'nutbar' has to go!
3) Ty Lee breaking the fourth wall and expressing how I felt about Mai's hilarious acting skills around Kei Lo. Nicely played.
4) Call me a terrible person,
because I am
, but I loved that Kiyi gave Ursa the cold shoulder. If two daughters start to show the same characteristics, then perhaps Ursa needs to start evaluating her own parenting skills as well. It cannot be just Ozai. It really made me think of the scene in The Search
where it revealed Ursa as child punched Ikem in the stomach and kicked dirt in his face. I am reaching for the stars and beyond here, but...perhaps someone wasn't such an innocent child herself? Which made her feel the need to constantly correct Azula because it reminded her of herself (not that Azula is completely innocent of course)?
5) Art work was beautiful, although inconsistent. Kind of surprised that some scenes were super detailed compared to others, but I will say overall it was very nice.Things that could be improved
1) Why on earth were Suki's eyes green?
2) Kei Lo is actually an OC I really like, but I have a very hard time believing a teenager would join an underground political organization to have a 'sense of belonging.' He could have easily joined a hiking club and called it a day. Now, I think for me it would have worked better if he had another reason for joining to supplement that, such as having a crush on Mai and thinking that impressing her dad would land him a date, or revealing Satoru as his best friend and the NOS was the only way to connect with Satoru (since his parents are involved) since he ran away. Either way, the 'sense of belonging' reveal to Mai seemed a little forced.
3) If Mai is spying, why would she choose to go about it so inefficiently? To me, it would make more sense if she pretended to make up with her dad and actually went to the NOS meetings to get the scoop first-hand. That way, her father would have told her instead of Kei Lo they were attacking unexpectedly, to which she could have warned Suki and Co, and stopped them with Kei Lo before they had any chance to strike.
But...there goes your plot I guess.
4) The Kei Lo and Mai situationship I'm on the fence about. On one hand, I'm an equal opportunity pairer/shipper, so I'm down for whatever as long as its properly developed. On the other, the one month time skip killed the development to further their...'whatever it is now' properly and make me believe Mai is dating him for real. The impression I got after the fight was that they were slowly building a trustful friendship, but nothing romantic. That kiss too- what on earth was I looking at?
If the comic cut down on some of the fighting and showed some events during the one month time skip, it could have driven their dynamics further and showed Kei Lo earning more of Mai's trust and shift things to a more romantic sense. This also relates to the Kemurikage, because if they hadn't (see below) waited a month to kidnap Tom-Tom, Kei Lo could have helped Mai during the month (as much as someone with a broken leg could) find Tom-Tom as a way to prove he cares about her and give space to develop...whatever it is.
5) The Kemurikage fell flat for me. In theory, they sound really cool, which originally sold the comic to me. However, the sense of urgency and fear was lost when they threatened to punish Ukano and instead let him off the hook easily.
Kemurikage: "Ukano, you failed again. Now we must punish you!"
Ukano: "Please, please don't punish me, give me one more month! That's all I need!"
Kemurikage: *shrug shoulders* "Sure, why not buddy? See you in a month!"
Me: *places comic book down and stares at it with a confused Wind Waker Link 'I totally forgot its my birthday' expression*
If you're wondering what a confused Wind Waker Link 'I totally forgot its my birthday' expression is, its literally my avatar.
If the Kemurikage really wanted Zuko gone, why give Ukano another month? Instead, it would have been more effective to kidnap Tom-Tom (is that 3 times now?) right away and send the message they weren't to be messed with. I don't know, I just feel like I need these spirits to destroy a building, brainwash people, or something to bring the fear factor for me. Otherwise, I'm convinced this is a Scooby Doo situation. The old cover for Part 3 pretty much implied humans were underneath the masks, and you could make a case Zuko was knocking off Azula's mask.
6) Not here for
Zuko's power level 9000 bending. I'm going to keep it moving since this has been discussed a lot.
7) The Zuki trolling. Again, if we have Zuki endgame, why not? The thing about that one scene is that if someone asked you right in front of your friend if he/she was attractive, do you really have any choice other than 'yes?' You better believe no matter what I am lying through my teeth, taking the loss, and going down under because otherwise its just rude. I just don't see any interest on Zuko's end and if anything, you could argue Suki has taken a little too much interest in him. But, that dynamic doesn't work for me because according to the comic Shells
, the Sukka is doing just fine and nowhere is there anything within any comic to imply tough times between Suki and Sokka.
I'm willing to eat crow though if I'm wrong here, but again I'd have to question the proper development if Zuki happens. Not to mention, that's another way to shaft Sokka in the comics.
Or...maybe Yang is really going for it and setting this up to give us Sokkla or Maikka endgame! My delusions of having one of my two favorite non-canon pairings be end game might happen after all!
8.) Why was Ozai's picture out in the middle of nowhere? I thought the Fire Lord pictures were only in the Royal Gallery? That didn't look like the Royal Gallery to me.
9) Lack of Azula. Am I the only one who wants an Azula Alone
comic or at least some solo panels? I'm not simply talking about showing what happened during her time in Forgetful Valley, but also showing flashbacks of her childhood and giving her perspective on Ursa's parenting. I just have a hard time believing the 'monster' quote from the cartoon came out of nowhere. Not that I'm suggesting Ursa called her that, but rather perhaps Azula misheard/overhead something and came to that conclusion?
So yeah, sorry if this is way too detailed and long- academia has trained me to be highly unreasonable and nitpicky, so I'm probably being a bit unreasonably and picky here.
I do feel, however, this comic has potential and am interested in reading the rest. Just a few minor changes in execution and it could top The Rift
(again, only my opinion).