Sirk TV Graphic Novel Review: AVATAR – THE LAST AIRBENDER – SMOKE & SHADOW PART 2 [Dark Horse]

airbender-smoke-shadow-p2Like similar warrior princes and soldiers per se, the plight of a ruling class is surrounded by the people who fight for them. Not being overly familiar with the Airbender mythology and having not seen the film, the only relation I have is with another popular Cartoon Network anime (“Naruto”) which features a similar but differently pigheaded fighter with similar powers of sorts. The Avatar is of course more new wave in his personification in how he deals with life much like the transformation of Jeff Bridges’ characterization of Quinn in “Tron Legacy”. But within younger reincarnations, these motivations become more curious. The story of “Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke & Shadow – Part 2” [Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko/Dark Horse/80pgs] revolves around children being kidnapped starting with the son of a royal line. When the Avatar is called to investigate it leads him on a path to an ancient ruin in pursuit of masked ghosts. The paradox is those who committed the crime and those who come to him to explain are two different entities. Without giving too much away, betrayal and intrigue plus a depth of political maneuvering come into play. However what makes the story relateable is a love triangle (not involving the Avatar) which is specifically constructed to create a paradox to the world the team is entering. As the story ends, the leader of the expedition and friend of the Avatar, a so called Fire Lord confirms that instinct is usually right. The art in this graphic novel, like many pop anime, is very clean with odes to different eras. One specific older man oddly enough harkens back to “Akira” in terms of griminess (and grumpiness) which gives the tone a nice balance.  Also, the use of multiple reactions in the same panel really gives the scenes when necessary a sense of self. Ultimately the story and narrative flow needs to take it thoughts from the series it parallels but, in a general sense, the synergy works well.


By Tim Wassberg


Posted on December 14, 2015, in Other Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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