Friday, January 27, 2012

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures

Avatar:  The LastAirbender:  The Lost Adventures is a comic book collection of short stories, some as short as only two pages.  Anyone who has seen and enjoyed the television series Avatar:  The Last Airbender is bound to enjoy this collection of stories.  Visually, the style is evocative of the show, which is fitting as these stories are supposed to take place concurrently with the series.  Sort of like the bits and pieces that ended up on the cutting room floor and never made it to the screen.  The book is divided into the same parts as covered in the seasons: Water, Earth, Fire.  In fact, the stories are so tightly informed by the television show that I doubt someone who has not seen the show would be able to enjoy this comic. 

And therein lies this book’s greatest weakness because it limits the readership.  Of course, one could argue that anyone who would choose to read this comic has likely watched and enjoyed the series.  It is almost impossible not to read the stories and try to interject them where one thinks they “ought” to go between the series episodes. 

When I reached “Relics,” which is fairly early in the collection, I was pleased to see a more emotionally poignant story, all of the preceding ones being cute and even a bit silly.  Yes, the show was entertaining but there were moments within the series that provoked sympathy or even empathy, moments that made the viewers care about the characters.   

This collection seems to have forgotten this or has chosen to focus more on the goofy things that Sokka does or have Katara caught up in some silliness side-by-side with one or more of her companions. Even the stories that shift over to Zuko, whose story lines on the television series were the more serious and often emotionally wrenching, are mostly played for laughs.  My enthusiasm for the one story was never reached again because only one other story ended on a meaningful moment.  It seems the stories are aimed at a young reader.  As the creators themselves say at the end of the book “We wanted Avatar to connect with people of all ages, all around the world.”  They succeeded with the television show but this comic falls short of that “all ages” goal.  I definitely liked it.  I didn’t love it.  I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did the show.  And I’d recommend it to others but if the person to whom I was making the recommendation happened to be nearing the end of their adolescence, I’d forewarn them that the stories in this collection are more along the lines of the humorous episodes than the poignant ones.  Good for a chuckle, clearly amusing, but lacking the depth of the show.

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