Gene Yang’s Avatar series “Smoke and Shadow” details the legacy of Zuko

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Avatar (2)

If there’s one cartoon series that is the very definition of epic, it’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. What began in that show, was a massive tale of elemental bending, war, resurrection and some tight-knit friendships.

The best friendship: Aang and Zuko, as the originally opposed each other before striking a deep bond based on familiar experiences. And that’s a friendship which was examined in sequel comic book series once the original Avatar series had wrapped up. Aang was busy rebuilding the Air Nation, while Zuko had a Fire Kingdom to oversee.

Still, there are some loose ends that need to be resolved. And that’s just what will be happening in a new Dark Horse comic book series, called Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow.

“One of the best things about working on the comics is that we get to tie up some loose ends that the series left,” writer Gene Yang said to EW.

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And the series left them intentionally, I’ve talked to Mike [Dante DiMartino] and Brian [Konietzko], the creators of the original show about it, and we talked about how life in general, we often have loose ends so they wanted that feel. So in the comic, we bring some resolution.

According to Yang,  the new series will deal with how “[Zuko] brings his mom back to the Fire Nation, because a lot of it will be about power — it’ll be about how Zuko was handling being the Fire Lord… I think all of us are haunted by our families, our families of origin in some way”.

We worry about either continuing the legacy of our parents or falling into the same pitfalls as they did. And I feel like that’s just a hundred times worse for Zuko. So the focus will be really on the Fire Nation world family, and on how Zuko deals with power and fear.

Which opens up a new can of worms for Zuko, as he faces the legacy of his parents, as well “the temptations… about being haunted,” Yang said.

He takes on the role as dad, he sits on the same throne that his dad did, but he doesn’t want to be like his dad… At the same time, that’s the only model he has to follow, that’s the only Fire Lord that he really remembers seeing up close.

So a lot of the ways in which fear drives us to abuse power, those are all temptations Zuko is going to have to face.

All this, and more in a comic book based on a show that was a huge hit with kids. That’s a lot of complex material for a kid to digest. But Yang believes that they can handle it:

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Avatar (1)

Even though it’s targeted at kids, it dealt with really adult topics in really subtle ways… Almost no character is really evil or really good. And when I was watching this, Zuko was my favorite character and I think it’s because all of us can relate to that struggle between good and evil.

When we were talking about what to do with these three books, Brian described to me this group of Fire Nation women warriors that they were kind of batting around. And unfortunately, that concept got left on the cutting room floor.

So [‘Smoke and Shadow’] will be a little bit like the Fire Nation equivalent of the Kyoshi warriors. We’re bringing that concept in now, so that will be one of the main adversaries of the book.

Smoke and Shadow follows on from the previous Avatar comic book series, “The Rift”. Part one arrives September 23, while Part Two will be out on December 16, with art from Gurihiru.

If you’re a fan of Avatar, then the sequel comic book series are well worth picking up, as they deal with the ramifications of the Hundred Year War, that saw the Fire Nation battle the other bending countries. As well as tidy up various loose ends.

Last Updated: August 26, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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