edited by Mike Richardson
The background for those unfamiliar with Avatar: The Last Airbender, taken from the TV show’s opening:
Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can save the world. [cue epic music]
Originally published as short comics in magazines or as bonus features packaged with DVDs of the animated series, the stories in The Lost Adventures supplement the main story of the cartoon. They are created for people who are already watching the show, and would be a very poor point of entry for someone unfamiliar with the series because readers are expected to already know the characters and basic principles of Bending 101.
Most of the short stories are pretty humorous, bordering on silly. One story shows the funny (but disastrous!) effects of a bad head cold on an Airbender, while in another Sokka decides that the best way to get food for their troupe is to sell their services as monster hunters, only to have the plan backfire when the “fake” monster turns out to be a real threat. These are entertaining, but forgettable. Like the show, however, some of the stories take a more serious turn, and fill in small gaps in the main storyline. A Fire Nation general explains to Aang exactly how his people were able to destroy the Airbenders one hundred years in the past after using the same strategies to trap the Avatar. We learn what convinced Zuko to return to the Fire Nation at the end of the second season, which is hinted at but never explicitly stated in the show. But even if the comics temporarily turn serious, they still return to humor before long.
The artists vary in style, but they all do a pretty good job of capturing the look of the animated series. There are a couple of stories that don't look like they were scanned at an appropriate resolution, because the panels are slightly blurred and the linework isn't as crisp as it should be. But the differences are only noticeable when the stories are gathered into a single book like this; I bet that if I was reading these in the original magazines, I might not have noticed that the artist was different each time because the changes in style are pretty subtle.
I really liked the book, but then I was a huge fan of the cartoon. Like I said, the book expects you to be familiar with the Avatar world, so your ability to enjoy these stories is directly tied to what you thought of the show.
5 out of 5 stars
To read more about Avatar: The Lost Adventures, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Stoneheart (Stoneheart Trilogy #1) by Charlie Fletcher
2011: Android Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters
2010: News: James Patterson, Inc.
2009: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister