Safety is born of strength. As long as that weakling occupies the throne neither your nation nor your family are safe.

Avatar : The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow (#1-#3)

By Gene Luen Yang, Illustrations by Gurihiru
80 pages per Volume


The Fire Nation is threatened by a prophecy told by the Kemurikage–mysterious figures thought only to exist in legend–remove Zuko from the throne or the country will perish!

Avatar Aang and his friends escort Zuko and his family back to the capitol completely unaware of the looming threat growing in the city. Unrest is brewing as the New Ozai Society prepares to make its move against the crown, and children begin to go missing from their homes under mysterious circumstances!

I love me some Avatar. Really. And I adore the fact that the creators have been able to continue on with their universe in comic form. Smoke and Shadow is the fourth written sequel to the televised series Avatar : The Last Airbender, and so far it might be my favorite of the bunch.

The gap of time between the end of Avatar and the start of its follow-up series The Legend of Korra leaves many questions unanswered. How did the world get the way it did? What happened to Aang and Company? Korra filled in some of the knowledge gaps over time, but not all of them. The graphic novels, which have each been released in a three-part format, are helping to do the rest.

Smoke and Shadows is a very Zuko-centric story, with most of the other main characters taking a back seat (or not appearing at all). There were obviously going to be some growing pains in the Fire Nation- new rulers, lost lands, new governing philosophies- and this particular story deals with that. Plus, we get to see Mai and Tai-Li and even Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors, so it’s basically a win-win all around.

Like the comics that came before it – The Promise, The Search, and The Rift– Smoke and Shadows stays true to its animated source. The characters are aging and the stories mature them in a way that is wholly appropriate. Zuko has grown, Aang has grown. They are no longer the children they were during season one- age and experience and years of conflict have changed them. But the change seems right, and though they are a little bit older now, they are still the characters that fans enjoy. The stories are written by the original creators of the animated series with a major assist from Gene Luen Yang, and it shows. This is the world that they created and love, and these stories are continuing it in a wonderful way.

Should You Read This?

If you have seen the Avatar series and enjoyed it, definitely pick this up. The Fire Nation focus was great. It brought back some beloved characters and helped to explain more about what happened to the world before Korra enters the picture. Plus, with the entire Kemurikage bit we get to see more of the mythology of the world in general, which is also a fun feature.

The collected edition of this is coming out later this fall, and will contain all three parts plus some bonus materials (for this review I just lumped all of the trade paperbacks together). We’ll also be getting a Water Tribe centric comic, North and South, in September. More Avatar is never a bad thing!
Summary from Goodreads