The Last Airbender: Prequel: Zuko's Story cover image
Rating “Y Ages 10+”
Avatar: The Last Airbender was an animated series that first ran on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. This year, the film adaptation of that series, entitled The Last Airbender, adapted for the screen and directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), will be in movie theatres. Del Rey Manga is producing OEL manga (original English language) tie-ins to the upcoming movie. One is The Last Airbender: Prequel: Zuko’s Story.
The animated television series followed the adventures of a boy named Aang, the last Avatar, and his friends, who must stop a war that has destroyed the harmonious balance among the four nations (Air, Earth, Fire, and Water). Zuko’s Story takes place immediately before Aang’s journey begins, and it is set in the world of the firebenders.
Prince Zuko dared to question the authority of his father, Fire Lord Ozai. Not only did Ozai banish Zuko, but he also horribly scarred him in a battle between father and son and stripped Zuko of everything – including his social status. Seeking redemption, Zuko wanders the earth seeking the Avatar, a mystical being who once kept the four nations in balance. The Avatar disappeared a century ago, but Zuko stubbornly searches, because he believes that only by bringing the Avatar before his father can he regain his honor.
THE LOWDOWN: A good, but not great read, The Last Airbender: Prequel: Zuko’s Story is a good comic book for preteen readers. It is well-written by Dave Roman and Alison Wilgus, who focus as much on character development as they do on action. The life lessons, morals, and easy-going philosophy (mostly about the search for self-discovery) are nicely woven into the story, so that this manga doesn’t at all seem preachy.
The graphic storytelling and art by Nina Matsumoto (the creator of the OEL Yokaiden) translates the story is a style that is mostly clean and efficient, although this isn’t her best work. The pages are well designed, but the inking betrays the composition and draftsmanship on quite a few pages. The “Bonus Materials” section at the back of this book reprints the first 19 pages of the writers’ script with Matsumoto’s corresponding pencil art for each page. I think young readers would like to see this, so that’s another reason why this is a good pick for young readers.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: People looking for good kids’ comics will find it in The Last Airbender: Prequel: Zuko’s Story.