Comic trade paperback, 256 pagesBorrowed from my wife
Published 2011 (originally: 2006-09)
Read May 2015
edited by Samantha Robertson
Before the pretty enjoyable continuation comics, during its television run, Avatar: The Last Airbender spawned a set of short comics in various venues, Nickelodeon Magazine and the like. They're short stories, ranging from two to fifteen pages in length, set between episodes of the show (five during Season One, nine during Season Two, twelve during Season Three, and two out of continuity), and as lends itself to their length, they're mostly humorous.
In Avatar, comedy tends to mean Sokka, and in my mind, this is nothing but excellent, because Sokka-- as the goofy-but-loveable-non-magical-one-with-a-real-sense-of-duty-- is definitely my favorite Avatar character. We get to see him pretend to be the Avatar to impress a girl in "Sokka the Avatar" by Joshua Hamilton and Justin Ridge, try to teach the Earth King how to live in the wild in "It's Only Natural" by Johane Matte and Joshua Hamilton, frustrate Prince Zuko with his insistence that "swordbending" is a real thing in "Swordbending" by Alison Wilgus and Justin Ridge, and form his own club in "No Benders Allowed" by Alison Wilgus and Elsa Garagarza.
Best of all, he enlists in the Fire Nation army in "Private Fire" by Hamilton and Matte again. "Private Fire" is my favorite story in the book, and I smile every time I think about it (which is more often than you might think); of all of these, it's the one I dearly wish had been made into a television episode. In it, Sokka is put through his paces in the same disguise he adopted a few times in the show, Wang Fire, complete with comically large mustache. The ending is just hilarious, so I won't spoil it for you: but if you love Sokka, you'll love this.
Other highlights include the occasional universe-expanding serious story or actioner, like a flashback to Aang's pre-iceberg days in the Fire Nation in "Dragon Days" by Alison Wilgus, Johane Matte, and Tom McWeeney, or "Combustion Man on a Train" by Alison Wilgus, Rawles Lumumba, and Tom McWeeney, a great little action tale where Sokka and Aang must fight their most brutal enemy while minimizing civilian casualties on a fast-moving train.
There are also a number of stories that bridge the gap between the second and third seasons. In addition to the aforementioned "It's Only Natural," Zuko and Mai begin their romance (as poor, cute Jin gets pushed to the side) and Zuko decides to for sure throw in his lot with his own people in "Going Home Again" by Aaron Ehasz, May Chan, Katie Mattila, Alison Wilgus, and Amy Kim Ganter, and Team Avatar secures a Fire Nation ship in "The Bridge" by Joshua Hamilton, Tim Hedrick, Aaron Ehasz, Frank Pittarese, and Reagan Lodge. None of this are particularly essential (obviously the show did just find without them), but they are nice to have.
Overall, if you're a fan of Avatar and want more adventures with its well-balanced cast of characters, this book is a quick, fun, enjoyable read.