An interview with Gene Luen Yang reveals new information about The Promise and the future of Avatar: The Last Airbender comics.
In a recent interview with AvatarSpirit, The Promise author Gene Luen Yang offers insight on the complicated politics in the comic, discusses which characters may return, and hints at what’s coming next in the Avatarverse.
On the subject of the Harmony Restoration movement, the comic’s central plot point, Yang said the conflict “was inspired by what happened to Japan after World War II.” At the time, a defeated Japan had to withdraw from colonies elsewhere in Asia. “Forcing the colonists to return to their homeland was not an easy thing. It’s a complex issue.”
The Promise‘s political complexity is echoed in the characters’ personal relationships, particularly Aang’s friendship with new Firelord Zuko. The first volume of the story began with Zuko asking Aang to end his life if he ever turned down his father’s dark path.
“We already know that Aang won’t murder,” Yang says. “But what if he does have [Zuko's] consent?… What happens when Aang’s identities as Avatar, Airbender, and friend conflict with one another?”
Romantic relationships in the series are equally complicated. “Every relationship needs to go through obstacles in order to deepen,” Yang says, and Aang and Katara are no exception. Though the two are “gentle with each other” in The Promise, “We hope to show them transitioning from fun, somewhat goofy new love into something deeper.”
As for the return of characters who have so far been missed in the comic, Yang says that Zuko’s uncle Iroh will return in Part 3. “We get into Zuko and Iroh’s relationship a little bit more,” he says. “We give another reason for Zuko not going to Iroh.”
And what about rumors that Zuko’s sister Azula will appear in the comic’s final pages? “Azula is a complicated character,” Yang says, adding, “[The creative team] had many conversations… before I started scripting her.”
Looking to the future of the series, Yang says he worked “very, very closely” with the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender on The Search, a new comic due next year. “There were things he told me that left me speechless as a fan,” Yang teases, news which will certainly only heighten anticipation among readers.
Finally, Yang says that the new Avatar series The Legend of Korra has impacted his current work. “Korra gives me something to write to,” he says. “It’s been an absolute joy to work on.”
Thanks to Hypable commenter gcw07, who discovered that part 3 of The Promise has been availible for purchase on some websites as of last week. Otherwise, Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise will be available tomorrow, Sept. 26 at comic book stores, and at bookstores and online retailers on Oct. 9.