The Legend of Korra Turf Wars Expands Love in the World of

first_imgStay on target We’re big fans of all things Avatar here, from The Last Airbender to the sequel series The Legend of Korra to the characters who hop between both cartoons. The Asian-inspired fantasy universe Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino dreamed up for Nickelodeon in 2005 has world-building strong and compelling enough to thrive in any medium (except live-action M. Night Shyamalan movies).The first Avatar series has already gotten a handful of cool graphic novel trilogies continuing the adventures of Aang and friends after ending the war and saving the world. The Legend of Korra aired its final episode in 2014, but now we can see what comes next in Turf Wars, the first part of a new graphic novel trilogy from Dark Horse.The Avatar comics were great and answered some burning mythology questions, but at times they felt more like fun yet unnecessary side stories. However, already Turf Wars feels more like an official Korra continuation in comparison, and not just because it’s being written by series co-creator DiMartino. The story opens literally moments after the end of the series, with new couple Avatar Korra and Asami Sato beginning their vacation in the Spirit World after winning Anime World War II in the series finale.This opening section is the best stuff in the book. Like on the show, the art for the Spirit World is vibrant and lush and weird. But having a cartoon to compare this with also highlights intriguing differences between the two mediums. Cartoons typically have to somewhat simplify their designs to make animation feasible. Graphic novels don’t have that problem, and artist Irene Koh has free reign to make her compositions as dynamic as the action on the show but far more detailed.But beyond the art, the opening also celebrates the main draw of the book for fans: a canonical look at Korra and Asami’s now-explicitly queer romantic relationship. One of the things always holding Korra (the show and the character) back were the limitations of ultimately being a cartoon for kids. The Last Airbender had some mature themes but was pretty good at happily staying in its lane. Korra had many more truths it wanted to say out loud but could not.One of those truths was that it’s totally cool and great for two women to love each other. The show tried to hint at this as much as it was able to, before the creators just straight-up confirmed the “Korrasami” coupling after the show was over, but the forced subtlety I think ended up hurting the believability of the relationship. It was an unfortunate story consequence of the content restrictions.Fortunately, Turf Wars wastes no times making up for lost ground. Korra and Asami profess their love for each other, and kiss, and come out to friends and family, and react in ways that make complete sense for their characters. Korra is a stubborn and passionate demigod while Asami is a cool and even-keeled industrialist.Obviously these story developments are valuable just as LGBT representation in children’s media, but they’re also cool because they represent a new mythology avenue to explore in the world of Avatar. One of the strengths of Avatar is that it is one of the few mythical worlds where explaining all the magic, from elemental bending martial arts to how spirits work, actually makes them more captivating. It’s the opposite of Star Wars. And in Turf Wars, we now get to learn the history of homosexuality in the Avatar world. I won’t spoil any revelations, but it all makes for satisfyingly fresh and fascinating fantasy.That said, once the actual plot of Turf Wars kicks in, things don’t stay quite as fresh. I love Korra, but once it was over I wasn’t dying for a new series the same way I was after The Last Airbender, and this reminded me why. The tale features sights and concepts that should be familiar to Avatar fans like hook swords, chi-blocking, triad gangsters, spirit possession, corrupt early 20th century types, and a Princess Mononoke-esque “modernity meets nature” vibe.The problem, so far at least, is that the main conflict seems mired in the same spirits vs humans political squabbling that the show was already starting to go back to a little too often. Korra once again finding herself torn between both changing worlds because of a spirit portal she opened is just something we’ve already seen before. It feels like treading water, definitely not a leap forward on par with a new season. Give me a new extremist ideology to interrogate. That said, the villain they’ve set up has a lot of potential, and there are still two books to go.My issues aside, Turf Wars is still a worthy must-read for Avatar and Legend of Korra fans, as well as anyone who wants to see what a progressive story can do once it breaks free from the chains of basic cable.View as: One Page Slides1/51. Turf Wars is a new graphic novel trilogy continuing the events of hit Nickelodeon cartoon The Legend of Korra.2. Turf Wars is written by series co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino and illustrated by Irene Koh.3. The comic can finally show the romantic queer relationship between Avatar Korra and Asami Sato only hinted at in the final episode.4. However, the typical “humans vs spirits” political squabbling that was already starting to get old in the cartoon makes up much of the plot here, too.5. Hopefully the Turf Wars trilogy can introduce some new ideas, and pay off its potentially interesting villain, in its upcoming installments.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. James Cameron Congratulates Marvel on Beating ‘Avatar’ Box Office SpotFacebook Introduces Customizable Avatar Stickers last_img read more